Upper Elementary to Middle School Books

Theme: People Just Like You?

Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl - (ISBN: 978-0553296983)

by Anne Frank

When a German family gives their 13-year-old-daughter a diary for her birthday, little do they know it will evolve into one of the greatest pieces of adolescent literature ever written. Soon after the birthday, the family is forced into hiding above a warehouse in Holland, and Anne tells the story of her burgeoning adolescence and the fear with which the family and the other members of the hideaway live every day. Through her observations of the annoyances of living with sometimes incompatible companions and her beginning romance with Peter, the portrait of Anne that emerges shows a compassionate and intelligent teen whose life was soon snuffed out when the family was captured and moved to Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Do you keep a diary? Think of how interesting it will be to read twenty or more years from now.

Ashley Bryan: Words to My Life's Song - (ISBN: 978-1416905417)

by Ashley Bryan

One of the joys of reading biographies and autobiographies is learning about lives of people with very different backgrounds and abilities who may only be famous to a small segment of the general population. This book is a celebration of the life of New York-born artist Ashley Bryan. His life-long determination to be an artist and his love of his media molded the events of his life even through the years when he was a soldier in a trench; he kept his art supplies in his gas mask! Readers will enjoy the scrapbook-style layout of the book as well as its photographs and narrative inserts. What elements of Bryan’s life give him the joy he shows in his art?

Light Shining Through the Mist: A Photobiography of Dian Fossey - (ISBN: 978-0792273004)

by Tom L. Matthews

This easy-access biography of world famous Fossey, who studied mountain gorillas in Rwanda and the Congo, introduces readers to the world of naturalists and the difficulties of their lonely and eccentric lives. It also helps us appreciate the accomplishments and personal qualities which help them succeed. Along with a plethora of photos, the book also contains diary excerpts and narrative explanations. Talk about what appeals to you about a career in such a remote area.

Nine Days A Queen: The Short Life and Reign Of Lady Jane Grey - (ISBN: 978-0060549251)

by Ann Rinaldi

Although Lady Jane Grey, who died a queen in her teens, is not a famous monarch, her story is fascinating as told in these diary excerpts. In addition to details of her brief but exciting life, the volume gives readers a good grasp of the times in which the Lady lived. This fictionalized account of the cousin of Edward, Mary and Elizabeth would work well for middle school children with higher reading levels.

The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins - (ISBN: 978-0811840071)

by Bea Uusma Schyffert

Although not the most famous of astronauts, Collins served a vital role in keeping things going while Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Examine this book’s collection of photographs, technical drawings, scientist resumes, and Collins’ own handwritten comments for a complete picture of what it is like to be an astronaut. Go to the library to get a book on another astronaut of your choice.

The Tree Of Life: Charles Darwin - (ISBN: 978-0374456283)

by Peter Sis

This award-winning book presents facts and incidents in Darwin’s life in an amazing variety of media and text, including graphics, simple drawings, narrative, diary excerpts and notes. Try a little of this book at a time to most fully reap the richness from its beautiful pages. Which types of pages does each member of your family prefer?

Knots in My Yo-Yo String: Autobiography of a Kid - (ISBN: 978-0679887911)

by Jerry Spinelli

My Life in Dog Years - (ISBN: 978-0440414711)

by Gary Paulsen

Activities for this Theme

If you like using computers, upload photos and have your child narrate them using Voicethread.


Keep a journal in an inexpensive notebook; try to get in the habit of writing a little about your life every day. If you prefer, keep your journal in an online blog, but be sure to keep it anonymous for safety.


Learn more about Ashley Bryan


If you love baseball, watch videos from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum