Which Biography Series is Right for Your Middle School Student?

Do you add biographies to your history studies? 

How about science, math, and art lessons — do you study the lives of the famous people in these fields?

One way we “bring our learning to life” is by gathering information about the lives of the people involved in the topics we are studying.  As part of our middle school lessons we have found it is very interesting to get to know the people behind the major events we are learning about – where did they live, what was their childhood like, what circumstances influenced their decisions, etc.

Which Biography Series is Right for Your Middle School Student?

Most people naturally think about reading biographies of major historical figures like George Washington or Benjamin Franklin, but there is no reason to stop there!  Our children have enjoyed learning about the lives of artists, scientists, authors, business people, and more.

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It is important to find the right biography series for your student

Unfortunately many students hate history and think it is boring.  Perhaps this is because they believe history is just about memorizing dates or reading dry textbooks.

To help your students understand how exciting and relevant the people and events of the past really are it is important to help them find middle grade biographies that are a good match for their own interests and learning styles.

Over the years we have discovered several different biography series for children.  Some are chapter books, others include a lot of photos, and a few focus on specific time periods in the person’s life.

Most of these books will help your student gather interesting facts.  Some will provide enough information for kids to create a Biography Report to document their findings.  A few will even offer hands-on activities to really expand the child’s understanding of the person and their accomplishments/contributions.

For Kids Series

The For Kids Series is perfect for “hands-on” learners.  Each book blends historical information including maps, timelines, images, etc. with 20+ learning activities (most can be completed with items found around the house).

Some of the famous lives brought to life with this series include:

  • Leonardo daVinci
  • Isaac Newton
  • William Shakespeare
  • Lewis & Clark
  • Beethoven

Childhood of Famous Americans

The books in the Childhood of Famous Americans series are fictionalized biographies that share stories of the early lives of famous Americans.  These chapter books include a few basic outline drawings and are just under 200 pages.  My children enjoyed using these titles to imagine what the early years of these famous figures lives were like.

Famous Americans in this biography series include:

  • Helen Keller
  • Paul Revere
  • Jackie Robinson
  • Sacagawea
  • Molly Pitcher

Who Was ___?

This is one of my children’s favorite series!  We often refer to the Who Was? books as the “big head” biographies because of the artwork on the cover of each book.  Short, easy to read chapters cover the person’s life from childhood through adulthood.  Interesting facts, a timeline and bibliography are included in each book.

Some of our favorites in this series include:

  • George Lucas
  • Walt Disney
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Neil Armstrong
  • Steve Jobs

DK Biography – A Photographic Story of a Life

If your children prefer more images, DK Biography is a series to consider.  Filled with photos, maps, timelines, and definition boxes, these bright and colorful books grab the reader’s attention.

World leaders in this biography series include:

  • Gandhi
  • Marie Curie
  • Mother Teresa
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Harriet Tubman

Saddleback Graphic Biography

Written in a short, comic book style, the Saddleback Graphic Biographies are fast-paced, engaging, and easy to read.  Each title is about 32 pages and includes full-color drawing with speech bubbles and nonfiction text.

Biographies in this series include:

  • Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Davy Crockett
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Charles Lindbergh

 What is your child’s favorite biography series?


  1. We love the Heroes of History series. Those are some of the best biographies I’ve ever read. Thanks for sharing your favorites. We LOVE learning history through great books. I’m off to check out that graphic biography series. It sounds like something that might be a great fit for my dyslexic, non-fiction-loving boy.

    1. Thanks for the suggestion Kris, we will check out the Heroes of History series! I also have a non-fiction-loving boy with reading challenges and that is how we found the series above.

  2. Biographies definitely make history much more interesting! Thanks for making it easier to choose where to start!

  3. Love, love, love this list of biography resources! Great selections πŸ™‚

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