Amazing Lives

My latest book is titled Amazing Lives: The True Stories of Eight Famous Americans. It is a graded reader for English language learners at the intermediate level or above (around B1 or above on the CEFR scale).

The book is a collection of short biographies about eight famous people. Your students have probably heard of at least a few of the people in the book, but some of the others may be new for them. A lot of students are interested in learning about the lives of famous people, and the stories can also be a way to introduce students to aspects of American culture.

Book information:

Level: Intermediate level (B1) and above

Word count: Approximately 1,000 headwords

Age level: Middle school, high school, college-age, and adult

How to use the book with students:

This book could be used in many different ways. You could offer it as an option for students to read independently during Free Voluntary Reading time in class or during their own free time. Alternatively, you could read the book together with your students as a class.

If you’re reading the book as a whole class, you can decide the pace at which to read or even whether you want to read each biography. Each chapter is a stand-alone story focusing on one person, so you don’t need to read them all and don’t necessarily need to follow the same order as the book. (However, the chapters have been arranged in order roughly according to level; the biographies become slightly more difficult as the book progresses. In some cases, vocabulary words that are introduced in earlier chapters are then repeated in later chapters. Therefore, I do recommend reading the chapters in order, but it is not necessary.) 

When I’ve used this book with my students in class, we read one chapter per week. I’ve found that this is a good pace for my classes. The students seem to look forward to reading our weekly story, but the reading of the book doesn’t completely take over all our class time. After eight weeks, we have finished the book and can review it by talking together about which person we thought was most interesting or inspiring.

Each chapter in the book is preceded by a section called “Words to Know.” These are vocabulary words that might be new for your students and will be helpful for understanding the chapter. If you’re reading the book together as a class, you can spend a little time before each chapter to preview the words. You might want to provide a more thorough explanation or a translation of the words into your students’ native language(s) to ensure that they understand the words before reading. If you would like some ideas for previewing questions and discussion questions for each chapter, you can purchase this teacher’s guide.

Here is a short description of each of the eight people featured in the book:

Jennifer Lopez is a famous singer, actress, and dancer.

Daniel Suelo decided that he doesn’t like the idea of money. For 15 years, he stopped using money and lived outside in a cave.

José Enrique is a chef in Puerto Rico. He’s famous for his delicious food and for serving thousands of meals to hungry people after Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Laverne Cox is an actress who became famous after her role on the TV show Orange is the New Black. She is a trans woman, and she spends a significant portion of her time advocating for trans people and for changes to laws that will help LGBTQ people.

Tammy Duckworth is a veteran of the U.S. War in Iraq. While fighting, she lost both of her legs and injured her arms. Now, she is a U.S. Senator.

George Takei is an actor who became famous for his role on the TV show Star Trek. When he was a child, his family was forced to live in an internment camp for Japanese people during World War II.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is the wife of Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom. Meghan and Harry have left their positions as working members of the royal family and have started their own organization to focus on the work they care about.

Steve Jobs was one of the co-founders of Apple Computers. He designed many of Apple’s most popular products, such as the iPhone.

How to get the book:

The book can be purchased on as a paperback or an eBook.

If you would like to preview the first chapter of the book, please use the Contact Me page to request it.