History literature for early American life, covering daily life, westward expansion, Native Americans, slavery, and more. Living history texts in picture book, chapter book, and audiobook form with a few bonuses.
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I’ve been asked to share our reading list for this semester of history, so I put together a list of all the books I’ve compiled to read as we learn about early American life.
We will be covering everything from daily life and westward expansion, to the topic of slavery and the Underground Railroad, and the treatment and traditions of Native Americans. Our nature and artist study will also fit into this time period as we learn about John James Audubon.
I selected our books based on what we already have in our home library, what I was able to find at our favorite used bookstore, and then I also made a few purchases from Amazon for some new books I was really interested in reading together too. The book lists from Ambleside, A Gentle Feast, and Beautiful Feet Books are also always helpful in selecting quality literature.
I won’t go into much detail here in HOW we teach history, but a basic idea is lots of reading living books (#clearly), narrating (written and oral), discussions, and timelines. We won’t necessarily get through all the books in my list, but we will try to cover history from a variety of vantage points.
History Literature for Early American Life
These books cover a breadth of history. They are excellent books.
- This Country of Ours— H.E. Marshall (also have this one on Audible)
- A Child’s First Book of American History— Earl Schenk Miers
- A Young People’s History of the United States— Howard Zinn (read excerpts at their level)
- Nutshell History of North Carolina— Ben Fortson
Early American Life
- The Erie Canal— Peter Spier
- Thomas Jefferson, A Picture Book Biography— James Cross Giblin
- Coming to America, The Story of Immigration— Betsy Maestro
- Little House in the Big Woods, Farmer Boy, Little House on the Prairie— Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Going Along with Lewis & Clark— Barbara Fifer
- Dover Lewis and Clark Expedition (coloring book)
- Seaman’s Journal— Patricia Reeder Eubank (picture book from Lewis & Clark’s dog perspective)
- What Was the Lewis & Clark Expedition— Judith St. George
- Locomotive— Brian Floca (picture book)
- Who Were the American Pioneers— Martin Sandler
Slavery & the Underground Railroad
- If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America
- If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad
- A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman— David Adler
- The Story of Harriet Tubman, Conductor of Underground Railroad — Kate McMullan
- The 19th Century & Abolition, Voices in African American History series
- Henry’s Freedom Box— Ellen Levine
- Only the Names Remain— Alex Bealer
- If You Lived with the Indians of the NW Coast— Anne Kamma
- Wounded Knee, An Indian History of the American West— Dee Brown (excerpts)
- North American Indians— Douglas Gorsline (picture book)
- An Indian Winter
- The First Strawberries, A Cherokee Story— Joseph Bruschac
- The Long March, The Choctaw’s Gift to Irish Famine Relief— Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick
Nature & Artist Study: John James Audubon
- This Strange Wilderness— Nancy Plain (listen on Audible)
- The Boy Who Drew Birds— Jacqueline Davies (picture book)
- Treasury of Audubon Birds— John James Audubon
- John James Audubon’s Painted Birds— Kate Coombs (board book)
- Dover Audubon’s Birds of America (coloring book)
- Under A Wild Sky— William Souder (mom-read)
Kid Independent Reading
- By the Great Horn Spoon— Sid Fleischman
- Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt— Jean Fritz
- Carry On, Mr Bowditch— Jean Lee Latham
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