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Middle School: Biography and Autobiography


Title: Bad Boy: a Memoir
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Copyright date: 2001
Description: Myers describes his childhood and school years in mid-20th-century Harlem as a very active boy who regularly gets into trouble in school and on the street. His skills as a reader and writer separate him from his peers and family, but eventually lead to his success as an award-winning author.

Title: Charles and Emma: Darwin’s Leap of Faith
Author: Deboroah Heiligman
Copyright date: 2009
Description: This biography covers Darwin’s work and the 19th century background, but focuses on his long relationship with his wife, a devout Christian who feared his scientific beliefs would doom him to hell. A love story with all the accouterments of an academic biography: genealogy charts, source notes, bibliography, and index.

Title: Smile
Author: Raina Telgemeier
Copyright date: 2009
Description: A memoir in graphic-novel form that deals with life as teens know it (school, friends, family, puberty), with a couple of unusual twists: an accident requiring years of dental surgery and apparatus to repair damaged front teeth and a young artist discovering her voice, and her smile.

Title: Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood
Author: Ibtisam Barakat
Copyright date: 2007
Description: Describing the West Bank during the 1967 war and occupation, Ibtisam writes of village life, family, loss, fear, and learning to read and write. These last help her move from “forgetting to remembering.” Framed by an “historical note” and suggestions for further reading, the child’s voice is immediate and evocative.

Title: A Dangerous Engine: Benjamin Franklin, from Scientist to Diplomat
Author: Joan Dash
Copyright date: 2006
Description: This biography focusing on Franklin’s adult life may be an intellectual challenge for some middle-schoolers, but its nearly square shape, generous type size and line spacing, humorous line drawings, and lively writing style may draw readers to tackle a fascinating time in the history of our country and of science.

Title: The Life And Death of Adolf Hitler
Author: James Cross Giblin
Copyright date: 2002
Description: An evenhanded portrait of one of the world’s most terrifying dictators.  This successful biography traces Hitler’s life from childhood to his final desperate hours. The author sheds light on both the man and the social and political conditions that shaped his rise to power and brought about one of the greatest human tragedies the world has ever known.

Title: The Great And Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life Of Showman P.T. Barnum
Author: Candace Fleming
Copyright date: 2009
Description: A captivating biography of P.T. Barnum that celebrates the life of one of America’s greatest showmen. Readers get an intimate look at Barnum, but also the many fascinating people who helped make both his museum and traveling circus the greatest on earth. The text contains many period photos, posters, and interesting historical sidebars.

Title: Three Little Words
Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Copyright date: 2008
Description: A poignant memoir of Ashley Rhodes-Courter’s life in the foster care system. As the child of an addict, Ashley was taken away from her mother at the age of three and spent the next nine years of her life in and out of foster and group homes. An inspirational tale of one young woman’s desperate struggle to survive and her incredible triumph as an advocate for foster care youth.

Title: Persepolis
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Copyright date: 2003
Description: A powerful graphic novel autobiography of a young woman growing up during the Islamic Revolution and Iran-Iraq war. Historically and culturally insightful, Satrapi takes readers into her tumultuous world of extremist politics, religion, and coming of age in Tehran.

Title: The Burn Journals
Author: Brent Runyon
Copyright date: 2005
Description: The harrowing account of eighth grader Brent Runyon’s desperate attempt to end his life by setting himself on fire. This memoir chronicles Brent’s yearlong journey towards psychological and physical recovery from his depression. Told in frank first person narrative, Brent reveals his most intimate fears, thoughts, and dreams.