Posts Tagged ‘living books’

Booklist: Living Books on WWII

As we continue with booklists I have put together over the years, today we turn to WWII.

Living Books on WWII

Adler, David A. Picture Book of Anne Frank. Adler’s biographies are decent picture book level introductions. Elementary.

Ambrose, Stephen. The Good Fight. Covers the major battles and movements of WWII in a page each with good writing. He also wrote Band of Brothers and books for adults which could be an option for high school. Elementary +.

Benary-Isbert, Margot. The Ark. Middle years.

Bishop, Claire. Ten and Twenty. Wonderful story. Upper elementary-middle.

Borden, Louise. Across the Blue Pacific, Greatest Skating Race, and Little Ships. Picture books. Elementary.

Bunting, Eve. Terrible Things. Elementary.

Chaconas, Doris. Pennies in a Jar. Elementary.

Coerr, Elizabeth. Sadako and the 1000 paper cranes. Re Japan. Elementary.

Commager, Henry Steele. Story of the Second World War. I like Commager’s books. I am not sure of the level of this one.

Deedy, Carmen. The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark.  Elementary.

Gallaz, Christophe. Rose Blanche. Elementary.

Hughes, Shirley. The Lion and the Unicorn. A Jewish boy in England. Elementary.

Hunter, Sara. Unbreakable Code. Elementary.

Johnson, Angela. Wind Flyers. Picture book. Elementary.

Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars. Middle years.

Lutzer, Erwin. Hitler’s Cross. Hitler’s theology examined. Teens.

Marrin, Albert. A favorite author with a number of books on the war: Uprooted (on the Japanese in the US), The Airman’s War, Hitler, Victory in the pacific, A light in the darkness (re the holocaust), Overlord (re DDay), Secret armies (re code breakers). Teens

McSwigan, Marie. Snow Treasure. Wonderful book. Upper elementary-middle.

Miers, Earl Schenk. Men of Valor. An older author. Middle years (?).

Polacco, Patricia. Butterfly. Elementary.

Seredy, Kate. Chestry Oak. Upper elementary-middle.

Stevenson, James. Don’t You Know There’s a War On? Elementary.

Streatfield, Noel. When the Sirens Wailed. Middle years.

Tunis, John. Silence over Dunkerque. Middle years.

Werstein, Irving. Another favorite author with a lot of books on WWI. He has many on specific battles and also The Long Escape (re children in Belgium),  The Uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto, and That Denmark Might Live. Middle-teens.

Whelan, Gloria. After the Train and Summer of the War. Whelan has lots of good historical fiction. Middle years.

Booklist: Living Books on the 1920s & 1930s

As we continue with booklists I have put together over the years, today we turn to the period between the World Wars, roughly 1918-1940. 

Living Books on the 1920s and 1930s

The 1918 Spanish Flu 

Lasky, Kathryn. Marven of the Great North Woods. Elementary.

Marrin, Albert. Very, Very, Very Dreadful: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918. A favorite author. Middle-teens.

The Roaring Twenties

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. You can’t discuss the ’20s without Fitzgerald. Teens.

Hoobler, Dorothy. And Now, A Word from Our Sponsor : The Story of a Roaring ’20’s Girl. Middle years (?).

Prigger, Mary. Aunt Minnie McGranahan. Life in the 1920s. Elementary.

Rawls, Wilson. Where the Red Fern Grows. Not roarin’ but set in the ’20s. Middle years.

The 1930s, the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression

Brown, Fern. When Grandpa Wore Knickers. Life in the early 1930s. Elementary.

Burch, Robert.  Queenie Peavy. Elementary-middle.

Egan, Timothy. The Worst Hard Time. Re the Dust Bowl. I loved this book. Teens.

Gates, Doris. Blue Willow. Life in the ’30s. Middle years.

Hoff, Syd. Scarface Al and His Uncle Sam. Easy reader. From the wonderful author of Danny and the Dinosaur. Elementary.

Lied, Kate. Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression. Elementary.

Marrin, Albert. FDR and the American Crisis and Years of Dust. A favorite author. For international history, also try his Stalin: Russia’s Man of Steel. Middle-teens.

Peck, Richard. Long Way from Chicago and Year Down Yonder. Historical fiction; life in the 1930s. Middle years.

Peterson, Jeanne. Don’t Forget Winona. Elementary.

Stanley, Jerry. Children of the Dust Bowl. Elementary-middle.

Steinbeck, John. Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath. The former is shorter and easier to read. Both are classics. Teens.

Taylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Middle years.

Turner, Ann. Dust for Dinner. Elementary.

Werstein, Irving. Shattered Decade 1929 and A Nation Fights Back. A favorite author. Middle-teens.


Borden, Louise. Good-bye Charles Lindbergh. Elementary.

Dalgliesh, Alice. Ride on the Wind. Re the Spirit of St. Louis. Elementary.

Quackenbush, Robert. Clear the Cow Pasture. Re Amelia Earhart. Elementary.

Ransom, Candice. Fire in the Sky. Re the Hindenburg disaster (1937). Elementary-middle.

Wells, Rosemary. Wingwalker. Elementary.


Bunting, Eve. Pop’s Bridge. Re the Golden Gate. Elementary.

