President’s Day (or is that Presidents’ Day?)

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President’s Day is, of course, an excellent opportunity to introduce students to those men who have sat in the Oval Office. We’ve rounded up a few highly recommended titles in honor of the holiday.

Elementary School

Abraham Lincoln by Caroline Crosson Gilpin (2012) Grades 1-3

If you have independent readers who are capable of reading longer sentences and who need information on Abraham Lincoln, this is the book. Divided into two-page chapters, the book quickly takes the reader through the life of our 16th President. Along with basic text there are short bits of information labeled “That’s a Fact,” “In His Own Words,” and “Words To Know.” These short sections present fundamental information helpful in understanding Lincoln and his times. The valuable photographs and pictures include archival photographs including a photograph of Lincoln at Gettysburg. Also included are an illustrated glossary, a short quiz, a timeline, and an invitation to National Geographic Super Readers that includes quizzes, games, and prizes. This book really has it all for the young reader learning about Abraham Lincoln. (Reviewed by Steven Hadge).

To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt by Doreen Rappaport (2013)  Grades 1-5

With superb illustrations and a biographical account written by an award-winning author, the story of Theodore Roosevelt comes alive in this beautiful picture book. Teddy grew up as a sickly boy who went on to become the youngest member of the New York State Assembly, New York City Police Commissioner, leader of the Rough Riders, Vice President, and President of the United States. Detailed drawings depict him at the various stages of his life. The descriptions and illustrations lead to a vivid visual image of how a President came to be and about the way he conducted himself during some of the most influential times of his life. Quotes highlighting his views are found throughout. A timeline of important events and selected resources are provided. This unique picture book biography provides an account of a significant man who influenced others throughout his life. (Reviewed by Holly Weimar).

White House Kids: The Perks, Pleasures, Problems, and Pratfalls of the Presidents’ Children by Joe Rhatigan (2012) Grades 1-5

Packed with weird and wonderful stories, this book offers a glimpse into life through the eyes of 70 children and grandchildren of each of the Presidents of the United States. There are letters, quips, and direct quotes. The book is full of drawings, portraits, and amazing photographs that are so well-chosen, the reader will feel as if they were peering at a personal scrapbook. An appendix further explores what happened to the children after their childhood in the White House, while another appendix lists each President and First Lady’s names and years. This will be a book with broad appeal to many children, it will be a well-circulated book and not to be missed. (Reviewed by Jennifer Coleman).

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock (2013) Grades 2-5

Thomas Jefferson was a man of many talents and interests. This title features his love of reading and books. He learned to read in several languages and spent as many as 15 hours a day reading. He collected books on an eclectic variety of subjects. As president, Jefferson appointed the first librarian and suggested books to buy, tripling the government’s collection. Jefferson donated 6500 books from his personal library to start a new Library of Congress, which today is the largest book collection in the world. Pen, ink, and watercolor are used to create the detailed, humorous illustrations. Sidebars, in the shape of open books, contain additional facts, quotations, and trivia. An author’s note and important words and rhetorical/interactive questions are included. Bibliography. (Reviewed by Marion Mueller).

Middle/High School

The Presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt: Confronting the Great Depression & World War II  by Don Nardo (2015) Grades 5-7

Refreshingly, this series turns away from the predictable birth-to-death biography and focuses instead on the political and historical achievements of U.S. presidents. Historical events are detailed in clear, concise language, which allows the reader to more fully understand each president’s role in the course of history. Students will gain a broader understanding of United States history. While the series emphasizes achievements, it does not shy away from noting mistakes as well. Photos and illustrations, maps, letters and other correspondence, and sidebars make the content easy to digest. A spread near the beginning of each book includes the requisite biographical facts. More titles in this series would be welcome. Bibliography. Glossary. Timeline. Index. (Reviewed by Jessica Schmidt).

The President Has Been Shot: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson (2013) Grades 7-12

The bottom line is—this book is wonderful! I wish I had this book at my side while I was reading other books on the subject. It is, as one of my students said, better than the Internet because you don’t have to put it together. Author James Swanson has nailed it again, just like he did in his other fine works. He has the storyteller’s gift that keeps the reader engrossed. His photos, bibliography, use of infographs, diagrams, source notes, and more make my librarian/ researcher heart go pitty pat. Buy it as soon as you can so your students can benefit from it as well. (Reviewed by Suzanne Lay).

Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency by Nancy Beck Young (2013) Grades 9-12

Looking for the social, economic, cultural and political history of every president of the United States? This definitive scholarly resource is for serious students and teachers. These six volumes allow students to gain insight into the philosophical precepts and principles of the presidency. They will also get a deeper understanding of the relationship between the personal philosophies of the individual men and the policies pursued by their administrations. Chapters include original documents, fact boxes, election maps, chronologies, and bibliographies. Students can compare the thoughts of Theodore Roosevelt and Barack Obama on the Panama Canal. Other features include biographical essays on the First Ladies, Vice Presidents, Cabinet members, and Congressional leaders. (Reviewed by Lynne Douglas Simmons).

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