Wolfner :: Recommended Readings :: Youth Bibliographies :: Biographies for Young Adults

Biographies for Young Adults


January 2015

This recommended reading list provides a broad list of biographies. This list is recommended for those reading at a 5th through 8th grade reading level up to a senior high and older reading level.

To order any of these titles, contact the library by email, mail or phone. You may also request these titles online through our catalog. Identification numbers for braille books begin with BR, large print books begin with LP, and audiobooks begin with DB. All audiobooks and available braille books listed are linked to the Braille and Audio Reading Download site (BARD) for downloading.

Grade 5 to 8

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell
Download Josephine, DB 79158
Read by Faith Potts. Reading time: 40 minutes.
A portrait of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker (1906-1975). The African-American dancer worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to become a sensation on the grandest of stages in France. 2014.

The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Julie Cummins
LP 2421
When George Ohr's trove of pottery was discovered in 1967, years after his death, his true genius was discovered with it. The world could finally see how unique this artist really was! 2013.

The Mystery of Darwin's Frog by Martha L. Crump
Download The Mystery of Darwin's Frog, BR 20207
Describes Charles Darwin's 1834 discovery of an unusual type of frog on Lemuy Island in southern Chile and scientists' efforts decades later to understand why one male specimen was full of tadpoles. Includes glossary, resources, and a primer on efforts to save the species from extinction. 2013.

Our Country's Presidents: All You Need to Know about the Presidents, from George Washington to Barack Obama by Ann Bausum
Download Our Country's Presidents, DB 77519
Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 9 hours, 44 minutes.
Comprehensive guide to the presidents of the United States. Includes biographical information, summaries of their accomplishments, discussion of important events that happened during their administrations, and descriptions of geographical landmarks associated with them. Foreword by President Barack Obama. 2013.

Grades 6 to 9

Che Guevara: You Win or You Die by Stuart A. Kallen
Download Che Guevara, BR 19691
Biography of revolutionary Che Guevara (1928-1967) recounts his exploits in Cuba with Fidel Castro and their overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista. Describes Guevara's death in Bolivia and why many, especially in developing countries, consider him a martyr. Some violence. 2012.

The History of Jazz: The Music Library by Stuart A. Kallen
Download The History of Jazz, BR 19686
Short overview of jazz from its New Orleans roots to the modern mix of styles called nu jazz. Discusses key musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, and others. Provides recommended listening list, glossary, and additional resources. 2012.

Pioneers in Astronomy and Space Exploration by Michael Anderson
Download Pioneers in Astronomy and Space Exploration, DB 77541
Read by Kerry Dukin. Reading time: 2 hours, 19 minutes.
Profiles the lives of thirty-seven pioneers of astronomy and space exploration, from the ancient Greek mathematician and astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus to astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. 2013.

Reporter in Disguise: The Intrepid Vic Steinberg by Christine Welldon
Download Reporter in Disguise, BR 20214
Download Reporter in Disguise, DB 77351
Read by Kerry Dukin. Reading time: 2 hours, 28 minutes.
Biography of Vic Steinberg, the pseudonym for an investigative female journalist in Victorian-era Toronto, who kept her identity a mystery, dressed as a man, smoked cigars, and spent time in jails. Includes a glossary and a bibliography. 2013.

Where We Are: Our Band, Our Story, 100% Official by One Direction
Download Where We Are, DB 78317
Read by Alec Volz. Reading time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.
Biography of One Direction, the boy-band sensation from the British television program The X Factor. Discusses the group's successes and travels since forming in 2010. Includes a quick snapshot of the thoughts of Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall, and Zayn. 2013.

Junior and Senior High

Battle of the Dinosaur Bones: Othniel Charles Marsh vs. Edward Drinker Cope by Rebecca L. Johnson
Download Battle of the Dinosaur Bones, BR 19700
Recounts the rivalry between paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope (1840-1897) and Othniel Charles Marsh (1831-1899). Discusses their ambitions, major scientific discoveries, and errors they made--such as incorrectly reconstructing bones--in their rush for fame. 2012.

The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi by Neal Bascomb
Download The Nazi Hunters, DB 77503
Read by Ken Jackson. Reading time: 23 minutes.
Narrative nonfiction account of the effort by Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal and a group of Holocaust survivors and Israeli spies to track down Adolf Eichmann, who orchestrated Adolf Hitler's policy of genocide during World War II. Some violence. 2013.

