ABOUT THE BOOK
When I got the chance to write 19th Century American History for Kids, it was an inspirational exploration. I have always known history shapes modern events, but never more fully than I did writing this book. So many of our modern day challenges are rooted in events that unfolded during the 19th century. If you've been searching for a way to explain civil rights to young readers, I hope you'll consider this book. It will bring a lot into focus for your kids, and maybe even for you. I certainly did for me.
It isn't easy to write an engaging book for children that encompasses the major events of an entire century in little more than 100 pages, but Kelly Milner Halls succeeds brilliantly! From Gabriel's Rebellion (1800) to the Spanish-American War (1898), each U.S. historical event is covered succinctly, yet clearly and objectively. The frequent sidebars offer additional stats and facts, which I think kids will really enjoy. I'm a history buff and I learned a ton. I didn't know that Andrew Jackson died due to lead poisoning (from bullets that had not been removed). To help spark classroom discussion, teachers and librarians will appreciate the coverage of the Trail of Tears, The Indian Removal Act, Dred Scott, and Plessy v. Ferguson and "the one drop rule." A glossary and further reading is included, too. Every classroom needs a copy of this book!
Trudi Strain Trueit, author of the EXPLORER ACADEMY series for National Geographic
If you are looking for a way to teach kids history, look no more. Get a copy of 19TH CENTURY AMERICAN HISTORY FOR KIDS and share it with every kid (no age limit) you know. Kids who are already fascinated with history will devour it, and picky readers will find the five easy to read chapters perfect for attention grabbing doses of the past.
This fact-filled volume covers 1801 to 1900. Using 3-4 page articles, it presents highlights from history in a well-researched, engagingly written style. Scattered throughout are small bit-sized tidbits about people and issues that expand on the information in the main text.
Topics include THE LOUSIANA PURCHASE, TRAIL OF TEARS, THE DRED SCOTT CASE, EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, and ROBBER BARONS & CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY just to name a few. Included at the end of the book is a glossary and resources for further exploration.
This reviewer was impressed that so much material could be packed into just over 100 pages. Events I remember learning about in history class were more clearly explained with facts I hadn't previously known. Kudos to author Kelly Milner Halls for making history come alive!
Sally Kruger, Retired English Teacher, Devil's Lake, Michigan
Halls has mastered everything necessary to turn factual content into a powerful and appealing resource for middle grade audiences. In this case, she presents a thoughtfully curated look at pivotal events during the years 1801 to 1900. She divides that century into five chapters, each of which spans two decades, incorporating five major events of each period with multiple asides that expand, explore, or interrogate the individuals and events from the larger passages.
In each two-decade chapter, readers discover lives and stories that frame our history within events that emerge from our origins and that lay the groundwork for issues and conflicts that continue even into current events. Familiar moments are given the attention they deserve, while lesser-known (or remembered) events are lifted to our attention, including the reason they were important in our unfolding story of America. The perspective does not advocate for one group or another, but does provide strong accounting for all groups, including notes about conflicting accounts and emerging evidence. The choices made don’t shy away from darker aspects of our shared story, while avoiding being judgmental or espousing political preferences.
I hope that adults will read this with kids, or at least borrow the book when the younger ones finish. I consider myself well-versed in history. Even so, each section revealed fresh details and insights within familiar events, as well as new events or ones that had long ago slipped from my memory. In each passage the crisp and direct writing establishes key players, briefly accounts actual events, and anchors the significance of that history within the scope and sequence of the landscape of our country’s past and future. Core vocabulary is explained in context, as well as in a simple glossary.
Sources, suggested books, and museums serve to launch further reading and investigation. The compact text, accessible layout and structure, and quick advance across a full century will generate more interest (and long term memory) than typical academic text for this age. If there is a “neglected” century in teaching American history, it is certainly the Nineteenth Century, other than the middle years of Civil War, which are more known as mythology than history. Take my word for it, this book is an eye-opener and worth your attention.
The case for seeing each life, each event, each turn of time as a contribution toward who we are now is consistent and convincing. As Halls writes in the conclusion:
“Study the past and you’ll find a team of allies whispering words of encouragement. Let their determination give you hope.”
Sandy Brehl, Children's Author