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Biographies and Autobiographies that Teens Will Read!

The dreaded homework assignment! Find a book about a real person and read it in one month's time! This list is made up of teen tested titles.

Contributed by Peg Burington, Teen Coordinator at the Waupaca Area Public Library, April 2007 

Sort By: Title | Author | Year  

book jacketAnne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank(1963)Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank's remarkable diary has since become a world classic -- a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

book jacketAutobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy(1994)At age 9, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with a potentially terminal cancer. When she returned to school with a third of her jaw removed, she faced the cruel taunts of classmates who harassed and humiliated her. In this breathtaking memoir, Grealy tells her story of great suffering with remarkable strength and considerable wit.

book jacketBad Boy by Walter Dean Myers(2001)From bad boy to role model, Myers recalls growing up in Harlem in the 1940s and 1950s, when seeing Langston Hughes and Sugar Ray Robinson on the street was the norm and Jackie Robinson ruled the baseball field.

book jacketBeautiful Days of my youth: My Six Months in Auschwitz and Plaszow by Ana Novac(1997)On scraps of paper hidden by friends and strangers until their dying moments, young Ana Novac kept a diary in Auschwitz, a testimony that deserves to become one of the most treasured books of our time.

Bo Knows Bo: The Autobiography of a Ballplayer by Bo Jackson(1990)The autobiography of the former multi-sport professional athlete. Well known for the popular Nike ad campaign "Bo Knows."

book jacketBoy: Tales of Childhood by Roald Dahl(1984)Presents humorous anecdotes from the author's childhood which includes summer vacations in Norway and an English boarding school.

book jacketBurn Journals by Brent Runyon(2004)Brent Runyon was fourteen years old when he set himself on fire. In this book he describes that suicide attempt and his recovery over the following year.

Burnt: A Teenage Addict’s Road to Recovery by Craig Fraser(1989)

book jacketCandyFreak: A journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America by Steve Almond(2005)Remember Caravelles, Choco-Lites, Oompahs, and Marathons? Steve Almond does, but when he couldn't find many of his favorite childhood candies anymore, he embarked on a journey to find them ... and discovered the last surviving little-guy candy producers-makers of the Twin Bing, the Idaho Spud, the Valomilk, and a dozen other quirky confections-in an industry now ruled by conglomerates. By turns candy porn, confession, social history, polemic, and tribute to these survivors of the golden age of the candy bar in America, this is the story of how Steve Almond grew up on candy-and how candy has grown up, too.Book jacket.

book jacketChild Called It:: One Child's Courage to Survive by David J Pelzer(1995)The author's account of his early years describes one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history.

book jacketCrocodile Hunter: The Incredible Life and Adventures of Steve and Terri Irwin by Steve Irwin(2001)After thrilling millions of viewers with their incredibly popular show, Steve and Terri Irwin now regale readers with tales of some of the deadliest animals they have encountered in their extensive travels throughout the world.

book jacketDevil in the Details: Scenes From an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig(2004)Being a Teenager is hard enough. Jennifer Traig's adolescence took angst to new heights, adding a layer of obsessive-compulsive drama that made ordinary mortifications like bad hair-styles and fashion errors feel like the good parts. Devil in the Details is her unforgettable, hilarious, wrenching account of growing up weird.

book jacketA Dog Year: Twelve months, Four Dogs and Me by Jon Katz(2002)A warm, humorous, and moving memoir of the enriching and ennobling experience of living with Labradors and a Border Collie is penned by the author of "Running to the Mountain."Syndetic Solutions

book jacketFat Girl: A True Story by Judith Moore(2004)A nonfiction "She's Come Undone, Fat Girl" is a powerfully honest, compulsively readable memoir of obsession with food, and with one's body, penned by a Guggenheim and NEA award-winning writer.

book jacketFighting Fire: A Personal Story by Caroline Paul(1998)She fought the prejudice. She fought the stereotype. Then she fought the greatest force of all-- fire. When the San Francisco Fire Department broke their all-male rule to hire women, Caroline Paul never thought she'd be chosen.Syndetic Solutions

book jacketFriend Called Anne: One Girl’s Story of War, Peace, and a Unique Friendship with Anne Frank by Carol Ann Lee(2004)The story of Jacqueline van Maarsen ("Jopie"), who was Anne Frank's best friend before Anne went into hiding. She remembers her friendship with Anne, her own experiences of the Holocaust, and accepting the fame of Anne's diary.

