During the past couple of weeks, I have been teaching the 1st graders about biographies. I've been using guidance form the site, ReadWorks.org. This site recommended using The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles and The Picture Book Biography series by David. A Adler.
I introduced biogrpahies to students by explaining that they were stories about real people. They seem like fictional stories because of how they are written, but they are not. And for the whole first lesson, continued to answer the question, "Is this person real?" At least, they didn't ask that question anymore after the second and third lesson. They moved on to, "Is this person dead?"
The first graders really enjoyed the book, The Story of Ruby Bridges, which was expecially effective since Ruby Bridges is their age in the book. I asked them to point out characteristics of Ruby throughout the story. With examples of Ruby walking through a crowd of angry adults, Ruby praying for those angry adults, and Ruby continuing her education despite being the only child in the classroom, no wonder it is such a powerful example of not only biography, but character, as well. Students came out realizing how strong, brave, courageous, and kind Ruby was.