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Reading, writing, and discussing biographies provide unique opportunities for teachers and students. Critical thinking can be developed through questioning, predicting, and analyzing various biographical mediums--texts, photographs and illustrations, book reviews, websites, films, news articles, etc.--to learn more about an individual's life experiences and choices. Decision making skills can be enhanced when students juxtapose their perceptions of heroes and role models to that of a change agent, even considering how their own life experiences and choices may be contributing to larger actions of change. In this article, the authors discuss six biographies that could be used with young people in the elementary classroom to study change agents. The authors carefully selected and organized their literary choices into four categories: (1) familiar historical figures, (2) familiar living persons, (3) less familiar figures, and finally (4) students and teachers themselves--because they can act as change agents today on a local and personal level.


This article was originally published in the journal Social Studies and the Young Learner. Copyright © 2009 National Council for the Social Studies.

The post-print (post peer-reviewed) version is posted here with the permission of the authors and publisher.