Memoirs in Celebration of the Power of Words

Memoirs in Celebration of the Power of Words

Memoirs by definition are non-fiction, but this list also includes "fictionalized memoirs" to use as examples for kids who are interested in writing their own memoirs. Even the fictionalized titles on this list are mostly based on true experiences in the life of the author or someone the author knows. Choose one of these and open a window into the author's world!


Compiled by:
Ellen A.
26 Fairmount Avenue

Tomie dePaola
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J dePaola Dep)
Series: 26 Fairmount Avenue; 1

Children's author-illustrator Tomie dePaola describes his experiences at home and in school when he was a boy.


Big Red Lollipop

Rukhsana Khan
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Kha)

Forced to bring her little sister along to a birthday party, Rubina is mortified when her younger sibling demands to win every game and steals Rubina's red lollipop party favor.


Bill Peet: An Autobiography

Bill Peet
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Peet Pee)

Bill Peet tells his life story, including his years with Disney, with illustrations on every page.


Brown Girl Dreaming

Jacqueline Woodson
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 811.54 Woo)

The author shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South.


Building Our House

Jonathan Bean
(Juvenile Picture Books - J Bea)

A young girl narrates her family's move from the city to the country, where they have bought a piece of land and live in a trailer while they build a house from the ground up, with help from relatives and friends.


Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963

Sharon Robinson
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Robinson Rob)

The daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson describes her childhood against a backdrop of segregation and the Civil Rights Movement, revealing how her family raised funds in support of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and attended the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.


El Deafo

Cece Bell
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J-GN 741.5092 Bell Bel)

A poignant graphic tale based on the creator's own experiences with hearing loss follows the adventures of young Cece, who develops "superpowers" to manage the challenges of making friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid that sometimes lets her hear things she shouldn't.


Fatty Legs: A True Story

Christy Jordan-Fenton, Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Pokiak Jor)

Looks at the experiences of a strong-willed young Inuit girl who receives permission from her father to travel to a residential religious school run by non-Inuit outsiders, where she struggles to adapt to the new way of living.


Front Desk

Kelly Yang
(Juvenile Fiction - J Yang)

After emigrating from China, ten-year-old Mia Tang's parents take a job managing a rundown motel, despite the nasty owner, Mr. Yao, who exploits them, while she works the front desk and tries to cope with fitting in at her school.


The Keeping Quilt

Patricia Polacco
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Pol)

In strongly moving pictures that are as heartwarming as they are real, Patricia Polacco tells the story of her own family, and the quilt that remains a symbol of their enduring love and faith.


Knucklehead: Tall Tales & Mostly True Stories about Growing Up Scieszka

Jon Scieszka
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Scieszka Sci)

Babysitting mishaps, lazy summer days by the lake, and silly childhood pranks are remembered in this amusing memoir of the life of an adventurous young boy growing up in a family with six brothers.


My Journey to the Stars

Scott Kelly
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Kelly Kel)

A picture book memoir by the first NASA astronaut to spend an entire year in space traces his childhood as an average student through his record-breaking mission on the International Space Station. 


My Life in Dog Years

Gary Paulsen
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Paulsen Pau)

The author describes some of the dogs that have had special places in his life, including his first dog, Snowball, in the Philippines; Dirk, who protected him from bullies; and Cookie, who saved his life.


Real Friends

Shannon Hale
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J-GN Hale Real Friends)

Hale traces the roller-coaster challenges of first friendships as demonstrated by her own experiences from kindergarten through fifth grade, years marked by cliques, bullies and her efforts to gain popularity.


Sunny Side Up

Jennifer Holm
(Juvenile Graphic Novels - J-GN Sunny Side Up, v. 1)
Series: Sunny Side Up; 1

A semi-autobiographical tale by the award-winning sister-brother team behind the Babymouse series follows the lives of kids whose older brother's delinquent behavior has thrown their family into chaos.


Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson

Sharon Robinson
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Rob)

As a testament to his courage, Jackie Robinson's daughter shares memories of him, from his baseball career to the day he tested the ice for her, her brothers, and their friends.


Through My Eyes

Ruby Bridges
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Bridges Bri)

Provides the first-hand factual account of the six-year-old student who made history by having been one of the first black children to attend an all-white, segregated school in the 1960's.


Tree of Cranes

Allen Say
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Say)

While a young Japanese boy recovers from an illness, his mother folds origami paper into beautiful silver cranes, decorates a small pine tree, and tells him all about her childhood in America and about the joyous holiday of Christmas.


The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Peter Sis
(Juvenile Nonfiction - J 921 Sis Sis)

Annotated illustrations, maps, and dreamscapes explore how the artist-author's life was shaped while growing up in Czechoslovakia during the Cold War, in a powerful graphic memoir.


When I Was Young in the Mountains

Cynthia Rylant
(Juvenile Picture Books - Ej Ryl)

Portrays the family life and simple pleasures of a girl growing up in a small mountain town.