This is my fifth post on U.S. history books. I know some of these books will overlap the time period of my Underground Railroad and the Civil War post, but I wanted to group by topic instead of strictly chronological.
In case anyone gets confused by my lengthy book lists (and weekly match-ups), I want to make sure I’m clear about how we use this. Some of the books will be read-alouds, some will be assigned reading, and some books will be brought home from the library hoping to spark some interest. Will I always read books (or assign books) that specifically match up with a certain fact we are currently memorizing? Absolutely not. There is joy in reading books about the memory work before we memorize, while memorizing, or even months or years after memorizing. Those connections are what we love so much in memorizing history facts and in reading lots of stories about history.
Ok, enough about how I will use the list. Onto the list itself:
Westward Expansion/Traveling Out West (some of this relates to week 10’s Manifest Destiny, but also the Westward Expansion of the timeline and the Trails of geography’s week 19):
This is a time period loved by my children. There is something exciting about the time of wagon trains and the concept of just packing up the family and moving to unclaimed land, isn’t there?
- Little House on the Prairie Series Audiobooks were our favorites a number of years ago on long car trips. We absolute loved the narrator Cherry Jones with this series, and at least at the time, our library system had them all. Here is the first one in the series so you can see the specifications. Cherry Jones actually sings the little bits from Pa, and sometimes you can to hear the fiddle being played.
- Wagon Wheels is an easy reader with simple chapters about 3 boys traveling to meet their dad at a new homestead. Our copy of this is well-worn and well-loved. I’m excited to have another child who will get to read it this year.
- The Josefina Story Quilt is an easy reader Ruthie found at the library our last time through U.S. history. It’s about a little girl and her family traveling out west. I remember our family having great discussions about what we would have to leave behind to travel in a wagon.
- If You Traveled West In A Covered Wagon is a great question-and-answer format about traveling in a wagon train. I remember sitting and having my son read 1 question and answer to me a day for (it felt like) months. It was excellent reading time and led to lots of imaginative play.
- You Wouldn’t Want to Live in a Wild West Town!: Dust You’d Rather Not Settle and You Wouldn’t Want to Be an American Pioneer!: A Wilderness You’d Rather Not Tame of course will be read. If you haven’t checked out the You Wouldn’t Want to Be series, I want to encourage you to look into it. My son re-reads the entire series at least once a year (no matter what time period of history we are studying) and regularly asks me to check them out of the library for” fun reading”.
- Exiled to the Red River is a Christian historical fiction chapter book as least partially about Chief Spokane Gerry (roughly 1820s). I have this series on my Kindle and hope my son will enjoy reading this one himself. This book (at least all I have read in the series so far) will have a fictional character that interacts with a real historical figure (Chief Spokane Gerry in this case).
- Abandoned on the Wild Frontier is another Christian historical fiction chapter book. While it begins with the War of 1812, the book’s emphasis is on living in the wilderness, settlers, and interacting with Native Americans. Again, this book will have a fictional character that interacts with Peter Cartwright (a real circuit-riding preacher of that time period).
- Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Storybook Life is part of the Heroes of History series (lengthier chapter books). I think my daughter will enjoy reading this one and sharing with the rest of the family about her Laura’s life.
- The Oregon Trail, Westward Expansion, and Life in the West are all library books in the same series. These books are packed with little interesting facts. My children enjoy these with their easy-to-read font, pages not packed with too much information, and the fact that the kids can read them in one sitting. I’m sure I’ll have these in our library crate this year.
Immigration to America (week 16):
- The Story of the Statue of Liberty looks like a wonderful picture book on both the Statue of Liberty and immigration.
- Caterina’s Journey: An Italian-American Immigration Story is another picture book, but this one follows a particular family’s journey to America.
- Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty and Ellis Island both look like great informational books about Ellis Island. The second one is part of the same series at the The Oregon Trail, Westward Expansion, and Life in the West books listed above.
- The Long Way to a New Land is an easy reader, simple chapter book. My children have read this one over and over again. It’s about a particular family’s journey to our country. Just today, I found that there is a second book about the same family The Long Way Westward that I will have to get for my kids to read.
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Worker on the Statue of Liberty!: A Monument You’d Rather Not Build is another great You Wouldn’t Want to Be book that we will enjoy again.
I wish I had a longer chapter book on immigration here – historical fiction or a biography, but I have not thought of any yet. If anyone has any immigration suggestions, I would love to hear them!
I hope you enjoy studying these exciting adventures with your children! I can only imagine what it was like to pack up and move across the ocean to a new country or to load up everything you owned into a wagon and travel to an unknown piece of land. I almost wish we were that adventurous today.
NOTE: This photo was taken at Fort Necessity by my mother-in-law. If you ever get a chance to visit Fort Necessity, it is a fun little bit of history about the French and Indian War and has a wonderful playground for “playing history” complete with a pretend Fort Necessity and this great covered wagon.
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