4 Don’t Miss Picture Books for American HistorySallie Borrink
Picture books are a wonderful way to introduce historical and geographical topics to younger children in an age-appropriate and accessible way. Here are four of my favorite picture books that include important times and places in American history.
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When Jessie Came Across the Sea
When Jessie Came Across the Sea is a lavishly illustrated story about a young girl who leaves her grandmother and home in Eastern Europe to travel to New York City. Selected by the town rabbi who has one ticket to give to a villager, he selects Jessie to start a new life there while working in the dress shop owned by his brother’s widow. The story follows Jessie’s experience immigrating to America, living on the Lower East Side, and the relationships that develop in the ensuing years.
The artwork alone is enough reason to read this book. It also adds to the lovely story that brings immigration to life in a new way for young readers.
Potato: A Tale from the Great Depression
Potato: A Tale From The Great Depression is a simple story of one family who lost their job and home during the Great Depression and what they did to get by. It specifically focuses on the time they spent in Idaho, picking potatoes to earn enough money to get back on their feet.
The illustrations are friendly and warm. This picture book is simple in its approach and will work very well to introduce younger children to the topic of the Great Depression.
Homeplace is a lovely look at how seven generations of one family have cared for the home and land built by the great-great-great-great grandfather many years ago. The grandmother telling the story to the grand-daughter tells of how each generation worked the land and improved the house. The detailed illustrations add a great deal to the story, showing the progression of time, implements and activities through the generations.
This is a great picture book for showing young children what multiple generations look like in an easy to follow way. If you love stories about farming and home arts, you especially will want to share this one with your children.
Amber on the Mountain
Amber on the Mountain is a look at how progress comes to a quiet community on a mountainside and the impact it has on one little girl. Amber is lonely on her mountain since the people live so far apart. But when outsiders arrive to build a road on the mountain, Amber becomes friends with Anna whose father is helping build the road. When Anna discovers Amber can’t read, she makes up her mind to teach her. When the road is finished and Anna leaves with her family, Amber makes up her mind to do something even bigger.
This is a wonderful story of friendship and determination set against a backdrop of hard mountain living and few opportunities. It will open up the door to many possible conversations about the characters, setting and important developments in the lives of the two little girls.