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Hi-Lo Biographies

These easy-to-read biographies—written at a Grade 2 level—portray the lives of famous Canadian, American, and international figures. The well-organized chapters, glossaries, and discussion questions can be used to promote pre-, during, and post-reading strategies. The photographs, maps, and illustrations reflect the text, making the words easier to decode. Each biography contains 48 pages—long enough to narrate fully each person’s story—but short enough for beginner readers. Download free workbook activities for each biography.
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    Harriet Tubman

    Harriet Tubman was born into slavery around 1822. Between 1850 to 1860, Harriet helped about 70 slaves escape to freedom. She relied on the Undergr...

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    Jimi Hendrix

    Jimi Hendrix, a rock and roll legend, overdosed on pills and alcohol at the age of 27. He grew up in a home with alcoholic parents and a father who...

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    Cesar Chavez

    Cesar Chavez quit school after Grade 8 to help support his family. He laboured in the fields as a migrant farm worker. In 1962, Cesar founded and l...

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    Women Who Inspire: Malala

    Malala was lucky. Her parents knew the value of an education for both boys and girls, so Malala was sent to school and excelled. Today, Malala is k...

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    Women Who Inspire: Wangari Maathai

    In 1977, Wangari Maathai formed the Green Belt Movement, an organization that paid poor women to plant trees. The movement started in Kenya and soo...

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    Marilyn Monroe

    Marilyn Monroe is remembered most for her beauty and the controversy around her death. Was it suicide or murder? Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jean...

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    Walt Disney

    The name of Walt Disney is known around the world. As a boy, Walt Disney delivered newspapers in the early morning in all kinds of weather for six ...

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    Bruce Lee

    To some, Bruce Lee remains the greatest martial artist of all time. Born in San Francisco, he spent much of his childhood in Hong Kong, where he de...

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    Women Who Inspire: Clara Hughes

    Clara Hughes was on a risky path as a teenager. Watching the Olympic Games in 1988 changed her life. She was inspired to go for gold. Although she ...

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    Nancy Greene

    Nancy Greene is the best known name in Canadian skiing. As a teenager, she was nicknamed “Tiger” for her speed and courage.

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    David Suzuki

    David Suzuki has become a household name in Canada and much of North America. He has spent the past 40 years educating the public about environment...

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    Women Who Inspire: Helen Keller

    Helen Keller learned to speak, read, and write in spite of becoming blind and deaf at the age of two due to an illness. As a child, Helen was frust...

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    Wayne Gretzky

    Wayne Gretzky is a household name across North America. In 1998, he was named the greatest player in National Hockey League history by The Hockey N...

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    Maria Tallchief

    Maria Tallchief (1925-2013) was a famous prima ballerina. Born to a father from the Osage tribe and a mother with Scottish and Irish heritage, Mari...

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    Will Rogers

    Will Rogers (1879-1935,) was born in the Indian Territory, now known as Oklahoma. His fascination with rope tricks and the lasso led him to perform...

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    Tommy Prince

    Tommy Prince (1915-1977) grew up on the Brokenhead Reserve, part of the Ojibway Nation. He joined the Canadian Army and quickly became a part of th...

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    Big Bear

    Big Bear was a famous Cree leader who hoped for peace between the white settlers and the Cree. He signed a peace treaty with the Blackfoot, believi...

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    Michaëlle Jean

    Michaëlle Jean and her family fled Haiti to escape Duvalier's regime. She came to Canada as a refugee. Michaëlle worked as a journalist and broad...

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    Terry Fox

    An active teenager involved in many sports, Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. His right leg was amputated 15 cen...

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    Lucy Maud Montgomery

    Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942), the creator of Anne of Green Gables and author of more than 20 books, is a household name the world over. When M...

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    Norman Bethune

    Norman Bethune (1890-1939) was a doctor who devoted his life to helping others. Bethune's fame in Canada has resulted from his status as a hero in...

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    Poundmaker

    Poundmaker (1842-1886) was a Plains Cree chief known as a peacemaker and defender of his people.

