Grade Level Interest
M: Middle School (defined as grades 6-8).
S: Senior High (defined as grades 9-12).
A/YA: Adult-marketed book recommended for teens.
Mr. Lincoln’s High-Tech War by Thomas B. and Roger MacBride Allen.
Readers meet Lincoln as he exchanges vital telegraph messages with his generals in the field; we witness his inspection of new ship models at the Navy Yard; we view the president target-shooting with the designer of a new kind of rifle; and we follow Lincoln, the man of action, as he leads a daring raid to recapture Norfolk, VA. (M, S)
Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850 by Susan Bartoletti
In 1845, a disaster struck Ireland. Overnight, a mysterious blight attacked the potato crops, turning the potatoes black and destroying the only real food of nearly six million people. Over the next five years, the blight attacked again and again. These years are known today as the Great Irish Famine, a time when one million people died from starvation and disease and two million more fled their homeland. (M, S)
With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Vote by Anne Bausum
The long, arduous, and sometimes violent struggle for a woman’s right to vote is told in an engaging narrative. The roots of the movement as well as the other efforts it spawned are well told. (M, S)
Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals
Following the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling Brown v. Board of Education, Melba Beals was one of nine teenagers chosen to integrate Little Rock’s Central High School. Throughout her harrowing ordeal, Melba was taunted by her schoolmates and their parents, threatened by a lynch mob’s rope, attacked with lighted sticks of dynamite, and injured by acid sprayed in her eyes. But through it all, she acted with dignity and courage, and refused to back down. (A/YA)
Close to Shore: The Terrifying Shark Attacks of 1916 by Michael Capuzzo
During the summer before the United States entered World War I, when ocean swimming was just becoming popular, Americans were abruptly introduced to the terror of sharks. In July 1916 a lone Great White left its usual deep-ocean habitat and headed in the direction of the New Jersey shoreline. There, near the towns of Beach Haven and Spring Lake – and, incredibly, a farming community eleven miles inland – the most ferocious and unpredictable of predators began a deadly rampage: the first shark attacks on swimmers in U.S. history. (A/YA)
Getting Away with Murder: The True Story of the Emmett Till Case by Chris Crowe
The kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till is famous as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement. Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old Black teenager from Chicago, was visiting family in a small town in Mississippi during the summer of 1955. Likely showing off to friends, Emmett allegedly whistled at a white woman. Three days later his brutally beaten body was found floating in the Tallahatchie River. The extreme violence of the crime put a national spotlight on the Jim Crow ways of the South, and many Americans-Black and white-were further outraged at the speedy trial of the white murderers. (M, S)
The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P. T. Barnum by Candace Fleming
Known far and wide for his jumbo elephants, midgets, and three-ring circuses, here’s a complete and captivating look at the man behind the Greatest Show on Earth. Readers can visit Barnum’s American Museum; meet Tom Thumb, the miniature man (only 39 inches tall) and his tinier bride (32 inches); experience the thrill Barnum must have felt when, at age 60, he joined the circus; and discover Barnum’s legacy to the 19th century and beyond. (M)
Meltdown: A Race against Nuclear Disaster at Three Mile Island: A Reporter’s Story by Wilborn Hampton
Journalist Hampton gives an eyewitness account of the 1979 disaster at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, relating it to the bombing of Hiroshima and the Chernobyl power plant explosion. (M, S)
Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 by Charles C. Mann
Was the New World really new? Why were the Europeans successful? What ecological impact did Natives have on their surroundings? From the pre-Columbian genetic engineering of maize to the existence of pyramids older than the Egyptian variety, Mann’s answers to these questions represent current scholarly opinion and point the way toward future exploration and discovery. (M)
Years of Dust by Albert Marrin
Before global warming, there was dust. In the 1930s, dangerous black storms swept through the Great Plains. Created by drought and reckless farming, these lethal storms were part of an environmental, economic, and human catastrophe that changed the course of American history. In riveting, accessible prose, an acclaimed historian explains the causes behind the disaster and explores the Dust Bowl’s impact, from a rich cultural legacy to the visionary conservation that would finally offer hope to the Plains. (M)
An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy
In this gripping account, Murphy explores how yellow fever disrupted the federal government, divided the medical establishment, and destroyed the lives of thousands of Philadelphians. The 2004 Robert F. Sibert Medal winner and a Newbery Honor Book. (M)
Truce by Jim Murphy
On July 29th 1914, the world’s peace was shattered as the artillery of the Austria-Hungary Empire began shelling the troops of the country to its south. What followed was like a row of falling dominoes as one European country after another rushed into war. Soon most of Europe was fighting in this calamitous war that could have been avoided. This was, of course, the First World War. But who could have guessed that on December 25 the troops would openly defy their commanding officers by stopping the fighting and having a spontaneous celebration of Christmas with their “enemies”? (M)
Marching for Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don’t You Grow Weary by Elizabeth Partridge
Only 44 years ago in the U.S., Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was leading a fight to win blacks the right to vote. Ground zero for the movement became Selma, Alabama. Award-winning author Elizabeth Partridge leads you straight into the chaotic, passionate, and deadly three months of protests that culminated in the landmark march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Focusing on the courageous children who faced terrifying violence in order to march alongside King, this is an inspiring look at their fight for the vote. (M)
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone
What does it take to be an astronaut? Excellence at flying, courage, intelligence, resistance to stress, top physical shape — any checklist would include these. But when America created NASA in 1958, there was another unspoken rule: you had to be a man. Here is the tale of thirteen women who proved that they were not only as tough as the toughest man but also brave enough to challenge the government. They were blocked by prejudice, jealousy, and the scrawled note of one of the most powerful men in Washington. (M, S)
Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson
Based on rare archival material, obscure trial manuscripts, and interviews with relatives of the conspirators and the manhunters, CHASING LINCOLN’S KILLER is a fast-paced thriller about the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth: a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia. (M, S)
George Washington, Spymaster: How the Americans Outspied the British and Won the Revolutionary War by Allen B. Thomas.
Who knew our most famous Founding Father was a colonial James Bond? This book features Washington in a little known but incredibly important role as the mastermind behind an intricate network of Patriot spies during the Revolutionary War. (M)
Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland by Sally M. Walker
How did the colonists of Jamestown and Maryland live and die? Forensic anthropology provides an incredible array of answers. Scientists can look into a grave and determine the skeleton’s gender, age at time of death, nationality, and sometimes even economic standing within minutes. Laboratory studies can provide cause of death information. Once these details are known, some skeletons can even be matched with a name via the historical record. (M)