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Nose in a Book: 12 Kid Reads Exploring U.S. History and Patriotism

Published on: May 22, 2013

FireboatFireboat by Maira Kalman

The John J. Harvey fireboat was the largest, fastest, shiniest fireboat of its time, but by 1995, New York City didn't need old fireboats anymore. So the Harvey retired, until a group of friends decided to save it from the scrap heap. Then, one sunny September day in 2001, something so horrible happened that the whole world shook. And a call came from the fire department, asking if the Harvey could battle the roaring flames. In this inspiring true story, author Maira Kalman brings a New York icon to life and helps children find inspiration amid sadness.

Age recommendation: 5 and up

Next: The Flag Maker


The Flag MakerThe Flag Maker by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

In lyrical prose, this book tells the story of the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words that became the national anthem of the United States. Here is a story of the early days of this flag as seen through the eyes of young Caroline Pickersgill, the daughter of an important flag maker, Mary Pickersgill, and the granddaughter of a flag maker for General George Washington’s Continental Army. It is also a story about how a symbol can motivate action and emotion, bring communities together, and inspire courage and hope.

Age recommendation: 6 and up

Next: H is for Honor

H is for HonorH is for Honor: A Millitary Family Alphabet by Devin Scillian 

Written by the son of a career officer, this book explores the branches of the Armed Services and speaks from the heart about the honor, privileges and sacrifices of military families everywhere. Children will discover why drill sergeants have to be so tough, what it means to be patriotic and why we need Special Forces such as the Navy SEALS, the Green Berets and the Army Rangers. H is for Honor also explains why the annual Army/Navy football game is more than just a game, how much letters from home mean to soldiers, how often military families have to move and what life on base is like.

Age recommendation: 6 and up

Next: America's White Table

 America's White TableAmerica’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven

The White Table is set in many mess halls as a symbol for and remembrance to service members fallen, missing, or held captive in the line of duty. Solitary and solemn, it is the table where no one will ever sit. As a special gift to her Uncle John, Katie and her sisters are asked to help set the white table for dinner. As their mother explains the significance of each item placed on the table Katie comes to understand and appreciate the depth of sacrifice that her uncle, and each member of the Armed Forces and their families, may be called to give.

Age recommendation: 6 and up

Next: The Wall

The Wall The Wall (Reading Rainbow Books) by Eve Bunting

A young boy travels to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial with his father to seek out his grandfather's name. The well-matched text and illustrations are soft but stirring, and this gentle story is a way to introduce children to the topics of the Vietnam War, and how military service and duty fit into our nation's history and values. Respectfully communicates a sense of honor and timeless respect.

Age recommendation: 4–8

Next: Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee

Sky HIghSky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee: by Marissa Moss

Maggie dreamed of flying, just like her favorite pilot, Amelia Earhart. She told her brothers and sisters stories of flying across oceans and deserts, and all around the world. But in the 1920s and 1930s, few girls took to the sky. Then, when Maggie grew up, her whole world changed overnight: the United States entered World War II, and everyone in her family was affected. Maggie knew that this was the time to support her country. And it was her chance to fly. Young Maggie Gee became one of only two Chinese American Women Airforce Service Pilots to serve in WWII.

Age recommendation: 5 and up

Next: World War II for Kids

World War IIWorld War II/The Civil War/The American Revolution with activities for kids Kindle by Richard Panchyk

These books are packed with information that kids will find fascinating and paired with fun digital activities great for car rides and boring summer days. The World War II book for example covers from Hitler's rise to power in 1933 to the surrender of the Japanese in 1945. Much more than an ordinary history book, it is filled with excerpts from actual wartime letters written to and by American and German troops, personal anecdotes from people who lived through the war in the United States, Germany, Britain, Russia, Hungary, and Japan, and gripping stories from Holocaust survivors — and all add a humanizing global perspective to the war. This collection of 21 activities shows kids how it felt to live through this monumental period in history. The series covers different conflicts in American history.

Age recommendation: grade 5 and up

Next: The Warrior's Heart

The Warrior's HeartThe Warrior's Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage by Eric Greitens

In this adaptation of his best-selling book, The Heart and the Fist, Greitens speaks directly to teen readers, interweaving memoir and intimate second-person narratives that ask the reader to put themselves in the shoes of himself and others. The book covers the author's evolution from average kid to globe-traveling humanitarian to warrior, training and serving with the most elite military outfit in the world: the Navy SEALs. Along the way, they’ll be asked to consider the power of choices, of making the decision each and every day to act with courage and compassion so that they grow to be tomorrow’s heroes.

Age recommendation: grade 8 and up

Next: World War II: An Interactive History Adventure

Talking to kids about September 11With Their Eyes: September 11th, a View From a High School at Ground Zero, edited by Annie Thomas

A compilation of moving "poem-monologues" by students of Stuyvesant High School, located four blocks from Ground Zero. Students began this creative project as a school production, interviewing fellow classmates, teachers, custodians, and cafeteria workers about what they say and felt the day of the terrorist attacks and afterward. What results is a moving account of tragedy through the eyes of teens that will help inform and empower other kids.

Age recommendation: grade 7 and up.

Next: World War II: An Interactive History Adventure

Interactive History Adventures for kids WWIIWorld War II: An Interactive History Adventure (A You Choose Books series) by Elizabeth Raum

This is one of a handful of historical conflict adventures in the  You Choose Book choose-your-own-adventure series. IN this title, readers will choose one of three main paths: joining the forces fighting the Germans in the Netherlands, signing up for the Canadian military, or serving with the American armed forces. An additional dozens of choices lead to 24 different endings. A realistic and educational exposure to the realities of conflict and war (the author doesn't avoid the true details): Many of the choices lead to "your" demise.

Age recommendation: 9 and up

Next: Heart of a Shepherd

Heart of a ShepherdHeart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry 

When Brother's dad is shipped off to Iraq, along with the rest of his reserve unit, Brother must help his grandparents keep the ranch going. He’s determined to maintain it just as his father left it, in the hope that doing so will ensure his father’s safe return. Young readers will learn that the hardships Brother faces will not only change the ranch, but also reveal his true calling.

Age recommendation: 8 and up

Next: I Am SEAL Team Six Warrior

I am a seal team six warriorI am a Seal Team Six Warrior: Memoirs of an American Soldier by Howard Wasdin and Stephen Templin

When the Navy sends their elite, they send the SEALs. When the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six — a secret unit made up of the finest soldiers in the country, if not the world. This book is the dramatic tale of how Howard Wasdin overcame a tough childhood to live his dream and enter the exciting and dangerous world of U.S. Navy SEALS and Special Forces snipers.

Age recommendation: middle grades and up

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