Sunday, May 6, 2007

Selected Memoirs by Children's and YA Authors

Do you know a student who has a very favorite author? If so, s/he might enjoy reading that author's memoir. Learning more about an author's own life experiences can provide a reader with additional insight into the author's works of fiction, including greater understanding about his or her choice of subject matter, characters, etc. Here is a selected list of author memoirs that are popular among our middle school students:

Cleary, Beverly. A Gift from Yamhill: a Memoir
Follows the popular children's author from her childhood years in Oregon through high school and into young adulthood, highlighting her family life and her growing interest in writing.

Cleary, Beverly. My Own Two Feet: a Memoir
Follows the popular children's author through college years during the Depression; jobs including that of librarian; marriage; and writing and publication of her first book, "Henry Huggins."

Crutcher, Chris. King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography
Chris Crutcher, author of young adult novels such as "Ironman" and "Whale Talk," as well as short stories, tells of growing up in Cascade, Idaho, and becoming a writer.

Ehrlich, Amy, ed. When I Was Your Age: Original Stories About Growing Up
This collection includes: All-ball / by Mary Pope Osborne -- The great rat hunt / by Laurence Yep -- Everything will be okay / by James Howe -- Why I never ran away from home / by Katherine Paterson -- Reverend Abbott and those bloodshot eyes / by Walter Dean Myers -- Muffin / by Susan Cooper -- Taking a dare / by Nicholasa Mohr -- Flying / by Reeve Lindbergh -- Scout's honor / by Avi -- Blue / by Francesca Lia Block.

Fleischman, Sid. The Abracadabra Kid: a Writer's Life
The autobiography of the Newbery award-winning children's author who set out from childhood to be a magician.

Gantos, Jack. A Hole in My Life
The author relates how, as a young adult, he became a drug user and smuggler, was arrested, did time in prison, and eventually got out and went to college, all the while hoping to become a writer.

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Don't Tell the Girls
Newbery Honor-winning author, Patricia Reilly Giff, recounts her discoveries as she unravels some of the mysteries of her Irish ancestors.

Kehret, Peg. Five Pages a Day: A Writer's Journey
A biography of the author of numerous books for young people, describing her childhood bout with polio, how she became a writer, family relationships, and the importance of writing in her life.

Lowry, Lois. Looking Back: a Book of Memories
Using family photographs and quotes from her books, the author provides glimpses into her life.

Myers, Walter Dean. Bad Boy: a Memoir

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. How I Came to Be a Writer
Details the career of one writer from stories composed in grade school through first published pieces to novels written to date.

Nixon, Joan Lowery. The Making of a Writer
The author recalls events from her childhood that contributed to her development as a writer.

Nuwer, Hank. To the Young Writer: Nine Writers Talk About Their Craft
Nine writers, including a Hollywood screenwriter, a novelist, and a sportswriter, talk about their craft, including:
Angelo Pizzo: scripting for Hollywood -- Patrick O'Driscoll: covering the news -- Rebecca Kai Dotlich: the joy and tears of poetry -- Dale Ratermann: the sports world -- David Young: the craft of advertising -- Alanna Nash: reviewing the music -- Toyomi Igus: multicultural messages for readers of all ages -- Max Aguilera-Hellweg: a visual storyteller -- Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: the challenges of fiction .

Paulsen, Gary. The Beet Fields: Memories of a Sixteenth Summer
The author recalls his experiences as a migrant laborer and carnival worker after he ran away from home at age sixteen.

Paulsen, Gary. Guts, or, How I Lived the Same as Brian Robeson
The author relates incidents in his life and how they inspired parts of his books about the character, Brian Robeson.

Paulsen, Gary. My Life in Dog Years
The author describes some of the dogs that have had special places in his life, including his first dog, Snowball, in the Philippines; Dirk, who protected him from bullies; and Cookie, who saved his life.

Peck, Richard. Anonymously Yours
The popular author describes how he grew up in Decatur, Illinois, went into teaching, and eventually became a writer, incorporating his earlier experiences into novels intended to reach and change young readers.

Spinelli, Jerry. Knots in My Yo-Yo String: the Autobiography of a Kid
This Italian-American Newbery Medalist presents a humorous account of his childhood and youth in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

Uchida, Yoshiko. The Invisible Thread
Children's author, Yoshiko Uchida, describes growing up in Berkeley, California, as a Nisei, second generation Japanese American, and her family's internment in a Nevada concentration camp during World War II.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Laura's Album: a Remembrance Scrapbook of Laura Ingalls Wilder
Photographs and mementos accompany an account of the life and literary career of the author of the well-loved "Little House" books.

Zindel, Paul. The Pigman and Me
An account of Paul Zindel's teenage years on Staten Island, when his life was enriched by finding his own personal pigman, or mentor.

Yep, Laurence. The Lost Garden
The author describes how he grew up as a Chinese American in San Francisco and how he came to use his writing to celebrate his family and his ethnic heritage.

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