Teaching Civics with Children’s Literature: Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln


 Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln  by Doreen Rappaport is a non-fiction picture book that walks vividly, with illustrations by Kadir Nelson, through the life of the 16th president of the United States. It begins with his childhood in the wilderness of Kentucky and continues to show that he moved to the free state Indiana. Abraham was a boy who loved to read and craved to be told stories by his father. As he grew older he made moves southward on the Mississippi River where he was able to see the wickedness of slavery in action. As a young man he worked quite a few jobs and read many books. He viewed education as the most important “subject which we as people can be engaged in.” As he continued to learn he expressed an interest in becoming a lawyer so he studied hard and gave public speeches. The first time he ran for Illinois state legislature he lost the election but he was persistent and won the second time he ran. When he was elected he gave speeches to bring the evilness of slavery to people’s attention. He lost the election for the position of senator, however he again persistent and ran for President of the United States of America. The book ends with the important events of the Civil War and discusses the freeing of the slaves.

Curriculum Connections: 

Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln   is a great resource for teaching about Abraham Lincoln because it explains his contributions to American history in an understandable way. (3.11b) The information in the book correlates mostly with the 3rd grade curriculum for civics in Virginia as it covers topics like individual rights to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and equality under the law. (3.11a)  Talking about slavery and the political matters behind their attaining freedom will teach students what it meant to Abraham Lincoln and the majority of the American people. Lincoln was civically engaged and was persistent in his dreams which can be an example of taking part in your government. (3.11d) Overall, with the use of this book, students will be able to explain the guiding principles of a republican form of government and to recogize the contributions of our 16th President. (3.11)

Additional Resources: 

Educational Crossword puzzle– This could be a creative way to do a summative assessment.

Creating Timeline– Lesson plan with great worksheets that guide students in making a timeline of Lincoln’s life.

To Tell the Truth: Abraham Lincoln–  a gameshow to play in class that can be used as a formative assessment tool.

General Information:

Book:  Abe's Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
Doreen Rappaport
Kadir Nelson
Hyperion Books for Children
Publication Date:
48 pages
Grade Range:
2nd- 4th grade

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