Dive into the captivating narratives and unique perspectives of noteworthy individuals through biographies for students. From inventors and explorers to activists, artists, and leaders, these stories inspire with tales of resilience and discovery, and showcase the power of positive contributions to the world.
There are a variety of biography series that are written specifically for kids with engaging features such as maps, timelines, photos, and illustrations. This post highlights several series with titles you can access for free, along with some creative ways to integrate biographies into various aspects of your homeschooling curriculum.
Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension
Biographies are an excellent tool for expanding vocabulary and enhancing reading comprehension.
Leveled readers like these from Harcourt, Macmillan McGraw-Hill, and Scott Foresman,include grade-specific vocabulary and comprehension activities within each biography.
For example, this fifth-grade reader on Benedict Arnoldhas highlighted vocabulary words and includes comparison/contrast and paragraph writing activities.
This third-grade reader on George Washington Carver includes highlighted vocabulary, with main idea exercise and writing activities.
You can access more of these types of biographies here.
Another biography for students series that includes comprehension questions is DK Life Stories. The books describe the struggles and triumphs of famous individuals, while providing an overview of the historical context in which they lived. The books also include glossaries of key words that can be used for vocabulary exercises. Check out the list of biographies in the sidebar you can read for free.
Even if you’re using a biography series that does not include vocabulary or comprehension questions, like the Who Was series, you can use graphic organizers such as the following to help pull out important details and information from any biography.
You can also create your own activities using free AI tools. If you have a PDF of a biography, upload it to Claude.ai. If you have the URL of the biography, paste it into Microsoft’s Copilot AI. In either case, you can tell the AI to pull out a list of vocabulary words from the book, and generate vocabulary exercises, comprehension questions, and other activities based on the book.
Create writing prompts and different types of writing exercises based on the biography you’re reading. For example, after reading “Who Was Albert Einstein?” write a newspaper article reporting on one of Einstein’s groundbreaking discoveries. Consider the historical context, the reactions of the scientific community, and the potential impact of the discoveries on society.
Free newspaper templates can be found at Canva. Here are some others:
These books present the stories of influential figures from history, science, and the arts in a comic book style format, generally considered to be more accessible for struggling readers. They are aligned with educational standards and can be used to help students with comprehension, inference, and critical thinking skills.
After reading the bios of famous scientists, inventors, and naturalists, you can do simple experiment recreations and activities with your kids. The Science Sparks site has a number of famous scientist experiments you can try.
Here are some free biographies with suggested related science activities at the end of books:
Biographies not only introduce learners to inspiring individuals, but also open a window into diverse time periods, cultures and geographical landscapes — all great jumping off points for additional learning activities. You can create a Biography Travel Journal and have your child document the geographical locations and cultural aspects associated with each biography.
Take out the maps and pinpoint the places that shaped a biography subject’s story.
Jot down and research interesting facts about the era and place where the subject lived.
Note customs, traditions, arts and music that influenced the subject.
Biographies are a great way to explore how people overcome challenges through positive character traits such as resilience and perseverance. What are some of your favorite biographies, and how have they inspired you? How do you use them in your homeschooling?