In our monthly U.S. history reading, I believe that seven-year-old S and I have entered the age of the novel.

In terms of S’s enthusiasm, there were two standout titles from this month’s list, and neither was a picture book. Actually, the runner-up was a book I neglected to include when I initially selected the titles spanning 1875-1925: Galveston’s Summer of the Storm, by my friend Julie Lake.

I didn’t think S was quite ready for this novel about 14-year-old heroine Abby Kate and the hurricane that devastated Galveston in 1900, but I hadn’t read it yet, so I brought it home for my own pleasure. I hadn’t seen S so much as touch Summer of the Storm, but one Saturday he saw me reading it and asked, “Have you gotten to the part where that boy calls her ‘Scabby Kate’?”

Upon meeting the author for the first time last week, S told Julie that her book “had a lot of good dramatic tension.” I could have popped.

The big winner this time around, as already implied, was Dan Gutman‘s Race for the Sky, a fictional diary written in the character of Johnny Moore, a real-life teenaged witness of the Wright brothers’ first flight. I lost track of how many times S read this book this month, but I do know that he lapped me and may have even read the whole thing twice before I finished it even once.

What’s more, on his own S brought home another Wright brothers volume, Peter Busby and David Craig’s oversized picture book First to Fly. He also repeatedly viewed a fascinating documentary, Wright Brothers: First in Flight and announced plans to build his own plane in the back yard.

I don’t think S is through with picture books, and two-year-old F certainly has many years of those ahead of him, but I do plan on increasing the number of novels in our monthly mix. And the more multimedia flourishes I can add, the better. At S’s request, we’ll be watching 1776 this weekend, and his multiple listens to “Erie Canal” on Bruce Springsteen’s terrific new album suggest that compiling a soundtrack for each historical period we cover might be a great boon to his education, and not just a way to completely distract me from my writing.


Here are links to my previous posts on U.S. history reading, which is my main contribution to the homeschooling of my two sons. I always welcome your suggestions for new titles and older books I’ve overlooked.

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: The List and The Wrap Up
1875-1925: The List
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