Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Five: Childrens' Historical Biography Stories

Luke and I read a lot of books together and while some of his all-time favorites are on frequent repeat (Little Blue Truck, LMNO Peas, the Larry book, anything Star Wars, Berenstain Bears) we do pick up quite a few new books from the library.  While we read a huge variety, some not so great ones (both of us pick duds sometime...although Luke might be more drawn to all the "famous character" ones which are mostly poorly written...I say that with a rather decent collection of Star Wars books in Luke's room), and a lot of really great ones.  Occasionally we'll come across one that not only holds Luke's interest but mine as well AND it teaches us something.  Those are some of my favorites.

And when I say it teaches us something...I mostly mean me because I don't know how much Luke is picking up and actually understanding from these but maybe it'll retain in his subconscious so when he actually does learn about these things he'll have a (small) point of reference.  And as my sister and I learned a loooooong time ago from this video series we watched...having old stuff to connect to new stuff helps you remember. 

1) Diana's White House Garden by Elisa Carbone
This was a pretty obvious first pick.  We may have read it largely because my name is in the title (can't help it).  But also, I've long had a fascination with the White House and the logistics of running it (actually, most logistics in general).  This is about a girl named Diana who was the daughter of the White House gardener while FDR was in office and WWII was happening.  She wants to do something to help the war effort so she, with Eleanor Roosevelt, plants a garden on the White House grounds.  This actually happened and all the people in the story are real.  I had never heard of this and loved it! 

2) Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty by Linda Glaser
My parents gave Luke this book for Christmas, knowing how much he likes the Statue of Liberty after our visit.   It's the story of a young woman named Emma who lived in New York during the time the Statue of Liberty was being built and installed.  When they were raising money to build the podium for her, several prominent poets and authors were asked to write something which was then compiled and sold as a fundraiser.  Emma wrote the poem which later became very linked with the Statue itself: 
Give me your tired, your poor,
 Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

Those words are engraved on a plaque at the Statue,  (I just went back through all our pictures from our first New York trip and couldn't find where we had a picture of it.  After 17 vacations, getting to go in the crown of the Statue of Liberty remains a highlight...maybe in my top 10 vacation experiences ever, highly recommend)  I hadn't known the whole story behind the poem and Luke even pays really good attention when we read this one.  

Might as well put the NYC books together!  This is the story of how the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade got it's famous huge balloon "puppets".  This isn't something I had ever considered how they came to be so it was very interesting to me to learn their history.  Also, since it was New York based it held Luke's attention too, especially after he saw the parade this year.  I need to remember to get again shortly before Thanksgiving next year

4) Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
My Dad and sister both had a huge interest in space exploration when I was younger so family vacations frequently (maybe a few times but it felt often) included visits to various space museums.  Even with those visits (where I might not have been super interested and may not have learned as much as I could have) and various history lessons over the years, and reading and watching The Astronaut Wives Club recently, I still learned a few things from this book.  It's written simply and, while still maybe a little over Luke's comprehension, was told easily enough for young children.  If you have kids interested in space or astronauts, this would be a great book to read them.

5) Winnie: The True Story of the Bear who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker
I saw a lot about this book last year, many people reading and praising it.  It's exactly what the title says: the true story of the bear that inspired Pooh.   Who knew Pooh had origins back to WWI, a young soldier from Canada, and the London Zoo?  The zoo is where he met a young boy named Christopher Robin whose father happened to be a writer.  Thus, Winnie the Pooh, the literary character, was born.  I'm not sure Luke had any idea who Pooh was when we read this book, he may have just liked the story about a bear as a pet, but I learned a lot!

I love reading these types of books to Luke.  Have any more we should try?

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