ENH/EDU 291 Biography:
Fascinating Real Life Assignment
Biographies and Autobiographies:
Browse through the children's biographical section of your local library, or use the
online catalogs to search for biographic books from the following categories:
activists, actor/actresses, anthropologists, artists, astronauts, astronomers,
athletes, authors, aviators, composers, cooks, dancers, directors, doctors,
educators, environmentalists, explorers, First ladies, generals, geologists,
inventors, lawyers, musicians, Nobel Prize winners, nurses,
painters/photographers, physicians, politicians, presidents, puppeteers,
sailors, saints, sculptors, singers, or television stars.
The following websites have valuable
information; please take a look.
Choosing High Quality Children's Literature: Biography
Reads: Popular Children's Biography Books
Biographies for Kids: Famous Leaders for Young Readers
Biographies and Memoirs
Write two book
one children's biographical
novel and one children's biographical picture book to evaluate. One evaluation should be about a
female and one evaluation should be about a male.
This assignment is worth 100 points.
Sample assignment for novel [50
points]: written by a former student
|Novel: Grant, Matthew G.
Clara Barton. Mankato: Creative Education, 1974, 120
pages. [1 point]
Appropriate age group:
5th - 7th graders
Summary: [7 points]
Clara Barton realized early in her life that
helping people is what she wanted to do. The list of accomplishments in
her lifetime is numerous. She became a teacher, worked for the government
in the patent office, and became a nurse during the Civil War, all by the
age of forty. After the war, she became a lecturer and champion of women's
right. World health problems found Clara traveling to Europe where she
became involved with the International Red Cross. She then
established the American Red Cross to assist people during war time as
well as times of peace. She worked in this endeavor for over twenty
years. Clara Barton spent the end of her life writing a book about
her work, which she lived to see published before her death.
Characteristics/personality traits: [4 points]
Accomplishments as a result of the traits. You
MUST cite examples from the book.
1. Clara Barton wanted to help the soldiers
during the war, so she received permission from the government to go to
the battlefields. She provided supplies, cooked meals for the
wounded, helped the doctors with surgeries, or just held the hand of a
dying man. She said her place was "anywhere between the bullet and
2. Clara Barton established a free school so
children of poor families could attend school also. She worked at
this school as a teacher, receiving no pay. She also helped, after the
war, with the dreaded task of tracking missing or dead soldiers.
3. Miss Barton did not allow government officials or doctors to
stop her from helping the wounded or hurt. She once said, "If I can't
be a soldier, I'll help soldiers." She also was determined to form the
American Red Cross even though the people in the government thought it was
not needed. When the first local chapter of the American Red Cross
helped during a forest fire, the President agreed the establishment of
this organization was necessary.
4. From the time she was eleven,
when she nursed her brother back to health, Clara Barton helped care for
the sick. She was a tireless worker who went wherever she was
needed. A doctor once called her "The Angel of the Battlefield." She
was all that plus more.
Use the criteria below to evaluate your book AND provide examples from the
text to support what you say. [NOTE: sample responses have not been
provided.] [18 points]
- Authentic: Is the book accurate and
as authentic as research can make it? Give an example.
- Objective: Does the author allow
his/her own biases to influence the writing? Give an example from the
text to support what you say.
- Whole Person: Is the whole
person portrayed? Are any of the events in the person's life
- Details: Does the author
select details carefully to truly reveal the subject? Give an
example from the text.
- Theme: Does the theme make a
fundamental statement about the person's life and provide a unified view
of the person? Give an example.
- Literary Style: Is the style
pleasing? Is it difficult to comprehend? Provide an example to
support your answer.
- Interest: Does the person's
life offer interest and meaning to today's child. Cite an
- Understand the past or present:
Will knowing this figure help children understand the past or
present? Give an example from the text to support your answer.
- Widen their views: Can the
story widen children's views or possibilities for their own lives?
Cite an example.
Clara Barton is a remarkable individual who has
contributed greatly to our world and history. She is a true role
model for all children, and . . . (continue
Sample assignment for
picture book [50 points]: NOTE: Changes have been made to the
biography/autobiography picture book review. Criteria for evaluation have
|Picture book: Sabin,
Francene. Rachel Carson, Friend of the Earth. USA:
Troll Associates, 1993, 27 pages. [1 point]
Appropriate age level:
2nd-4th graders [1 point]
Rachel Carson grew up in the country where her
parents owned 65 acres of land, mostly woods. Not only did she enjoy
and respect all the creatures and products nature had to offer, she
studied them and did research. She also loved to write. She grew up
to be a scientist and earned her master's degree in marine zoology.
She found that museums and even the U.S. government would not hire women
biologists. She finally got a job with the government as a
writer. She is most famous for her book, Silent Spring, in
which she wrote of the dangers of DDT, a pesticide upon nature and
mankind. As a result, our nation banned its use. She became
one of the most influential women as a result of her speaking out about
Characteristics/personality traits: [4 points]
Respect as a famous author and her work as a scientist
Leader for women's rights to be hired as biologists
Determined to open doors for women and letting the world know about DDT
Influential through her work to improve the environment
Fundamental statement about
her life [4 points]
Rachel Carson knew prejudice firsthand. Even though she was
unable to get a job as a biologist because she was a woman, eventually,
her knowledge, her caring, and her ability to write had a greater impact
upon our planet than she ever dreamed.
Evaluation Use the following four
evaluation criteria. [12 points]
1. Meaningful: Rachel Carson's life can offer meaning
to children today. Not only does it prove that sometimes we are
prevented from fulfilling our heart's desire, but God can bring greater
good out of rejection and other obstacles set in our path.
2. Quality of life: By reading about Rachel Carson's
life, children can see that decisions prominent people make can affect the
quality of our life today. Ecology and the environment is an
important concern today. It has become a science in itself.
3. Inspirational: Rachel Carson's life can be an
inspiration to young people. Sometimes our interests, though
uncommon or different, can benefit mankind. We can be assured that
we have made a difference in our world, that every single person can
Rachel Carson's influence was felt in many ways. Speaking out
about the destructive ways humankind was treating the environment and the
need to take care of our surroundings brought environmental protection to
Judging Appropriateness of
Finally, judge the
appropriateness of the illustrations by responding to the following
questions. Provide examples to support what you say. [NOTE: sample responses have not been provided.]
illustrate, if you look at the Latin roots of the word, means "to
make bright," implying that the illustrator interacts with and adds to a
text. Cite an example of this from your book.
- Do the
illustrations tell the story by themselves? What is missing, if
anything, without the words? How would the story be different if it were
told only by the illustrations?
- What do the
illustrations tell you about character and setting, for example--that
you cannot tell from text alone? Do the illustrations change the meaning
of the text?
what does the illustrator chose to depict in relation to the text on
each page? Does the illustration take place before, during, or after the
events in the text? Do the illustrations give us a character's
perspective on events, or are we granted an omnipotent view of
characters and events?
- What colors
does the illustrator use? Do the colors change with changes during the
story? Are certain colors associated with certain characters or
events? How does color complement, enhance, expand the
- Where are
illustrations placed on the page? To what effect? Is there a
consistent pattern or a variation? Why?