Wisconsin Biographies Independent Reading Program

Marilyn Penn

Sun Prairie School District






Extension and Assessment


List of Biographies


Students will gain further understanding about noteworthy people from Wisconsin by reading independently at least one biography of an important person from Wisconsin.

Students will explain in writing main ideas they learned about a significant person from Wisconsin.

State Standards:

Reading/Literature Fourth-Grade Performance Standards

A.4.3 Read and discuss literary and nonliterary texts in order to understand human experience.

Select a variety of materials to read for discovery, appreciation, and enjoyment, summarize the readings, and connect them to prior knowledge and experience.

Social Studies/History Fourth-Grade Performance Standards

B.4.3 Examine biographies, stories, narratives, and folk tales to understand the lives of ordinary and extraordinary people, place them in time and context, and explain their relationship to important historical events.

B.4.7 Identify and describe important events and famous people in Wisconsin and United States history.

Social Studies/Behavior Sciences Fourth-Grade Performance Standards

E.4.12 Give examples of important contributions made by Wisconsin citizens, United States citizens, and world citizens.


Biographies from a variety of reading levels on different people from Wisconsin. (See the Cooperative Children’s Book Center web site for an annotated bibliography of “Recent Books for Children and Young Adults about Wisconsin People, Places, and Topics of Interest” available at www.soemadison.wisc.edu/ccbc/wiscoll.htm).

“Wisconsin Biographies” book report worksheet


1. The teacher introduces various biographies of noteworthy people from Wisconsin to the students by reading excerpts from biographies or giving short “book talks” about several biographies. The teacher explains that the students will choose a biography related to their reading level, which can vary from picture books to chapter books. They should choose a person they are interested in learning more about. Each student must read at least one biography of an important person from Wisconsin.

2. The teacher will then demonstrate how students should complete the “Wisconsin Biographies” book report worksheet once they finish reading the biography. Guide students in identifying where the title, author, and copyright date are located in the text. Read excerpts from a biography which provides ideas for when the person lived, where they resided within Wisconsin, and important things they accomplished during their life. Ask students to pair-share their responses to the questions, then each pair offers at least one idea for one of the questions on the “Wisconsin Biographies” book report worksheet. As students offer responses, record on a transparency of the “Wisconsin Biographies” book report worksheet.

3. The teacher should continue to provide support to students as they complete their biographies and summarize what they learned on the “Wisconsin Biographies” worksheet. For students who become “stuck” in their writing, encourage them to explain their responses to the questions verbally.

4. When the students have finished their biography and completed the “Wisconsin Biographies” worksheet, place the biographies on a timeline of Wisconsin history, showing significant people who lived during various eras.


Students may also independently read books set in Wisconsin, books written or illustrated by Wisconsin authors or illustrators, and books about Native Peoples of Wisconsin. Annotated bibliographies for each category are included on the Cooperative Children’s Book Center web site (www.soemadison.wisc.edu/ccbc/wiscoll.htm). Provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they learned about Wisconsin from their reading.


Review students’ “Wisconsin Biographies” worksheet for complete and plausible responses, complete sentences, and accurate writing mechanics.

Your name ______________________________________

Wisconsin Biographies

Title ______________________________________________________

Author_______________________ Copyright__________________

Who is the book about?


What is the person’s birth date?                                 Date of death?

When/where did the person live in Wisconsin?

Name things we remember about the person (list).

What was the most interesting thing you learned from reading the book?

Biographies About Significant Wisconsin People

Aaseng, N. (1980). Eric Heiden: Winner in gold. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner.


Adler, D. A. (1986). Our Golda, The story of Golda Meir. New York: Puffin Books.

Altman, S. R. (1989). Extraordinary Black Americans from colonial to

            contemporary times. Chicago: Children’s Press.

Amdur, R. (1990). Golda Meir, A leader in peace and war. New York: Fawcett


Anderson, L. (1972). Black Hawk, Indian patriot. Champaign, IL: Garrard.


Anderson, P. (1995). John Muir wilderness prophet. New York: Franklin Watts.

Anderson, W. (1990). Laura Ingalls Wilder country. New York: Harper Perennial.

Anderson, W. (1998). Laura’s album: A remembrance srapbook of Laura

            Ingalls Wilder. New York: Harper Collins.

