June marks two very important birthdays , two young women who amazed the world and who continue to inspire long after their lives have ended. Helen Keller was born on June 27th, 1880 and Anne Frank was born on June 12th , 1929 . Although their lives were very different their life stories were both fraught with immeasurable adversity as well as tragedy and triumph respectively.
These women inspire me to teach about biography , more specifically auto biography. After reading their stories ( various books listed bellow for all different age groups) you can follow these steps to encourage and facilitate your child writing their own life story. During the summer quiet activities like this are often seen as a drag by school age children but making it all about them seems to soften the blow and spark their interest.
Here are some great prompts and discussion topics you and your child can use to move from reading about either one of these women and into writing about their own lives.
I have added 2 questions for every section , one for an older child doing the writing but needing help with prompts. The other is for a younger child who is dictating the answers to a parent/caregiver who is writing them.
In a biography the beginning of the book is usually focused on the subjects early life. What is your first memory?
What do you remember about being a baby? Who did you live with? What did you play with?
Older child :
What challenges did Anne/and or Helen face when she was a child? Have you had to face any challenges?
Younger Child :
Have you ever had to do anything really hard? Did anyone help you?
Older Child :
What did you learn from these challenges, did they make you a better person?
What can you do all by yourself now? When something is hard what do you do?
Then together use these answers as you write about their life, challenges and if you want add a “future chapter” where they can write what they think they will be life in the future.Take your time doing this, you can rush through it in a hour or make it a week long project all depending on your child’s interest. Older children can type it up, and younger ones can take time to decorate a cover for their very own book.
Books to consider :
A Picture Book of Anne Frank by David A. Adler and Karen Ritz
A Picture Book of Helen Keller by David A. Adler and John and Alexandra Wallner.
These first 2 books by David A. Adler while targeted at the K-3 crowd can easily be used as an introduction for children up to 12. The text will be very simple for them but especially in the case of Anne Frank where many questions will be asked, and some terrifying details can’t be avoided a simple introduction is best. Both of these books are widely available in libraries as well.
The Story of Anne Frank by Brenda Ralph Lewis
Who Was Helen Keller by Gare Thompson and Nancy Harrison
These books take the details and the complexity of both Helen Keller’s and Anne Frank’s lives and present them to the older reader. I would use these book for the 4th-8th grades. An 8th grader will fly through the text but not the information. I really enjoyed both these books because it touched on all the details I have gathered from adult biographies on these women but balanced it with tid- bits about their lives that forces the reader to relate to them.
Do you have a favorite book or activity to aid children in learning about these amazing women?
Allison McDonald is the founder of No Time For Flash Cards and former preschool teacher.
- March is for Reading
- Reading: It’s About the Connection
Tags: education, women, Writing
Leave a Reply