Monday, March 24, 2014

American History Picture Books in 2012-2013 Post 3 of 5: World War I, Women's Suffrage, and the 1920s

This is the third post in a series on the picture books we read along with our American History studies in 2012-2013 when First Son was in  third grade, First Daughter was in kindergarten, Second Daughter was four and Second Son wasn't paying attention.

Gold Rush Winter by Claire Rudolf Murphy, illustrated by Richard Waldrep, is an early chapter book rather than a picture book, but it could easily be read aloud to young children. It's based on the real life of a girl who joined her father in Alaska during the Gold Rush. It's entertaining and informative and a good addition to any study of Alaska or the Gold Rush.


Emily by Michael Bedard, pictures by Barbara Cooney, is a story of Emily Dickinson, one of my favorite poets, illustrated by Barbara Cooney, one of my favorite illustrators, so I can't explain why it wasn't on my schedule for the year. It's a fictionalized account of a friendship between a neighbor child and the poet that shows how she lived and reluctantly interacted with others. It would make a wonderful complement to any study of Dickinson.


Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers' Strike of 1909 by Michelle Markel, pictures by Melissa Sweet, is a new book (published in 2013) so we didn't read it when we studied this era, but it's a fantastic book. It's about immigration, women's rights, unions, industrialization, and tells the inspiring story of a courageous young woman. Combine this book with a discussion of continuing dangerous conditions in factories in other parts of the world and you could have quite the conversation.


Miss Moore Thought Otherwise: How Anne Carroll Moore Created Libraries for Children by Jan Pinborough, illustrated by Debby Atwell, is not a book we read during our studies because I hadn't read it yet (it was published in March 2013), but it's now one of my favorite picture books. I particularly think it would fit in well with a reading through American history because it offers a more joyful glimpse of the era. Read with Brave Girl, younger readers could contrast the two books and see that while some are courageous and walk picket lines, others are courageous and build libraries. We need both.

I didn't read The Donkey of Gallipoli: A True Story of Courage in World War I by Mark Greenwood, illustrated by Frane Lessac, to the children because I really tried to focus more on what was happening in America than overseas during the wars. (This was American history; we also cover the wars in Western history.) Also, this story is probably more appropriate for older elementary students or even middle school students, but it's a marvelous true tale of bravery and the devastation of war. The illustrations are brilliant, filling every bit of every page with color.

When Esther Morris Headed West: Women, Wyoming, and the Right to Vote by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers, tells the story of Esther Morris, the first woman to hold elected office in the United States. What I like best about the book is how the focus is not just on Esther Morris, but on the man who believed women should be able to vote and the lawyer who changed his mind when he saw how well Esther managed herself as a judge. The book seemed to have a touch more law and politics than I thought my girls would enjoy, so I just put it in the book basket this time around.

I Could Do That!: Esther Morris Gets Women the Vote by Linda Arms White, pictures by Nancy Carpenter, is a book on Esther Morris that was better for my young girls. Esther is brave, competent, and doesn't get discouraged even when she doesn't get her way. The phrase "I could do that!" is one children will eagerly adopt.

Mama Went to Jail for the Vote by Kathleen Karr, illustrated by Malene Laugesen, tells the story of the women's suffrage movement in the early 1900s from the point of view of the daughter of a suffragist. While a fictionalized account, it gives a good idea of what life was like for the women in the movement, including supervising the cook and dinner for their husbands. It's full of high ideals and wonderful illustrations.

A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin by Jen Bryant, illustrations by Melissa Sweet, is a biography of Horace Pippen I discovered after our year was done, but it would have been a great addition to our studies. Pippen was inspiring as a person and the illustrations are evocative of his work. (Melissa Sweet has illustrated so many wonderful books!)

Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue  by Anna Harwell Celenza is a fun look at music composition as Gershwin is composing Rhapsody in Blue. It focuses more on the process of the composition rather than technical terms or everything that influenced him, but it's perfect for young children as an introduction to much of the music of 1920s America. The included CD is a fantastic end to the book as children are prepared to listen by the story. The piece itself is also one most children will enjoy, of course. I love the illustrations.

Waiting for the Evening Star by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by Susan Jeffers, tells of two brothers growing up in Vermont just before World War II. Their lives shaped by the seasons and the farm, by the community in which they lived, and by their dreams. The older brother, Luke, dreams of traveling and seeing the world, and eventually joins the Navy to fight in the war. Though he doesn't actually die in the book, his brother imagines that he will never return as he watches the train carrying his brother leave. It is bittersweet, both for the brother who remains and for the kind of childhood they had that has in many ways disappeared.


The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail by Debbie S. Miller, illustrations by Jon Van Zyle, is a non-fiction book on the events behind the Iditarod, the race in 1925 to bring antitoxin serum to Nome, Alaska, where diptheria raged. There is a lot of text, so I put this in our book basket for First Son to read if he wanted, but I did not want to neglect it in this post because the illustrations are so amazing. The text is good, too, and the story is both exciting and inspiring. This is an excellent book for any child interested in Alaska, medicine, tests of endurance, or dog sledding.


Posts in This Series - I'll update this list with links to all the others after they post.
#1: Slavery and the Civil War
#2: Progressive Era and Immigration
#3: World War I, Women's Suffrage, and the 1920s (this post)
#4: The Great Depression and World War II
#5: Civil Rights, Hawai'i, Alaska, and Space Exploration

Here's a post on the books we read about World War I and the Jazz Age when First Son was in kindergarten. In addition, you can find links to all the picture books we read through American history in 2009-2010, when First Son was in kindergarten. 

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