Independence Day is right around the corner and that equates with picnics, fireworks and appreciating our beloved country and this land that was saved for these latter days. Here are some excellent non-fiction and historical fiction books. Unless indicted, all books are good for ages eight and up.
Brave Like My Brother, by Marc Tyler Nobleman, is a book written with a “letters to home” format. Older brother, Joe, has been sent to serve in England during World War II. He promised his ten-year-old brother, Charlie, that he would write him and keep him informed about life as a soldier. These letters are one way but are very informative and are helpful for younger children. Joe describes the conditions of mud and wet conditions, the food rations and blackouts, and dealing with other soldiers. This book is good for ages seven through ten.
Diana’s White House Garden, by Elisa Carbone, and illustrated by Jen Hill, is another picture book based on a true story. Young Diana Hopkins wants desperately to help with the war effort. It’s World War II and her father is serving President Roosevelt as his Presidential Advisor. When she overhears her father discuss a victory garden with the president she desires to be part of the entire project from preparing the ground, to planting and watering. The garden is a huge success and continues to be. The illustrations are delightful and take on a look of the 1940’s. Both front and back end-pages give clues to how the garden begins and ends. Be sure the read more about Diana and her garden in the author’s and illustrator’s notes at the back of the book.
Austin, Lost in America, A Geography Adventure by Jef Czekaj, is a picture book packed with facts about our great country that will inform the reader. Austin is a cute little brown and white dog who escapes from a pet store and who is determined to find a home. He begins his journey on the east coast and travels throughout the country – eventually hitting all fifty states. As he travels, there are clues to help the reader solve Austin’s final destination. The entire book has a comic-book style with pictures in blocks on each page. But between picture and text, this book is definitely kid-friendly as kids of all ages will be taught by this book! The beginning end-pages show the map of the United States. The final end-pages shows Austin’s route.
Elizabeth Started All the Trouble, by Doreen Rappaport, and masterfully painted by Matt Faulkner, is a picture book that showcases Elizabeth Cody Stanton and how she forged the way for women to receive the right to vote. She was also for the rights of all, no matter what color of skin. The book reads like a timeline and with more interesting information found at the back of the book.
The Seagoing Cowboy, by Peggy Reiff Miller, and nicely painted by Claire Ewart, is an amazing story told through a picture book of an event that I never knew about. When World War II ended (and beginning in 1945) America sent to war-torn Europe over 7,000 men, ages sixteen to seventy two, to help rebuild and feed the millions who were affected by the war. These cowboys came over on ships and they took care of the thousands of horses and heifers as they traveled. The author’s grandfather was such a cowboy who served in this capacity and helped restore Europe. This story follows a young man and his friend as they board a ship headed to Poland. Additionally, there are actual photos found at the back of the book that are good for ages four and up.
Flashback Four: The Lincoln Project, by Dan Gutman, is a terrific way to learn about some of the most important events in America’s history. Mr. Gutman is one of my favorite kid’s authors because he knows how to write an exciting adventure to keep his audience glued to the book. This book doesn’t disappoint. Four kids receive a letter inviting them to time-travel back to 1863 and have the opportunity to meet President Lincoln and hear his famous Gettysburg Address. The author is a master of weaving historical events with modern day reactions such as the reaction to the smelly muddy streets in Gettysburg. This is the first book in a planned series.
You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen, by Carole Boston Weatherford, and sprinkled with black and white illustrations by Jeffery Boston Weatherford, is a compilation of beautifully written poems about these courageous African-American pilots who braved the European Front during World War II. These powerful poems reflect their bravery, as well as others’ bigotry, as they learned to become pilots and ultimately risk their lives for our country. The poems are short and written in a timeline frame of events. The brilliant pictures were rendered in scratchboard. Be sure to check out more facts at the back of the book. Kids, ages nine through high school, should be required to read this outstanding book!
Tucky Jo and Little Heart, by Patricia Polacco, is a picture book based on a true story. Tucky Jo was one of the youngest soldiers to serve in World War II and through his courage and marksmanship he gained much respect from his peers. While serving in the Philippines he made friends with a little Filipino girl, Little Heart, and he ends up helping save her village from attack. Later in his life, he is in need of medical help at the Veteran’s Hospital and his nurse ends up being Little Heart. Polacco is a master of these true stories and her renderings in colored pencils and markers are her trademark. You’ll learn even more about both protagonists at the back of the book.