From the arrival of the first English Pilgrims to the election of the first African American president, America’s history is full of high drama, memorable characters, and great stories.
This year, introduce your young readers to great moments in America’s past with five great books for the Fourth of July.
William Bradford: Plymouth’s Faithful Pilgrim
By Gary D. Schmidt
Near starvation. Scurvy, tuberculosis, and pneumonia. Bitter cold. Daily deaths. This was the Pilgrims’ first winter in Plymouth Colony. But thanks in large part to William Bradford, the colonists survived–and went on to celebrate the following year what we call Thanksgiving.
William Bradford came to the New World with the other Pilgrims in search of religious freedom. With great faith in God and in his own abilities, he established a stable colony, doing his best to be just and fair to his fellow colonists as well as to the Native Americans living in the area. After he became governor of the colony, he was reelected more than thirty times.
Filled with maps, paintings, and historical illustrations, this fascinating biography by Gary Schmidt introduces readers to the dramatic story of the founder of Plymouth Colony.
Read The First Thanksgiving, an excerpt from the book, here on Eerdlings.
Friends of Liberty
By Beatrice Gormley
It’s 1773, and Boston is in political turmoil. As tension rises between England and the colonies, lines are being drawn between the Loyalists and the Patriots. And Sally Gifford, a shoemaker’s daughter, finds herself on the opposite side from her best friend Kitty Lawton, the daughter of a wealthy merchant.
Sally is torn between her cherished friendship and her loyalties to her own family and community in their fight for freedom. As the conflict continues to grow more charged in the weeks leading up to the Boston Tea Party, Sally finds within herself a bravery she didn’t know she had, and ultimately takes a stand for what she comes to find is most important.
Read more about this middle grade novel in a blog post by the author on Eerdlings.
Attack of the Turtle
By Drew Carlson
It’s 1776, and the Revolutionary War is raging. Fourteen-year-old Nathan Wade is a patriot, but he’s too young to join the fight. Then his cousin David Bushnell comes to town with a secret. David has designed a water machine that can explode bombs underwater. And his mission is to launch it against the British warships in New York harbor.
Nate reluctantly agrees to help David build the weapon of war — dubbed the American Turtle. Although he’s terrified of water and worried about getting caught, when unlikely circumstances put Nate at the center of the action, he must face the murky waters of his fears head-on.
Based on actual historical events, this adventure story captures the drama of the first submarine used in naval warfare and the struggles of a teenager overcoming self-doubt.
The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch
Written by Chris Barton
Illustrated by Don Tate
John Roy Lynch spent most of his childhood as a slave in Mississippi, but all of that changed with the Emancipation Proclamation. Suddenly people like John Roy could have paying jobs and attend school. While many people in the South were unhappy with the social change, John Roy thrived in the new era. He was appointed to serve as justice of the peace and was eventually elected into the United States Congress.
This biography, with its informative backmatter and splendid illustrations, gives readers an in-depth look at the Reconstruction period through the life of one of the first African-American congressmen.
The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Tim Ladwig
Since the earliest days of slavery, African Americans have called on their religious faith in the struggle against oppression.
In this book the Beatitudes — from Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount — form the backdrop for Carole Boston Weatherford’s powerful free-verse poem that traces the African American journey from slavery to civil rights.
Tim Ladwig’s stirring illustrations showcase a panorama of heroes in this struggle, from the slaves shackled in the hold of a ship to the first African American president taking his oath of office on the steps of the United States Capitol.
Readers of all ages will find this a book to return to again and again for encouragement and inspiration.
Read more from the author of this book on Eerdlings, or watch the book trailer below.