How to Write a Child's Biography
Writing biographies for children is an emotionally rewarding task, often for both the writer and the biographical subject. A child's biography can create special moments of remembrance together and a record of these memories when the child is older.
Ask permission to write the biography, from the child and/or the parent. This is respectful to the child. Adults will too often not consider children as people and act toward them without thought for the child's feelings. Familiarize your informants, especially the children, with the purpose of creating the biography. This courtesy will give guidelines to the project and put shy children at ease.
Collect the basic facts of name, parents, date of birth, place of birth, gender, and pertinent physical concerns such as eye and hair color.
Ask the child, if the child is of a age where this can be done, about important events that have occurred in his life. Recording the stories is an excellent way to capture the narratives. Pre-literate children can be asked to draw their stories while questioned. These exercises in narration provide visually engaging and unique documents. Place a date on the pictures to provide a chronological archive.
Collect stories about the child from family and friends. Make sure that these stories will not humiliate or otherwise harm the child. Ask the child if these stories should be included in the biography.
Compile your notes and other documents into chronological order. Verify facts, check again on story appropriateness and get feedback on the tentative manuscript from the child.
Write and proofread the narrative. Read this to the child so that you both may enjoy the story.
Anne Cagle has been writing ever since she was a toddler who could scribble with crayons. Her first published article, at age 12, was in a teachers' newsletter. She was published in "Optical Prism" magazine and has worked as a reviewer for the Webby Awards. She holds a degree in English from the University of Oregon.