George Washington Carver by Tonya Bolden is a book that drew me in right away by its cover. Compared to the other biographies that I had access to, this one is bright and appealing and just makes me want to read it. I had put this book on reserve at the library when we first started studying Carver, but when we visited the museum at Tuskegee, I couldn’t resist buying it in the gift shop. This book is formatted very much like a fiction picture book, with huge photographs that take up whole pages, smaller photographs interspersed with text, and a clean and pleasing page design. It is written in what I’d consider an almost-conversational tone; I can imagine a very knowledgeable and friendly museum docent “talking” the information in this book and captivating her audience. According to its title page, this book was “Published in Association with The Field Museum, Chicago,” and I can definitely see the influence of a museum in the words and pictures of this excellent book. In fact, I’m afraid that my enthusiasm about this particular title was probably dampened a bit because we read it together just a few days after we visited the museum in Tuskegee and saw with our own two eyes many of the items pictured in the book. However, reading this book is definitely the next-best-thing to visiting the museum, and I give it a Highly Recommended. (Abrams, 2008)
I checked out a bunch of other books about Carver from the library, and I wanted to mention a couple of them here. The one we read cover-to-cover and actually used for narration and notebooking is George Washington Carver by Charles W. Carey, Jr. from the Journey to Freedom series. This volume divides Carver’s life into easily-digestible segments of maybe a half-dozen pages each, making it perfect for narrowing down selections for narrations.
The other title that I really, really liked but ultimately decided was a bit much for my early elementary students is The Ground-Breaking, Chance-Taking Life of George Washington Carver and Science and Invention in America by Cheryl Harness. Obviously, this book is much more detailed than what we needed, and it deals with the peripheral but important issues and events during Carver’s lifetime. The pen-and-ink drawings in this volume definitely add to its appeal! I will remember these Cheryl Harness Histories for when my girls get a little older. (Check out Cheryl Harness’ website and her blog for a little taste of her passion for history.)
Tomorrow I’m sharing more pictures from our trip to Tuskegee and the museum there, so be sure to come back!