Teaching History With Children’s Literature: …If You Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln

14614384.JPG

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to grow up with one of America’s greatest leaders?  The book, If You Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln by Ann McGovern explores questions like these and so many others in this creative book about Abraham Lincoln’s life. The thought provoking questions that begin each section of the book, involve students in the text and are a great way to facilitate class discussion. McGovern does an exceptional job in providing factual information in a simple yet conscious manner, describing what Abraham Lincoln’s life was like. The book is divided into 30 questions that all describe the environment, jobs, buildings and schooling were like in that time period. The book chronologically examines the frontier of Kentucky and Indiana where Lincoln was a young boy then onto New Salem and Springfield, Illinois where he spent almost twenty five years until he finally moved to Washington D.C. to serve as President of the United States. As Lincoln grows up, the reader can see the advancements in transportation, communication, machinery and standards of living:

When Lincoln was a boy, he had never heard of rubber balls and balloons. Now we could buy these toys for his sons. More and more farmers were buying new machines to make their work easier. One man running a machine could do as much work as ten men (Page 72).

This shows the changes that were happening while the future President Lincoln was growing up. Other questions like would you work hard on the frontier? or what kind of school would you go to? will give the insight about conditions of the 1800s all the way to the mid-1860s when Lincoln was elected President. The mention of specific dates are another strong point of the book that can help students conceptualize on a time-line what was happening. Overall, the books provides an interesting way to introduce the life of an important American leader and what qualities contributed to him being such a prominent figure in our history.

Curriculum Connections
If I Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln
would be a great book to introduce your class to the story of an American leader. One could use this book to begin discussion of his contributions to our nation when he served as President of the United States. In Virginia, this would directly relate to the History Standards of Learning 1.2 where the student is responsible for describing American leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and George Washington’s contributions to our country and how their story of how they came into a position of influence. This book also would lend itself to constructing a sequenced, picture timeline of Abraham Lincoln’s life (History 1.1 SOL).

Additional Activities 

Book: If You Grew Up With Abraham Lincoln
Author: Ann McGovern
Illustrator: George Ulrich
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 1976
Pages: 80 pages
Grades: 1-3
ISBN: 590451545