Anderson, W. (1998). Pioneer girl: The story of Laura Ingalls Wilder. New York:

            Harper Collins.

Atkins, J. (2000). Girls who looked under rocks: The lives of six pioneering

            naturalists. Nevada City, CA: Dawn.

Bausum, A. (2000). Dragon bones and dinosaur eggs: A photobiography of explorer

            Roy Chapman Andrews. Washington, DC: National Geographic.

Beckhard, A. J. (1968). Black Hawk. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: REC.

Berry, M. (1988). Georgia O’Keeffe. New York: Chelsea House.

Burchard, M. (1974). Sports hero: Henry Aaron. New York: Putnam.

Burt, O. W. (1962). The Ringling brothers: Circus boys. Indianapolis, IN:


Cone, M., McCrea, J., & McCrea, R. (1971). The Ringling brothers. New York: Thomas

            Y. Crowell.

Deegan, P. J. (1974). Hank Aaron. Mankato, MN: Creative Education.

Dines, G. (1974). John Muir. New York: Putnam.

Dougherty, T. (1999). Brett Favre. Edina, MN: Abdo.

Ehlert, L. (1996). Under my nose. Katonah, NY: Richard C. Owen.

Ernst, J. (1975). Escape king: The story of Harry Houdini. Englewood Cliffs, NJ:


Fox, M. V. (1980). The skating Heidens. Hillside, NJ: Enslow.

Fox, M. V. (1999). Douglas MacArthur. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books.

Golenbock, P. (2001). Hank Aaron: Brave in every way. San Diego, CA: Harcourt.

Graves, C. P. (1973). John Muir. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell.

Hintz, M. (2000). Wisconsin portraits: 55 people who made a difference. Black

             Earth, WI: Trail Books.

Kent, Z. (1994). Jacques Marquette and Joliet. Chicago: Children’s Press.

Kjelgaard, J. (1951). The explorations of Pere Marquette. New York: Random House.

Krull, K. (2000). Lives of extraordinary women: Rulers, rebels (and what the

            neighbors thought). San Diego, CA: Harcourt.

Lorbiecki, M. (1993). Of things natural, wild, and free: A story about Aldo

            Leopold. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books.

Lowery, L. (1996). Georgia O’Keeffe. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books.

McAuley, K. (1985). Golda Meir. New York: Chelsea House.

McCall, E. S. (1962). Pioneering on the plain. Chicago: Children’s Press.

McElroy, L. T., Cobb, A., & Benjamin, J. (2001). Meet my grandmother, She’s a

            children’s book author. Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press.

Money, D. (1976). The man who made Milwaukee famous: A salute to Henry

            Aaron. Milwaukee, WI: Agape.

Mooney, M. J. (1997). Brett Favre. Philadelphia: Chelsea House.

Passaro, J. (1999). The story of Harley-Davidson. Mankato, MN: Smart Apple


Patterson, L. (1981). Sure hands, strong heart: The life of Daniel Hale Williams.

Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.


Rau, D. M. (2001). Harry Houdini: Master magician. New York: Franklin


Roensch, G. (2003). Vince Lombardi. New York: Rosen Central.

Rubin, S. G. (1994). Frank Lloyd Wright. New York: Abrams.

Shulman, J., Rogers, T., & Raymond, L. (1991). Gaylord Nelson: A day for the earth.

            Frederick, MD: Twenty-First Century Books.

Stein, R. C. (1981). The story of Marquette and Joliet. Chicago: Children’s Press.

Syme, R. (1974). Marquette and Joliet: Voyagers on the Mississippi. New York:

William Morrow.


Tolan, S. (1990). John Muir: Naturalist, writer, and guardian of the North

            American wilderness. Milwaukee, WI: G. Stevens Children’s Books.

Turner, R. (1991). Georgia O’Keeffe. Boston: Little, Brown.

Wadsworth, G. (1992). John Muir: Wilderness protector. Minneapolis, MN:


Wallner, A. (1997). Laura Ingalls Wilder. New York: Holiday House.

Winter, J. (1998). My name is Georgia: A portrait. San Diego, CA: Harcourt.

Wukovits, J. F. (1997). Vince Lombardi. Philadelphia: Chelsea House.

Wisconsin Studies

Teaching Social Studies