On our continuing mission to engage students with writing, what better way than to have them write about who they are and perhaps even what they like to write about, while highlighting that they are all authors. One way to do all of this is by having students write their own author bio, that they can include with any writing pieces throughout the year.
To begin the lesson, a craft study on a varied selection of author biographies would be ideal. Below are a few example mentor texts that I would select. As we move through them, I would ask students to notice what makes each one similar or different than the pervious one. In other words, what elements do author bios require, and which ones can be included by choice?
- Karina Yan Glaser has had many jobs, including waitressing, community organizing, and teaching literacy in family homeless shelters. She is now a full-time writer, as well as a contributing editor to Book Riot. She lives in Harlem, New York City, with her husband, two daughters, and assortment of rescue animals. On of her proudest achievements is raising two kids who can’t go anywhere without a book.
- Alex Gino loves glitter, ice cream, gardening, awe-fun puns, and stories that reflect the diversity and complexity of being alive. They are the author of George and You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! George was a winner of the stonewall Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Children’s Choice Book Awards, among a host of others.
- Dana Alison Levy was raised by pirates but escaped at a young age and went on to earn a degree in aeronautics and puppetry. Actually, that’s not true- she just likes to make things up. That’s why she has always wanted to write stories. Her previous books, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island, and This Would Make a Great Story Someday, have garnered starred reviews, been on multiple Best Of and state award lists, and were Junior Library Guild selections. Also, her kids like them. Dana was last seen romping with her family in New England.
Some examples of what you and your students may tease out from author bio mentor texts is that they must include third person voice, state where they are from or currently live, and that they might contain the author’s interests, pervious jobs, literary accolades, points of pride, and a note about the people they share their life with.
Next, it’s your students’ turn to write one, keeping in mind the essentials while also getting the opportunity to make it their own. Their author bios can be as factual or as imaginative as they would like, and in this way, each student may decide whether this assignment is fiction or non-fiction, or a combination of the two.
Some possible extensions to this writing opportunity might include having students to work collaboratively by interviewing each other and writing a bio for their partner. Another possible extension could be having them represent their bio by including a self-portrait and designing the interior of a book jacket, for example.
Chanelle Coates can be found at a local cafe with an iced vanilla latte in hand, reading, writing, and painting with watercolours. The rest of her time she spends thinking about skincare, re-watching Grey’s Anatomy, and FaceTiming her partner Sam.