Saturday, February 2, 2013

Kid Konnection: Presidents

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you some educational books in honor of the upcoming President's Day holiday.

Summary: The most effective method used to influence children to read is to incorporate the information that interests them the most. National Geographic Readers are educational, high-interest, and comprehensive for children. In this title, readers will learn about the fascinating life and legacy of our 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln and his historic decision to abolish slavery. Readers will also learn why this decision impacted the United States, as well as the extent of Lincoln's impact as a fearless leader of the Civil War.

In this level two biography, difficult concepts are made understandable and transitioned into a more approachable manner. This includes the use of sidebars, timetables, diagrams and fun facts to hold the interest of the young reader. The colorful design and educational illustrations round out this text as an exemplary book for their young minds to explore. -- National Geographic Kids

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that we received some wonderful National Geographic books. The latest one that captured Booking Son's interest was NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC READERS: ABRAHAM LINCOLN by Caroline Crosson Gilpin. The reader book is aimed at Level 2 readers which are ones who are "reading independently," and Booking Son devoured it in just a few minutes.

I can't rave enough about the National Geographic Readers series especially since they've started doing biographies. This book follows Lincoln's life from his modest upbringing to his death. It also explores some aspects of the Civil War, and I think my son basically memorized every detail. He enjoyed the facts and the photos, but he absolutely loved the timeline and the quiz at the end of the book. I liked that there was a glossary included in the back of the book as well as new word definitions on the pages the word first appeared.

We can't wait for more books in this series. Highly recommended! 

Summary: Forty-four men have taken up the responsibilities of the presidency as the nation has grown from its colonial infancy into a modern superpower. They've faithfully executed the duties of the president—waged war, signed treaties, addressed Congress, and established government offices. But their impact goes far beyond the bounds of their job description. Each president has left his mark on the history of the United States and on the lives of the American people.

Our Country's Presidents is packed with information about America's leaders. Find out why George Washington gave up his life as a Virginia planter to lead a nation, and why John Tyler was nicknamed "His Accidency." Walk with the presidents through wars, depressions, civil rights movements, and the race for space. Romp with the Garfield kids in a White House pillow fight and mourn with the nation over John K. Kennedy's assassination.

Each new edition includes a brand-new profile of the newest president and the most recent election. In-depth text and historic images combine to make this volume the definitive family reference guide to the fascinating lives of the presidents of the United States. -- National Geographic

OUR COUNTRY'S PRESIDENTS by Ann Bausum is a wonderful history book that every child should have in their personal library! This is the fourth edition of this book and features a forward by Barack Obama. OUR COUNTRY'S PRESIDENTS features all 43 Presidents of the United States as well as interesting information about the presidency itself.

OUR COUNTRY'S PRESIDENTS can be read from cover to cover; however, I can tell you that my children probably wouldn't use it this way (although Booking Son might given his current interest in biographies.) The book begins with a brief introduction called "About the Presidency," and then there is a guide for how to use this book. I think this is extremely helpful because the book can be overwhelming! This section breaks out the various partss of the book and gives explanations for each. For example, the book has time lines, profiles, presidential portraits, fact boxes, thematic spreads, and reference aids.

OUR COUNTRY'S PRESIDENT is an outstanding resource on the Presidency and our 43 Presidents. The information is presented in a very user-friendly way and there are plenty of colored photographs, quotations, and timelines which make it interesting to children. I like that there are little fact boxes for each president which provide interesting tidbits like their nickname, important dates, terms of office, opponents, and even selected landmarks. However, if a child wants to learn more details about a President, there is also a nice written history of each one.

Outstanding history book with lots of presidential facts! A must-have for every child's library!

Summary: As the first president of the United States of America and the Commander in Chief who led a rebel army to victory in the Revolutionary War, George Washington was a legendary leader of men. He had high expectations of his soldiers, employees, and associates. At his Virginia plantation, Mount Vernon, his expectations of his workers were no different: “I expect such labor as they ought to render,” he wrote.

Except there was a big difference. The workers who kept Mount Vernon operating were enslaved. And although Washington called them “my people,” by law they were his property. The founders birthed a document celebrating “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” as unalienable rights at the same time people were being bought and sold. But the people of Mount Vernon were so much more, and they each have compelling stories to tell.

In the pages of Master George’s People, MarfĂ© Ferguson Delano gives us fascinating portraits of cooks, overseers, valets, farm hands, and more—essential people nearly lost in the shadows of the past—interwoven with an extraordinary examination of the conscience of the "Father of Our Country". -- National Geographic

MASTER GEORGE'S PEOPLE: GEORGE WASHINGTON, HIS SLAVES, AND HIS REVOLUTIONARY TRANSFORMATION by Marfé Ferguson Delano is an unusual history book for children, but it's an important one. Normally, our countries forefathers are presented in an almost perfect light; however, this book explores slavery and Washington's personal experiences with it.

From the cover, this book looks like a typical picture book; however, it is actually geared towards an older audience. There are lots (and lots) of words per page and the subject matter and presentation style is for middle grade age and older readers. Plus, the subject matter is definitely aimed for children who understand slavery as well as Washington's personal misgivings with the institution.

What I appreciated about this book was it's honestly. MASTER GEORGE'S PEOPLE definitely shows Washington in a true light -- that means the good and the bad. It even explores some of his more questionable treatment of slaves, but it does a wonderful job of presenting it in a fair way. While it doesn't make excuses for his behavior, it does show the culture of the country and how plantation owners, like Washington, didn't know how to free the slaves without causing an economic collapse. The book also showed how Washington, in the last decade of his life, took a stand on slavery (because of his moral conscience) and freed his slaves. (Note: Washington was the only one out of the slave-owning founding fathers to liberate slaves in his lifetime.)

In addition to Washington's story, the book has portraits of some of Washington's slaves. There are features on his cook, his valet, his overseer and more; and I think it's terrific for children to be able to put a story with these names. These portraits not only humanize these individuals, but they also show how valuable they were to Washington and his family.

While there is a great deal of text in this book, there are also many beautiful color photographs by Lori Epstein. The photographs were taken at Mount Vernon, Washington's home, and feature many historical interpreters who reenact slave life at the plantation.

Fascinating book that explores Washington as a leader and a man and also showcases some of his slaves.

Thanks to Media Masters for providing review copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

Booking Son sounds like my kind of kid! I adored biographies when I was his age. They had a series of them with blue covers at my school library and I almost always had one of them checked out. These books sound wonderful!

Beth F said...

They all sound great. And, believe it or not, biography was one of favorite genres in elementary school, too. Couldn't get enough of them.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I'm all for books about presidents presenting them in a more realistic light! Because really, wouldn't you want kids to know they could do that too because presidents were humans? :--)

My book today is a really fabulous one for kids about the real-life Bass Reeves - a sheriff in the Old West

Laura at Library of Clean Reads said...

I really must get my son into the National Geographic series. I'm sure he would love them as much as your son. I loved biographies when I was a kid but have yet to explore them with my kids.

Suko said...

As a child, I loved books about Washington and Lincoln--and I still do. These sound like wonderful books. Terrific reviews!