Teaching History With Children’s Literature: George Washington’s Teeth

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George Washington’s Teeth is a fun book written by Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora and illustrated by Brock Cole.  Chandra and Comora use poetry to explain the problems George Washington had with his teeth, they kept falling out! The book begins during the Revolutionary War when “British ships invaded every port in New York.”  (pg.8)  As George charges after the British soldiers, he feels something strange in his mouth, so he takes his handkerchief and spits out a tooth.  He fears his men would laugh at him if they saw the holes in his mouth from where his teeth used to be, so he sends a note to his dentist requesting his help when he returns home from leave.  The story goes on to explain how George Washington loses his teeth while he eats nuts, while he crosses the icy Delaware, during his cold winter stay at Valley Forge and even while he hid at Martha’s ball.  He did not even grin when he was elected President because he was afraid people would make fun of him.  This witty book reveals George Washington’s ingenuity because Washington ends up showing his dentist how to make false teeth.  The dentist used hippo tusk to carve a set of fake teeth for George Washington and Washington grinned ear to ear.

Here are a few excerpts from the book.

  • “George reached New York as British ships invaded every port.  Preparing for a fierce attack, his soldiers built a fort.” (pg. 7)
  • “Back at home George lost more teeth till he only had ten.  “Oh Martha dear,” George cried, “I fear I’ll never eat again.”.” (pg. 11)
  • “The dentist took strong hippo husk and carved a set to size- Each tooth secured with screws of gold that lit up George’s eyes.” (pg. 33)

Curriculum Connections:
George Washington’s Teeth
is an easy-read with wonderful illustrations to help students in  first grade learn some introductory information about the Revolutionary War and George Washington’s personal life . For first graders, students will demonstrate knowledge of the causes and results of the American Revolution by describing key events and the roles of key individuals in the American Revolution with emphasis on George Washington.  (VA SOL USI.6) 

Additional Resources

  • This American History website offers a biography of important aspects of and people in George Washington’s life.
  • This fun website for teachers and kids offers blank coloring pages of George Washington, The American Flag, the state of Virginia and other important symbols of Washington’s life.
  • The George Washington Picture Gallery shows 18  pictures of events in Washington’s life with captions underneath each one that briefly explain the significance of the picture.

Book: George Washington’s Teeth
Author: Deborah Chandra and Madeleine Comora
Illustrator:
Brock Cole
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: February 2003
Pages: 40 Pages
Grade Range: First Grade
ISBN: 978-0374325343