A Minute for Change: Biographies Matter [Podcast]

Let me come clean with y'all:  I LOVE reading nonfiction.  In fact, if you were to look at the 200 titles on my Kindle, you'd find about 12 that are fiction. 

More importantly, I think we do students a disservice when we fail to introduce great nonfiction reads to middle schoolers. 

The fact of the matter is that the majority of reading students will do to prepare for careers will be nonfiction. That means they've GOT to learn to love it — and that's why I think biographies are so important.

Because biographies resemble the stories that kids have spent their whole lives reading, they are the PERFECT gateway into the world of nonfiction.

That's the theme of this week's Minute for Change podcast:



Here's three biographies that your students are likely to love:

The Great and Only Barnum : Not only will kids chuckle at the hilarity in Barnum's life story, they'll love wrestling with the morals behind a man who made money hand-over-fist by putting bearded ladies, Siamese twins, and crippled old women on display for the entire world to gawk at. 

Escape – The Story of the Great Houdini : There's something magical about magic, isn't there?!  And even today, there's something magical about the life of America's greatest magician.  Even in an era where seeing it is believing it, the stories of a long-forgotten Houdini will capture your kids' imaginations.

Mao's Last Dancer : Let's face it – Middle schoolers are passionate about wrestling with what's fair and what's unfair.  That makes any book connected to life in Communist China — a place of almost incomprehensible injustice — an interesting read. 

This title — which details the life story of a poor Chinese boy who grew up hating America only to discover that everything he'd been taught was nothing but a lie — gives students the chance to think about the role that governments play in keeping people down. 

So when ARE you going to start taking practical steps to introduce students to interersting biographies



Related Radical Reads:

Reading is NOT Optional

Real Men Read



2 thoughts on “A Minute for Change: Biographies Matter [Podcast]

  1. Bill Ferriter

    Im with you, Hatch. Most of the time when I read a biography, I end up learning a ton about time periods. And they inevitably introduce me to more people that I want to learn about. Thats why I like them so much.
    And no joke — Im pretty excited about my little voice project here. Thats a Dean Shareski idea, but it makes sense to me. I always invent a voice for the people that I read regularly. Theres no need for invented voices, though, when tools like Spreaker are free.
    Finally, Im not REALLY a Southerner! I was born and raised in Buffalo — even if I have spent the past 20 years in NC.
    Yall is a GREAT word though. Definitely one of my favorite things about being a Southerner.
    Rock on,

  2. Hatchderek

    Thanks for introducing me to the Speaker podcasting tool. I love the way it works and looks on your blog!
    I really connected with what you say about Biographies. One should choose biographies based on the theme rather than on the person. I am also a fan of biographies. I recently read the story of John Lennon, as told by his sister. Even though I am not a big fan of his, I gained an appreciation of what was going on in the world at this time. Also, I learned about English culture which prompted me to speak to my dad (also English) about growing up in England and the differences between English and Canadian culture.
    Thanks for the podcast. As you said in a previous post, it is great to be able to put a voice to a name. I actually thought that you would have more of a southern accent based on the way you toss “y’all” around.
    Makes sense, eh?

Comments are closed.