Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ode to Thomas Jefferson....

"This ball of liberty, I believe most piously, is now so well in motion that it will roll round the globe." 
                                                                                                                                                      - Thomas Jefferson, 1795

I was very fascinated by the life of Thomas Jefferson. Over two hundred years later, I can't help but wonder what he would think of liberty in America today.  Without a doubt, Jefferson's accomplishments helped to make America great, from building Monticello to serving as a member of the Continental Congress, authoring the Declaration of Independence, serving as Governor of Virginia, ambassador to France, U.S. Secretary of State, Vice President of the U.S., President of the U.S., purchasing the Louisiana Territory from France, and opening the University of Virginia.  Did you know Jefferson was also an inventor?  This soft spoken man had many talents.  He believed strongly in the power of eduction and freedom.  He fought for America's future on many fronts.  Jefferson also struggled with the idea of slavery, the loss of his wife and most of his children.  I found Thomas Jefferson to be quite an amazing man! 

While studying the life of Thomas Jefferson with elementary children, some books I recommend are:

Thomas Jefferson: A Picture Book Biography by James Cross Giblin - This beautifully illustrated picture book tells the story of Thomas Jefferson from his earliest memory at age three to his death.  The book shows Jefferson's character and highlights achievements throughout his life.  The end pages offer a timeline of Jefferson's life, quotes from his writings, and a two page tour of Monticello. 

The Story of the Declaration of Independence and The Story of Monticello both by Norman Richards - The Cornerstones of Freedom series give a great factual overview of events in an easy to read form.  I believe they were originally written for older students, but at around 30 pages with a smattering of images, the larger text is suitable as a read aloud for younger children.  I have found them to be historically accurate and the kids love them. 

Journey to Monticello by James Knight - We've read many of Knight's Adventures in Colonial America series this year.  In this series, you can explore the world as it once was, live in a colonial village, build a fort at Jamestown, and fight for independence during the Revolutionary War.  Featuring finely detailed illustrations and exciting stories in the life and times of Colonial America, these books bring history to life.  Other titles in the series are....
  • Blue Feather's Vision: The Dawn of Colonial America
  • Jamestown: New World Adventure
  • Sailing to America: Colonists at Sea
  • The Village: Life in Colonial Times
  • The Farm: Life in Colonial Pennsylvania
  • Boston Tea Party: Rebellion in the Colonies
  • Salem Days: Life in a Colonial Seaport
  • Journey to Monticello: Traveling in Colonial Times
  • Seventh and Walnut: Life in Colonial Philadelphia
  • The Winter at Valley Forge: Survival and Victory
The Hatmaker's Sign: A Story by Benjamin Franklin retold by Candace Flemming - This delightful Five in a Row picture book told in parable form is based on a true-life conversation between Ben Franklin and his friend Thomas Jefferson.  After drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson's pride is hurt when members of the Continental Congress want to change his words and an argument ensues.  Franklin consoles  Jefferson with this tale of a hat maker who tries to create the perfect sign for his shop.  However, on his way to the sign maker's shop, everyone he encounters finds fault with his sign until he comes up with the perfect solution.  The Hatmaker's Sign is a wonderful story!

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