Off the Shelf: Who was reading biographies?

The library has a huge non-fiction collection. You can find information on just about anything! The Dewey Decimal 921 section opens our ears and eyes, and hearts, to the interesting lives of others. I’ve been reading biographies from our children’s room and they are fascinating!

Some biographies are written about people who lived long, long ago. King Henry was the King of England in the early 1500’s. His biography runs the gamut from religious upheaval, to beheadings, and includes many marriages.

Jane Austen, an author from the 1800’s, stopped going to school when she was only 11! She loved to write about real people. Readers have appreciated her honesty and her novels have been popular for over 200 years!

It didn’t surprise me to learn that Walt Disney thought up ways to make his classmates laugh or that he loved to draw funny characters, But, I also found out that one of Walt Disney’s teachers called him the “second dumbest” student in the class. His now famous Mickey Mouse cartoon became very popular and kids all over joined the Mickey Mouse Club. Their pledge was, “Mickey Mice do not swear, smoke, cheat or lie!”

I read about another cartoonist named Chuck Jones who grew up in a family where you had to bring a book to breakfast! No one could talk during breakfast. They all had to read while they ate. Consequently, Chuck learned to read by the time he was 3. He became famous for creating Looney Tunes!

I have known about Jane Goodall and her chimps for a long time. But, by reading her biography, I found out that her son did not like chimps. One of them bit his finger when he was little boy! Jane also stayed with the chimps long enough that she changed her mind about some of their behaviors. It made me think that sometimes our first impressions of people or events are not the whole story.

In another biography I found out that a baseball player named Roberto Clemente played baseball when he was a boy with a bat that was a branch from a guava tree and a ball that was made from rags and string. He grew up in a big family in Puerto Rico where he always had someone to play with. Once his mother was so tired of him playing baseball that she tried to burn his bat!

Derek Jeter is another baseball player whose story is very inspiring. According to the book, he has been liked and respected throughout his life. Reading about his family and his work ethic and his desire to help others made me wish I could meet him him in person.

It was amazing to read about the life of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. She retired in 2017 at the age of 75. She was only 9 years old when she sang her first solo, in a church with 2500 people listening! She used her amazing talent to make a difference in the world.

One of my favorites is “Be the Change, a Grandfather Ghandi Story”, written by his grandson Arun and Bethany Hegedus. In this book we learn about Ghandi through a story about a pencil. The book ends with the Be the Change Pledge.

I pledge to dig deep to understand passive non-violence, to find the roots of my thoughts and actions.

I pledge to not overuse resources – to focus on my needs over my wants.

I pledge to learn to work with others, as one, for the good of all.

I pledge to be the change I wish to see in the world.

We all have favorites when it comes to our reading pleasure. I love novels. But, it’s worth it to try a different genre once in a while. Browsing through the biographies was a blast!

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