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READALICIOUS! Books for Tweens

The "Rock Star" President

At the beginning of every school year, one of my student survey questions is:

“If you could talk to any person from history, who would it be? What three questions would you ask?”

Out of 64 students in my 2013 class, 13 chose Abe Lincoln—more than any other historic figure, including good old George Washington (tied for runner-up, with eight votes).

Why is Lincoln such a history rock star for tweens?

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Hooked on History: Going for the Small Story

I am a die-hard history fan—gobbling up nonfiction, narrative nonfiction, and historical fiction alike. Other than literature, it’s my favorite subject to teach, and I try hard to rub some of that passion off on my students.

Jim Murphy's An American Plague (a Newbery Honor Book! a Sibert award winner! a National Book Award finalist!) is an excellent nonfiction book that deserves all those accolades. It's about the deadly yellow fever epidemic of 1793 that struck Philadelphia, then the capitol city of the new United States of America.

I loved it and planned to use it to talk about current events and the science of staying healthy (the H1N1 flu epidemic was in full scare). But, I was having trouble getting kids to read it.

What they told me was, “We want to read a story.” How could I argue? They wanted to read!!!

Then, a student clued me in to a "y'gotta-read-this" book on the same historic epidemic.

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