Updated: Nov 19, 2020
A phenomenal selection of children’s American literature exists that will make you, your kids, and your entire family fall more deeply in love with our nation and its history, heroes, and founding principles.
I was recently at a dinner gathering with a group of my friends. In light of current events, the topic of our great nation came up -- its history, the vision of our Founding Fathers, the future of America . . . basically all things “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” I found myself speaking with great authority on everything from Paul Revere, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson to Western expansion, Lewis and Clark, and the first Thanksgiving.
I stopped for a moment to catch a breath between my impressively didactic musings. And I asked myself, “How do I know all this? What is the source of my knowledge that is flowing so freely?” Then it hit me and I had to laugh out loud. Everything I was speaking about so authoritatively is information I’ve acquired from children’s books that I’ve read over the years to our two kids. No, not from my high school AP History class, or from my brilliant professors at my alma mater SMU, or from 1000-page historical nonfiction tomes. CHILDREN’S books! I quickly outed myself to my peers, and we all had a good laugh about the true source of my deep knowledge of American history.
This realization set me on a journey. Over the next few weeks, I took a closer look at our home’s bookshelf collection from which I’ve read regularly to our now six- and seven-year-old children. What I found was GOLD. A phenomenal selection of children’s American literature exists that will make you, your kids, and your entire family fall more deeply in love with our nation and its history, heroes, and founding principles.
Many of the basic facts we learned in school were for the sake of trying to make good grades on a test. But those facts come to life in my kids’ books. Here, history is told less as a dry account and more as vivid narratives involving real people, dealing with and overcoming the toils and troubles of their times. When (re)learned in a family setting, these stories become a part of our shared history, as well as an enduring part of our family’s culture.
Below is a list of some of the books in our home library that we love. This list only scratches the surface. Check them out and read them aloud as a family. I’m confident they will strike a chord and move you to be a greater patriot. And who knows . . . you too may become the “expert” at your next dinner party!
On Sarah’s Bookshelf:
Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving (by Eric Metaxes)
Meet the Pilgrim Fathers (by Elizabeth Payne)
Meet the North American Indians (by Elizabeth Payne)
Meet George Washington (by Joan Heilbroner)
The Story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (by R. Conrad Stein)
The Story of the Pony Express (by R. Conrad Stein)
The Story of the Oregon Trail (by R. Conrad Stein)
Story of the Presidents of the United States of America (by Maud and Miska Petersham)
George Washington’s Breakfast (by Jean Fritz)
Betsy Ross (by Alexandra Wallner)
The Fourth of July Story (by Alice Dalgliesh)
If You Lived In the Colonial Times (by Kay Moore)
If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War (by Kay Moore)
We the People (by Peter Spier)
The Star Spangled Banner (by Peter Spier)
Sam the Minuteman (by Nathaniel Benchley)
Paul Revere’s Ride (by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
The Oxcart Man (by Donald Hall)
Sarah Monning Schoellkopf is a wife, mother, and small business owner. Her favorite American values are "liberty & justice for all."