Two weeks ago I told you I want to share some of my favorite books with you so you can add them to your To-Be-Read list. But I don’t want to focus on “mom books” and leave out the kids!
Whether you’re a homeschooling mom or just a mom who wants to get her kids reading, you’re probably looking for good book recommendations. Sadly, gone are the days you can set your kids free in the local library to pick out any book they want! It’s our job as moms to be aware of content and selective in our kids’ reading, just as we are with their media consumption.
The term Children’s books actually covers a very broad spectrum, from board and picture books, to more challenging chapter books. Throughout my mom career I have occasionally stumbled across kids’ books I consider real jewels. These are the ones I want to share with you.
And let me start out by saying I adore American history. If my Book Shares eventually begin to lean heavily in that direction, you’ll have to forgive me for it. American history is just a passion of mine that I think is woefully underappreciated and under-emphasized. And, no, I am not into the all-positive, all bright and cheerful, America-can-do-no-wrong view of history. Not. At. All. Understanding our past, both the good and bad of it, is what helps us avoid mistakes and secure a more promising future.
But on to this month’s Kids Books Share:
In all my years of public schooling Lewis and Clark got little more than a blip of discussion, though they were fascinating characters, and their journey cross-country was perhaps one of the greatest feats of courage and resiliency in American history.
In 1803 two men accepted Thomas Jefferson’s challenge to explore the unknown territory of the Louisiana Purchase for the purpose of establishing trade routes and studying the plants, animals, and geography of the west, as well as to better understand the scope and nature of the Native American presence there. Their journey would last over two years, and would be filled with peril and excitement.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark would leave behind scores of charts and maps, personal letters and journal entries from their expedition. Many of these survive to this day and detail the amazing adventures of the Corps of Discovery, and give glimpses into who these men were and what they were like.
Lewis and Clark on the Trail of Discovery by Rod Gragg, is one of the most thorough, (and beautiful!) books about the explorers and their journey I have ever seen. I only wish every event in American history could be laid out in such intriguing fashion!
While I would still classify this as a children’s book for reasons I will explain in a minute, it is not exactly light reading. The book is fairly heavy on facts and details, which makes it a very informative history book for older kids and even adults.
But it’s all of the extras that makes Lewis and Clark such a fascinating book even for younger kids!
I love keeping books around that are fun to look at. For kids, and even for many adults, a visually-stimulating book is more likely to lead to reading, (and therefore to learning,) than a plain, line upon line, black-and-white text one. This book is chock-full of beautiful illustrations. But my kids’ favorite part of this book, (and mine, too!) are the little inserts containing copies of charts, maps, journal entries, and even personal letters written by our heroes. There are at least a dozen of these, plus multiple fold-out flaps containing even more tidbits of information. The paper for these is antiqued, which was a thrill for my kids who felt like they were holding bits of real history in their hands.
My personal favorite? A copy of the letter Meriwether Lewis wrote to his mother ensuring her his journey would be a safe one. (When he knew good and well he might be stepping into all sorts of dangers! Still, you have to love a son who didn’t want to worry his mom.)
Lewis and Clark are well-known names, but what exactly did they accomplish? I’m not so sure a lot of Americans could tell you. That’s why I love this book so much. It provides a wealth of information about two incredible men, and does it in the most beautiful and intriguing way. It’s hard for kids not to pour over the pages, pulling out the letters and maps, and before they know it they are reading and learning so much about two brave and committed men whose expedition truly shaped America.