We love handing over an excellent biography or memoir to the young adult readers we know. There’s no better way to help them connect with history and take a walk in someone else’s shoes. Here are some of our favorite recent memoirs and biographies for teens.
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1. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
Heiligman chronicles the amazing and eccentric lives of the Van Gogh brothers, their relationship with each other, and their work.
2. Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original Girl Reporter by Deborah Noyes
Known for her groundbreaking work exposing the mistreatment of patients in an asylum, Nellie Bly did not let the traditional expectations of female reporters stop her from becoming a pioneering journalist.
3. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle
Written in verse, Engle shares the tension of living between two worlds, Cuba and Los Angeles.
4. Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery
Lowery shares her experience as the youngest marcher fighting for civil rights alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
5. Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, a Life in Balance by Simone Biles
Gymnast Simone Biles shares her personal journey from foster care to Olympic gold medalist.
6. How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana
After witnessing the murders of her mother and younger sister, Sandra Uwiringiyimana escaped a refugee camp in the Congo and immigrated to America. She survived and healed through art and activism.
7. Becoming Kareem: Growing up on and off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Abdul-Jabbar shares how he overcame setbacks and difficulties to become a leader on and off the court.
8. The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose
The Boys Who Challenged Hitler chronicles the life of Knud Pedersen and his classmates whose efforts to sabotage Hitler lead to the Danish resistance.
9. Lion: A Long Way Home Young Readers’ Edition by Saroo Brierley
Lost on a train at age five, homeless, and then placed in an orphanage, Brierley shares the story of how he spent years wondering about his life, searching for his home, and finally finding it.
10. The Keeper: The Unguarded Story of Tim Howard Young Readers’ Edition by Tim Howard
Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, Tim Howard shares the encouraging story of his childhood, long soccer career, and sudden success.
11. Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi
Saedi recounts her childhood as an undocumented Iranian living in America.
12. The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater
The lives of two teens from very different neighborhoods are forever changed and bound together by a horrific crime.
What are your favorite biographies for teens? Come and share in our WeAreTeachers Helplinegroup on Facebook.
Plus, some of our favorite high school reading lists.