You might be surprised how much you and your child can learn if you read Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta. It was shocking to me just how much we take for granted today that is owed to this founding father. We all know about his experiments with electricity, his role in the development of the U.S. Constitution, bifocals, etc. But did you know that Franklin organized the first public library, hospital, post office, and fire department? Did you know he was the creator of the first political cartoon? Did you know he suggested the idea of daylight saving time more than a hundred years before it was implemented? He was a truly inventive guy whose contributions continue to shape our society.
There’s probably no historical figure I find more admirable than Abraham Lincoln. That explains why I love Abe’s Honest Words by Doreen Rappaport, featuring illustrations by the fabulous Kadir Nelson. This is a lovely juvenile biography of our sixteenth president, who had the unenviable job of leading our country through, and out, of the Civil War. Rappaport treats us to Lincoln’s life story–his upbringing after the death of his mother, his love for reading and writing, his election and presidency, to his tragic assasination–insterspliced with his own words. The book is a touching tribute to the man who wrote “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think, and feel.”
John, Paul, George & Ben by Lane Smith tells the story of what some of our founding fathers were like before the birth of our nation, taking us back to when John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Tom Jefferson were boys. John was quite bold, taking up the whole chalk board to write his name. Paul was always shouting since he suffered some hearing loss in a bell ringing club (that was “before fun was invented”). George was honest to a fault–when dad forgave him for chopping down the cherry tree, he readily confessed to leveling the whole orchard and a barn! Ben was very clever, constantly coming up with sayings, and Tom was independent (he probably refused to be included in the title). Read this as a fun way to teach your child about people who helped make our country free.