Clinton, Patrick. Story of the Empire State Building. From the Cornerstones of Freedom series (be sure to get the older books that begin “Story of . . .”). Elementary.

Movies on the 1930s:

We watched a number of movies relating to this period. The movie industry really took off in the ’30s so one can find both movies made in the ’30s and those set in the ’30s.

Gone with the Wind – Though set in the Civil War and Reconstruction, Margaret Mitchell’s classic was both a best-selling book and movie in the 1930s. I made my kids discuss why people living through the Depression might have been so attracted to this story.

Bonnie and Clyde – Enough humor and violence for my kids. A slightly older movie, it does not really show much nudity or blood but there are a couple of “adult” scenes and Bonnie and Clyde’s deaths at the end are vivid (though again not bloody). The movie does a good job of showing that crime does not pay though it also hints at why people supported outlaws like Bonnie and Clyde at the time.

The Untouchables – Criminal activity was booming in the ’30s. This movie tells the story of Scarface Al Capone and his capture.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? – We watched this a few years ago. It is the story of Homer’s Odysseus set in 1930s America. Humorous and and ultimately wholesome. I don’t remember how much adult content there was, not too much I think. Great soundtrack too.

The Grapes of Wrath – We didn’t want to take the time to read Steinbeck’s (long) classic but the classic movie covers a lot of the bases. My kids enjoyed it.

Kit Kittredge: An American Girl – We watched this movie last time we studied this era, when my kids were much younger. I am not a fan of the American Girl franchise but I think this movie is one of their better pieces. When we watched it, our neighbor’s house across the street was being foreclosed on.

To see what people in the ’30s were watching (and for a more wholesome choice), try some Shirley Temple classics. The Little Colonel (set in post-Civil War south) is one of our favorites.

Happy reading (and watching)!


Booklist: Living Books on WWI

As we continue with booklists I have put together over the years, today we turn to the Great War, aka World War I.

Living Books on WWI

Buchan, John. The Thirty-Nine Steps. Not specifically about the war but a wonderful, don’t-miss fiction book. Middle-teens.

Granfield, Linda. Where Poppies Grow. Picture book. Elementary.

Harnett, Sonya. Silver Donkey. Set in France. Elementary-middle.

Marrin, Albert. The Yanks are Coming. Marrin’s books tend to tell all about an era and make good spines for older kids. Middle-teens.

McCutcheon, Patricia. Christmas in the Trenches. Elementary.

Mukerji, Dhan Gopal. Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon. Middle years or a good read aloud for younger ones.

Reeder, Red. The Story of the First World War. Middle-teens.

Seredy, Kate. The Singing Tree. Hungarians. Middle years.

Vinton, Iris. Story of Edith Cavell. Re a British nurse. Middle years.

Werstein, Irving. Over Here and Over ThereThe Lost Battalion, The Many Face of WWI and 1914-1918: WWI Told in Pictures. If you can find him, Werstein is a wonderful older author. Middle years-teens.

And some movies . . .

I’d also like to mention some movies set in this era. The Humphrey Bogart classic African Queen is set during WWI.

Sergeant York is a fabulous a WWI movie everyone should see.

While looking for things to watch, I also ran across the Young Indiana Jones series. There are apparently two seasons, one set before WWI and one during WWI. From the reviews I read they are high school level for both violence and adult situations. We haven’t watched them but they sounded good.


Booklist: the Early 1900s

Today we are looking at books on the early 1900s up to World War I. Some of these topics overlap with my previous list on the late 1800s.

Living Books on the Early 1900s

China and the Boxer Rebellion

Preston, Diana. The Boxer Rebellion. Teens.

Silbey, David. The Great Game in China. Slightly shorter and more accessible than Preston’s book. Teens.

Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1909)

Foster, Genevieve. Theodore Roosevelt. Foster’s books made wonderful spines for a wide range of ages. Elementary +.

Fritz, Jean. Bully for You Teddy Roosevelt. Elementary.

Kent, Zachary. The Story of the Rough Riders. Cornerstones of Freedom series. This series is good if you get the older books whose titles all begin “The Story of . . .” Elementary-middle.

Marrin, Albert. Theodore Roosevelt and the Rise of Modern America. Teens.


Crew, Gary. Pig on the Titanic. Picture book. Elementary.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the San Francisco Earthquake. Cornerstones of Freedom series. This series is good if you get the older books whose titles all begin “The Story of . . .” Elementary-middle.

Women’s Suffrage

Fritz, Jean. You Want Women to Vote Lizzie Staunton. Elementary.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the Nineteenth Amendment. Cornerstones of Freedom series. This series is good if you get the older books whose titles all begin “The Story of . . .” Elementary-middle.

Wise, Winfred. Rebel in Petticoats. Middle years (?).

Woolridge, Connie. When Esther Morris Headed West. Elementary.

Immigration and Immigrants

Bartone, Elisa. Peppe the Lamplighter.  Elementary.

Bunting, Eve. Dreaming of America. Elementary.

Estes, Eleanor. The 100 Dresses. A Polish girl in Connecticut. Elementary-middle.

Forbes, Kathryn. Mama’s Bank Account. Norwegian immigrants in San Francisco. Elementary-middle years.

