Language Arts is the premier journal for the teaching of language arts, focusing primarily on issues concerning children of preschool through middle school age.
Vol. 96, No. 3, January 2019
How a biographer sees and understands his or her subject influences how that biography is written. This article describes three clues to discovering a biographer’s perspective and suggests how young readers can use these clues when reading or writing biography.
Erika Thulin Dawes, Mary Ann Cappiello, and Lorraine Magee, with Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet
Over the course of a six-week genre study in a suburban third-grade classroom, students read and reread four picturebook biographies created by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet and heard a read-aloud of Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White, Melissa Sweet’s (2016) chapter-length biography. They explored a range of Orbis Pictus and Robert F. Sibert Medal-winning biographies of diverse contemporary and historical subjects. Students also interviewed community members and wrote and illustrated original picturebook biographies. An analysis of characterization, context, and theme—as evidenced through visual and written motifs within the students’ writing and back matter—suggests that focused attention to a small group of mentor texts and intentional exploration of the author’s and illustrator’s processes can lead to deeper reader/writer engagement with and understanding of the genre.
In this column, the author takes a critical perspective on life writing and argues that language arts classrooms should incorporate the use of children’s nonfiction and literacy practices that support multiple identities, languages, modes, and histories.
Cinthya M. Saavedra
Drawing on perspectives from Chicana feminist theories, this column discusses testimonio as a way to integrate children’s “literacies from within” into the language arts curriculum.
Alan R. Bailey
In this interview, award-winning author Carole Boston Weatherford discusses why she writes biographies for children and the importance of introducing young readers to significant, yet unrecognized, African Americans.
Grace Enriquez, Mary Ann Cappiello, Katie Egan Cunningham, and Erika Thulin Dawes
In this column, we review and recommend several recently published biographies and memoir in the field of children’s literature.
Latinx children’s biographies give young readers a means to imagine their own transformation and transcendence.