Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Behind the Books: A Look at Life Stories

Last year at this time, I wrote a post about Nonfiction Types, which included references to posts written by Mary Ann Cappiello and Cathy Potter. Since then, Mary Ann and I have continued to discuss these major groupings (which she called subgenres). Now we are both calling them categories.

As we see it, m
ost nonfiction literature for children can be classified in one of four categories: life stories, survey books, specialized nonfiction books, and concept books.

Life stories include:

— “cradle to grave” biographies

—partial or episodic biographies that focus on a pivotal event or period in a person’s life


—collective biographies that feature many different people

In children’s literature, life stories are most commonly presented as either picture books or long-form biographies, but there are some very popular collective biographies have been published in recent years and memoirs are especially popular right now.

Here are some of my favorite life stories to read and study:

The Boy Who Loved Math by Deborah Heiligman

Brave Girl by Michelle Markle

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

El Deafo by Cece Bell

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Lives of the Presidents (and What the Neighbors Thought) by Kathleen Krull
Separate Is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatium

The Right Word by Jen Bryant

Over the next few weeks, I will take look at the other three major nonfiction categories— survey books, specialized nonfiction books, and concept books.

Stay tuned.

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