Judson, Clara Ingram. The Green Ginger Jar. A mystery set in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Middle years.

Stein, R. Conrad. Story of Ellis Island. Cornerstones of Freedom series. Elementary.

Wells, Rosemary. Streets of Gold. Elementary.

Industry and Invention

Judson, Clara Ingram. Andrew Carnegie. Middle-teens.

Quackenbush, Robert. Along Came the Model T and Ahoy! Ahoy! Are You There? A Story of Alexander Graham Bell. Elementary.

Silverberg, Robert. Light for the World: Edison and the Power Industry. Teens.

Spier, Peter. Tin Lizzie. Elementary.

Yolen, Jane. My Brothers Flying Machine. Elementary.

Factory Life

The Lowell Mill Girls: Life in the Factory. Letters. Elementary-middle.

Marrin, Albert.  Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy. Marrin manages to tell quite a bit about the whole era. Middle-teens.

Paterson, Katherine Lyddie. Middle years.

Selden, Bernice. The Mill Girls. Middle years.

General Life

Steig, William. When Everybody Wore a Hat. Elementary.

Booklist: the Late 1800s, Pioneers and the West

In my ever-growing lists of living books we are now up to the late 1800s (i.e. post-Civil War). We are including in this period pioneers and the settlement of the west. Some topics which span the turn of the century, including industrialization and immigration, will be saved for the early 1900s list.

Living Books on the late 1800s


Robinet, Harriette. Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule. Middle years.

Taylor, Mildred. The Land. Book 1 of the Logan family saga. Middle years.

Werstein, Irving. This Wounded Land. Middle years-teens.

California Gold Rush

deClements, Barthe. Bite of the Gold Bug. Elementary.

Roop, Connie. California Gold Rush. Elementary.

The Pony Express (1860-1861)

Bulla, Clyde Robert. Riding the Pony Express. Elementary.

Coerr, Eleanor. Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express. Elementary.

Great Chicago Fire (1871)

Hoffer, Peter Charles. Seven Fires: The Urban Infernos that Reshaped America. Teens.

Quackenbush, Robert. They’ll be a hot time… Elementary.

NYC Blizzard of 1888

Stevens, Carla. Anna Grandpa and the Big Storm. Elementary.

Chicago World’s Fair (1893)

Lawson, Robert. The Great Wheel. Elementary.

Peck, Richard. Fair Weather. Middle years.

Blizzard of 1896

Bird, E.J. Blizzard of 1896. Middle years (?).

Spanish American War (1898)

Marrin, Albert. The Spanish-American War. Teens.

Werstein, Irving. 1898: Spanish American War. Middle-teens.


Lomask, Milton. Andy Johnson (1865-1869). I really like this older author. Middle-teens.

Venezia, Mike. Venezia has a series of humorous books on the presidents. Elementary.

Pioneers & Pioneer Life

Avi. Prairie School. Elementary (?).

Brinks, Carol Ryrie. Caddie Woodlawn. Don’t miss the sequels too. Elementary-middle.

Bunting, Eve. Dandelions and  Train to Somewhere. Elementary. (re orphan trains). Lovely picture books. Elementary.

Cather, Willa. O Pioneers and My Antonia. I love Cather. Teens.

Caudill, Rebecca. Tree of Freedom. Elementary (?).

Coatsworth, Elizabeth. Sod House. Elementary.

Coerr, Eleanor. Josefina Story Quilt. Easy reader. Elementary.

DeFelice, Cynthia. Weasel (series). We listened to the first one and found it a little freaky so not for the timid child. Middle years.

Fleming, Alice. King of Prussia and a Peanut Butter Sandwich. Russian immigrants make their way to Kansas. Elementary.

Fritz, Jean. Cabin Faced West. Middle years.

Gregory, Kristiana. Legend of Jimmy Spoon. Middle years.

Hays, Wilma Pitchford. Trouble at Otter Creek. Elementary.

Holm, Jennifer. Our Only May Amelia and Boston Jane (series). May Amelia is set in Washington state in 1899. Middle years.

Larson, Kirby. Hattie Big Sky (series). We loved these. Middle years.

MacLauchlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall. Check out the rest in the series as well. Elementary-middle.

Rounds, Glen. Sod Houses on the Great Plains. Elementary.

Steele, William O. This favorite author has lots of books on pioneer and Native American life that will appeal to boys. Some are: Flaming ArrowsWinter DangerWestward Adventure, Buffalo Knife and Wilderness Journey. Middle years.

Stein, R. Conrad. Story of the Homestead Act. From the wonderful Cornerstones of history series. Look for the older books whose titles start “Story of” NOT the newer ones. Elementary.

Turner, Ann. Grasshopper Summer (A plague of locusts hits the prairie) and Dakota Dugout. Elementary.

Whelan, Gloria. Next Spring an Oriole. Easy reader. Elementary.

Wilder, Laura Ingalls. Little House on the Prairie (series). Little House in the Big Woods is a fairly easy read. Elementary-Middle.

Yates, Elizabeth. Carolina’s Courage. Elementary.

Cowboys and Such

Dewey, Ariane. Narrow Escapes of Davy Crockett. Tall tales. Elementary.

Fritz, Jean. Make way for Sam Houston. Elementary.