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    Emily Carr

    Emily Carr (1871-1945) is one of Canada's most honored artists. As a female artist in the 1900s, she struggled to make ends meet. Emily tried to ...

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    Rick Hansen

    At the age of 15, Rick Hansen suffered an accident and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Unwilling to let his disability hold ...

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    Oskar Schindler

    Oskar Schindler risked his life to protect the lives of the Jewish people who worked for him during the reign of Hitler. As the horror of the Holoc...

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    Laura Secord

    Laura Secord found herself caught up in the War of 1812 after U.S. troops took over her family’s home. She overheard the U.S. troops’ plans to ambu...

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    Jane Goodall

    As a young girl, Jane Goodall dreamed of going to Africa to live with animals. Her dream came true and she spent over 25 years studying chimpanzees...

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    Fannie Lou Hamer

    Fannie Lou Hamer grew up in the South at the time of the Jim Crow laws. “Sick and tired” of being treated like a second-class citizen, Hamer overca...

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    Mahatma Gandhi

    Gandhi became one of the most respected political and spiritual leaders of the 1900s. He lived a spiritual and simple life of prayer, fasting, and ...

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    June Callwood

    June Callwood's career was marked by a strong concern for social justice, especially on issues affecting children and women. She became one of Cana...

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    Jean Vanier

    Jean Vanier is the founder of L'Arche, an international organization which creates communities where people with developmental disabilities and tho...

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    Elizabeth Fry

    Elizabeth visited Newgate prison in 1812. She was horrified by the crowded and dirty prison conditions. The women did their own cooking and washing...

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    Eleanor Roosevelt

    Eleanor Roosevelt was First Lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945. She was a shy, awkward child who became an orphan at the age of ten. Elean...

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    Dalai Lama

    The Dalai Lama is the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people. His Holiness often says, "I am just a simple Buddhist monk—no more, no ...

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    Matthew Henson & Robert Peary

    Robert Peary and Matthew Henson opened up the gateway to the North Pole. In 1909, they became the first people to reach the North Pole.

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    Nelson Mandela

    Nelson Mandela is the most widely-known figure in the struggle against South African apartheid. He spent 27 years in prison for his beliefs. He was...

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    Mother Teresa

    Mother Teresa spent her life working with the poorest of the poor. In 1948, she left her convent and started a school in the slums. By 1950, Mother...

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    Louis Riel

    Riel helped win some rights for the Métis during the 1800s. He was hanged for treason. Today, many people think Louis Riel is a hero.

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    The Famous Five

    Many people have not heard of The Famous Five. Yet, these five women fought for women's rights in the early 1900s. They helped women win the right ...

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    Rosa Parks

    In 1955, a young black woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. This act of courage sparked the Montgomery...

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    Amelia Earhart

    Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic on June 18-19, 1928. She disappeared in 1937, as she attempted to become the first...

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    Charles Lindbergh

    Charles Lindbergh, an American aviator, made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean on May 20-21, 1927.

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    First Women in Space

    Learn about three women who had the “right stuff”: Valentina Tereshkova, Sally Ride, and Roberta Bondar. The U.S.S.R. sent Valentina Tereshkova int...

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    Edmund Hillary & Tenzing Norgay

    On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay of Nepal became the first human beings to conquer Mount Everest.

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    Althea Gibson

    At the age of 23, Althea Gibson broke the colour barrier when she played in the U.S Open. She was the first black person to win the U.S. Open and W...

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    Tom Longboat

    Tom Longboat, an Onondaga Aboriginal, was raised in a log cabin on the Six Nations reserve. In 1907, Tom entered the most famous race in the world:...

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    Martin Luther King Jr.

    Martin Luther King Jr. was the dominant force in the civil rights movement during its decade of greatest achievement, from 1957 to 1968. He believe...

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    Muhammad Ali

    As a boxer, Muhammad brought unprecedented speed and grace to the sport of boxing. The phrase “floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee” comes...

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