Read Aloud Thursday–Abraham Lincoln

This post probably isn’t very helpful to anyone because Abraham Lincoln must be the most written-about president we’ve had, but I like to cover all the bases.  Since I wrote about George Washington books last week, here’s my post dedicated to our sixteenth president.  I hope you find a new-to-you gem among these familiar titles!
Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire are a well known author-illustrator couple, of course, and Abraham Lincoln won a Caldecott Medal in 1940.  What’s not to love about this book?  It begins with Lincoln’s birth and covers major events in his life up through the end of the Civil War.  I like that it includes a few fun anecdotes, like Lincoln playing a joke on his stepmother by holding a little boy upside down to put footprints on the ceiling after the new Mrs. Lincoln told tall Abe to keep his head clean so she wouldn’t have to clean spots off her ceiling.  This book captures the spirit of Lincoln very well, both in its story line and its illustrations.  It deals forthrightly with the issue of slavery (although since it was published in 1939 it does use the term Negro, which might be considered objectionable by some), but it does not mention that Lincoln was assassinated.  This is an excellent, longer picture book that does justice to the Great Emancipator.    

Stand Tall, Abraham Lincoln by Judith St. George is a picture book disguised as a chapter book.  🙂  Actually, it’s the sort of chapter book that works very well for children with short attention spans, since each chapter is around five pages long, and each page is only about half-full of text.  The illustrations in this book, done up in an expressive and cartoonish style by Matt Faulkner, are large, colorful, and usually bleed across both pages of a two-page spread.  This book covers only Lincoln’s early life, so the focus is on the hardships he faced and how he overcame them.  This book is one of a four part series called “Turning Point Books.”  Each one is about one of our presidents; you can see all the titles here on her website.    

Abe Lincoln Remembers by Ann Turner is written from Abraham Lincoln’s perspective, as if he were thinking back over his life on the night of his assassination.  According to the author’s note, this is not so much as storybook as  it is a “poetic narrative” for which “some events have been compressed.”  I like this one a lot.  The writing is poetic–

Sometimes I went to school, but

I don’t suppose those days would add up

to much more than a year.

I’d fold up my legs like an umbrella

and sit quiet at the back of the schoolroom,

gulping down learning like water.

The illustrator attribution on the cover indicates that this illustrations are paintings by Wendell Minor.  It is obvious that he took his subject seriously, and of all the books I’m reviewing here, these illustrations are the most realistic in terms of what Lincoln really looked like.  This book doesn’t provide a lot of details, but it really captures the spirit of Lincoln and what he accomplished.

Last we have Abraham Lincoln by Amy L. Cohn and Suzy Schmidt.  This one is a lot of fun but packs a punch in the end.  It’s written in a folksy, storytelling voice that is fun to read aloud:

Abraham read about Aesop’s animals and Aladdin’s lamp and Robinson Crusoe’s shipwreck.  He read about George Washington, our first president.  He read while the plow horse rested.  He read while he ate his lunch.  Late at night, he leaned toward the dying life of the fire with a book in his hand.  “My friend’s the one who has a book I ain’t read yet,” he said, and he’d walk miles for the chance to borrow something new.

David A. Johnson’s illustrations are both muted and expressive, and I love the full-page rendering of the Lincoln Memorial that ends the book.  This book is the only one of the four that addresses Lincoln’s assassination.  As I mentioned before, the ending of this one is quite emotional, at least to me (but I’m a softy, anyway). 

Really, you can’t go wrong with any of these titles.  If these aren’t enough, there’s also Thanksgiving in the White House, which I wrote about in this post.  Alice @ Supratentorial also recommends quite a few Presidents’ Day selections, several of which are about Abraham Lincoln.

Share your family’s latest read aloud by leaving a link to your blog post in the comments, and come back tomorrow for a list of links!

Happy Read Aloud Thursday!

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