Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Abraham Lincoln for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities

Abraham Lincoln for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities

Janis Herbert
For ages 8 to 12
Chicago Review Press, 2007   ISBN: 978-1556526565

Most people know of the tall, thin, almost gaunt looking man who did his best to unite the United States during one of the most traumatic periods in its history. They know that he gave a famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, which had a profound effect on people all over the world, and that he was assassinated in a theatre. What they perhaps do not know is that he was kind and gentle man who was well known for telling entertaining and often funny stories. He grieved when the casualty lists came in during the Civil War and he loved his wife and children deeply.

Long before he became a famous American president Abraham Lincoln was the son of a farmer. He spent many hours chopping wood, tending fields, and building fences. Because he was needed to help run the farm Abraham did not get much of an education but he always loved to read and write and would do so whenever he got the chance. When he was in his early teens he began to feel restless and took jobs sailing flatboats loaded with goods down the Mississippi river. Seeing the outside world made his realize that he did not want to be a farmer for the rest of his life and when he was in his early twenties he left his father’s farm and moved to the town of New Salem, Illinois.

In New Salem Abraham first got a job as a clerk in a store. Then he was a soldier for a while fighting in the Black Hawk War. When he got home after the war was over he got a job as a surveyor. Not long afterwards Abraham was encouraged to study the law and become a lawyer. At the same time he was elected to the Illinois legislature and he moved to the state capitol to begin his first term in office.

Abraham’s next move was to Springfield, Illinois, where he was given a job in a law office. It was here that Abraham met pretty “witty, intelligent, and cultured” Mary Todd. Though they had very different backgrounds, Abraham and Mary began courting and after a year they became engaged. Not long after they were married.

In 1846 Abraham’s second child was born and he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. This was the beginning of a very checkered advanced political career. Though Abraham lost his bid for a seat in the senate, he was nevertheless nominated for the presidency in 1860 and that November he won the presidential election. He barely had a chance to settle in to his new home in Washington, D.C. when the Civil War broke out. For the next four years Abraham would have to deal with great hardships. Not only did he have to try to “save the union” but he also had to watch his eldest son die.

In this exceptional book the author tells the story of Abraham Lincoln in such a way that one feels that one actually gets to know him. She not only describes his well known achievements but she also takes the time to show her readers what Abraham Lincoln was like as a man, as a husband, and as a father. To further engage her readers the author has included twenty-one activities in her book. These activities include making a log cabin, making a freedom quilt collage, drawing a political cartoon, and painting a panoramic backdrop. In addition to the main text the book is full of annotated illustrations and photographs, and boxes and sidebars provide all kinds of interesting background information about Abraham Lincoln and his times.