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Online Programs: Inside Out

To the Educator: Biography Extension

Biographies are written accounts of a person’s life and an excellent way to understand how an individual’s legacy evolved. Read a biography of an individual to see how his or her life was influenced by experience within a historical context. Read how individual interests and values influenced his or her life.

These are some examples of individuals whose lives became significant in history because they pursued what was centrally important to them, often in the face of opposition and struggle.

When reading one of these books, continue to ask yourself what can be learned from this person about conviction, passions, vocation, and service.

In what way do you connect to the story?
How would lives be different if she or he had been born in another country?
Or of another ethnicity?
Can you point to one or two significant experiences in her or his life?


Brill, Marlene Tang. Extraordinary Young People. Children’s Press: 1996. (Juvenile, Nonfiction)

This book tells the stories of extraordinary achievements made by young people over the course of history. Contributions include Rachel Carson, Thomas Edison, Judy Garland, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It also includes inspirational contributions made by a thirteen-year-old cancer researcher, a nine-year-old pilot, and a twelve-year-old freedom fighter.

Cush, Cathie. Women Who Achieved Greatness. Raintree Steck-Vaughn Publishers: 1995 (Juvenile, Non-fiction)

This book presents the stories of twenty women that had a major effect on history. It is arranged to introduce the concept of cause and effect and the relationship of the past to the present.

Freedman, Russell. Martha Graham: A Dancer’s Life. Clarion: 1998. (Juvenile, Non-fiction)

A photo-biography of the American dancer, teacher and choreographer who was born in Pittsburgh in 1895 and who became a leading figure in the world of modern dance.

Gilblin, James Cross. Charles Lindberg: A Human Hero. Clarion: 1997. (Juvenile Biography)

A biography of the pilot whose life was full of controversy and tragedy, but also fulfilling achievements.

Stewart, John. Winds in the Woods: The Story of John Muir. Westminter Press: 1975. (Juvenile, Non-fiction)

This is the story of a self-taught naturalist, writer, and artist. John Muir is known as an individualist, adventurer, and a prophet of ecology.


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