Little Nippers Top 10
by Michelle Berg
When I was a child, I despised history! It wasn’t until I was in college that my perspective changed with the help of a brilliant professor who made history fun! He would literally jump on tables and reenact battles right in front of us. Since then, I have a deep love of history. Now, as a Mom of two, I wanted to extend this appreciation to my children with the help of a few great books:
10. Across the Blue Pacific: A World War II Story
9. The Gardener
Written by Louise Borden. Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker.
A young girl must deal with the cruel reality of war when her next door neighbor enlists and later becomes Missing in Action. This book does not go into detail about the attack on Pearl Harbor but insinuates that something significant happened. In this touching story, Molly, learns that war does not seem far away when someone you love is hurt or killed. It is a story about living and dealing with grief as well as learning about World War II.
Written by Sarah Stewart. Illustrated by David Small.8. Diary of a Drummer Boy
Sarah Stewart writes a kindhearted story of a charming young girl whose spirits aren’t easily dampened despite the onset of the Great Depression. Her love for gardening manages to occupy her thoughts and even elevate the morale of everyone around her. This story offers an uplifting and rousing account about a bleak time in American history.
Written by Marlene Targ Brill. Illustrated by Michael Garland.7. Araminta’s Paint Box
This book is based on the true story of a Drummer Boy that defended our country during the Civil War. Orion Howe, a boy not old enough to fight, yet received the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery under fire. This picture book written in the form of a diary gives vivid detail of life as a soldier and the reasons behind the fall of the Union.
Written by Karen Ackerman. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin.
In 1847, people began settling in California, as did Araminta’s family when her Dad was offered a position to become the towns’ first doctor. The journey westward from Boston was a long one. Along the way Araminta lost a very special paint box that somehow ends up in California as well. This book follows the different routes taken by both the paint box and Araminta’s family illustrating our nation’s westward movement beautifully.6. Potato: A Tale for the Great Depression
Written by Kate Lied. Illustrated by Lisa Campbell Ernst.5. The Man Who Walked Between the Towers
Written by a 12 year old girl, this tale of one families struggle during the Great Depression is an actual account of the authors own grandparents life during that time. Their story is inspiring and the simple, straightforward narrative brings an important part of American history accessible to young children.
Written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein.4. Pink and Say
Based on the true story of Philippe Petit, a young French aerialist, who walked, hopped and danced on a wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. This book does not attempt to explain the reasons behind why the towers are no longer standing; however, it provides a great starting point to introduce children to the memory of the World Trade Center and what happened on that terrible day.
Written and Illustrated by Patricia Polacco3. Dandelions
Patricia Polacco writes eloquently about the true story of her great-grandfather who after being wounded during the Civil War encountered another Union soldier that left a lasting impression. It is a deeply moving story that is not only about friendship and courage but about slavery and the harsh treatment of African Americans during that time. It will bring you to tears.
Written by Eve Bunting. Illustrated by Greg Shed.2. Washington is Burning
This is a tender and honest story of one family’s journey west and the emotional anguish they endured. Leaving the comfort of their home in Illinois, they traveled for weeks by wagon to the desolate Nebraska Territory where their nearest neighbor lived 3 hours away. Once they arrived, they had to plant crops, dig for water and build their own house as well as become accustomed to living away from their loved ones and everything they knew.
Written by Marty Rhodes Figley. Illustrated by Craig Orback.1. My First Martin Luther King Book
This book tells the tale of the British attack on Washington, DC during the War of 1812 from the perspective of First Lady Dolley Madison and Paul Jennings, a slave that lived in the White House. With simple clarity the author describes the courage and determination of these two people as they watched the battle at Bladensburg move closer to their home. In addition, it describes their attempt to save a portrait of George Washington that because of their fortitude, still hangs today.
Written by Dee Lillegard. Illustrated by Helen Endres.Honorable Mention. I have one more book to add that deserves attention: Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say. A poignant story of immigration illustrated with strikingly beautiful paintings.
Since my 8 year old is learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. at school, I was thrilled to find this book! This rhyming bibliography is perfect for children. It clarifies sensitive subjects with candid ease. Racism and civil rights are described along with Dr. King’s peaceful nature, strength and determination. “No one could stop him. He had a plan.” Lillegard writes, “He was that kind of boy. And that kind of man.” History told in rhyme; I can’t think of a better concept.
Michelle Berg is a Pre-School Teacher and author of children's book, Miss Mandy Manners. Please visit her website: www.littlenipperbooks.com