Monday, December 28, 2009

What to Read When You're Almost Ten: The History Edition

One’s History reading hasn’t kept pace with his fiction reading, but what can? Here is a list of what has occupied him this summer and fall:

Victorian England: Cultures from the Past – well-organized, sez One.

American West: the Struggle for the Plains 1840-1895 – also well put-together.

Two Sterling biographies: Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. We love this series, written by a host of authors and featuring so many great figures from American history. More titles keep appearing, which makes me more than happy.

Immigrant Kids

A re-read of Danger in the Desert – a huge favorite. One did his explorers' project this fall at school on Roy Chapman Andrews, who he refers to in conversation as “Roy”. They're friends.

Russia: Revolution and Counter-Revolution: he’s in the middle of this now, drowning in Russian names as he falls asleep. Maybe some of it is sinking in, maybe not.

And two dislikes:

Adventures in the West – each story was more boring than the last.

The Oregon Trail, by Francis Parkman – just too thick and One too young, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself for now. I really don’t want to try it myself and find out otherwise.

On deck:

The Spanish American War by Georgene Poulakidas.

The Mexican Revolution – the last of a four-book series on the history of Mexico, starting with Cortes. One rates these books as some of his favorite history books of all time.

Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun

The Road from Home, about the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Turks.

Two more Sterling biographies: Marie Curie and Thomas Edison

Carry a Big Stick and Then Darkness Fled. We’re trying a new series of biographies, the Leaders in Action series; the former is on Teddy Roosevelt and the latter on Booker T. Washington.

Pasteur’s Fight against Microbes

The Usborne Introduction to the First World War – a good general overview. We always like Usborne history and science books, although the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia is even better.

Dead Reckoning: Great Adventure Writing from the Golden Age of Exploration, 1800-1900 – he started this once and put it down. It might be too thick for him right now, not in terms of ounces but in the weigh (and dullness) of the subject matter. We'll see.

Lost City of the Incas – this is Hiram Bingham’s book about finding Machu Picchu. It’s a “try” for One – he wants to read about Bingham desperately, being an admirer of all things daring and heroic – but we’re not sure how dense the book will be. Another thing to try and see about.

When he's through with all of these, I have three groups of books waiting for him in my Wish List: one on the Thirties, one on World War II, and one on the post-war modern era. He'll be well into fifth grade when he finishes them all, but then we can go back to the beginning and start over - just like the book says!

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