Holling, Holling C. The Book of Cowboys. Elementary.

Hurley, William. Dan Frontier. A Davy Crockett type character. Elementary.

James, Will. Smokey the Cow Horse. My librarian was very excited about this one. elementary (?).

Miers, Earl Schenck. Wild and Woolly West. A wonderful older author if you can find him. Middle years (?).

Marrin, Albert. Cowboys, Indians and Gunfighters and War Clouds in the West (re Native Americans and cavalrymen). Marrin is a favorite author.  Middle-teens.

Quackenbush, Robert. Quit Pulling My Leg. Re Davy Crockett. Elementary.

Rounds, Glen. Cowboys. Early elementary.

Silverberg, Robert, Ghost Towns of the American West. Teens.

Steele, William O. Story of Daniel Boone. Elementary (?).

Steig, Jeanne. Tales from Gizzard’s Grill. Poetic. Elementary.

Werstein, Irving. Marshall without a Gun. Middle years-teens.


Dalgliesh, Alice. Bears on Hemlock Mountain. Elementary.

Glubok, Shirley. Art of America in the Gilded Age. Elementary-middle.

Marrin, Albert. Saving the Buffalo. Middle years.

North, Sterling. Wolfling. Middle years.

Roop, Connie. Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie. Lighthouse keeper. Elementary.

Twain, Mark. Life on the Mississippi.  There is also an abridged version called The Boy’s Ambition. Middle-teens.

Whelan, Gloria. Wanigan. Life of a girl in timber country on Lake Huron in 1878. Middle years.

Yolen, Jane. Mary Celeste. Shipwreck in 1872. Elementary.

Happy reading!

CM: Living Books and Language Arts

Previously I gave an overview of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education through her 20 Principles. Today I’d like to look at one of the subjects that seems hardest to adjust to in a CM education: language arts. It can seem very counter-intuitive to those of us who were educated in more traditional ways and often one feels like one is not doing enough. 

Living Books

Let’s begin with one of the cornerstones of a Charlotte Mason education: “living books.” Living books are used in almost every subject from history and science to literature and art history. Because they form the basis of so much of what we do, we must begin by looking at these living books, what they are and why we use them.

As we saw, Mason’s 13th principle states that knowledge should be conveyed “in well-chosen language . . . in a literary form.”  The main criteria for living books, why Mason chose to use them, is that they convey ideas from one mind to another. Ideas are “caught” in this way from the authors of our books and become our own. One helpful analogy, which Mason herself uses, is that of food.  Ideas are the food of the mind (principle 8). Just as there are different kinds of foods, so there are different kinds of books. The best ones, these living books, are well-written and contain the vital ideas our minds need. Just like wholesome, tasty foods nourish our bodies, so they nourish our minds. Books which contain facts but in a dry, textbook-like form are more like dry fiber bars. There may be something in them but they are not enjoyable and we will not thrive on them. The junk food of the book world are what Mason calls “twaddle.” Twaddly books may be enjoyable; kids often like them, especially if they have not developed a taste for the finer things, but there is no real nutrition in them.

 Throughout her volumes, Mason expands upon the notion of living books and gives us some guidelines as to what are and aren’t living books and how to recognize them. 

  • Above all, living books are known by their effect; they are living because they give life to the mind.
  • Living books are well-written. They use fine language.
  • Living books have a literary style. This can be true whether they are fiction or non-fiction. They tell things in a narrative fashion.
  • Living books usually have only one author. Books written by committee are almost never living.
  • In general, books should be whole books, not abridged, excerpted, or children’s versions. (One notable exception is narrative versions of Sakespeare’s plays.)
  • Living books are written by someone who knows and loves their subject. 
  • Living books can be of any level from picture books to Shakespeare and Moby Dick
  • A helpful test for picture books can be whether the adult wants to read it, or to read it more than once. If you as the adult are sick of it quickly, it is probably not living. 
  • Living books are true. This applies to non-fiction, of course, but even fiction can convey truth through completely made-up stories. 
  • Living books are not preachy. If a moral lesson is very obvious to you, it probably is to your child as well. Messages that lie on the surface are not the same as ideas which must be dug out of books. Remember that reading and narrating living books is meant to be work. 
  • Living books are worth reading more than once. If you can read a book a second or a third time and get something new out of it, it is probably living.

Language Arts in a Charlotte Mason Education

Language arts itself involves a few different skills or knowledge areas including: reading comprehension, grammar, spelling, and writing. In a Charlotte Mason education, all these areas are covered through living books, narration (oral first, then written), and copy work and later prepared dictation. 

Living books are the key to CM language arts. Children who are educated with such books will develop a taste for and an innate recognition of what makes good language. As they read their school books, children slowly imbibe good writing. They come to understand harder and harder texts (reading comprehension) and they develop and feel for what makes good, well-written language (writing, grammar, and spelling).  As with many elements of a CM education, this is a gradual process that takes place over a number of years so that one may not see progress on a day-to-day or even a month-to-month basis but progress is being made. 