book jacketGo for the Goal: A Champion’s Guide to Winning in Soccer and Life by Mia Hamm(2000)Go for the Goal is not only the inspiring story of how a tiny suburban sprite became a global terror with a ball (and the world) at her feet -- it's also a step-by-step or dribble-by-dribble guide for any kid with the all-American dream of making the team and becoming a champion. Filled with personal anecdotes and fully illustrated with both action and instructional photographs, Go for the Goal shows readers exactly how to master the silky skills and techniques that have made Hamm and her teammates the finest women's soccer team in the world.Syndetic Solutions

book jacketGreatest: Muhammad Ali by Walter Dean Myers(2001)The story of Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) and his rise to the top in boxing to become The Greatest.

book jacketHole in My Life by Jack Gantos(2002)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.

book jacketHoudini: Master of Illusion by Clinton Cox(2001)This biography of famed magician and illusionist Harry Houdini explores how he carried out his amazing feats and exposes the secrets behind many of Houdini's tricks. The author cites Houdini's brilliance, physical dexterity, and wild imagination as factors that made him a true master of illusion.

book jacketI am a Soldier Too by Rick Bragg(2003)n March 23, 2003, Private First Class Jessica Lynch was crossing the Iraqi desert with the 507th Maintenance Company when the convoy she was traveling in was ambushed, caught in enemy cross fire. All four soldiers traveling with her died in the attack. Lynch, one of the most famous P.O.W.'s this country has ever known, was taken prisoner and held captive in an Iraqi hospital for nine days. Her rescue galvanized the nation; she became a symbol of victory, of innocence and courage, of heroism; and then, just as quickly, of deceit and manipulation.

book jacketI have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton Jackson(1997)The author describes her experiences during World War II when she and her family were sent to the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

I Touch the Future by Robert T Hohler(1986)An account of the life, teaching career, NASA training, and impact of Christa McAuliffe, the woman who was selected to be the first teacher in space.

book jacketInto the Wild by Jon Krakauer(1996)Admitting an interest that borders on obsession, Krakauer searches for the clues to the drives and desires that propelled 24-year-old Chris McCandless to leave civilization behind and head into the remote Alaskan wilderness. Four months later, McCandless's emaciated corpse was found at his campsite by a hunter. Mesmerizing and heartbreaking, Krakauer's powerful and luminous storytelling blaze through every page.Syndetic Solutions

book jacketJoni: An Unforgettable Story by Joni Eareckson Tada(2001)The award-winning story of a young woman diver who triumphed over devastating odds to touch countless lives the world over with the healing message of Christ.Syndetic Solutions

book jacketA Journey : the Autobiography of Apolo Anton Ohno by Apolo Anton Ohno(2002)The autobiography of the controversial young American who won gold and silver medals in speed skating at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

book jacketKing of the Mild Frontier by Chris Crutcher(2003) 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.

book jacketKnots in My Yo-Yo String by Jerry Spinelli(1998)This Italian-American Newbery Medalist presents a humorous account of his childhood and youth in Norristown, Pennsylvania.

book jacketLet me Go by Helga Schneider(2004)In this extraordinary memoir, a daughter's sense of obligation collides with inescapable horror when she discovers that her mother abandoned her in 1941 Berlin to become a guard in Nazi concentration camps.Syndetic Solutions

book jacketLost Childhood: A World War II Memoir by Yehuda Nir(2002)Describes six years in the life of a daring and resourceful Polish Jewish boy and his family, who survived the Holocaust by using false papers and posing as Catholics.

Monkeys on the interstate : and other tales from America's favorite zookeeper by Jack Hanna(1989)The colorful and inspirational account of "Jungle Jack Hanna," a former Director of the Columbus Zoo who became well known for his live animal demonstrations on Good Morning America and David Letterman's Late Show.

book jacketNeedles: A Memoir of Growing up with Diabetes by Andie Dominick(2000)All her life, Andie Dominick adored her older sister, Denise. She wanted to look like her, talk like her, be her. Unfortunately, she got part of her wish when, at age nine, she was diagnosed with the same disease from which Denise had suffered since age two: juvenile diabetes. In this beautifully written, revelatory, and profoundly affecting memoir, Dominick recounts her transformation from a free-spirited kid who enjoyed giving shots to her stuffed animals with her sister's castaway needles to a life-long patient who must learn to inject herself twice a day.Syndetic Solutions

book jacketRachel’s Tears: the Spiritual Journey of Columbine Martyr Rachel Scott by Darrell Scott(2000)Rachel Scott was a typical teenage girl who was incredibly dedicated to following and serving Christ. Though she was mocked for her beliefs, at times doubted her faith, and constantly struggled with personal issues every teenager faces, she remained faithful to God. Then on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School, she was killed for that faith. Rachel's Tears is a moving meditation on the life, death, and faith of Rachel as seen through the eyes of her parents and through writings and drawings from her journals.

book jacketRadioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein(2004)While working on his Atomic Energy merit badge for the Boy Scouts, David's obsessive attention turned to nuclear energy. Throwing caution to the wind, he plunged into a new project: building a model nuclear breeder reactor in his backyard garden shed. Ken Silverstein re-creates in brilliant detail the months of David's improbable nuclear quest. His unsanctioned and wholly unsupervised project finally sparked an environmental catastrophe that put his town's forty thousand residents at risk and caused the EPA to shut down his lab and bury it at a radioactive dumpsite in Utah.

book jacketRoom to Grow; An Appetite for Life by Tracey Gold(2003)Tracey Gold was well known to television audiences in the 80s as the wholesome teenage sister on the long-running series "Growing Pains." But behind the smiles Tracey was fighting the battle of her life--a serious eating disorder.

book jacketSave Karyn: One Shopaholic’s Journey to Debt and Back by Karyn Bosnak(2003)Drowning in $20,000 worth of credit card debt, shopaholic Bosnak asked strangers for money online--and it worked.

Second Ascent : the Story of Hugh Herr by Alison. Osius(1991)Describes how a talented rock climber survived a double amputation at seventeen to return to his chosen sport.

book jacketShe Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall by M. (Misty) Bernall(1999)"One of the most gripping stories to come out of the shooting at Columbine High School" is told in the acclaimed national bestseller that illuminates the most remarkable aspect of 17-year-old Cassie Bernall's tragic death: her life. She Said Yes is an "intense and fascinating memoir" (Publishers Weekly) of an ordinary teenager growing up in suburban Colorado, and faced -- as all teenagers are -- with difficult choices and pressures.Syndetic Solutions

book jacketSickened: The Memoir of a Munchausen by proxy Childhood by Julie Gregory(2003)"From early childhood, Julie Gregory was continually X-rayed, medicated, and operated on - in the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mother's mind. Munchausen by proxy (MBP) is the world's most hidden and dangerous form of child abuse, in which the caretaker - almost always the mother - invents or induces symptoms in her child because she craves the attention of medical professionals. Many MBP children die, but Julie Gregory not only survived, she escaped the powerful orbit of her mother's madness and rebuilt her identity as a vibrant, healthy young woman." "Sickened is a memoir that speaks in an original and distinctive midwestern voice, rising to indelible scenes in prose of scathing beauty and fierce humor.Syndetic Solutions

book jacketSoul Surfer: A True story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton(2004)Bethany Hamilton, a teenage surfer lost her arm in a shark attack off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. Not even the loss of her arm keeps her from returning to surfing, the sport she loves. They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the tremendous passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing-not even the loss of her arm in a horrific shark attack-could come between her and the waves?

book jacketSpace: A Memoir by Jesse Lee Kercheval(1998)Living in their brand-new house in a brand-new development (called Lunar Heights), the Kerchevals - father, mother, two little girls - tried to ride the Space Race's tide of optimism. But even as the rockets kept going up, the Kercheval family was slowly spiraling down. Father hid out at work while Mother overdosed her depression and Jesse Lee and her sister, Carol, hovered at the edge of the nest, having to try their wings too early and too alone. By the end of the book, America has flown to the moon, but the Kercheval family, weighed down with the realities of life on earth, has crashed.Syndetic Solutions

book jacketSteven Spielberg : Hollywood Filmmaker by Virginia Meachum(1996)Explores the life and career of the successful filmmaker beginning with his childhood and including discussion of his projects as a director, writer, and producer.

book jacketStick figure : a Diary of My Former self by Lori Gottlieb(2000)For a girl growing up in Beverly Hills in 1978, the motto "You can never be too rich or too thin" is writ large. Precocious Lori learns her lessons well, so when she's told that "real women don't eat dessert" and "no one could ever like a girl who has thunder thighs," she decides to become a paragon of dieting. Soon Lori has become the "stick figure" she's longed to resemble. But then what? Stick Figure takes the reader on a gripping journey, as Lori struggles to reclaim both her body and her spirit.

book jacketThanks to My Mother by Shoshanah Rabinovits(2000)After struggling to survive in Nazi-occupied Lithuania, a young Jewish girl and her mother endure much suffering in Kaiserwald, Stutthof, and Tauentzien concentration camps and on an eleven-day death march before being liberated by the Russian army.

