Five Memoirs for Young Readers

You’ll often find good memoirs on best-selling lists for lots of reasons:

  • They provide insight into medical, social and other issues that you may be dealing with
  • They help you learn about events or actions that take place all over the world
  • They let you see inside a well-known person’s private life
  • They can be funny
  • They often tell a good story

Good memoirs written for kids can do all of those things while appealing to a younger audience. And while memoir may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re helping your kids choose books to read, memoir may be just the thing to spark an interest in reluctant readers especially. Here’s a list of five memoirs that children and adults will find fascinating.

Boy by Roald Dahl—This one goes on all my lists for several reasons: it’s funny, it provides insight into life in the early 1900s when Dahl was growing up, and it reveals some of the real-life events and characters that make appearances on the pages of Dahl’s fictional books.

Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic—With the eyes of an 11-year-old girl, Zlata describes what it’s like to live in a war zone while letting kids learn about the somewhat reason conflict in Sarajevo.

Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang—Jiang’s description of life in China during the Cultural Revolution is fascinating as is watching her transition from blindly believing the Communist Party line to questioning what it promotes.

 A Girl from Yamhill by Beverly Cleary—Cleary was born in a small community and moved into the city when she was still young. Her description of growing up, particularly her comments about school and education, should spark interesting discussions about the differences between her times and today.

Marshfield Dreams: When I Was a Kid by Ralph Fletcher—Fletcher’s boyhood antics are funny to read about, and kids today are likely to marvel at the freedom kids in Fletcher’s youth had to roam the neighborhood on their own.

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