The way this month’s U.S. history reading went has made me one happy man. Both boys were enchanted by at least some of the books I brought home — with seven-year-old S, that’s not always the case, and with two-year-old F, I hadn’t really expected it to be.

S’s favorite had to be the three-book Prairie Skies series, which places the reader at the heart of the battle in the mid-1850s over whether Kansas would be a free state or a slave state. I’d initially brought home just the first book, but S devoured it quickly and demanded the others. He hasn’t said much about them, other than that the third book has the most dramatic tension. I haven’t yet finished that one myself, so I’m eager to see just what he’s talking about.

Roughing It on the Oregon Trail tied in nicely with S’s fondness for his Oregon Trail CD-ROM, and you should have heard his excitement when he recognized Jim Bridger‘s name — which he’d learned from the game — in the four-page author’s note for The Sweetwater Run.

To which I must add: the author’s note! Holy moly — he let me read him the author’s note! I don’t remember the last time that happened, and I’m pretty sure I can count the total number of occurrences on two fingers. Unfortunately, a well-past-F’s-bedtime situation arose, keeping us from reading the last few paragraphs, in which the author explains the fictional elements in his story of Buffalo Bill’s boyhood involvement with the Pony Express, but maybe I can still sneak those paragraphs in. Or maybe I won’t have to sneak at all.

Both boys enjoyed Thank You Very Much, Captain Ericsson and Sparrow Jack, two tales of very different contributions by immigrants — ironclad battleships and inchworm-eating birds — during that 1825-1875 period. And while S wasn’t impressed by the spare text of Cecil’s Story — “This is boring” — F loved it. More, perhaps, than you would think a two-year-old would (or should) like a story about a boy whose father is disfigured in the Civil War, but I’ll take it.