book jacketThura's Diary : My Life in Wartime Iraq by Thura Al-Windawi(2004)Nineteen-year-old Thura al-Windawi kept a diary during the conflict in Iraq, saying that it was her way of "controlling the chaos." The diary, which documents the days leading up to the bombings, the war itself, and the lawless aftermath, puts a personal face on life in Baghdad. As Thura describes her life and that of her two younger sisters, she shows readers the many small details that illuminate the reality of war for Iraqi families, and especially for Iraqi children. Reminiscent of "Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl and the recent national bestseller "Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Sarajevo, Thura's Diary gives the perspective of a young woman caught in the midst of a turbulent time and puts a face, a name, and a voice to the word "Iraqi."Syndetic Solutions

book jacketTotal Impact: Straight Talk from Football’s Hardest Hitter by Ronnie Lott(1991)

book jacketTuesdays with Morrie : an old man, a young man, and life's greatest lesson by Mitch Albom(1997)Maybe it was a grandparent, or a teacher, or a colleague. Someone older, patient and wise, who understood you when you were young and searching, helped you see the world as a more profound place, gave you sound advice to help you make your way through it. For Mitch Albom, that person was Morrie Schwartz, his college professor from nearly twenty years ago. Maybe, like Mitch, you lost track of this mentor as you made your way, and the insights faded, and the world seemed colder. Wouldn't you like to see that person again, ask the bigger questions that still haunt you, receive wisdom for your busy life today the way you once did when you were younger? Mitch Albom had that second chance.

book jacketUnbelievable: The Life, Death and Afterlife of the Notorious B. I. G. by Cheo Hodari Coker(2003)In the bestselling tradition of "VIBEUs" own "Tupac Shakur" comes the larger-than-life story of rapper Biggie Smalls, a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G.--his dealings on the street, his rise to superstardom, and his still-unsolved murder.

book jacketWasted : A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher(1998)This vivid and emotionally wrenching memoir of the author's lifelong love affair with bulimia and anorexia offers a devastating critique of the American obsession with food and body image.

Wild Times: Tales from the Suburban Safari by Tim Harrison(2001)Called upon many times to remove wild animals from city streets and backyards, the author explains about the growing chance that people will come across an exotic or local wild animal as their population increases in suburbs across the country.

book jacketWise Girl: What I’ve Learned about Life, Love and Loss by Jamie-Lynn Sigler(2002)Everyone knows Jamie-Lynn Sigler as Meadow Soprano on the HBO hit television series The Sopranos. But there's so much more to her, as her candid, outspoken autobiography proves. In Wise Girl, Jamie-Lynn reveals both the perks and the pressures that have come with fame, and how uncertain, fearful times have made her stronger, more confident, and able to face life's challenges. Writing openly and from the heart, she describes the emotional and physical toll taken when Lyme disease left the healthy 19-year-old paralyzed at the height of The Soprano's popularity; an obsession with her weight that nearly destroyed her career; and the dark side of overnight success.

book jacketWithin Reach: My Everest Story by Mark Pfetzer(1998) The author describes how he spent his teenage years climbing mountains in the United States, South America, Africa, and Asia, with an emphasis on his two expeditions up Mount Everest.

book jacketWithout a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (with Kids) in America by Michelle Kennedy(2005)"Michelle Kennedy grew up in a typical middle-class family. She left her Vermont home to begin college at American University in Washington, D.C., and interned as a U.S. Senate page. She had a boyfriend, Tom, whom she adored and soon married; they moved into a starter apartment in the burbs and everything seemed to be falling into place. But the life Michelle was building suddenly unraveled, and by age twenty-four, she found herself single, homeless, and living out of a car with her three small children." "Michelle Kennedy's true story, Without a Net, is about what happens when the American Dream bottoms out.

book jacketYou Belong in a Zoo! : Tales from a Lifetime Spent with Cobras, Crocs, and Other Creatures by Peter Brazaitis(2003)After the teenage Peter Brazaitis brought home one creepy crawly creature too many, his stepmother declared, "You are an animal, and you belong in a zoo!" He took her at her word. He went directly from high school in Brooklyn to a job at the Reptile House at the Bronx Zoo, where he stayed for more than thirty years, eventually becoming superintendent of reptiles. He later became curator of the Central Park Zoo, and continues to work with law enforcement as a forensic specialist in the fight to stop illegal importation and slaughter of reptiles for the luxury exotic-leather industry. You Belong in a Zoo! presents the amazing experiences Brazaitis has had in more than four decades of working with wild animals.Book Jacket