The Best Biographies for Teens of 2021

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As your teen spends more and more time at home, it’s vital that the learning continues. Biographies are a great way to teach them a person’s history while even providing inspiring books for middle schoolers. Aside from learning about specific people, biographies give insight to the period they lived in.

If you are looking for the perfect books to keep your teen entertained and enthused, you have come to the right place. This list will give you some of the best biographies for teens. Aside from providing you with books, we will also give you helpful tips on how to choose the best books.

All you have to do is keep reading to find information that could change your child’s life forever.

If you want to just get back to studying, get our top choice for biographies for teens here.

Our Top Favorite
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
Our Top Runner Up
Kobe Bryant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Shooting Guards (Basketball Biography Books)
Our Top Value Pick
In The Time Of The Butterflies
Book Title
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
Kobe Bryant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Shooting Guards
In the Time of the Butterflies
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Favorite
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
Book Title
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
Kobe Bryant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Shooting Guards (Basketball Biography Books)
Book Title
Kobe Bryant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Shooting Guards
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Value Pick
In The Time Of The Butterflies
Book Title
In the Time of the Butterflies
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-05-12

Our Favorites for Best Biographies for Teens

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman

Vincent and Theo bring to life the story of the two Van Gogh brothers. It encapsulates not only their artwork but their relationship. The story is award-winning. It has won awards like the Printz Honor Book, the YALSA Award for non-fiction, and several others.

What Makes it Unique:

  • The text utilizes a series of letters to weave the brother’s lives together. The book has been heavily researched and relies heavily on more than 658 letters between the brothers.
  • The text is an easy read and captures the brothers’ love for one and other. It is one of many inspiring books for middle schoolers.
  • The book is written to include facts, historical accounts of the brother’s lives, and personal stories, making it all the more interesting to read.

Why Choose This Best Biography for Teens:

  • This is a text which readers found hard to put down. Many people aren’t familiar with much of Van Gogh’s life, and this Is a great introductory read.
  • This is a text which can be included in a variety of reading lists include good biographies for 8th graders. Though the vocabulary is not complicated, it can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages.
  • Vincent Van Gogh is often described as nothing more than a mentally ill painter. However, the text humanizes him in ways like never before. WE can read about the struggles with his illness, how he navigated life, and, most importantly, the legacy he left, his art.
On Sale
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
  • Heiligman, Deborah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 464 Pages - 10/08/2019 (Publication Date) - Square Fish (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-05-12


The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X, Alex Haley & Attallah Shabazz

The Autobiography of Malcolm X is one book that many readers say has changed their life. It is a highly recommended read for teens as well as adults. It is even considered one of the most essential books for the 20th century.

What Makes it Unique:

  • The book recounts the life of Malcolm X, as well as his involvement and the advancement of Black Muslims.
  • The book also recounts his beliefs, which some may consider extreme, about American society and the flaws of the American dream.
  • Malcolm’s story is told by Alex Haley, most notably known for writing Roots. This book can be a specifically unique read for African American students as it can aid in helping them understand their worth and value in American society.

Why Choose This Best Biography for Teens:

  • Most people only know bits and pieces about Malcolm X’s life. This text will aid you in putting things together and getting a full picture of his life and role in society.
  • This is a text which can spark interest in a variety of other topics. Though many people have seen the Malcolm X movie starring Denzel Washington, this book takes you in detail through his childhood and past.
  • The text is eloquently written and holds nothing back to the user.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Malcolm X, Alex Haley and Attallah Shabazz (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 06/20/1987 (Publication Date) - Ballantine Books (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-05-12


I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is one of the youngest individuals to win a Nobel peace prize and has been an educational advocate since a very young age. Now 22, Malala’s story is known by people around the world. She exhibited bravery and confidence by standing up to the Taliban when she was only 15 when she was shot. This is her story.

What Makes it Unique:

  • This is an emotional tale for people; it goes not only into Malala’s background but provides a brief history of significant events in Pakistan as well.
  • This book was Malala’s opportunity not only to tell her story but the story of several girls who have been silent or denied the right to an education.
  • Many readers felt that this book was the story of a young hero. Her audience very well receives her.

