6 Amazing Biography Book Series Teachers and Students will Love

I love having my students read biographies.  Not only does this expose them to a new genre of writing, but there is quite often a great social studies or history connection too!  And . . . if that wasn’t enough, there are so many amazing people that can inspire our students to do anything, go anywhere, be all they can dream of being!  I’m excited to share some of my favorite biographies for elementary students and activities we use when studying this genre.

Find six great biography series for elementary students

Amazing Biographies for Kids

Over the years I’ve seen lots and lots of biographies.  Here are my absolute favorites that are not only well written but have been loved by elementary students too!  

1. Ordinary People Change the World by Brad Meltzer

Brad Meltzer is a biography genius when it comes to writing for kids!  Not only are his books great for learning about the lives of some amazing people, but his format is so engaging.  This biography series, Ordinary People Change the World, is top-notch! Using great images and a combination of traditional text and comic book style formatting, even the most reluctant of readers love these books.
Ordinary People Who Change the world is an excellent biography series for elementary students

Just look at those inviting books and amazing real-life stories.  Each book is filled with facts about the lives of these great people.  The images really draw the students into the books too! Check out these pages from the Leonardo DaVinci book:
Brad Metzler writes an amazing biography series for elementary students like this one on Leonardo Da Vinci
Brad Metzler writes an amazing biography series for elementary students like this one on Leonardo Da Vinci
It’s a masterful way to connect real photos with illustrations and traditional text with graphic novels.

2. You Should Meet . . . by Ready to Read

The You Should Meet series is a wonderful biography series for elementary students
Another great biography series for elementary students is the You Should Meet series published by the team at Ready to Read.  These guys have been publishing high-quality readers for a variety of skill levels that are perfect for our young students.  
These short chapter books are a great option for students who love picture books and aren’t quite ready for a longer, more traditional chapter book.  Ready to Read has a great combination of text and images in these Level 3 biographies.
Take a peek inside the book about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
This Ruth Bader Ginsburg biography is an excellent example of a biography written for elementary students

With biographies from a variety of people around the world, you are sure to find the perfect book to connect to your lessons or your students’ interests.

3.  Step into Reading Biographies

Another great publisher that has been filling the shelves of classroom libraries for many years is Step into Reading.  What started as fiction books has expanded into a very nice selection of non-fiction books as well.  Their biographies are a fantastic option for elementary students of all ages.
Step into Reading publishes a great series of biography books for elementary students
With biography options from Level 2 to Level 5 these books are great for 1st grade readers and up!   

4. The Story Of . . .  A Biography Series for New Readers

Another great biography series for elementary students is The Story Of . . . series.  Designed for kids ages six to nine, these books have pulled out all stops when it comes to helping students read and understand. 
The Story of book series is a great option for elementary students reading biographies
Each biography book includes short chapters that won’t intimidate your students.  Throughout the text, important words are highlighted and even there’s even a glossary to help students as they are reading!  A great learning tool that will help students increase their comprehension as they read these inspiring stories.  
One of my favorite features is the Think Tank questions that are built into the book’s page layout.  A great way to get kids thinking about what they are reading without having a teacher right there!
Take a peek into The Story of Helen Keller:
This Helen Keller biography is a great example of a wonderful biography series for elementary students.

5.  Easy Reader Biographies by Scholastic

I don’t know about you, but Scholastic is a trusted book provider in my classroom.  For decades they have been providing teachers and students with quality books for reading instruction and reading pleasure.  These Easy Reader Biographies are a great option for younger students or lower-level reading students.
Scholastic Easy Reader Biography Series for elementary students is a great example of books for young and emerging readers.
This series has 12 books, each written for Guided Reading Levels I – J.  That makes these books perfect for your 1st and 2nd graders or struggling readers.  Non-fiction can be accessible to all our readers!

