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The Great Search for an American History Book

I’m not really sure why it is so difficult to find an American history book which is a engaging, non-offensive and developmentally appropriate. Searching for this book (or books) takes much time and is sometimes frustrating.

The Ideal American History Book(s)

a good living book with a narrative and captivating writing style

American history

designed for elementary students

written with a social/biographical emphasis

available and accessible -so if OOP it should not be too expensive or it should be available in the public domain

edited to remove offensive and inappropriate language/stereotypes

not an overly long book (or books put together) but with good coverage

not representative of typical modern books with busy sidebars and distracting images


bonus feature: quality maps

bonus feature: quality illustrations

bonus feature: includes modern history rather than stopping somewhere in the early 1900s

After looking at many, many different books, I’ve concluded that I will ultimately have 1 of 3 options in trying to meet all of the above listed criteria. I will need to either edit and reformat a book(s) in the public domain; I will need to make the best of a modern book(s) or I will need to string together a set of series of picture books and chapter books and arrange them in chronological order, essentially covering all major topics without the use of a single comprehensive book.

Two books among the many that I’ve considered were recently republished. This gave me hope- perhaps they could be looked at anew. A Child’s First Book of American History by Earl Schenck Miers was republished by Beautiful Feet Books and Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans by Edward Eggleston was republished by Memoria Press. Both books in their original form are available in the public domain, so I had already studied them and knew that I could not use them as they were. Since I do not own either one of these new editions and my library system did not have them for me to borrow, I was concerned about their appropriateness. Had they been updated? I contacted both companies and they each replied that their edition had been edited so that offensive language was removed. This allows me to consider them more closely now.

I’ve bookmarked a number of public domain books that might work if they were edited and reformatted, which I still may decide to do.

I also have a number of picture books and chapter books which I would arrange chronologically, thus creating the needed coverage for an introductory study of American history.

Books That I’ve Decided Against and Why I’ve Decided Against Them

The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and The Great Republic –While this book was republished in a combined and edited edition by Memoria Press, they are too advanced for the lower elementary ages for which I’m looking to include.

All of the books by Genevieve Foster –these also are too advanced for the lower elementary ages.

America is Born and the sequels by Gerald Johnson –these are OOP and too expensive to purchase at this time.

American History Stories (4 books series) by Mara Pratt –these have not been edited to remove offensive language.

The Landmark History of the American People by Daniel Boorstin –this is too advanced for the lower elementary ages. This book is used in the upper elementary years at this time.

America First by Lawton Evans –this has not been edited to remove offensive language.

Makers of the Americas by Marion Lansing and Pioneer Children of America by Caroline Dwight Emerson from the History on the March series –these books looks great, but they are OOP and very difficult to find for purchase. They are also not accessible in the public domain.

This Country of Ours by H. E. Marshall –this book reads well and has excellent coverage, but it has not edited to remove offensive language.

If you have any suggestions for a great book that fits all or most of the previously listed components, then please feel free to share its title with me and I would happily look further into it.

Please Note: the above list of books did not meet the needs of this curriculum at this time. I invest a great deal of time and effort into writing the guides for this curriculum, so it is essential that I make my choices with great deliberation. While I must consider all of the above components, since I'm writing for a much broader audience, your family may not need to do this. If any of these books are preferred by your family, then definitely feel free to substitute it.

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