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How to Write an Autobiography Review by Camilla Anderson

By Julie Gentry
XL Group
8327 Phillips Rd. SW
Lakewood, WA 98498-6349
858-335-6311
http://www.latintrivium.com/

This 13-week course takes the student through 22 separate assignments that, when completed, form an autobiographical booklet about the student. Intended for those in at least the seventh grade, this course is easily adaptable for younger students and expandable for older students.

The first half of this 40-page spiral-bound softcover worktext presents each assignment concisely, giving basic instruction and examples. Each assignment directs the student to complete one aspect of their autobiography, such as choosing a title, writing the introduction, designing a coat of arms, drawing a family tree, writing his/her physical description, describing the earliest memory, and so on. The last half is an example of a completed student autobiography booklet.

Based on the title of this course, I was surprised at the content. I expected to be able to direct my children to write a true autobiography in book form. But instead, completing this course leaves one with not much more than a binder of individual journal assignments, with no cohesiveness or organization into a true "autobiography."

Granted, the assignments are simple and creative and could easily be completed by almost any student, whether or not writing is a strength. However, this course is really nothing more than a book of autobiographical journal ideas. Even the sample "autobiography" included in the course does not read like a true autobiography. It reads like an elementary school journal composed of separate assignments.

If creating a simple autobiographical journal is appealing to you, this book will fit the bill. But, since any actual writing instruction is lacking in this course, I can't help but think the purchaser would be disappointed with the content. Any homeschooling teacher would be able to come up with a similar list of autobiographical journaling ideas, such as describing your house, describing your hobbies, and writing about where you would go if you could visit any place in the world. These are not novel ideas, and 22 of them in this book without any additional writing instruction is not what I would consider my money's worth. In a nutshell, this book does not teach writing, and it definitely does not teach "how to write an autobiography."


Product review by Camilla Anderson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2007

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