America: History, Culture, States, Regions

 

Rating

Difficulty

14 Cows for America [DETERMINE IMPORTANCE]

by Gonzalez, Thomas and Deedy, Carmen Agra

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Average

DETERMINE IMPORTANCE

A picture book about foreign aid involving the United States and a remote village in Kenya, but this is not what you think. A gift of cows is bestowed on the American men, women, and children by the Maasai nine months since the September 11 attacks.

Over and over in the scenes, two spears or two sticks or even two giraffe necks appear in the background, a subtle echo of the twin towers.

Age Range: 7 – 10

Lexile 540

Recommended by Joan Kindig, Ed.D.

Average

14 Cows for America

Freedom Summer [ASK QUESTIONS]

by Wiles, Deborah. Illustrated by LaGarrigue, Jerome

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Easy Reading

ASK QUESTIONS

“Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim.

But there’s one important way they’re different: Joe is white and John Henry is black and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn’t allowed to do everything his best friend is.

Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there…only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people’s hearts.

This stirring account of the “Freedom Summer” that followed the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 powerfully and poignantly captures two boys’ experience with racism and their friendship that defies it.”

Age Range: 4 – 8

Lexile 460 AD

Recommended by Joan Kindig, Ed.D.

Easy Reading

Freedom Summer

Henry and the Kite Dragon [SUMMARIZE & SYNTHESIZE]

by Hall, Bruce Edward. Illustrated by Low, William

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Challenging

SUMMARIZE & SYNTHESIZE

“Everyone knows that kids from [New York City’s] Chinatown [in the 1920’s] don’t go to the park when the kids from Little Italy are there. They’re rough, they’re big, and they don’t like Chinese kids. That’s okay-Henry doesn’t like them, either.

But what Henry does like are kites. He loves them. Even more, he loves to help his friend Grandfather Chin make them, and fly them over Chinatown and the park. But when Tony Guglione and his friends from Little Italy keep throwing rocks and destroying their beautiful creations, Henry and his friends decide enough is enough!

In this touching story based on true 1920’s events, two rival groups of children representing two different cultures come face to face, and when they do, they find they share much more than just the same sky.”

Age Range: 6 – 12

Recommended by Joan Kindig, Ed.D.

Challenging
Harry and the Kite

Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea [DETERMINE IMPORTANCE]

by Mortenson, Greg. Illustrated by Roth, Susan L.

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Average

DETERMINE IMPORTANCE

The author adapted his best-selling book for adults, Three Cups of Tea, for children.

While climbing in the Himalayan mountains, Mortenson meets the people who capture his heart. This is the story of his efforts to build schools in remote areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In this picture book version, the story is told through the voices of children.

Recommended by Joan Kindig, Ed.D.

Ages: 4 – 8

Lexile AD740L

Average

Listen to the Wind

Mount Rushmore [SUMMARIZE & SYNTHESIZE]

by Schaefer,Lola

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Easy Reading

SUMMARIZE & SYNTHESIZE

This book is part of the Heinemann series Symbols of Freedom. A very interesting book about Mount Rushmore and how it came to be. My second grade boys loved it!

Age Range: 6 to 9

Lexile: 562

Recommended by Elise DeWitt: A good book to teach the skill of summarizing.

Easy Reading

Mount Rushmore

Nettie’s Trip South [INFER & VISUALIZE]

by Turner, Ann Warner. Illustrated by Himler, Ronald

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Challenging

INFER & VISUALIZE

As Nettie ten-year-old “writes to her friend Addie about her trip from Albany, New York, to Richmond, Virginia, she remembers all the things she saw and heard in that pre-Civil War South. She remembers the sweet cedar smell in the air, but she also remembers Tabitha, the black slave in her hotel who has no last name. She remembers seeing the slave quarters at a nearby plantation, with the heaps of rags in the corners for beds. But most of all she remembers the slave auction, where a woman is sold “like a sack of flour”; and she thinks about what their lives would be like, if she and Addie were slaves…

Based on the real diary of the author’s great-grandmother, this is a powerful and deeply moving account of one girl’s reaction to slavery in the South. Once read and seen through the eyes of master illustrator Ronald Himler, it is not soon forgotten.”

Age Range: 7 – 10

Challenging
Nettie's Trip South

Purple Death: The Mysterious Flu of 1918 [ASK QUESTIONS]

by Getz, David. Illustrated by McCarty, Peter

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Challenging

ASK QUESTIONS

“It was the worst epidemic in this country’s history, and the search for its cause is still one of science’s most urgent quests.

It was 1918, the last year of World War 1. Thousands of men lived in the crowded army training camps that were scattered all across the United States. That spring, a strange flu struck the soldiers at a camp in the Midwest. Healthy young men went to the hospital complaining of sore throats and fevers. Within hours they had suffocated, their skin taking on a terrible purplish hue.

The devastating flu spread like wildfire across the country, infecting soldiers and civilians alike. It killed more than half a million people in a matter of months, then disappeared as suddenly as it had come.”

Age Range: 7 – 12

Recommended by Joan Kindig, Ed.D.

