Comparing and contrasting biographies

One way of introducing children to biographies is to choose a range that are all written about the same person. This means that children can consider purpose and audience and how this affects the information contained and the way it is presented.  This would be particularly suitable for KS2 who could then make choices about how they write about a person. One set of biographies I have enjoyed is those about Josephine Baker.

jo1The first book about Josephine is Josephine: The dazzling life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson. The book is as exuberant as Baker herself and is told in verse and is as rhythmic and lively as the dance that filled her life. Hers is a story of struggle and triumph both in her working life and private life.

Books that would be good to compare with this one are Josephine Baker by Izabel Sanchez Vegara and Agathe Sorlett. Simply, but well told, this is the perfect book for younger children.  Finally there is Josephine by Jose-Louis Bocquet which is a graphic novel written for young adults.  Sections of this book can be shared with children.

The opening pages by Sanchez and Bocquet are shown below.

The trailer for Josephine: The Dazzling life of Josephine Baker is brilliant.  The individual words could be used as starting points to find out more about her as it really supports the idea that people we write about are very special.


Children could then choose 8 words to describe the person they want to write about as a planning and organising tool and even create an animation as a trailer.

Other posts about biographies you may be interested in are

The 10 best picture book biographies.

The Right Word: Roget and his thesaurus by Bryant and Sweet

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