6. National Geographic Kids Biographies

Another trusted source in non-fiction texts is National Geographic.  With access to some of the best photos and archives of people and events, National Geographic is the creator of some of the best non-fiction books around, including biographies.  One of my favorite things in these readers is the use of real photos.  There’s something about a photograph that helps students connect this to real life.  They also take students back in time giving them a view of history that many other publishers can’t provide.
National Geographic Kids offers great biography books for elementary students filled with historical photos and other non-fiction text features to help them as they read
These National Geographic Kids biographies come in a variety of levels, making them a great option for many elementary students.
Take a peek inside this Rosa Parks biography and check out all the amazing photos and features that make these books so engaging for our young readers:
This page from the Rosa Parks by National Geographic Kids shows the great resources included in this biography for elementary students

You Can’t Go Wrong with Biographies

If you are teaching in an elementary classroom you can’t go wrong with any of the biography series listed above.  Just like we all have personal preferences for books and movies, your students will also likely be drawn to different biography books.  
All of the series are just a little different and I think that helps students to develop a well-rounded view of this genre.  I think it also helps them to learn some valuable lessons about books too!
  • Not all books with illustrations are fiction
  • Real-life events and people can be engaging and entertaining like a story
  • Books can help us learn and inspire us
In my classroom, I love to make books for a variety of sources available in our classroom library.  This is something that I have built up little by little over the years I’ve been teaching.  But if you don’t have a classroom library don’t worry!  Use your school library and community library to provide your students with a variety of options.
Young kids love reading and learning about others and these biographies for elementary students provide lots of great options

Biography Activities

1. Fact and Opinion

As a non-fiction text source, biographies give us many different connections we can make to other reading skills.  One of my favorites is fact and opinion.  Learning to recognize fact from opinion is an important skill our students will use throughout their lives.  It will help them determine important information, give weight to different things they read or hear, and help them determine the author or speaker’s purpose.  As we strive to train our students to become thinkers and able to process information in order to draw their own conclusions, differentiating facts from opinions is a valuable tool.  

2. Non-Fiction Text Features

Using biographies to teach non-fiction text features is a great elementary classroom reading lesson as these books are filled with great text features our students can learn about and identify

Many of these biographies series I love to use are written with a variety of non-fiction text features.  This is a great way to teach students about how these text features can help them improve their understanding of the non-fiction books they read.  

I introduce text features with these posters and activities and keep in them in the room where we can easily refer to them all.year.long!  Each time we talk about a new non-fiction text feature we add the coordinating poster to the wall.  They are perfect for these biographies or any non-fiction text you use in class.
Some of the non-fiction text features I teach my students from these biographies are:
  1. Headings & Sub-Headings
  2. Bold Print
  3. Photos & Captions
  4. Timelines
  5. Table of Contents
  6. Glossary
  7. Index
I love talking about these features as we read biographies together.  We focus on what each text feature does and how it can help us better understand what we are reading.  It’s so fun to watch them as they find these helpful text features on their own during independent reading.

3. Introductory Research and Note Taking

I also love to use biographies as a great introduction to research for my students.  Once students can identify facts, they are ready to dig into some basic research skills like finding facts and documenting them.  This introduction to research and note-taking is at the most basic of levels, but we are laying the foundation for the research projects and college thesis papers of the future.

Grab These Free Biography Note Taking Templates

These biography note taking templates are a great way for your elementary students to work on basic note-taking skills.  As students are reading a biography, have them find and write down three facts about the person.  These can be used as a stand-alone activity, a biography reading response activity, or as the first step in a research project.
Free Biography Note Taking Templates for Elementary Students
Grab your free biography templates today!

Biography Research Project

If your students are ready to take their research to the next level, then you will love this ready-to-use Biography Research Project packet.  Designed for younger students, this research project kit will guide your students from start to finish.
All of the templates in this biography research packet can be used with any person or biography book.  There are differentiated options so you can choose the level of note-taking and reporting that works best for your students.  Students will also learn about creating a timeline as a method of ordering events in time.
Fun and engaging biography research activities for young students
I love to use this at the end of the year as a culminating social studies, reading and writing activity.  Students will choose person and read a biography about that person.  As they read, students will take notes about the person.  
Biography research activities for elementary students

Then students will create a timeline and final project about the biography they read.  This can be presented to the class or displayed on a bulletin board.  Not only do the students love sharing all they learned but they enjoy learning from their peers too!
Martin Luther King Jr. Biography report example
You can find all of these Biography Student Report templates and activities in this Biography Packet on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Biography activities for elementary students

Save these Biography Books and Teaching Ideas

Don’t waste time searching the internet when I’ve already done that for you!  Just pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can quickly come back here when you are ready to teach biographies.  All these book ideas and teaching resources will be right here!
Your young readers are going to love these amazing biography books and activities.


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