Challenging

Purple Death

Summer of Fire: Yellowstone 1988 [ASK QUESTIONS]

by Lauber, Patricia

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Challenging

ASK QUESTIONS

This “book on the Yellowstone fire of 1988 is an admirable updating of the environmental history of the area. Interesting, action-filled writing plus a very detailed description of the fire and how it spread make for exciting reading. There is a good explanation of the area’s attractions and the geologic forces of nature at work. The new, clear full-color photographs are outstanding. They are full page, well labeled, and include many of the wildlife species found in the park. A single map shows fire locations… A good glossary and useful bibliography are appended. Lauber raises all the important questions regarding regrowth, loss of species, fire damage, and change, but she doesn’t supply as many concrete, specific answers as serious young scientists will want.”

Ages: 8 – 12

Recommended by Joan Kindig, Ed.D.

Challenging
Summer of Fire

The American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 [MONITORING COMPREHENSION]

by Murphy, Jim

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Challenging

MONITORING COMPREHENSION

In a powerful, dramatic narrative, critically acclaimed author Jim Murphy describes the illness known as yellow fever and the toll it took on the Washington, D.C.’s residents, relating the epidemic to the major social and political events of the day and to 18th-century medical beliefs and practices.

– Finalist for the 2003 National Book Award, Young People’s Literature

– A 2004 Newbery Honor Book

– Winner of the 2004 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award

Recommended by Joan Kindig

ChallengingThe American Plague

The Prairie Builders: Reconstructing America’s Lost Grasslands [SUMMARIZE & SYNTHESIZE]

by Collard, Sneed B.

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Challenging

SUMMARIZE & SYNTHESIZE

“Sneed B. Collard III profiles Pauline Drobney and her crew as they struggle to rebuild a tallgrass prairie in central Iowa. From setting fires to rejuvenate the landscape, to searching for native seeds, to tracking down the elusive Regal Fritillary with Dr. Diane Debinsky, the story of rebuilding and regenerating the prairie landscape is a compelling and inspiring one.”

Age Range: 9 – 12

Lexile: 1090

Recommended by Joan Kindig, Ed. D.

ChallengingThe Prairie Builders

Togo [INFER & VISUALIZE]

by Blake, Robert

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Average

INFER & VISUALIZE

“Togo is a spirited puppy, determined to be a sled dog even though his owner, Leonhard Seppala, does not think he has what it takes. He’s small for a Siberian husky, and much too independent. When he is only eight months old, he breaks through a fence and finds his owner’s team on a supply run; it takes only a day for him to prove himself as a musher. Soon the young dog is leading his team in races, and breaking speed records every time. When Togo is eight years old, Seppala is asked to make an emergency relay run to pick up a serum that can stop the diphtheria epidemic threatening the entire population of Nome, AK. Togo leads his team over 350 miles through storms, suffering terribly, and with almost no rest. While it is another dog, Balto, that became famous for the serum run of 1925, he actually led the final team in the relay, running 53 miles. Many people feel that Togo is an unsung hero, and so will readers, who will feel the terrible cold depicted chillingly in Blake’s paintings. The urgency and desperation come across clearly in both the dramatic text and the full-page impressionistic paintings. The dogs are not anthropomorphized, but their expressions are haunting. Pair this first-rate historical adventure with Natalie Standiford’s The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Random, 1989).”

Age Range: 4 – 9

Lexile 420

Recommended by Joan Kindig, Ed.D.

AverageTogo

Whaling Season: A Year in the Life of an Arctic Whale Scientist [SUMMARIZE & SYNTHESIZE]

by Lourie, Peter

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Challenging

SUMMARIZE & SYNTHESIZE

Photo essay.

“Native Inuit Eskimos consider themselves the People of the Whale. The harvesting of whales is a significant part of their culture. This series book follows an Arctic whale scientist in Barrow, Alaska, throughout the year as he participates in the traditional harvesting of the bowhead or Greenland right whale by the Inuit. He takes samples, studies migration routes, and monitors the numbers and health of these whales. The traditional whalers and scientists cooperate to maintain both the culture and a sustainable population of the whales.”

– Scientists in the Field Series Series

Age Range: 12 and up, younger for photos

Recommended by Joan Kindig, Ed.D.

ChallengingWhaling Season

Written in Bones: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland [ACTIVATE & CONNECT]

by Walker, Sally M.

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Challenging

ACTIVATE & CONNECT

When the Smithsonian Institution scientists discover graves inside James Fort in Jamestown, Virginia, they use modern forensic science to solve the mysteries of early settlements. See how they piece together the lives of European and African individuals who lived in Jamestown and the Chesapeake Bay area in the 1600’s and 1700’s.

Age Range: Young Adult

Lexile: NC1140L

Recommended by Joan Kindig, Ed.D.

ChallengingWritten in Bone

Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl [MONITOR COMPREHENSION]

by Marrin, Albert

America: History, Culture, States, Regions

Difficulty: Challenging

MONITOR COMPREHENSION

“In the best possible way, Years of Dust feels like a museum in the form of a book. Marrin knits together natural science and sociology, news stories, snippets from novels and poems, eyewitness descriptions, journal entries, and the words of hard-time bards like John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie. His selection of photographs paired with maps, posters, engravings and other artifacts brings the blown-out landscapes to life.”

Age Range: 9 – 12

Lexile 1040

ChallengingYears of Dust