Every anniversary of 9/11, we often remember heroes—past and present. Some are elected officials or military personnel. Others are everyday folks who decided to take a stand or try something different. Still, other heroes remain nameless but made an impact, nonetheless. The following books are full of heroes from the American Revolution. Perfect for reading in a history class, most of these are short, informational works with well-researched back matter that shouldn’t be missed.
AVI. Sophia’s War: A Tale of the Revolution. S & S/Beach Lane. Sept. 2012. ISBN 9781442414419. JLG Level: B+ : Upper Elementary & Junior High (Grades 5-7)
The only fiction book in this list, one could not write about new releases on the subject of the Revolutionary War without mentioning Avi’s new novel. He uses fictional Sophia and her family to tell the true story of Benedict Arnold’s betrayal and Major John André’s involvement in the plot to capture West Point for the British. After the teen’s brother dies while imprisoned on a British prison ship, she agrees to spy for the American Army in the guise of a house servant. Reading letters and interpreting notes, Sophia discovers a plot that could collapse the American revolutionaries. Who would believe their celebrated war hero, General Arnold, would betray his country? How does a 15-year-old become convincing? And who would have thought a lesson in American History could be such an engaging read?
FREEDMAN, Russell. The Boston Tea Party. illus. by Peter Malone. Holiday House. 2012. ISBN 9780823422661. JLG Level: NE: Nonfiction Elementary (Grades 2-6)
Maybe we don’t traditionally think of the participants of the Boston Tea Party as heroes, but certainly they were patriots. These unsung “heroes” took a stand against what the New England colony felt was the final insult to their civil liberties. In a picture book for older readers, Freedman retells the events of that memorable night in December 1773. Peter Malone’s beautiful watercolors partner with the text to add to the drama of the historical moment. Informative back matter completes the package and makes it an easy sell to any teacher or student.
KERLEY, Barbara. Those Rebels, John & Tom. illus. by Edwin Fotheringham. Scholastic. 2012. ISBN 9780545222686. JLG Level: BE: Biography Elementary (Grades 2-6)
“The true story of how one gentleman—short and stout—and another—tall and lean—formed a surprising alliance, committed treason, and helped launch a new nation.” Kerley’s latest picture book biography is a lesson in contrasts. John Adams skipped school while Thomas Jefferson skipped recess. Adams spoke out and could argue for hours. Jefferson was quiet, preferring to write down his arguments. They did, however, have one very strong belief in common: King George was a tyrant. Together they would participate in an effort to secure independence for a new nation. With wit and thoughtfulness, Kerley and Fotheringham tell a story that compares two famous heroes in American history. We can all learn a lesson from these men: different talents working together can create a new whole.
SCARBROUGH, Mary Hertz. Heroes of the American Revolution. Capstone. 2012. ISBN 9781429685900. JLG Level: H35 : Series Nonfiction: History 35 (Grades 3-5)
When you think of Revolutionary War heroes, George Washington often comes to mind. However, Scarbrough’s book goes beyond the traditional history books to tell readers about the many men and women who risked their lives for freedom. Part of the “Fact Finders” series from Capstone, this nonfiction title is just right for grades 3-6. It includes great illustrations and text boxes, and other features your readers will need when decoding good informational text.
SLADE, Suzanne. The House That George Built. illus. by Rebecca Bond. Charlesbridge. 2012. ISBN 9781580892629. JLG Level: NEK: Nonfiction Early Elementary (Grades K-2)
What’s the most famous house in the United States? The White House. In an amazingly non-irritating “this is the house that George built”-style, Slade tells the story of how the iconic edifice was built. George held a contest for a plan for the best design. The winner would receive $500 or a gold medal. George himself often worked on the project by surveying the land and measuring the construction site. When the materials began to be too costly, he substituted other materials or changed the plan. Students will be fascinated to learn about building such a large structure in a time before modern machinery. They’ll discover that a kiln was made right on the site to fire bricks so that materials wouldn’t have to be hauled up the steep hill. Be sure to read the end material for even more fascinating facts, such as the ones that tell which presidents made additions to the house. The President’s House, as it was called until 1901 when Theodore Roosevelt renamed it, has been the home of every US president—except for the man who built it.
Junior Library Guild is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com.
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