It’s Monday and Here’s What I’m Reading #IMWAYR: Biography Picture Books to launch a genre study and book club


It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and Sheila at BookJourney

We’ve launched our biography genre study with two fabulous picture books which inspired great conversations about why we read biographies, and what we can learn from the experience.

Twenty Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank beautifully written by Paula Yoo and illustrated by Jamel Akib, is the inspiring story of the Bangladeshi economist and academic who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his innovative microbank – the Grameen Bank.  Grameen is based on the philosophy of allowing people (mosly women in impoverished countries) to borrow very small amounts of money at very low interest rates and thus work towards lifting themselves out of poverty.   Yunus was raised in an altruistic family, and we learn of how his conscience brought him back to war torn Bangla Desh from his comfortable professorship here in America, and went about changing the lives of so many women and their families for the better.

Kathleen Krull’s marvelous story Harvesting Hope:The Story of Cesar Chavez, brilliantly illustrated by Yuyi Morales has been part of my classroom library for a long time.  I love reading this one aloud as an introduction to biography because it allows my kids to see how individuals are moved to act on behalf of justice – even when taking the spotlight is contrary to their own inclinations.

After first discussing the features of biography and why we read this genre:

biog 1biog 4We began reading these titles aloud through the lenses of three questions:

What did I learn about ___________________________?

What did I understand about his/her character/influences?

What did I learn about the historical time frame this person lived in?

biog 3 biog 2

We had some fascinating conversations about the way people are inspired to act in the world they live in – to respond to the crises and challenges of their time.   My hope is that, as we begin to read our biographies in book clubs, that these early conversations will take root and that new ideas will emerge.

We will read two more  marvelous biographies, Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carlson, written by Amy Ehrlich and illustrated by Wendell Minor, and (a personal favorite) Jeannine Atkins’ gorgeous  Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon, gloriously illustrated by Michael Dooling

about half way through book clubs to refresh and remind ourselves of these early ideas.


7 thoughts on “It’s Monday and Here’s What I’m Reading #IMWAYR: Biography Picture Books to launch a genre study and book club

  1. PB bios are among my very favorite books! So glad you’re sharing with your students. I haven’t seen the book about Rachel Carson and I love Wendell Minor’s work, so I’ll definitely be looking for that one.

  2. We just finished our biography unit – thanks for your suggestion! I ended up focusing on perseverance with ours, and these titles are ones I can add to my collection.

  3. What a brilliant unit. I love the integration of social justice issues into the biography theme. It wasn’t easy to find a copy of Twenty Two Cents: Muhammad Yunus and the Village Bank, but I discovered one from Book Depository. I’ll look forward to finding out how your work goes with these next two titles.

  4. I’ve read both Two Cents and Harvesting Hope but not the other two books. Looks really great, Tara. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of your classroom discussion too! Very lovely!

Thank you for reading my blog! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s