Key Ideas From Chapter 9

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Key Ideas From Chapter 9

  1. 1. Key Ideas from Chapter 9--Biography  Biography, autobiography and memoir all tell the story of the life or a portion of the life of a real person.  Biographies and autobiographies straddle the boundary between fiction and nonfiction.  Memoirs are based on events in the life of the author, but are interpretive accounts in which events are selected, arranged, and constructed in order to bring out a particular theme or personality trait.  Some biographies are episodic and highlight only a certain period of a person’s life.  Some biographies are chronological; they recount the events of a subject’s life in the order in which they occurred.  Most biographies for young readers today are authentic biographies, well- documented stories about individuals in which even the dialogue is based on some record of what was actually said or written by particular people of particular times.  Biographical fiction consists almost entirely of imagined conversations and reconstructed events in the life of an individual.  Some biographies focus on a single individual; others are collective biographies about several individuals, usually focused around a theme or other unifying principle.  Biographies are no longer viewed as an opportunity for moral enlightenment of children. Instead, a good biography illuminates the interaction between an individual and historical events, demonstrating how a person’s time and culture influence life even as a person influences his/her time and culture.  Children who read biographies begin to see their lives in relations to those of the past, learn a vast amount of social detail about the past, and consider the human problems and relationships of the present in the light of those in the past.  Biographies need to be stories grounded in source material, portraits of real people rather than paragons, and historically accurate depictions of time and place.  Biographies need to present both a vivid and an accurate picture of the life and times of the subject and differentiate between fact and opinion, or fact and legend.  Careful biographers find a balance between telling everything and telling just enough to portray a person’s life accurately.
  2. 2.  A rich and vivid depiction of the social details of a person’s life make that person’s personally and accomplishments more understandable.  Biographers must consider their subjects as individuals rather than paragons, and portray individuals who are multidimensional.  The theme highlights special qualities of the subject.  Biographies portray people from political and military leaders to philosophers and religious leaders, scientists and inventors, adventurers and explorers, practitioners of the arts, sports heroes, and even extraordinary ordinary people.

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