With the Civil War and the decades-long run-up to it behind us, I had hoped to find some books for this month’s U.S. history reading that overtly addressed Reconstruction. In May we’re covering 1850-1900, and how this country went about (imperfectly) putting itself back together is a pretty key theme for that time period.

But aside from Tonya Bolden’s new Cause: Reconstruction America 1863-1877 — which appears to be aimed at readers somewhat older than seven-year-old S (let alone two-year-old F) — I came up empty-handed. (As always, I’d love to get your recommendations.) Still, I came up with several promising titles covering other aspects of the era.

  • More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby and illustrated by Chris Soentpiet. A fictional tale about young Booker T. Washington, in the vein of The Day of Ahmed’s Secret.
  • You’re On Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt by Judith St. George and illustrated by Matt Faulkner. I remember being fascinated as a boy by Roosevelt’s transformation from a sickly youth into a man who redefined “robust.” We’ll see how well this newish telling of his story goes over.
  • Steamboat! The Story of Captain Blanche Leathers by Judith Heide Gilliland and illustrated by Holly Meade. We read another recent title, Ste-e-e-e-eamboat a-Comin’!, not too long ago, and it went over better with F than with S. Blanche Leathers’ story offers much more technical detail, which may win S over.
  • A Weed Is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver by Aliki. Like her William Penn book that I brought home a few months back, it says a lot that this biography is still in print four decades after publication.
  • The Brooklyn Bridge by Elizabeth Mann and illustrated by Alan Witschonke. The lone ringer, a returning favorite for a budding engineer. It’s a beautiful book to boot, as is every title I’ve seen from Mikaya Press.
  • A Full Hand by Thomas F. Yezerski. I’ve come to appreciate historical fiction a lot more in the past year, and I’ve got high hopes for this one. The illustrations remind me of previous winners The Ox-Cart Man and The Amazing Impossible Erie Canal.
  • Across America on an Emigrant Train by Jim Murphy. This one looks like it has it all, not just emigrants and trains, but Robert Louis Stevenson and buffalo slaughter as well. Maybe a bit too advanced, maybe not, but anything by Jim Murphy is bound to be good. I would read the man’s old grocery lists, if not for that restraining order.
  • When Esther Morris Headed West: Women, Wyoming, and the Right to Vote by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge and illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers. This makes two months in a row for Wooldridge, whose John Ericsson bio was a hit with both boys in April.
  • Kid Blink Beats the World by Don Brown. If my boys go on strike this month, I’ve got only myself to blame.


I’ve been at this for nearly a year now. For you newcomers, here are links to my previous posts on U.S. history reading, which is my main contribution to the homeschooling of our two sons.

Prehistory-1621: The List and The Wrap-Up
1622-1750: The List and The Wrap-Up
1750-1800: The List and The Wrap-Up
1775-1825: The List and The Wrap-Up
1800-1850: The List and The Wrap-Up
1825-1875: The List and The Wrap-Up
1850-1900: You’re reading it!
1875-1925: Stay tuned.
1900-1950: The List and The Wrap-Up
1925-1975: The List and The Wrap-Up
1950-2000: The List and The Wrap-Up
1975-present: The List and The Wrap-Up