In February this country celebrates President’s Day, along with George Washington’s and Abe Lincoln’s birthday. I thought I would pause and share a few of our favorite president books and resources along with some project ideas we have tried or discussed. We haven’t necessarily used them all this month but they are engaging items that my kids have purchased, checked out in the library or explored online. We have visited places like Mt. Vernon, Abe Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Washington DC and Williamsburg which has sparked curiosity in learning more about presidents. History for us is interactive and story-like so it makes sense that we enjoy nonfiction books over a history textbook. Who doesn’t? It is part of human nature to wonder who we are, where we came from, and who lived before us. Kids do not want memorize dates , battles and people (neither do adults). Instead they want to know the stories, the struggles, triumphs and even the humor of the people who have shaped our history.
Did you know George Washington never lived in the White House but spent over eight years searching for a location, designing and overseeing the building of this magnificent Presidential house? Former engineer Suzanne Slade tells the bold story of Washington’s dedication to designing the home for all future presidents–from holding a contest to the hardships encountered through out the long building process. She combines poetic verse with descriptive narration to captivate audiences young and old. The author’s note in the back contains three pages of information and resources, including a section on how the White House has changed with different presidents over the years. We have checked out this book twice and it is on my list to purchase for our collection.
Extension: The first time we checked out this book from the library my kids were so interested in the the design of the White House they had ideas of their own. My daughter wrote and drew her design if she were President. My son talked about what he would have in the White House if he were president and then designed his favorite room with Legos.
My daughter loves writing stories and poems . We looked at the authors’ poetic style and my daughter is currently creating her own rhyming story of a historical event.
I admit, I grabbed this book off the shelf of the library and presented it the kids because I had a hunch that they would find it interesting. The only negative about this book is that they have to share since we only checked out one copy! Full of photographs, quotes, and tidbits this book is fun to read and is sure to load your kids with trivia on living in the White House. Sure there are amazing perks such as your own bowling alley, scavenger hunts with your friends while your parents are at inauguration night, and a 6 foot Swiss chocolate bunny delivered to your house, but life as a White House kid is not always a walk in the park. It has been interesting reading and discussing the pros and cons of living in the most well-known mansion in the world. With titles such as “The Most Daring Stunts” and “The Family of Firsts” it is extremely difficult to put this book down. It also forces you to think “what would our family be like in the White House?”
Extension Idea: Chapter 4 has a pros and cons list of living in the White House as a kid. Before reading the list, your kids can brainstorm their own list and compare. They could also journal or write “would you want to be a White House kid? why or why not?”
George Did It by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain
We were very surprised to read this humorous tale about George Washington. Not only did he not want to be President, but he was also very nervous when it came to giving his speeches. This book reveals a very personal side to the first President of the United States.
Extension Idea: Think about a time when you wanted to do something but were nervous. How did you overcome your fear? What did you learn about yourself?
George vs George: The American Revolution as Seen From Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer
This book is unique because the author looks at the American Revolution from General George Washington’s point of view and King George’s point of view. It has been over a year since we read this book but it was an excellent discussion piece. My son loves studying history and he was into the American Revolution so I considered this a great find while vacationing in Williamsburg, VA.
You’re on Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt by Judith St. George
My kids fell in love with Teddy Roosevelt thanks to Robin Williams’ portrayal of him in the Night at the Museum movies. I found this book a couple of years ago at a library sale and they enjoyed reading it. St. George , a Caldecott Medal author, tells the tale of a young Teddy (“Teedie”) who started a natural science museum in attic with his siblings and also battled illnesses such as asthma in childhood. It is a very personal and fun look at this iconic president.
Extension Idea: Create your own museum—what would it be (science, art, history)? What items would you put in it? Lay out your “artifacts” with written descriptions. Give your family and friend a tour!
Barack Obama by Roberta Edwards
A New York Times bestseller , this book tells the tale of Barack Obama’s road to the White House and how he became the first African American president.
My kids have been a huge fan of the Magic Tree House series and nonfiction companion guides so of course they adored these two books. The nonfiction guide goes in to detail about where Lincoln grew up, how he became president and what his family was like.
Inside the White House: This find is a gem! This page has videos on different behind the scenes topics and our favorite is the videos with the White House curator. A must see if you are museum lovers like us!
There you have it! Some of our favorite resources related to U.S. presidents. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have! Reading and exploring history is a passion of ours and we truly hope you are inspired to have fun with history too! Are there any books or resources you would add to the list? Please leave your resources in the comments section. We are always looking for new books and ideas! Thank you!