Reflections: On the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones
Download Reflections, DB 75841
Read by Anne Hancock. Reading time: 11 hours, 21 minutes.
Collection of essays, speeches, and biographical pieces chosen by bestselling juvenile fantasy writer Diana Wynne Jones (1934-2011). In "Freedom to Write" the author explores the fashion of fantasy. Foreword by Neil Gaiman. 2012.

Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal
Download Steve Jobs, BR 19918
Download Steve Jobs, DB 76396
Read by Carol Dines. Reading time: 6 hours, 55 minutes.
Recounts the life and career of the late founder of Apple, Steve Jobs (1955-2011). Covers his adoption and childhood, his friendship with Steve Wozniak, and his dynamic relationship with Apple--as chairman, head of the Mac department, advisor, and CEO--until his death. 2012.

Superman Versus the Ku Klux Klan: The True Story of How the Iconic Superhero Battled the Men of Hate by Rick Bowers
Download Superman Versus the Ku Klux Klan, BR 19518
Download Superman Versus the Ku Klux Klan, DB 74918
Read by Bill Delaney. Reading time: 4 hours.
Discusses creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Jewish upbringing during the Great Depression and its influence on the development of their superhero, Superman. Covers the rise of the KKK and the emergence of the radio show, The Adventures of Superman. 2012.

Taylor Swift by Liv Spencer
Download Taylor Swift, DB 77902
Read by Abigail Maupin. Reading time: 6 hours, 43 minutes.
Biography of award-winning musician Taylor Swift (born 1989). Covers her early years growing up on a tree farm in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania; her love of country music and writing; and her quick rise on the Billboard charts. 2013.

A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown's War Against Slavery by Albert Marrin
Download A Volcano Beneath the Snow, DB 79152
Read by Michael Scherer. Reading time: 8 hours, 47 minutes.
Examines the life of abolitionist John Brown (1800-1859) and the raid he led on the United States arsenal at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in 1859. Explores his religious zealotry, his belief in "righteous violence," and his commitment to domestic terrorism. Some violence. 2014.

Senior High and Older

Earn the Right to Win: How Success in Any Field Starts with Superior Preparation by Tim Coughlin
Download Earn the Right to Win, DB 76595
Read by Jason Culp. Reading time: 6 hours, 3 minutes.
Super Bowl-winning coach of the New York Giants offers strategies for success using examples from his football career. Posits that structure, character, communication, and motivation--along with hard work--will lead to personal and professional achievement. 2013.

Grace, Gold and Glory: My Leap of Faith by Gabrielle Douglas
Download Grace, Gold and Glory, DB 76347
Read by Jill Fox. Reading time: 5 hours, 26 minutes.
Autobiography of Olympic gold-medal gymnast Gabrielle Douglas. Recounts her early life in Virginia, her professional training in Iowa, and the sacrifices she and her family made to support her dream. Credits her faith and family for her success at the 2012 London games. 2012.

King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village
by Peggielene Bartels

Download King Peggy, DB 76185
Read by Jennifer Hubbard. Reading time: 14 hours, 49 minutes.
Autobiography of Peggielene Bartels, an American working at the Ghanaian embassy in August 2008, who found herself as a ruler of seven thousand people of Otuam in Ghana, Africa, in September of the same year. Recounts the transformation of herself and her community. 2012.

Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe
Download Marvel Comics, DB 75699
Read by Julian Thompson. Reading time: 18 hours, 58 minutes.
Former Entertainment Weekly editor details the history of Marvel Comics--home to Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and other superheroes--from the early 1960s to the twenty-first century. Describes the personalities behind the brand's success, including writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. Some strong language. 2012.

Master of Deceit: J. Edgar Hoover and America in the Age of Lies by Marc Aronson
Download Master of Deceit, DB 74894
Read by Luke Daniels. Reading time: 4 hours, 56 minutes.
Portrait of John Edgar Hoover (1895-1972) and his controversial rise in power within the FBI. Discusses Hoover's determination to overcome challenges in his youth, his life with his ambitious mother Anne Scheitlin Hoover, and his manipulation of people and information. Commercial audiobook. 2012.