Sunday, November 16, 2008

Life Stories

A biography is the true story of a life, and the 921 section of our library contains literally hundreds of such life stories of individuals. Biographies recently added to our collection include Roberto Clemente, Wangari Mathaai, John McCain, Barack Obama, Coco Chanel, Edward Hopper, Isamu Noguchi, and Althea Gibson, to name just a few. Some of these are written in a narrative style -- as a prose story beginning to end, without chapters though with perhaps a timeline or afterword providing further information. Others are written in a more "typically" non-fiction manner, with tables of contents, chapters reflecting the chronology of the subject's life, pictures with captions, and indexes. We even have some life stories captured in poetic form, such as Carver: A Life in Poems, by Marilyn Nelson.

Often reading a picture book biography alongside a more detailed biography provides a complete experience, particularly for middle grade readers. The initial step of becoming intrigued, in short form, by a person's life is a delightful one, and it provides a context for more in-depth information. Building an inviting, varied, and comprehensive collection of life stories in our library is an on-going task -- challenging and inspiring!