I’ve received a few emails asking for a more detailed book list from last year, so here it is. It’s roughly in historical order, and I’ve added a few notes about content. We read lots of others, but these are the ones I will do again when we come back around to the 19th century.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (Latham) This is one of my all-time favorites. Nathaniel Bowditch was a self-educated renaissance man who revolutionized nautical navigation in the early 1800s.
Fever, 1793 (Anderson) Anderson makes the Yellow Fever outbreak in Philadelphia come alive.
Amos Fortune, Free Man (Yates) My children begged to hear this one. Fortune was a brave man of deep faith and convictions. We will read it again.
Chains (Anderson) This book about slavery is vivid and hard, but it’s well worth the read (for middle school and up, I think).
Amazing Grace (Metaxas) Another of my favorites about William Wilberforce, the English orator and politician who ended the slave trade and changed the culture of England. It was an independent-read for my 8th-grader.
Those Rebels: John & Tom (Kerley) This deceptively simple picture book held all of us enthralled. It’s about the conflict and deep friendship of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. It opened some great conversations.
Adironam Judson: God’s Man in Burma (Hambrick) I didn’t expect this read-aloud one to capture my children as quickly as it did. Judson’s childhood (he was born in 1788) is vividly portrayed and the descriptions of his experiences in Burma are fascinating.
A Picture Book of Lewis & Clark (Adler) Adler has a whole series of basic but informative picture books. We like them.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition (Webster) This was a simple independent read for my 8th grader.
The Journals of Lewis and Clark (Lewis) I read aloud selectively from this primary source, but the maps and journal entries were great.
A Picture Book of Sacagawea (Adler)
Streams to the River, River to the Sea (O’Dell) O’Dell has such a gift for making characters come alive. This one’s about Sacagawea.
Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame and What the Neighbors Thought (Krull) Krull’s biographies are always entertaining. This one was no exception and was a picture book for the younger crowd.
The Great Little Madison (Fritz) We all loved this one. She blended great details of his life with an insightful analysis of his understanding of the constitution. It started great conversations.
Dolly Madison: famous first lady (Davidson) We liked this one because it treated her in her own right, instead of just as James Madison’s wife.
James Monroe (Teitlebaum) An 8th-grade independent read.
Andrew Jackson (Meltzer) Another 8th grade read-alone.
Hispanic Heritage: Wars of Independence (Sanchez) This was a good overview of Latin America’s Wars of Independence.
Simon Bolivar (De Verona) The writing wasn’t amazing, but the details were good.
The Amazing, Impossible Erie Canal (Harness) Everyone asked for “just one more chapter” of this one.
The Battle of the Alamo (Jeffrey)
By the Great Horn Spoon (Fleishman) This novel about the California Gold Rush is so good. My 5th-grader read it alone.
The Monk in the Garden (Henig) 8th-grade read-alone. It’s about Gregor Mendel (the “father of genetics” and how he conducted his studies.) Jonah still mentions Mendel.
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, Free Man (Douglass) A classic for many good reasons. An 8th-grade read-alone.
Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers (Fritz) I just love Fritz’s history biographies.
Moses: When Harriet Tubman led her people to freedom (Weatherford) Both the text and the pictures in this are stunning. Appropriate for all ages. You will want this one on your shelf.
Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad (Cole) This is a new book, a powerful wordless story your kids will want to look at again and again.
Abraham Lincoln (Raum) An 8th-grade read aloud. Solid.
Abraham Lincoln (D’Aulaire) Like all of the D’Aulaires’ biographies, you will want your own copy.
Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln: The Writing of the Gettysburg Address (Fritz)
A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman (Adler)
Across Five Aprils (Irene Hunt) 8th-grade independent read. It was great fodder for discussions of how the press influences public opinion and the effects (intended and unintended) of war.
The Red Badge of Courage (Crane) Again, an 8th-grade independent read.
Abraham Lincoln’s World (Foster) This read-aloud was our history “spine” and it does a good job of covering both the roots of the Civil War and the revolutions all over Europe. It took us six months to read it all, but it was worth it.
Little House in the Big Woods et al (Wilder) Wilder’s perfect descriptions an vivid stories opened history to me as a child. It’s not different for my children. These are classics about westward expansion.
Caddie Woodlawn (Brink) Woodlawn’s family is more settled than the Ingalls, but her descriptions evoke the same period with equal authenticity.
Lyddie (Paterson) An independent reader for an 8th grader about the challenges of industrialization during the 19th Century. Beautiful, brave, challenging.