Memoirs for Older Children & Adults

A memoir is a record of:

  • facts and events written from personal knowledge or special information.
  • a person's own life and experiences; autobiography (Thorndike-Barnhart Student Dictionary).

Writers

Angelou, M. (1969). I know why the caged bird sings. New York, NY: Random House.
Poet Maya Angelou writes about her childhood - one filled with disappointments, tragedy, and hardships.
Call# J B A

Angelou, M. (1974). Gather together in my name. New York, NY: Random House.
Continues where "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," left off.
Call# J B A

Ashabranner, B. K. (1990). The times of my life: A memoir. New York, NY: Dutton.
The prolific author describes how his interest in writing developed as a child growing up during the Depression and chronicles his years after World War II as a government worker in Africa.
Call# J B A

Bauer, M. D. (1995). A writer's story: From life to fiction. New York, NY: Clarion Books.
The author explores the influences that led her to become a writer and the importance of inspiration.
Call# J B B

Cleary, B. (1988). A girl from Yamhill: A memoir. New York, NY: Morrow.
Follows the popular children's author from her childhood years in Oregon through high school and into young adulthood.
Call# J B C

Dahl, R. (1984). Boy: tales of childhood. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, Giroux,
Autobiography of noted children's author.
Call# J B D

Dahl, R. (1986). Going solo. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, Giroux.
Dahl's story continues with a job in Africa and flying with the Royal Air-force during World War II.
Call# J B D

De Paola, T. (2000). Here we all are. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam's Sons.
Children's author-illustrator Tomie De Paola describes his experiences at home and in school when he was a boy.
Call# J B D

Fleischman, S. (1996). The abracadabra kid: A writer's life. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.
The autobiography of the Newbery award-winning children's author who set out from childhood to be a magician.
Call# J B F

Fritz, J. (1982). Homesick, my own story. New York, NY: Putnam.
The author's memoir of her childhood in China in the 1920's.
Call# J B F

Hannam, C. (1978). A boy in that situation: An autobiography. New York: Harper & Row.
The author describes growing up in Nazi Germany and his subsequent life at school in England.
Call# J B H

Kehret, P. (1996). Small steps: The year I got polio. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman.
The author describes her battle against polio and her efforts to overcome its debilitating effects.
Call# J B K

Kerr, M. E. (1983). Me, me, me, me, me: Not a novel. Cambridge, MA: Harper & Row.
The author recounts escapades from her own teenage years and reveals how many of those real-life people and events served as springboards for the fictional characters and plots in her nine young adult novels.
Call# J B K

Kherdian, D. (1984). Root river run. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books,
The author relates his experiences of and explores the joys and difficulties of growing up as a first-generation American in an Armenian household.
Call# J B K

L'Engle, M. (1974). The summer of the great-grandmother. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
L'Engle recalls the summer that her mother died.
Call# J B L

Lewin, T. (1993). I was a teenage professional wrestler. New York, NY: Orchard Books.
The author-illustrator describes his early days as a professional wrestler.
Call# J B L

Little, J. (1989). Little by Little: A writer's education. New York, NY: Viking Kestrel.
An autobiography of the legally blind Canadian author.
Call# J B L

Lowry, L. (1998). Looking back: A book of memories. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Using family photographs and quotes from her books, the author provides glimpses into her life.
Call# J B L

Mah, A. Y. (1999). Chinese Cinderella: The true story of an unwanted daughter. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.
This writer and physician describes her childhood with an unloving stepmother.
Call# J B M

Mathabane, M. (1986). Kaffir boy: The true story of a Black youth's coming of age in apartheid South Africa. New York, NY: Macmillan.
The story of a man's struggle under apartheid and his journey to freedom.
Call# J B M

Meltzer, M. (1988). Starting from home: A writer's beginnings, a memoir. New York, NY: Viking Kestrel.
The author recounts the discoveries, hardships, and triumphs of his early life and the influences that shaped him as a person and writer.
Call# J B M

Myers, W. D. (2001). Bad boy: A memoir. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers.
Young Adult author discusses his mischievous childhood and adolescence.
Call# J B M

Paulsen, G. (1998). My life In dog years. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.
The author describes the importance of dogs in his life.
Call# J B P

Paulsen, G. (1990). Woodsong. New York, NY: Bradbury Press.
For a rugged outdoor man and his family, life in northern Minnesota is an adventure involving wolves, deer, and sled dogs.
Call# J 796.5 P

Peck, R. (1995). Anonymously yours. New York, NY: Beech Tree Paperback.
The popular author describes how he grew up in Decatur, Illinois, went into teaching, and eventually became a writer.
Call# J B P

Rylant, C. (1988). But I'll be back again: An album. New York, NY: Orchard Books.
The author relates her experiences growing up in a small West Virginia town.
Call# J B R

Spinelli, J. (1998). Knots in my yo yo string: The autobiography of a kid. New York, NY: Knopf.
This Italian American Newbery Medalist presents a humorous account of his childhood and youth in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
Call# J B S

Stevenson, J. (1986). When I was nine. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.
James Stevenson remembers his ninth year, in particular a summer car trip through the American West.
Call# J B S

Turner, A. W. (2000). Learning to swim. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
A series of poems convey the feelings of a young girl whose sense of joy and security at the family's summer house is shattered when an older boy who lives nearby sexually abuses her.
Call# J 811 T