Narration in a Charlotte Mason education takes the place of reading comprehension and builds writing skills. Rather than asking a child to answer set questions about what he or she has read, narration lets the child tell what they have gotten from their reading. When we pose questions to a child, they fail if they don’t get the answers. They may actually have gotten quite a lot from the reading, it just wasn’t what we expected them to get. Narration lets the child tell what he has gotten in a positive way rather than measuring him by adult expectations of what is important. At times one may guide narration to some extent by asking open-ended questions or allow a child to narrate in other ways, eg. by drawing a picture or acting out a story, but the most basic form of narration is just to say “tell me what that was about.” Living books, again, are key. It is hard to narrate form bad books. Well-chosen books give the child some meat to dig their teeth into.

Narration is really composition, first oral composition and then as the child progresses, written composition. While some children love creative writing, many find it hard to know what to write. Narration gives the child a subject, because they are composing based on what they read, and takes off some of the pressure many feel when faced with a blank piece of paper. Narration is not easy. It is meant to be challenging and to require one to dig deep and to learn to put one’s thoughts together and to communicate them. One usually begins with oral narration and transitions to written after a few years. Oral narration never completely ceases, however, but continues alongside written narration. In the high school years, narrations can become more guided and a transition to other kinds of writing can occur. Karen Glass’s book Know and Tell is a wonderful resource for all narration questions and describes the process of transitioning to other kinds of writing. 

Young children begin copying short passages, at first even just a couple of words, and then move on to longer passages and then to prepared dictation. Again these passages may be taken from living books, either from their school books or from other good writing. As always, the idea behind the CM method is to provide language in context. Spelling in particular is very visual and prepared dictation teaches children to see words so as to be able to recognize if they are written correctly in their own writing. One helpful resource for how to do prepared dictation is Sonya Shafer’s video at Simply Charlotte Mason

Booklist: the Civil War

Today we are looking at books on the American Civil War (including the build-up to it).

Living Books on the Civil War

Adler, David. Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln, Picture book of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Picture Book of Harriet Tubman. Adler has a number of these picture book biographies. Elementary.

Arnold, James and Roberta Wiener. Various titles. These two have a series of books on specific years of the war. They are not truly living books but if you have a child who wants a lot of detail they are good. Elementary-middle.


Avi. Iron Thunder. Middle years.

Beatty, Patricia. Turn Homeward, Hanalee. Middle years.

Beller, Susan. Billy Yank and Johnny Reb: Soldiering in the Civil War. Not the nest living book but some of the kinds of details boys like. Elementary-middle.

Brown Paper School (pub.). Book of the American Civil War. Not a true living book but I do tend to like books from this publisher. It is a series of stories, anecdotes etc. on the Civil War including some hands-on crafts and recipes. The stories themselves are not bad and use characters to bring the time alive but it is not a continuous narrative. Elementary-middle.

Coit, Margaret. The Fight for Union. On the build-up to the war. Middle years.

Crane, Stephen. “The Red Badge of Courage.” Famous short story. Middle-teens.

Fleischman, Paul. Bull Run. Middle years. (My post on literary analysis of Bull Run is here.)

Foster: Genevieve. Abraham Lincoln’s World. Foster’s books always do a  good job covering an era and can be used for a wide range of ages. She also has a biography simply titled Abraham Lincoln. Elementary +.

Fradin, Dennis. Bound for the North Star. A collection of stories from the Underground Railroad. Middle years +.

Fritz, Jean. Just a few words, Mr Lincoln. Re the Gettysburg address. Elementary.

Fritz, Jean. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Stonewall and Brady. Longer books from this prolific author. Middle years.

Gauch, Patricia. Thunder at Gettysburg. Elementary-middle.

Hays, Wilma Pitchford. Abe Lincoln’s Birthday. Elementary.

Hunt, Irene. Across Five Aprils. Middle years.

Jerome, Kate. Civil War Sub: The Mystery of the Hunley. Easy reader. Elementary.

Kent, Zachary. The Story of John Brown’s Raid. From the Cornerstones of Freedom series. This is a great series as long as you get the older books that begin “Story of . . .” Elementary.

Marrin, Albert. A Volcano beneath the Snow: John Brown’s War against Slavery and Abraham Lincoln: Commander in Chief. One of my favorite authors for older grades. He also has books on Lee and Grant. Middle-teens.

McGovern, Ann. Runaway Slave. Elementary.

Monjo. Me and Willy and Pa (re Lincoln) and The Drinking Gourd (re the Underground Railroad). Elementary.

Moss, Marissa. Nurse, Soldier, Spy: The Story of Sarah Edmonds. Elementary.

Myers, Laurie. Escape by Night. Features Covenanters (yay!) but I am not sure they are portrayed accurately. Middle years.

Paulsen, Gary. Soldier’s Heart. Paulsen writes books boys like. Middle years.

Peck, Richard. River Between Us. Middle-teens.

Philbrick, Rodman. Mostly True Adventures of Homer P Figg. Middle years.

Polacco, Patricia. Pink and Say. Elementary.

Read, Thomas. Sheridan’s Ride. Loved this poetic account. Elementary.

Roop, Peter. Take Command, Captain Farragut. Elementary.

Sobol, Donald. Two Flags Flying. Tells the story of the war through characters on both sides. Could be a good spine for younger kids. Elementary.

Steele, William O. Perilous Road. Middle years.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the Underground Railroad. Also from the Cornerstones of Freedom series (see Kent above). Elementary.

Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The book that started the war (according to Lincoln). Teens.

Turner, Ann. Abe Lincoln Remembers and Nettie’s Trip South. Elementary.

Venezia, Mike. Various. Venezia has a series of humorous but informative biographies of the presidents. Elementary.

Vinton, Iris. Story of Robert E. Lee. Middle years.

Werstein, Irving. Abraham Lincoln vs Jefferson Davis. Middle years-teens.

Booklist: the Early 1800s

Last time I gave you the books we used on the American Revolution. This time we will look at books covering the period from the Revolution until the Civil War, so the very end of the 1700s and the early part of the 1800s.

Living Books on the Early 1800s

Adler, David. Picture Book of Thomas Jefferson, Picture book of Lewis and Clark and Picture Book of Sacagawea. Adler has a number of these picture book biographies. Elementary.

Avi. Hard Gold. 1859 Colorado gold rush. Middle years.

Avi. True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Historical fiction set in the 1830s. Middle years.

Bacheller, Irving. Light in the Clearing. This is one of my favorite books ever. Martin Van Buren is a minor character; it is mostly fiction. I am calling it high school age but there is nothing inappropriate in it so you could read it to young children. Teens.

Barsotti, Joan. Grandmother’s Bell and the Wagon Train (set in 1849). Elementary.

Bohner, Charles.  Bold Journey: West with Lewis and Clark. Middle-teens.

Carr, Mary Jane. Children of the Covered Wagon. Middle years (?).

Commager, Henry Steele. The Great Constitution. I was really pleased with this older book. I would say the level is middle school but you could use in late elementary or early high school.

d’Aulaire, Ingrid and Edgar. George Washington. Elementary.

Davis, Louise Littleton. Snowball Fight in the White House. Re Andrew Jackson. Easy reader.

Fleischman, Paul. Path of the Pale Horse. Re Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in the 1790s. Middle years (?).

Fleming, Candace. A Big Cheese for the White House. A giant wheel of cheese is given to President Jefferson. Elementary.

Foster: Genevieve. Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801. Foster’s books always do a  good job covering an era and can be used for a wide range of ages. Elementary +.

Fradin, Dennis. Duel! Burr and Hamilton’s Deadly War of Words. Elementary.

Fritz, Jean. Great Little Madison and Make Way for Sam Houston. Longer books from this prolific author. Middle years.

Fritz, Jean. Shh We’re Writing the Constitution. Fritz has a number of these short books. Elementary.

George, Jean Craighead. Ice Whale. Japanese whaling. Middle years.

Guerber, Helen. Story of the Great Republic. A good older spine book. Elementary.

Hays, Wilma Pitchford. Mary’s Star (re orphans in Virginia in the 1780s) and For Ma and Pa on the Oregon Trail. Elementary.

History Channel. The Presidents. A video series on the presidents that is helpful if you are not studying each one individually. The first 5 presidents are covered in 45 minutes so you can tell it is not in-depth but does mention major events in their terms. All ages.

Kelly, Regina Zimmerman. Miss Jefferson in Paris. Middle years.

Knight, David. The Whiskey Rebellion. Middle years.

Latham, Jean Lee. Carry on Mr. Bowditch. A young man growing up in the nautical world in New England. Middle years.

Lindop, Edmond. George Washington and the First Balloon Flight. Elementary.

Lomask, Milton. John Qunicy Adams and This Slender Reed (re James K. Polk). Middle years.

Marrin, Albert. George Washington and the Founding of a Nation and 1812: The War Nobody Won and Old Hickory: Andrew Jackson and the American People. One of my favorite authors for older grades. Middle-teens. See also the end of his Sea Rovers re the Barbary pirates in Jefferson’s day.

Marshall, H.E. This Country of Ours. A good spine book for this era. Elementary +.

Martin, Patricia Miles. James Madison. Middle years.

McKissack, Patricia. Amistad. Picture book version of the story of this famous slave ship. Elementary.

Meader, Stephen. Whaler Round the Horn. Re whaling. Middle years.

Monjo. Slater’s Mill. Elementary.

Myers, Laurie. Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog’s Tale. Elementary.

O’Dell, Scott. Streams to River. Re Sacagawea. Middle years.

Peterson, Helen Stone. Abigail Adams: Dear Partner. Elementary.

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Revenge of the Whale. Re whaling. Middle years (?).

Quackenbush, Robert. James Madison & Dolly Madison and Their Times and Who Let Muddy Boots into the White House (re Andrew Jackson). Elementary.

Redmond, Shirley. Lewis and Clark: a Prairie Dog for the President. Easy reader.

Richards, Norman. Story of Old Ironsides (The story of the USS Constitution) and The Story of the Alamo. From the Cornerstones of Freedom series. This is a great series as long as you get the older books that begin “Story of . . .” Elementary.

Roop, Connie. California Gold Rush. Elementary.

Schiel, Katy. The Whiskey Rebellion. Not the nest living book but it is hard to find books on this topic. Elementary-middle.

Siegel, Beatrice. George and Martha Washington at Home in New York. Might be a little dry. Middle years.

Sperry, Armstrong. All Set Sail. Re whaling. Middle years-teens (?).

