My kids love to read. My oldest daughter enjoys mysteries and adventures into the unknown. My middle girl likes stories of lighter fare with lovable protagonists or animals that talk. My son is into anything with sports, spies, or pirates. As long as I remember this, I have a pretty good chance that they will enjoy the books I give them.
While my children’s interests differ, there is one genre that has the potential to encompass everything they are looking for in a good book. That genre is biography. It may not seem like an obvious choice for kids; however, a good one can easily fit into any of the categories I’ve mentioned above.
There are many other reasons why I encourage my kids to read biographies.
1. It allows them to see the world in new ways. The Bible says in Acts 17:26 “From one man He made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” There’s more to life than what they can see out our front door. They can learn vicariously from others whose life is nothing like ours.
2. It teaches them lessons they might not otherwise have learned. Wisdom can be gleaned from other’s life experiences and behaviors. This learning process is often far more satisfying, and more lasting, than reading a list dos and don’ts or steps.
3. It creates empathy and understanding of others. The story of someone who may have lived in a different era or with a different background exposes children to things they may never experience. Reading another’s story helps them to appreciate their differences or find comfort in our sameness.
4. It extends their view into the future. Hearing about what others have accomplished despite their circumstance encourages them to dream. It gives them hope that they can meet the challenges that come their way.
There is no shortage of biographies written for kids. Right now my tween is reading You Have a Brain, A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. by Ben Carson M.D. This book recounts the story of Ben Carson growing up as a young boy in inner city Detroit, and how he overcame many obstacles to go from the class dummy to world-class neurosurgeon. Dr. Carson shares with us the various trials his family faced as well as the simple principles he’s learned along the way; all the while celebrating the strength and tenacity of his mother who wanted better for her children.
As my children read biographies I know that they will discover fascinating people. I hope the stories behind these people engage my little one’s imaginations and inspire them to think outside themselves and the life they live.
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What are some biographies you and your children have enjoyed reading? Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear from you!