Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek

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Introduction and Summary

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek is a great children’s  historical fiction written by Deborah Hopkinson and illustrated by John Hendrix.  Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek is, “an old tale of two boys who got themselves into more trouble than bear cubs in a candy store” as the author puts it.   Austin Gollaher, is Abraham Lincoln’s childhood friend who saved young Lincoln’s life a long time ago “on the other side of yesterday” and who the history books forgot.  It is a story about childhood adventure, friendship, helping others and the important lesson of how our actions effect others.  This book is amazingly creative both in it’s story and it’s illustrations.  Through the book’s creativity the reader can really start to hear, see and feel the story.  Near the end, the pages tell us how the Lincoln’s move from Kentucky, (where the boys had their adventures), to Indiana and how Abe Lincoln goes on to the White House.   Here the moral of the story really comes to life when the author asks us to,”Remember Austin Gollaher, because what we do matters, even if we don’t end up in history books.  Yes, let’s remember Austin Gollaher, who, one day long ago, when no one else was there to see, saved Abe Lincoln’s life.  And without Abraham Lincoln, where would we be?”

Curriculum Connections

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek could be used creatively during 1st grade civics instruction when discussing helping others, taking responsibility, valuing honesty and truthfulness, recognizing the purpose of rules and practicing self control.  The book demonstrates these values in a way that kids can really connect with even though the events took place so long ago. (Va. SOL 1.10)

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek could also be used as a companion source when teaching 2nd graders about the importance of Americans who improved the lives of others and learning to identify such Americans as Abraham Lincoln. (Va. SOL 2.11)  The author really provides a good talking point at the end when she asks, “Without Abraham Lincoln, where would we be?”

Additional Resources

General Information

 Book:  Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek
Author:  Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrator:  John Hendrix
Publisher:  Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books
Publication Date:  2008
Pages:  34
Grade Range:  1-3
ISBN:  9780375937682