Thursday, July 1, 2010
STORIES THAT CELEBRATE EARLY AMERICA FOR YOUNG READERS
Stories help us make sense of our lives: they give meaning to the facts of our history, help us understand why we are here, and bring perspective to what we need to pay attention to. These books are all appropriate for 4-8 year olds (but you'll like them too!)
Thy Friend, Obadiah, by Brinton Turkle. This story is set in 19th Century Nantucket Island and it is about a simple Quaker community - in particular about a little boy named Obadiah, who is being followed around everywhere by a seagull! His father teases him about having a "new friend", which embarrasses Obadiah, until the gull suddenly disappears and Obadiah learns a lesson of friendship.
Wagon Wheels, by Barabara Brenner. This book is based on the true story of a pioneer African American family who is searching for freedom by moving West. Read about how three young boys courageously embark on a journey of over 150 miles to join their father, who sends for them after he pushes ahead to find better sheltered land than what they have found in Kansas.
Yonder, by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Lloyd Bloom. A simple story of joy and beauty about a 19th Century farmer and his wife, who plant a tree, not only to signal the beginning of their new life together, but also for each child that is born. Gorgeous illustrations!
Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney. This story evokes the feeling of historical America as the reader takes a journey through the seasons and passing years of a mid- 19th Century New Englander's family. (1980 Caldecott Medal).
Jump On Over, The Adventures of Brer Rabbit and His Family, collected by Joel Chandler Harris, illustrated by Barry Moser. These stories were originally told and retold by slaves in the American South. Brer Rabbit's tribulations - though filled with fun and games - were intended to be a reflection of those times.
Johnny Appleseed, by Reeve Lindbergh, illustrated by Kathy Jakobsen. This folktale is one of America's oldest and it's based on a true story! John Chapman spent his adult life planting apple trees and maintaining orchards between his home in Massachusetts and the western frontier of Indiana. My kids loved this book (maybe partly because we have a "Jonny"!) The illustrations are done in a beautiful folk style, reminiscent of early American samplers.
John Henry: An American Legend, by Ezra Jack Keats. This modern industrial age tall tale is familiar to most of us..."born with a hammer in his hand", John Henry and his massive strength symbolize the huge amount of labor that African Americans, both as slaves and freemen, put into the building of our nation. Powerful illustrations match the powerful story about the dignity of hard work and importance of human life.
Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie, by Peter and Connie Roop, illustrated by Peter E. Hanson. This simple but true story brings new meaning to the concept of duty. It's about a courageous young girl - Abbie - who is determined to keep her father's lighthouse lights burning while he is away on the mainland, despite of the fact that a terrific storm threatens to sweep her family's little house into the sea, the fact that her mother is in bed sick and must be kept warm, and that even the fate of their chickens is in her hands.
The Story of William Penn, by Aliki. Your children will learn about the peaceful founding of Pennsylvania by William Penn, a Quaker and wealthy Englishman, in this delicately illustrated book, with period pictures in colonial colors, by Aliki.