A biography (sometimes called a bio) is a nonfiction account of someone’s life.
The bare bones of a bio will usually include their date of birth, essential aspects of their life, and their current impact on society (whether they are still alive or have since passed).
However, biographies are much more than just a list of facts about a person. They intend to pull you into their lives, telling you intimate details about their relationships, work, personality, and hobbies – you leave having a greater understanding of who they are or were. What was it like to be their friend? What was it like to be married to them? What kind of impact did they have on their work?
Types of Biographies
We already know that a biography is an account of somebody’s life written by someone other than the biography’s subject. But there are a few different types that you may come across.
An authorized biography is written with permission from the subject of the biography. With this type of biography, the author will usually interview the issue and people close to the topic. The problem typically has more control over the information presented in these biographies.
Alternatively, if you feel you can take on the task yourself, you’re about to write an autobiography! The subject writes this type of biography about their own life. These can be placed into four broad categories: thematic, religious, intellectual, and fictionalized.
Memoirs are similar to autobiographies. They are written by the subject about their own life, although memories often focus more on the people in the subject’s life and the effect they’ve had on the subject.
The purpose of biographies
Information for courses
Biographies are fantastic sources of information for almost any subject. You can fit a biography into practically every area of your curriculum. Need to learn more about black holes? Read a biography on Steven Hawking or Albert Einstein. Maybe you want to learn more about the horrific slave trade in early America. Innumerable biographies are written about enslaved people who fought to free the enslaved.
Biographies are an excellent source of inspiration. You can learn details about the lives of people of significant influence and success. Students can be given examples of people who changed the world and looked like them or came from similar backgrounds. Biographies can show children that failure and hardship are part of bringing change to the world.
Teaches life lessons
Biographies are excellent examples of life lessons. They can help teach children how to solve complex life problems, such as persevering to achieve goals, maintaining a proper perspective, listening and learning from others, dealing with failure, and developing a love for learning.
Elements of a biography
You will be able to identify a biography by determining whether it has these features or not:
- Describe the life of a natural person.
- Written in the past tense.
- Use third-person pronouns.
- Use the passive voice.
- Information is factual.
- The story is told with respect.
- Develops a person as a natural and exciting person rather than a stereotype or caricature.
Five biography activity examples that you can use with your children!
This biography details the 45th President of the United States’ life, including his father’s success in real estate, his three marriages, and his journey to becoming president. This biography can be used for social studies lessons or to educate your children about the current president. In addition, your students will learn fun facts about President Trump that they will use to write a short essay or answer a few reading comprehension questions!
David Crockett (more commonly known as Davy Crockett) was a soldier and politician known as the “King of the Wild Frontier.” He grew up in Tennessee and was known there for his engaging storytelling. He fought in the Battle of the Alamo after being captured by the Mexican army and was an important figure in the Texas Revolution.
Betsy Ross is known for sewing the very first American Flag. She became a patriotic icon in the late 19th century after sewing the Stars and Stripes flag. With this activity, you learn all kinds of interesting facts about Betsy Ross, such as that her story didn’t become popular until 50 years after her death when her grandson published her report in a newspaper. This activity also leaves room for your children to answer a few reading comprehension questions.
One of the most influential women in American politics, Hillary Clinton, is well known for running for President of the United States in 2015 and her time as First Lady of the White House while her husband served as President from 1992 to 1996
Joe Biden is known for being the current President-Elect, soon to be the 46th President of the United States. He served as the Vice President from 2008 to 2015 during the Obama Administration.