As summer approaches, our team is looking forward to diving into some summer reading, and we wondered what was on your list, too. We’d love to share ideas about great books for history instructors, to hear your lists and/or your thoughts on or reviews of the books you’re currently reading.
On my list:
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
What’s on yours?
National Museum of American History
I just recently finished "Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. I've heard they've cast Leonardo DiCaprio as H.H. Holmes. That should be an amazing film. The book is an amazing read.
I'm getting ready to start "The Freedoms we Lost: Consent and Resistance in Revolutionary America," by one of our curators, Barbara Clark Smith.
Our family has decided to do a no electronics night every Wednesday all summer long. We plan to take turns reading aloud. Our first book is "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer," by Mark Twain. I'd be grateful to hear others' suggestions on great read alouds. My daughter is 12.
Happy Summer Reading Everyone!
I read Devil in the White City several years ago and I thought it excellent. I would recommend as a read aloud:
St. John, L. (2007). The White Giraffe by L. St. John. It is wonderful book but does start off dark with the parents dying in a fire in England. It is really a fascinating story. The main character, a girl around 12, ends up moving to Africa with her Grandmother. It is full of adventure.
I have "Devil in the White City" laying on my coffee table to read. Thanks for the tip, I will definitely pick it up and read. I have mainly been reading anything by James Patterson, something that was totally different from the usual and also the book "In Pursuit of Happiness" by Perry Good. I highly recommend this book.The book tells you how to become happy to become a better educator. Loved it.
I just finished Devil in the White City last week!! Compelling!! I was expecting a more dark and sinister version of these events and that didn't materialize for me...which is good...because I don't do "scary"! :-) But the writing was WONDERFUL!! It would at times read like an architectural history textbook, but in a good way that I couldn't put down...and I found myself grabbing a highlighter to note some of the beautiful descriptive phrases. While I can't use this book w/ my curriculum or my age group, I plan to share these phrases to demonstrate really wonderful descriptive writing! Highly recommend!
One book I would recommen is Battle Cry of Freedom, by James McPherson. It's been a while since I read it, but it provides an excellent overview of the military and political antecedents and the economic and sociological ingredients that forced the Union to enter into a war that would change forever the face of democracy.
Another book on the Civil War, The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, provides a fictionalized account of the battle of Gettysburg. Both of these books were winners of Pulitzer prizes.
One book I'd like to pick up and read is Galileo's Daughter, by Dava Sobel. It's supposed to be a great book.
Talking about the Civil War, I totally agree with The Killer Angles, great book. For true fun, and excellent historical background, try Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. He has taken historical facts(yes, I even had to look some up just to make sure) and created a fun book to read. One of the most creative historical fiction books I have ever read. I would also recommend Chains and Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson good middle school reads about the American Revolution and slavery.
After several moments of trepidation over my non-impressive book list, I figure I'm paving the way for responses of any kind (fiction or nonfiction) and any reading level.
The first thing I'm planning to read this summer is (at least the last few books in) the Harry Potter series because I am far too excited about the movie coming out.
I'm also hoping to start reading more of the Newbery winners. Has anyone read Moon over Manifest?
I figure summer is a good time to "vacation" from professionally-relevant books!
Wow, you guys make a list? That's way too organized for me. I usually start reading whatever I find lying around the house unread, or maybe re-read something, or stumble into a bookstore/used book sale/library and stumble out with too many books.
My wife said that everytime I bring a new book into the house, I should take one out. I asked her which ones of hers she wanted me to get rid of.
Right now I'm reading Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz. If you're a dog person, I recommend it.
I read Eudora Welty's The Optimist's Daughter in a single sitting last night. I love when I find a book that's so compelling I put everything else aside!
I have had the book While the World Watched by Carolyn Maull McKinstry on my nightstand for a while and hope to get to it soon. I have NMAH to thank for reviving an interest in learning more abouto the Civil Rights Movement!
I just finished reading Murder at the PTA, the first in a new series of mysteries by Laura Alden. It's an easy, delightful read and so appropriate for teachers and parents who are familiar with the workings of a school PTA. This novel was nominated for the Agatha Award. The second book in the series, Foul Play at the PTA, is scheduled for release July 5, 2011. To read more about her work, visit Alden's website at http://www.lauraalden.com/.
I definitely want to continue reading this series of mysteries. As an educator, I can relate to what Alden says about her entertaining characters and the community she has created in the town of Rynwood, Wisconsin.
As a follow up, the New York Times just did a short survey to find out what teachers and students are reading this summer--there are lots more great ideas here: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/17/what-youre-reading-this-summer-the-results-of-our-survey/
I am reading the list of Massachusetts Children's Book Award List. You can find the list on the Salem State College website;
I am an Elementary Library Teacher and I participate in the program with fourth and fifth grade students.
I would recommend these adult books that I have recently read:
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This is not the kind of book that I generally read. I do not like war stories but it a compeling story.
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. It was excellent. It was from the beginning of 1900's to right before World War I in Europe. I also read The Given Day by Dennis Lahane which was about the same time period but in set in the Boston. It interesting to see the two perspectives of the time period.
After I read the Fall of Giants, I wanted to read more by Follett. If you want a really long novel, read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It will become the best book that you ever read. After you are finished you can rent the the movie that was made for TV from Blockbuster or the rental company. The movie was so true to the book. Be prepared. When you see how long it is, you will be frightened but you are not going to be able to put it down.
Kathy, Unbroken is on my longer list, too! I've heard great things and just loved Seabiscuit and think Laura Hillenbrand is really remarkable, so I'm looking forward to that at some point.
Bill, thanks for that list! I do love a classic, and have read several of those but look forward to diving into others on the list sometime in the future. For another page-turning classic, I'd recommend The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.
I thought this group might enjoy the following quote from the first book on my reading list, Jill Lepore's The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle Over American History:
"History is an endlessly interesting argument where evidence is everything and storytelling is everything else. That John Adams and Mercy Otis Warren didn't see eye to eye on Adams's contribution to American independence might not seem of any great consequence, but it's a good illustration of how two people--even two people who lived through it--can read the same evidence differently. The telling of history is, by is very nature, controversial, contentious, and contested; it advances by debate. This doesn't make history squishy, vague, and irrelevant. It makes it picky, demanding, and vital." (pg. 47)
Minus the sentence about Adams and Warren specifically (or with a little more context), this might be a useful quote to share with your history students. I adore Jill Lepore!