Spier, Peter. Erie Canal. Elementary.

Stanley, Diane. The True Adventures of Daniel Hall. Re Whaling. Elementary.

Steele, William O. Andy Jackson’s Water Well and We Were There on the Oregon Trail. Elementary.

Stein, R. Conrad. The Story of the Oregon Trail. Also from the Cornerstones of Freedom series (see Richards above). Elementary.

Steinberg, Alfred. James Madison. Middle years.

Sterne, Emma. Long Black Schooner. Re the Amistad. Middle years.

Venezia, Mike. Various. Venezia has a series of humorous but informative biographies of the presidents. Elementary.

Vinton, Iris. We were there with Jean Lafitte. Re the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans. Middle years (?).

Widdemer, Mabel.  James Monroe: Good Neighbor Boy. Middle years.

Young, Stanley. Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too! Middle years.

Booklist: the American Revolution

  Living Books on the American Revolution

Adler, David. Picture Book of Paul Revere and Picture Book of Patrick Henry. Adler has a number of these biographies. Elementary.

Amstel, Marsha. Sybil Luddington’s Midnight Ride. Easy reader. Elementary.

Anderson, M.T. Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. Has some mature content but we liked it. Teens +.

Benchley, Nathaniel. Sam the Minuteman and George the Drummer Boy. Easy reader. Elementary.

Blackwood, Gary. Year of the Hangman. Middle-teens.

Bodie, Idella. Secret Message. A girl in SC in 1781 has to deliver a secret message. Elementary.

Borden, Louise. Sleds on Boston Common. Fun  story. Elementary.

Brady, Esther Wood. Toliver’s Secret. Elementary.

Bruchac, Joseph. Arrow over the Door. A Quaker boy in 1777. Elementary-middle.

Bulla, Clyde Robert. Daniel’s Duck. Easy reader. Elementary.

Collier, James Lincoln. War Comes to Willy Freeman. Re an African American boy. Elementary (?).

Dahl, Michael. Row Row Row the Boats and Midnight Riders. Story songs. Elementary.

Dalgliesh, Alice. Adam and the Golden Cock and 4th of July Story. Elementary.

Fleming, Candace. Hatmaker’s Sign: A Story by Benjamin Franklin. Elementary.

Forbes, Esther. Johnny Tremain. Middle-teens.

Foster, Genevieve. George Washington’s World. Foster’s books make good spine books for a wide range of ages. Elementary +.

Fritz, Jean. Fritz has a lot of books on this era. Most are elementary with titles like: Can’t You Make them Behave King George and Why don’t You Get a Horse Sam Adams. Early Thunder is a slightly longer book.

Gauch, Patricia. This Time Tempe Wick. Elementary.

Griffin, Judith. Phoebe the Spy. Elementary.

Haugaard, Erik. Boy’s Will. Older hard to find book re John Paul Jones.

Hays, Wilma Pitchford. Hays also has a number of books on this era including George Washington’s Birthdays and Fourth of July Raid. Elementary.

Keith, Harold. Rifles for Watie. Middle years.

Krensky, Stephen. Dangerous Crossing. Re John Qunicy Adams. Elementary.

Kroll, Steven. By the Dawn’s Early Light and Boston Tea Party. Elementary.

Lasky, Kathryn. Voice of Her Own. Re Phyllis Wheatley. Elementary (?).

Lawson, Robert. Mr Revere and I and Ben and Me. Elementary.

Lomask, Milton. Charles Carroll and the American RevolutionThe First American Revolution, and Benedict Arnold: the Aftermath of Treason. I have not read these but Lomask is a favorite author. Middle-teens.

Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Paul Revere’s Ride. Picture book of the famous poem. Elementary.

Lowrey, Janette. Six Silver Spoons. Easy reader. Elementary.

Marrin, Albert. The War for Independence: Story of the Revolution. Marrin is just about my favorite author for history for teens. He also has books on Thomas Paine, Washington and more. Middle-teens.

Marshall, H.E. This Country of Ours. A good spine book for this era. Elementary +.

McGovern, Ann. Secret Soldier. Elementary. 

Miers, Earl. Magnificent Mutineers. Re Mad Anthony Wayne. Older, hard-to-find book.

Monjo. King George’s Head was Made of Lead and Namesake for Nathan. Elementary.

O’Dell, Scott. Sarah Bishop. Middle years.

Philbrick, Nathaniel. Ben’s Revolution. The Battle of Bunker Hill. Elementary.

Pratt, Mara. American History Stories. Older book. Elementary.

Paulsen, Gary. The Rifle. The title rifle is used in the Revolution though that is not what the book is mostly about. Middle-teens.

Quackenbush, Robert. Daughter of Liberty. Elementary.

Rappaport, Doreen. Boston Coffee Party. Easy Reader. Elementary.

Reit, Seymour. Guns for General Washington. Elementary.

Rockwell, Anne. They Called Her Molly Pitcher. Picture book. Elementary.

Roop, Connie. Buttons for General George Washington. Easy Reader. Elementary.

Schick, Alice. Remarkable Ride of Israel Bissell. Elementary.

Schurfranz, Vivian. Message for General Washington. Elementary.

Syme, Ronald. Benedict Arnold and John Paul Jones. Elementary.

