Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday – and in his honor we had a holiday bundle tonight: three books about the life of our sixteenth president. Of the three, the consensus favorite was “Abe Lincoln – the Boy Who Loved Books” by Kay Winters. The stories in each book overlapped each other to a certain extent, and all were full of anecdotes about “Honest Abe”. The thing that took the day for Ms. Winters’ storybook was the illustrations – which were quaint and colorful oil paintings in an old-fashioned style. It also had the biggest pages of our three books tonight, which made it easier to share the illustrations with everyone around the table.
Each selection this evening was geared toward a younger audience – with the focus on Abe’s childhood and formative years. Each emphasized the importance of books in his life, talked about how Abe was mostly self-taught (he only attended school for one year!), and how he was awakened as a young man to the evils of slavery. Our favorite book did not discuss the Civil War, although that subject was covered, however briefly, in our other two books. None mentioned his assassination by John Wilkes Booth, but all three stressed how he understood and harnessed the power of words to inspire people in his time, and still today.
The other two books this evening, while not favorites, are still worth checking out – and we will be reading them again:
- “I Am Abraham Lincoln” by Brad Meltzer is one of many biographies for children by this author. The book’s size makes it just right for smaller hands and the narrative is simple and direct. These facts along with illustrations – reminiscent of Calvin & Hobbes – which portray the subject as a small boy throughout may make this storybook particularly attractive to little ones…if they can get past Abe Lincoln presented as a toddler with a beard.
- “My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln” by Robert L. Bloch provides an account of many of the same events covered in tonight’s other storybooks, but the story is told from the point of view of a fictional best friend. It was a different sort of angle, and the idea of being best friends with a young Abe Lincoln may be compelling to some readers or listeners. We enjoyed the change of pace…and our little one has asked to read this particular book several times now.