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Biography reports? ARGH! I need more resources

We are counting down 19 days to our TCAP testing. Then what will the students be doing for the rest of the school year? It appears they’ll be spending all of their time in the library researching. Teachers I haven’t seen outside grade level meetings, except when they blow a projector bulb or have technology problems, are suddenly signing up for days and days of research.  

Take our math department that will prepare biography projects of famous mathematicians. I’m so excited to have all of these teachers in, but now I discover that I need more biographies and I need them now! I need biographies on famous people. I need biographies on sports people for the P.E. department. Where am I going to get all the biographical information I need? 

Aha! The Lincoln Library to the rescue.  This year I purchased three reference sets that you should know about. (Okay, I admit that some of you good middle school librarians may already know about these, but this is my first year at this level, so I’m entitled to be playing catch-up.)

Earlier in the year every sixth grade class walked in to do research on ancient Greeks and Romans from mythology. The five-volume set of the Lincoln Library of Greek & Roman Mythology © 2006 edited by Timothy and Susan Gall came in very handy. For those students researching Artemis (AKA Diana) the article includes: Pronunciation, equivalent character, gender, culture, attributes, a True-False quiz, extensive information on her coming into being, her habits, her wrath, her enemies, her family; Diana in art, in literature, in space, in modern usage, and the source of her mythology. That’s quite a bit of information for students who stumble upon the name Artemis in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series and want to know more. Yet the language is easy to read and won over my students who didn’t want an old fat book about Greek Mythology. There are more than 500 entries intended for grades 4-12 so you’ll find plenty to meet your needs.

For my physical education students, we come to the fourteen volume Lincoln Library of Sports Champions, Eighth Edition, © 2007. With brief, alphabetically arranged biographies of 300 great sports personalities, this reference set will meet the needs of many students. I had to check out the six pages on Freddy Adu, who, at 14, debutted as the youngest player in the modern era of American professional team sports. I really appreciate the full-color illustrations and spacious layouts between paragraphs. I noticed groups of students reading a paragraph, looking up to share information they’d read, then returning to the next paragraph without any tracking problems. 

On to the newest set The Lincoln Library of Shapers of Society: 101 Men and Women Who Shaped Our World. This seven volume set debutted in 2008 and is a hit. The eight page article on Nicolaus Copernicus includes illustrations, sketches, timelines, books & web sites for further study, and a concise section "Why is Copernicus Important?" Am I the only one who has had teachers write questions for students like this – Tell me why this person is important? 

All the students read that question and moan, "I don’t know. You’re the teacher. You tell me why I have to study him (or her)." Each article includes a timeline so the next time you are teaching this skill, you might want to pull out these books. They are also much more appealling to my ELL/ESL students.

Want to know more about these books? Go to their website at This is one reference purchase this year that I am proud to have made. Tomorrow I’ll have to share some of the other biographical sources I’m using. Why don’t you tell me about your favorites?


  1. teacherninja says:

    Thanks. Great ideas, as always.

  2. Beth Auwarter says:

    I love these sources, too, for my fourth, fifth and sixth graders. Do you know there is a database of these available for an affordable fee? Find information at