Getting kids excited about history, as it turns out, was as easy as writing a genre-redefining, record-breaking Broadway show. (Now if only we could get Lin-Manual Miranda to lend his genius to algebra.) But even if your kid hasn’t caught Hamilton fever, President’s Day is a perfect excuse to raid your library or fill up your shopping cart with some history books. While President’s Day is nominally intended to honor all presidents, it was originally established to celebrate George Washington. Today, however, it’s mostly just a Federal holiday and long weekend before Memorial Day. It’s also one of those pesky holidays where some (but not all) non-government workplaces are closed, making it a day in February we often forget about.
While there aren’t parades, fireworks, or family dinners to plan, you may still have a kid or two to entertain over a long weekend. So why not host a story hour (or three)? Since President’s Day was initially established to commemorate our first president, we’ve rounded up 12 of the best books that bring early American history to life for kids of all ages.
And in case it’s been a while since you struggled through Johnny Tremaine in seventh-grade history, know that there are tons of great books out there these days that go beyond the oversimplified versions of U.S. history (you know, the ones that also happen to be almost all white and all male). Some are richly rendered historical fiction adults will want to borrow. Other books bring little-known facts to life. In other words: Everyone, regardless of their age, is likely to learn something from this lineup.
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