In between Columbus Day and Thanksgiving, 6-year-old S and I are jumping back 500-plus years in our U.S. history reading. Obviously that takes us back well before there actually was a U.S., back to the first intersections between the Europeans who came for a little visit and the folks who already lived on these shores.

It can be an awkward transition, going from modern times to pre-Columbian, but a book I’ve mentioned previously should help out. The Tree That Would Not Die, by Ellen Levine and Ted Rand, covers the last 600 or so years of Austin history from the perspective of the Treaty Oak. S loves the book, especially since he finally got to see the tree up close and personal-like recently.

During our focus on the years 1492-1620, we’ll also be reading — or “reading” — these:

  • Storm Boy by Paul Owen Lewis. This one is an original myth based on the storytelling traditions of Native peoples in the Pacific Northwest.
  • The First Texans by Carolyn Mitchell Burnett and Jo Kay Wilson. We’ve read this one before, and while the history is fascinating, the text and format are a little advanced. So, we’ll have a bake-off between this and the more recent Texas Native Peoples by Mary Dodson Wade.
  • The Discovery of the Americas by Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro. S is already ticked that there was no mail on Columbus Day, so I don’t think I’ll be emphasizing ol’ Cristobal. To the extent that we cover Columbus himself, it will be via this book, which takes a much broader view.
  • We Asked for Nothing: The Remarkable Journey of Cabeza de Vaca by Stuart Waldman and Tom McNeely. I’ve raved before about the high quality of Mikaya Press’ books, and this account of de Vaca’s Texas shipwreck and ensuing wanderings is one powerful tale.
  • The Lucky Sovereign by Stewart Lees. Other picture books I’ve seen about Jamestown were too non-fiction-y for our tastes. This one looks like it might be different.
  • Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation by Diane Stanley. I’ve been a big fan of Stanley’s biographies, but I haven’t read any of her “Time-Traveling Twins” books before. Getting S to read the Magic Tree House take on Thanksgiving would be a gimme, so I thought I’d see how this one fares. By the time Turkey Day rolls around, we may well have both on our shelves.