Why Choose This Best Biography for Teens:

  • This is one of the best biographies for students as it shows students what is possible when they stand up for what they believe in.
  • The text also explains the importance of education for all ages and the effect that the Taliban had on Malala and the individuals in her community.
On Sale
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban
  • Back Bay Books
  • Yousafzai, Malala (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-05-12


Runner Ups for Best Biographies for Teens

Kobe Bryant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Shooting Guards by Clayton Geoffreys

Losing Kobe Bryant was one of the most felt NBA deaths around the globe. This is not only due to his young age but his reputations on and off the court. Though written before his death, this story brings his story to life. If you are looking for short biographies to read, this one should be on your list.

What Makes it Unique:

  • This inspiring story goes into detail about Kobe’s early life and his reign as the Laker’s face and star player.
  • The book includes information not just regarding his time on the court but also in his early life. The text also includes information on how Kobe has impacted areas outside of the NBA but on basketball in general.

Why Choose This Best Biography for Teens:

  • Clayton Geoffrey has written several biographies about some of your favorite athletes. These include Tom Brady, Stephen Curry, and even Lebron James. He is the perfect author to tap into your sports fanatic side.
  • Clayton aims to inspire youth with his books. His goal is that you, too, can become as great as the athletes that he writes about.
  • This is an excellent gift for a Kobe fan or an overall basketball lover.

Last update: 2021-05-12


Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals

Warriors Don’t Cry is the powerful story of Melba Pattillo Beals. She is one of the Little Rock Nine, which was a group of nine African American students who integrated Little Rock’s Central High School. The text is a consistent reminder that these events are not far in our history, and they need to be talked about. This story zeros in on Melba and her experience in the Civil Rights Movement.

What Makes it Unique:

  • The book gives a first-hand account of Melba’s experience at Little Rock Central High. It takes us into her fear, her strength, and her actions that changed the realm of school as it was once known.
  • Melba faced personal attacks, fireballs, angry parents, stalkers, and so much more by simply going to school every morning. Ultimately, an act that took enormous amounts of courage and one that many students can learn from.

Why Choose This Best Biography for Teens:

  • Many readers find that this is an excellent read for younger readers. This text is often assigned in schools and is often seen as one of the best biographies for students.
  • We can all learn something from Melba. This book makes her more than one of the Little Rock Nine; it makes her human.
  • This is often an emotional read for African American students as it is evident that we have come a long way but still have a ways to go.
On Sale
Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High
  • Simon Pulse
  • Melba Pattillo Beals (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-05-12


Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures is one of the biographies that children should read at a young age. This text, now adapted into a popular movie, depicts the story of 3 unsung heroes who didn’t receive true recognition for their work until much later in their lives. The book recounts the lives and contributions of 3 women in particular. These women include Dorothy Vaughn, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden, four of the greatest minds that NASA has ever seen.

What Makes it Unique:

  • Margot Shetterly’s book follows the women through 3 decades. It not only provides information on their amazing contributions but the tribulations and personal challenges that they faced regularly being African American women in the Jim Crow south.
  • The text centers around two major events in American history, including the Space Race and the Civil Rights Movement.
  • The text serves as not only a biography for these brave women and their contributions to history but does an amazing job of capturing their lives outside of science.

Why Choose This Best Biography for Teens:

  • Several readers found the text only after watching the movie. However, the book and the movie include several notable differences. Though the movie is excellent and entertaining, the book provides an excellent parallel. Where the movie lacks in facts, the book fills in the blanks and provides the harsh truths.
  • These four women and several others were more than qualified to act as “computers” for NASA, with much of their intellect being greater than their white counterparts. Obtaining jobs as scientists at Langley gave them opportunities that they may have never had otherwise. This is one read that you won’t regret or want to set down.

