Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hail to the Chief

I love a good bit of historical fiction, just like the next mom!  So this week, with President's Day ahead, I thought I would share some of my favorite books about Lincoln and our Founding Fathers.  For younger kids, it is a great time to introduce them to some famous names in history, sprinkled with fun and educational facts.  For older kids, there are some great books that show just how exciting true stories can be.  Who needs fiction when the real story of the assassination of Lincoln is an edge of your seat thriller!

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Title:          Looking at Lincoln
Author:     Maira Kalman
Target:       Kindergarten and up
What this book is about:
A young girl goes on a journey to find out more about Abraham Lincoln.  Along the way she discovers he likes vanilla cake and tall hats where he can put his notes.  She also learns about his beliefs in freedom, his encounters with Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglas, and the terrible cost of war.  Finally she learns that “a great man is never really gone.”
Why I love it:
Ok, the end of this picture book made me cry, but in a wonderful way, and if you have ever been to the Lincoln Memorial and been awed by that statue, you too will tear up  I am afraid.  If you have ever read my blog you will know that I am a devotee of Maira Kalman and this book is another beautiful work by her.  It interweaves whimsy with history and poignancy in a way that no other book on the subject has done.
Who this book is for:
All children will find something to like in this book, and it doesn’t feel like a history lesson, although it is.
Final thoughts:
There is a reason that there are 16,000 books written about Lincoln.  He is a man worth knowing about.

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here: Looking at Lincoln

Title:          John, Paul, George & Ben
Author:     Lane Smith

Target:       Grade 1-4
What this book is about:
Lane Smith takes well known facts about our founding fathers and shows us how they manifested themselves when these men were boys.  John Hancock's large handwriting in school, Paul Revere’s booming voice as he repeats a customer’s order “Here they are.  Great big extra-large underwear!”  In the back of the book there is also a nice little review of each founding father along with a true or false section that was a blast for my kids.
Why I love this book:
Hilarious!  Not only did my kids learn some fun facts about some very important men in our history, they did it with smiles on their faces.  This is not a history lesson per say, but it will acquaint them with these historical figures and the roles they played.
Who this book is for:
Kids who want a fun introduction to the founding fathers
Final thoughts:
What parent wont enjoy the clever Beatle references throughout!

To purchase this book, visit you local bookstore or click here: John, Paul, George & Ben

Title:          Chasing Lincoln’s Killer
Author:     James L. Swanson
Target:       Grade 5-8
Series:         No
What this book is about:
This is a historical account of the assassination of President Lincoln and the twelve day manhunt for his killer.  It was adapted from Swanson’s adult book “Manhunt.”  
Why I love this book:
Wow, this was a true historical thriller.  It had action, suspense and intrigue!  While I knew the basic story, this book filled me in so much more on the plot, the other intended victims and the lack of organization surrounding John Wilkes Booth.  The fact that it was true made it all the more amazing and I didn’t want to put it down.  I read it non stop in one afternoon!
Who this book is for:
This book is not for squeamish kids.  The author makes a note in the back that he left in enough blood and gore so that kids would love it, but not so much that parents would “flip out!”  But be warned, it is graphic in it’s depictions.
Final thoughts:
This inspired me to learn more, which the best books will do!

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here: Chasing Lincoln's Killer

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