Today I went and fetched another set of books so that my six-year-old, S., and I can cover our next segment of U.S. history. But first, before I go into those, a quick summary of how this past month’s selections for 1900-1950 fared:
I went 4-for-5, which is unusually good for me and my picky reader. The Lindbergh, Ellington, Ruth and, especially, Empire State Building books were all hits. Interestingly, they’re all illustrated and in color. The archival black-and-white photographs in Down Cut Shin Creek, however, seemed to tell him, “Hey! Your dad’s trying to teach you something!” He wouldn’t touch it. There’s always next year.
So now we move on to 1925-1975. In general, the idea is that each month we cover themes and events and developments relevant to — but not necessarily entirely contained in — the first half of a 50-year period. Except that this month — with the Depression just behind us and the civil rights movement a month away — it’s pretty much all about World War II.
Here’s what I brought home:
- Franklin & Eleanor, by Cheryl Harness. I try to shy away from the “Great Man (or Woman)” approach to history, but I’ll make an exception for the Roosevelts, favorites of mine when I was a boy in 1970s Northeast Texas. Really. Plus, we’ve read Harness’ books on the Erie Canal and the Pony Express, and she hasn’t disappointed.
- Children of the World War II Home Front, by Sylvia Whitman. Yes, it has the shunned black-and-white photos — but it has some in duotone, too! Plus, a Dust Bowl book from the same series (Carolrhoda’s “Picture the American Past”) went over well last year.
- Don’t You Know There’s a War On?, by James Stevenson. A returning favorite from last year, this one depicts Stevenson’s own childhood experiences with poignancy and humor. I love the parts about Spam and kale.
- My Daddy Was a Soldier: A World War II Story, by Deborah Kogan Ray. Looks like it covers similar ground as the Stevenson book. I’ll be curious to see how their approaches compare.
- Baseball Saved Us, by Ken Mochizuki and Dom Lee. I picked this one — about Japanese-American internment camps — because I want S. to know that even the good guys are never all heroic, all the time.
- Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot, by Margot Theis Raven. But when we are heroic, it’s a beautiful thing. Another returning favorite, about a U.S. pilot during the Berlin airlift.
As always, I’d love to hear other suggestions for other picture books — nonfiction or fiction — good for introducing young readers to this period in U.S. history. I’ll let you know how these go over.