Uchida, Y. (1991). The invisible thread. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: J. Messner.
This children's writer describes growing up in Berkeley, California, as a nisei, second generation Japanese American, and her family's internment in a Utah concentration camp during World War II.
Call# J B U

Vasileva, T. (1997). Hostage to war: A true story. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
The author relates her experiences from 1941-1953 as she struggles to survive as a Russian teenager caught up in all the horrors of World War II and its aftermath.
Call# J B W

Yates, E. (1981). My diary--my world. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press.
Drawing on her diaries and journals written from the time she was 12 until she was almost 20, the author depicts her life as a daughter of a well-to-do upstate New York family and her determination to become a writer despite her family's objections.
Call# J B Yates

Yep, L. (1996). The lost garden. New York, NY: Beech Tree Books,
The author describes how he grew up as a Chinese American in San Francisco and how he came to use his writing to celebrate his family and his ethnic heritage.
Call# J B Y

Athletes

Ashe, A. (1993). Days of grace. New York, NY: Knopf.
Ashe looks back on his life as an African American tennis star, and discusses his battle with AIDS.
Call# J B Ashe

Jenkins, S. (1999). The top of the world: Climbing Mount Everest. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Describes the conditions and terrain of Mount Everest, attempts that have been made to scale this peak, and general information about the equipment and techniques of mountain climbing.
Call# J 796.52 J

Sayers, G. (1970). I am third. New York, NY: Viking Press.
Story of a great African American football player and his special relationship with his white teammate Brian Piccolo.
Call# J B Sayers

Multicultural

Beals, M. (1995). Warriors don't cry: A searing memoir of the battle to integrate Little Rock's Central High. New York, NY: Pocket Books.
Beals reveals the challenges and prejudices that she faced as one of the first group of black students allowed to enter high school in Little Rock.
Call# J B B

Bridges, R. (1999). Through my eyes: The autobiography of Ruby Bridges. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
Bridges gives her account of school desegregation.
Call# J B B

Greenfield, E. ( 1979). Childtimes: A three-generation memoir. New York, NY: Crowell.
Childhood memoirs of three black women; grandmother, mother, and daughter who grew up between the 1880's and the 1950's.
Call# J 920 G

Jiang, J. L. (1997). Red scarf girl: A memoir of the cultural revolution. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Coming of age during the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960's.
Call# J 951.05 J

Kingston, M. H. (1976). The woman warrior: Memoirs of girlhood among ghosts. New York, NY: Knopf.
The story of a first generation Chinese American.
Call# J B Kingston, Call# 920.91554 K55w

Mandela, N. (1996). Mandela: An illustrated autobiography. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.
Adapted from Mandela's memoir Long Walk to Freedom, this version has many wonderful photographs to reinforce his story.
Call# J B M

Parks, R. (1992). Rosa Parks, my life. New York, NY: Dial Books.
Parks discusses her childhood and her important role in the Civil Rights Movement.
Call# J B P

Sonnenfeld, K. (1998). Memories of Clason Point. New York, NY: Dutton Books.
Sonnenfeld discusses growing up a Jew in a multicultural Bronx neighborhood during the Great Depression and how her father schemed to keep them fed, sheltered and clothed.
Call# J B S

X, M. (1992). The autobiography of Malcolm X with the assisatance of Alex Haley. New York, NY: Ballantine Books.
This is a classic autobiography of a passionate African American political activist and leader of the Black Panthers.
Call# J B Malcolm X, Call# 920.996 X1a

Holocaust/WWII

Hautzig, E. R. (1968). The endless Steppe: Growing up in Siberia. New York, NY: T. Y. Crowell Co.
The author relates her experiences during her five year stay in Siberia with her exiled family.
Call# J 940.54 H

Jackson, L. B. (1997). I have lived a thousand years: Growing up in the Holocaust. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
The story of a thirteen year old girl who survives a concentration camp in Hungary and how she finds the strength to overcome its devastating effects.
Call# J 940.53 J

Koehn, I. (1977). Mischling, second degree: My childhood in Nazi Germany. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.
The memoirs of a German girl who became a leader among the Hitler Youth while her Social Democratic family kept the secret of her partial Jewish heritage.
Call# J 943.086 K

Lobel, A. (1998). No pretty pictures: A child of war. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.
The award winning illustrator writes about her childhood during the time of the Holocaust.
Call# J B L

Opdyke, I. G. (1999). In my hands: Memories of a Holocaust rescuer. New York, NY: Knopf.
Recounts the experiences of the author who, as a young girl, hid and saved Jews during the Holocaust.
Call# J 940.53

Sender, R. M. (1986). The cage. New York, NY: Macmillan.
A teenage girl recounts the suffering and persecution of her family under the Nazis.
Call# J B Sender, Call# FS

Sender, R. M. (1988). To life. New York, NY: Macmillan.
A Holocaust survivor recounts her liberation from a Nazi concentration camp, search for surviving family members, and trying to immigrate with her husband and two children to America.
Call# J B S

Wojciechowska, M. (1972). Till the break of day. New York, NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Story of the author's adolescence during World War 11, when her family escaped from Poland to refugee camps and, finally, to the United States.
Call# J B W