Look, just because I’ve been incredibly negligent about keeping up with the blog, doesn’t mean I don’t have things to say. Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve read any BSC books, but I’ll try to get back into that soon.
Here’s the thing. I’m on the Hamilton bandwagon. I’m on it in a hardcore way. It’s basically the only thing my kids and I have listened to in the car since last December, so I kind of know every single word. And no, I haven’t been to NY to see it (because I’m not made of money, yo) but it is coming to the Kennedy Center, which I am a member of, so I’ll see the national tour as it comes into DC.
My kids are also crazy about it. My nine year old son has taken his love of Hamilton and turned it into an obsession with history. Which is great! However, my own knowledge of American History is….kind of lacking. I haven’t taken an American History class since I was seventeen, and while I had enough knowledge to answer the low-money questions on Jeopardy, I didn’t have nearly enough to satisfy the questions of a curious nine year old.
So we turn to books, of course. If you have a kid interested in history (or a kid you WANT to get interested in history) here’s where I suggest you look:
These two books are my absolute favorite of all the history books we’ve checked out. It’s written simply enough that my third (now almost fourth) grader has no problem reading them, but it’s interesting enough for adults to enjoy. Sheinkin manages to write history that is more than just a timeline of events (ahem…history book writers, take note) and dry details of battles. He uses a lot of personal sources (journals, etc) to paint a picture of the Revolutionary War and the Civil war from a human standpoint. Something Hamilton manages to convey, and probably the reason why my kid and I agree these are the best.
Yes, the author of this graphic novel series is really named Nathan Hale. This clever series features Nathan Hale (the historical figure) getting sucked up into an American History book and gaining full knowledge of US History. He uses that knowledge to tell history stories to the two men who are supposed to be in charge of hanging him for treason, keeping himself alive a little longer. There are, so far, six Hazardous tales. The story of Hale himself, the story of the Civil War Ironclads, the story of Harriet Tubman, The story of WWI, the story of the Donner Party, and the story of the Alamo. My favorite is The Underground Abductor, the Harriet Tubman story. My son prefers Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood, the WWI story. But really, they are all funny and clever and chock-full of really good information.
This series is really far-reaching. Focusing mostly on kid-friendly biographies, there are probably hundreds of books in the series. My kid has mostly focused on historical figures – Lincoln, Washington, Grant. But you can get so much more beyond American History, this includes pop culture, authors, inventors, civil rights leaders and more. These books are very easy to read, (my nine year old has just about outgrown them) but are still worthwhile.
DK Books is one of the biggest publishers of children’s non-fiction. Any parent who’s had a kid who’s gone through a ‘phase’ (dinosaur phase, space phase, train phase, history phase, bug phase, etc) has probably gotten a DK book from the library. I really enjoy their Eyewitness books, because they have a lot of pictures for the kids who are more visual. It also means my five year old who can’t read yet can enjoy at least looking at the books with his older brother.
There really isn’t a shortage of non-fiction books for kids out there. And my kid reads super fast, so I’m always on the lookout for recommendations!