This is the fourth post in my U.S. History Book series. In many ways, the time period leading up to and including the Civil War is the hardest one for me to study with my children. So much of this time period is so difficult for me to fathom. I can only imagine the horror of slavery and what it was like for moms to have their babies torn away from them. Families choosing sides in the Civil War and brothers fighting against brothers is so hard to even comprehend. My mind has trouble grasping that people thought it was acceptable to own other people who were made in the image of God.
The last time we studied U.S. History, all of this hit me full-force when we got to the Fugitive Slave Act, the Dred Scott Decision, and the Civil War itself. So, what did I do? I looked for the inspiring stories of those fighting to end slavery and the books about people escaping to freedom. We read about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad and about a boy who shipped himself in a box. We read about the Gettysburg Address. We talked about how easy it is for sin to go unnoticed because it can just seem like a way of life (this can be true in our lives as well, so we must be careful).
I wanted to share with you books we found that inspired us as well as books we will try to read this year. If we hit the Civil War and end up in tears, we might not read quite everything on this list, but I wanted to share my heart as well as my book list with you.
The Fugitive Slave Act (week 9):
- The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery is a picture book about the rescue of one former slave in a town in Ohio. The men defied the Fugitive Slave Act and took John Price back from the slave hunters. 37 men later were arrested (and some were tried and convicted). I had ever heard of this story, but found this book to be wonderful at explaining the Fugitive Slave Act and why those in the North opposed it.
Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad (related to week 9):
- Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad is a picture book we found at the library and the story of a man who loads himself into a box to ship himself to freedom. There definitely are emotional parts like when his family is sold at the slave market. This is one I think you might want to read with your children instead of them reading it on their own.
- The Patchwork Path: A Quilt Map to Freedom is a picture book from the library. This one is about a girl and her father escaping to freedom using her mama’s quilt with a map and clues sewn into it.
- Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom is a great picture book from the library with many references to God and Tubman’s faith. It includes her first trip to freedom as well as deciding to go back for others.
- Harriet Tubman: Freedombound is a chapter book and part of the Heroes of History series. (If you have looked at my other book lists, you can tell I like this series.)
- Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman is a chapter book that I found on my bookshelves. I’m not even sure where it came from, but it looks like another great book about Harriet Tubman. I love when we get the chance to read multiple books about a person so that we can compare the author’s points of view.
- Listen for the Whippoorwill is a historical fiction chapter book in the Trailblazer series. The historical figure in the book is Harriet Tubman, and the story line follows a fictitious girl escaping slavery to freedom. I think this book might be out of print, but you can get the Kindle version from Amazon or buying digital versions (including Kindle) from Trailblazer Books.
The Civil War (weeks 11 and 12):
- Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln is an easy reader book. My copy is a different cover and a different publisher, but it’s the same book. I like that the actual text of the Gettysburg Address is in the back of the book.
- Red Legs: A Drummer Boy of the Civil War is a picture book from the library. It talks about a Civil War battle from the perspective of a drummer boy. Again, this is probably a book to read with your children instead of them reading alone.
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Civil War Soldier! of course made the list because it’s a You Wouldn’t Want to Be book.
- D. L. Moody: Bringing Souls to Christ is a Christian chapter book from the series Heroes Then and Now. The write-up on the book talks about his “Civil War outreach” so I think we might enjoy this as a read-aloud in the family.
- Clara Barton: Spirit of the American Red Cross is an easier reading chapter book. I think reading about the “Angel of the Battlefield” would be great, and we will read this one or the longer one mentioned next depending on how much time we have and our level of interest.
- Clara Barton: Courage Under Fire (Heroes of History) is a longer chapter book than the previously mentioned book about Barton. It is part of the Heroes of History series.
- Abraham Lincoln: A New Birth of Freedom is also part of the Heroes of History series. I don’t know that we will be able to get to all of these books, but I hope we use a number of them. My children will probably also read If You Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln, but this is more about his childhood and what life was like and not the Civil War.
- Weapons of the Civil War is one that my son has enjoyed in the past and will enjoy again. He also enjoyed Weapons of the Middle Ages. He likes to see how weaponry has changed throughout the years.
- Caught in the Rebel Camp is a Trailblazer historical fiction chapter book. The plot is about a boy who wants to fight in the Union army, but also teaches about Frederick Douglas. We have enjoyed all the Trailblazer books we have read so far so I am sure this will be a family favorite as well. Like Listen for the Whippoorwill above, this book is not in print anymore but can be purchased digitally.
Do you find studying the Civil War as challenging as I do? What children’s books do you like for these topics?
PHOTO CREDIT: By the way, this photo was taken by my father. He is the Civil War buff of our family and a resource whenever my children have history questions. This particular photograph is from Shiloh in Tennessee.
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