American History Reading List
America, the 1700's
Colonial Life & the Founding Fathers
For more good books on the 1770's, see our Reading List for the Revolutionary War.
Our not-to-miss historical fiction for 1770s — Colonial Life is Johnny Tremain. The Felicity book series in this era is written especially for girls.
The next section, 1770s — Founding Fathers, has many reading choices, but The Many Rides of Paul Revere shows us a whole new side to one of our American heroes, and is suitable for the older elementary (and up) student.
A Flag for Our Country by Eve Spencer; Alex Haley, Gen. Ed; illus. Mike Eagle. Steck Vaughn Co., 1993. E
The story of Betsy Ross that has been passed down by her family. Nicely done.
Betsy Ross: Patriot of Philadelphia by Judith St. George, illus. Sasha Meret. Henry Holt & Co., 1997. UE-JH
This chapter book tells the full story of Betsy Ross in a very readable style and extends beyond her sewing the first flag. The book starts with her marriage to John Ross and continues to tell of her life in Philadelphia in the middle of America's war for independence and surrounding events. Her life story is fascinating and allows you to glimpse colonial life in the 1770's in the telling. Black & white drawings are sprinkled throughout. Recommended.
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham, illus. John O'Hara Cosgrave II. Houghton Mifflin Co., ©1955/83. UE+
Newbery Medal. Set in a New England sailing community c. 1776, this is an amazing tale of a boy who rose up from humble beginnings to change the system of navigation for the ships of the world. Courage, honesty, bravery, and hard work are all portrayed in the life of Nathan Bowditch.
The Felicity Series (American Girl): Meet Felicity, Felicity Learns a Lesson, Felicity's Surprise, Happy Birthday, Felicity!, Felicity Saves the Day, and Changes for Felicity by Valerie Tripp. The Pleasant Co. 1991. E-JH
Six books based on the life of a fictional American girl in 1774, written especially for girls.
Welcome to Felicity's World, 1774: Growing Up in Colonial America (The American Girls Collection series). Pleasant Co. UE-JH
Expanding on the Felicity series, this book illustrates and explains many facets of the typical way of life of her time period and location.
The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin by James Cross Giblin, illus. Michael Dooling. Scholastic Press, 2000. E+
Very thorough in capturing important facts, yet including enough flair and illustrations to keep reader interest high. Additional notes in the back describe his inventions and his many quotes. Recommended!
America's Paul Revere by Esther Forbes, illus. Lynd Ward. UE
Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by his Good Mouse Amos by Robert Lawson. E-UE
Benjamin Franklin by Ingri & Edgar Parin D'Aulaire. E-UE
The D'Aulaires' books are richly illustrated, historically thorough, and entertaining.
George Washington by Cheryl Harness. National Geographic, 2000. E-UE
Well-illustrated picture book with longer paragraphs and a detailed text.
George Washington: A Picture Book Biography by James Cross Giblin, illus. Michael Dooling. Scholastic. UE+
Full color illustrations on every page enhance a well-told account of Washington's life.
James Madison and Dolly Madison and Their Times by Robert Quackenbush. Pippin Press, 1992. E-JH
Easy-to-read and thorough biography. Each 2-page spread includes a full of page of text with a full-page, 4-color, cartoon-style illustration.
The Many Rides Of Paul Revere by James Cross Giblin. Scholastic, 2007. E-JH
His famous "one if by land" ride was just the tip of the iceburg in Paul Revere's achievements and influence. Fascinating account not only of his life, but also events in and around the American Revolution. Illustrated with period artwork & photographs.
Picture Book of Ben Franklin (Picture Book Biographies) by David A. Adler, illus. John & Alexandra Wallner. Holiday House, 1990. E-UE
Ben Franklin was a multi-talented man, and his influence reached beyond his role in the American struggle for independence. Read about his writing, his inventions, and his efforts in Egnland & France to advance American inerests. Easy to understand for th eyounger child with illustrations on every page.
Those Rebels, John and Tom by Barbara Kerley, illus. Edwin Fotheringham. Scholastic, 2012. EU+
With a touch of amusement, this book contrasts 2 very different men, John Adams & Thomas Jefferson, each of whom contributed their unique talents to unite the 13 colonies in breaking away from England and creating a new nation. Illustrated with more humor, the book is entertaining without sacrificing historical content. A favorite!
The Revolutionary John Adams by Cheryl Harness. National Geographic, 2003. E-UE
In telling the life story of this amazing man, this book also does a great job explaining why and how America became an independent nation, and chronicles events during the first years of its foundation. Well illustrated and very detailed. Recommended.
Thomas Jefferson by Cheryl Harness. National Geographic, 2004. E-UE
Well illustrated picture book with longer paragraphs and a detailed text.
Thomas Jefferson: A Picture Book Biography by James Cross Giblin, illus. Michael Dooling. Scholastic Inc., 1994. UE+
Full color illustrations on every page enhance a well-told account of Jefferson's life.
Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? by Jean Fritz, illus. Trina Schart Hyman. Coward-McCann, 1976. UE+
Jean Fritz's sense of humor illuminates this fascinating description of John Hancock! By reading these 47 pages (with illustrations on every page), you will learn so much more about Mr. Hancock than the fact that he had the most flamboyant signature on the Declaration of Independence, and you will have fun doing so!
What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? by Jean Fritz.