Criteria for Evaluating Biographies

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Criteria for Evaluating Biographies
Element
Setting
Criteria
Description
Does the author’s description
accurately portray where the subjects
lived, worked, and played?
The author should provide details
reflective of the time period and place
in which the character lived. These
details should support the
developments of the character.
While the events can be presented in
many ways and from different
perspectives, they should have a
factual basis to them. They should
help highlight the contributions of the
subject.
The author should no present an
overly critical of gloried depiction of
the character. The characters should
be dynamic and act in realistic ways.
This is one of the most important
elements of a biography.
Authors can use a variety of crafting
techniques to create a vivid picture of
the subject’s life and achievements.
These techniques, such as anecdotes,
dialogue, and flashbacks supported by
pictures and quotes, help the story
come alive for the reader.
The author must interpret the events
and details of a subject’s life to
identify a central theme based on the
subject’s accomplishments without
judgment or bias.
The information needs to be up-todate and verifiable through a variety
of documentation. Facts should
support generalizations. The author
should be qualified to write about the
topic. Biases and stereotypes should
be avoided.
Plot
Are the events in the story based on
fact? Do they help the reader
understand what occurred in the
subject’s life?
Characters
Does the author present a balanced
depiction of the character? Is the
subject worthy of a biography?
Style
Are crafting techniques used to make
the character and the story interesting
to the reader?
Theme
Does the author tie the setting, plot,
and characters together in a way that
makes the contributions of the
character evident?
Accuracy, Authority, and Cultural
Authenticity
Is the information current and
accurate? Is the author an expert on
the subject? Do the story or
illustrations authentically reflect the
beliefs and values of the culture
discussed?
Source: Johnson, Denise. The Joy of Children’s Literature. New York: Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt Publishing Co., 2009.
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