Turner, Ann. When Mr. Jefferson Came to Philadelphia. Picture book. Elementary.

Vinton, Iris. Story of John Paul Jones. Older hard to find book. Elementary ?.

Walker, Sally. 18 Penny Goose. Easy Reader. Elementary.

Werstein, Irving. 1776: The Adventure of the American Revolution told in Pictures. I love Werstein. Not sure of the level of this one.

Booklist: the Settlement of the US

Living Books on the Settlement of the United States

Aliki. Story of William Penn. Picture book. Elementary.

Avi. Finding Providence. Re Rhode Island. Easy Reader. Elementary.

Brill, Ethel. Madeline Takes Command. Re New France. Middle years.

Bulla, Clyde Robert. Bulla is a favorite author for elementary. He has books on John Billington and Squanto (Plimoth colony) and Pocahontas and the Jamestown colony (A Lion to Guard Us) is about the latter. Elementary level.

Campbell, Elizabeth. Carving on the Tree. About the lost colony of Roanoke. Elementary.

Coatsworth, Elizabeth. Wishing Pear. New Amsterdam. Elementary.

Curtis, Alice Turner. Little Maid of Massachusetts Colony. There are a number in this series. Elementary-middle.

Dalgliesh, Alice. Courage of Sarah Noble. A girl in the early 1700s. Elementary. Her America Begins is talked up a lot in homeschool circles and it is a good book if you can find it but not worth the jacked-up prices. Also elementary.

d’Aulaire, Ingrid and Edgar. Pocahontas. The d’Aulaires’ books are lovely long picture books. Elementary.

de Angeli, Marguerite. Elin’s Amerika and Henner’s Lydia. Wonderful books on Swedish immigrants. Set in Pennsylvania I believe. Elementary. See also her Bright April about a black child in Philadelphia.

Edmonds, Walter. Matchlock Gun. 1750s New York. Elementary.

Field, Rachel. Calico Bush.  Set in Maine. Middle years.

Foster, Genevieve. The Year of the Pilgrims, 1620, World of Captain John Smith and The World of William Penn. Foster’s books make wonderful spine books because they cover so much territory, often including international events too. I use them even with older children and they would work well for a family with a wide range of ages. Elementary +.

Friskey, Margaret. John Alden and the Pilgrim Cow. Elementary.

Fritz, Jean. The Lost Colony of Roanoke and Who’s That Stepping on Plymouth Rock. Fritz is a prolific author. The Roanoke book is one of her longer ones and is middle school level. The Plymouth one would be elementary. She also has one on Pocahontas; I don’t remember the level of that one.

Guerber, Helene. Stories of the Thirteen Colonies. A good spine book. Elementary.

Hays, Wilma Pitchford. A favorite author with a lot on this period. Look for her books on Plimoth colony and Seige The Story of Saint Augustine 1702 for the settlement in Florida. Elementary. She also has one on the French-Indian wars called Drummer Boy for Montcalm and one set in New Hampshire — Trouble at Otter Creek.

Howard, Ginger. William’s House. House building in the 1600s. Early elementary.

Leeper, John. Meet the Dudleys, Not quite living but tells how a family in Connecticut lived. Elementary (?).

Lobel, Arnold. On the Day Peter Stuyvesant Sailed into Town. From the author of the Frog and Toad books. Re New Amsterdam. Elementary.

Lomask, Milton. Cross among the Tomahawks. Re missionaries in the 1600s. A hidden gem of an older author if you can find his books. They tend to be middle school level but this one might be elementary.

Longfellow, Henry Wordsworth . “The Courtship of Miles Standish.” The poem itself is quite long but you should be able to find a picture book version.

Marshall, H.E. This Country of Ours. A good spine book for this era. Elementary +.

Monjo. House on Stink Alley. The Plimoth colonists before they came over. Elementary.

Moskin, Marietta. Lysbet and the Fire Kittens. New Amsterdam. Easy reader. Elementary.

North, Sterling. George Washington Frontier Colonel. Washington’s early career. From another wonderful author. Elementary (?).

O’Dell, Scott. Serpent Never Sleeps (re Jamestown) and Carlota. Middle years.

Otis, James. Ruth of Boston. Middle years.

Pratt, Mara. Stories of Massachusetts. Probably not necessary if you don’t live in MA. She also has American History Stories. Elementary-middle.

Pumphrey, Margaret. Pilgrim Stories. Elementary.

Quackenbush, Robert. Old Silver Leg Takes Over. Re New Amsterdam. Elementary.

Sewall, Marcia. James TowneThe Pilgrims of Plimoth and Thunder from the Clear Sky.(also re Plimoth).  Picture books. Elementary.

Spier, Peter. Legend of New Amsterdam. He has lovely books. Elementary.

Syme, Ronald. John Smith of Virginia and William Penn. Elementary.

Vinto, Iris. Boy on the Mayflower. Older book. Elementary.

Winter, Jeanette. Klara’s New World. A Little girl emigrates from Sweden. Not sure of the time frame. Elementary.

Yates, Elizabeth. Sarah Whitcher’s Story. Set in New Hampshire. I loved this one. Elementary.

Yolen, Jane. Roanoke: the Lost Colony. Elementary.