I love when my children can learn something first hand. There is no substitute for seeing something and experiencing it for yourself! This summer I was very excited to take my son to Gettysburg, PA to see the battle fields and historical landmarks of the Battle of Gettysburg. Before we visited, we read quite a few books about the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg, and Abraham Lincoln. Below are three of the books we read. Even if you can’t make it to Gettysburg, these books can help your children learn more about this point in American history. In my next post, I will share how these books helped us understand what we saw when we got to Gettysburg National Military Park (park info).
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The Cemetery Keepers of Gettysburg by Linda Oatman High
Peter Thorn was the cemetery keeper of the Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg. When he was sent to fight with the Union, his pregnant wife Elizabeth stayed to care for the cemetery with her three boys. They survived the Battle of Gettysburg by hiding in their cellar. Afterwards, they worked to bury some of the fallen soldiers. When Abraham Lincoln came to present his speech, the family was honored for their service.
This book was a great read aloud. It gave historical insight into Evergreen Cemetery which is still there for people to visit. It also gave a visual image of the family hiding in the cellar. With only one civilian causality in the Battle of Gettysburg, families mainly survived by hiding in the cellars.
Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln: The Story of the Gettysburg Address by Jean Fritz
This book highlights Lincoln’s life at the time of the Gettysburg address. He was worried about his sick son at the time of the address. The book also explained Lincoln’s purpose for the speech and that he intended to keep his speech short. Edward Everett was also mentioned in this book. Everett spoke at Gettysburg before Lincoln and was considered one of the greatest orators of his time.
This book was an easy reader book. I like that the book came from the angle of Abraham Lincoln’s life at the time. It did not detail events of the battle. The reader sees the writing of the Gettysburg address as if they were watching Lincoln. It adds another perspective to Gettysburg history.
American Battle Fields: Gettysburg July 1-3, 1863 by Brendan January
Set up in chapters, this book is very informative! It covers the factors leading up to war to the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg. There are many pictures to provide visual aids. This book is a great middle ground—not too dense, but not too basic.
Most of the detailed information about Gettysburg came from this book. The first two books provided some of the bigger picture ideas of the battle and this book filled in the details.
All together these three books provided so much information and context for our trip to Gettysburg. I’m so glad that we found these books before our trip so that my son could connect things that he learned from the books to the real life experience. And, after the visit it was a good idea to look over the books again and gain more insight based on our new experiences!
Our trip to Gettysburg!