Category Archives: Biography

Bethany Hamilton’s bio inspires

For the past few years, our elementary school has recognized not only Women’s History Month, but Individuals with Disabilities Month each March.

Among the many life stories about individuals with disabilities that student read, one of the titles within the Defining Moments: Overcoming Challenges series was hands-down the students’ favorite.

That title was Bethany Hamilton: Follow Your Dreams!

I suspect students related to that particular biography, in part due to their familiarity with Ms. Hamilton’s life story, from television and film.

But not only for that reason.

Knowing that Ms. Hamilton lost an arm in a shark attack, and yet still continues to surf, unembittered, captured their empathy, as much as their imagination.

Quite simply, they wanted to know more about her.

But not only about her.

Using the interplay of the series title, as well as the title of Ms. Hamilton’s individual biography, students reacted to the biographies of other inspirational individuals honored during the month of March.

“Defining moments,” “overcoming challenges,” and “follow[ing] your dreams” …

In the end, students concluded that everyone has one or more challenges to overcome, and that biographies like Bethany Hamilton’s give others the strength and confidence to face and overcome their own limitations and adversities, past, present, or future, in pursuit of their dreams.

Without a doubt, Ms. Hamilton’s life story–not despite the shark attack, but because of her response to it, made a deeply personal impression—one that will not soon be forgotten by her admiring young readers.

Anne Frank’s diary: sheltered writing; unsheltered evil

This past week, on August 4th, when I read that Anne Frank had been captured by the Nazi’s on that date in 1944, I recalled her diary entries, and that this beautiful, sensitive teenage writer dreamed of becoming a playwright.

Although everything about her death is nauseatingly tragic, including the fact that she did not live to realize her dream, it is heartwarming and ironic that death could not silence her pen—she became the published author she dreamed of—albeit not as a playwright.

Her writing, not in the form of a play, but as a series of diary entries that provide an autobiographical account of the drama of her last days when she was sheltered by a Dutch family, continues to be read today, in a multiplicity of formats and languages.

Her writings exposed–and continue to fight– the kind of evil that led to her capture and death because it humanized Nazi-victim statistics by enfleshing one of its victims with whom we can identify and empathize: an innocent teenager.

The fourth and fifth graders who have read her biographies, particularly the version: Who Was Anne Frank?, have been deeply touched by the story of her life, and receptive to learning more about the Holocaust.

Since the future is in our children’s hands, it is good that they be sensitized to the atrocities of the past in order to recognize and combat them going forward.

Anne Frank is a compelling author and biographical subject.

As a human race, we are fortunate that she wrote, that the Nazi’s did not confiscate her writings, and that her father permitted her writing to be published for our edification and humanization.

As long as her diary is read, Anne Frank continues to have a potent author’s voice, for which I am exceedingly grateful.