Last update: 2021-05-12


Value Picks for Best Biographies for Teens

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

In the Time of the Butterflies is written about four sisters known as “The Butterflies.” Though the death of three sisters is considered to be an accident. That is not something that everyone can be certain of. This text is told through the eyes of all four sisters and details their opposition and life under the rule of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo’s dictatorship.

What Makes it Unique:

  • The biography details the lives and trials of the Mirabal sisters. This includes the three sisters who lost their lives, Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa. As well as, the one surviving sister Dede’.
  • Rafael Leónidas Trujillo was responsible for thousands of deaths of Dominicans and Haitians during his rule. The sisters knowingly opposed him and tried hard to battle their reality regularly. Though many Dominicans tried to keep the women safe, the ladies’ assassination was not in vain and was ultimately the beginning of his downfall.
  • The text is told through the eyes of each sister from their youth into their adult lives.
  • In the Time of Butterflies is the perfect text to pique your interest in the history of the Dominican Republic. The author writes in a novel format that marries the historical facts with fiction to create an excellent recount of their lives.

Why Choose This Best Biography for Teens:

  • The characters were not only relatable, but the material was heavily researched and told eloquently and provocatively.
  • If you are not familiar with the happenings in the Dominican Republic, this text is an excellent introduction. This book comes highly recommended by casual readers and history buffs.
  • Descendants of these brave women continue to work and fight for change in their home country.
  • Being born in the Dominican Republic, Julia Alvarez, whose life takes a different fate, returns to her home country to meet with individuals who personally knew the women to get this most accurate account.
On Sale
In The Time Of The Butterflies
  • Great product!
  • Alvarez, Julia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-05-12


How to Choose the Best Biographies for Teens for You

Though choosing a biography can be hard, there are more than enough options for students to choose from. This list contains only a small subset of the best contemporary biographies for teens. There are several other notable stories like that of Aunng San Suu Kyi, Abraham Lincoln, and even Winston Churchill.

Choosing the best biography for you doesn’t have to be hard. All you have to do is think about the things you are interested in or intrigued by. This will lead you to individuals you are familiar with, and some you may never even know existed in the past. For example, if you are interest in aviation and the history of planes, The Wright Brothers may be e great text for you.

You can also refer to popular school lists that contain good biographies for 8th graders and even high schoolers to find relevant and age-appropriate biographies.

Wrapping Things Up: The Best Biographies for Teens

Here’s a table of the best biographies for teens we evaluated:

Our Top Favorite
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
Our Top Runner Up
Kobe Bryant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Shooting Guards (Basketball Biography Books)
Our Top Value Pick
In The Time Of The Butterflies
Book Title
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
Kobe Bryant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Shooting Guards
In the Time of the Butterflies
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Favorite
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
Book Title
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers
Prime Eligible?
Our Top Runner Up
Kobe Bryant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Shooting Guards (Basketball Biography Books)
Book Title
Kobe Bryant: The Inspiring Story of One of Basketball's Greatest Shooting Guards
Prime Eligible?
-
Our Top Value Pick
In The Time Of The Butterflies
Book Title
In the Time of the Butterflies
Prime Eligible?

Last update: 2021-05-12

Reading a biography doesn’t have to be something that is done only in the context of the classroom. A biography is a fun way to get a glimpse into someone else’s life and get a glimpse into their life and the history surrounding them. The books on this list are the best biographies for teenagers and contain an abundance of information about people you may or may not have known.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez is a text which not only provides a novel account of the Mirabal sisters, it also drives interest to the history of the Dominican Republic and its rulers. Another excellent biography to check out is the story of the Van Gogh brothers, Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers. This humanizes Vincent Van Gogh and gives readers a look into their relationship.

Regardless of which book you choose, there are several short biographies to read as well as inspiring books for middle schoolers. These stories may not only be informational but can even have the power to change your teen’s life forever. Happy reading!

If you found this post helpful, you’re definitely going to like our other history book reviews here

You may also like these other history book reviews:

> The Best Roman History Books

> The Best Greek History Books

> The Best Books on Latin America

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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