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The sunnier side of modern history; need a book on


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You need some Jazz and some Harlem Renaissance plus a trip to the moon.

Here are some to get you started, but there are lots more if you look at culture instead of politics.

Harlem Stomp

Louis Armstrong and the Jazz Age

Team Moon


There are also some good books on Henry Ford, voting reform, the empire state building, spies (which are really cool for that age) ....

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I am growing slump-shouldered over the political history in SOTW 4. Does anyone know of a good read aloud or even picture book on the ADVANCES of the modern world: technology, medicine, votes for women, etc?


We need relief from wars, famine, expansions, and treachery.


Women's rights


picture book








history channel dvd


big book


My kids have enjoyed this one

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Also the step into reading leveled readers series has many many titles to chose from for this time period, like this one They have ones on the Henry Ford's Model T, the titanic(okay not really sunny but not a war either), other advancements and events of the last century


I would also look into famous people of the time period that made a difference to the world, for example when we hit that time period we are going to read about suzuki, terry fox, rick hansen, mother teresa, nelson Mandala etc. There is so many influential people of the time that started out as just regular folks that made a cultural/humanitarian difference. Their stories were not filled with sunshine and rainbows but I want to share with my kids the perseverence, and determination these people had to make a difference, particularily to make a difference that did not involve going to war.


I would also find a book or dvd about children's rights and labor laws. Again not a sunny story to start with but the end result sure is. Plus I think it does kids good to see that life has not always been such a life of luxury for children. Children of today have no idea how good they have it, to read stories of children working in factories etc instead of going to school is a shocking eye opener.

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You need some Jazz and some Harlem Renaissance plus a trip to the moon.

Here are some to get you started, but there are lots more if you look at culture instead of politics.

Harlem Stomp

Louis Armstrong and the Jazz Age

Team Moon


There are also some good books on Henry Ford, voting reform, the empire state building, spies (which are really cool for that age) ....


These are great books! We also liked Mission Control, This is Apollo and Moonshot.


I agree about studying some modern architectural feats. This series is great for that.


Also, for immigration, we liked to study the different waves of immigrants and make authentic recipes from their culture. We used The Frugal Gourmet on Our Immigrant Ancestors for our recipes.


If you're not past this point yet, the high times in baseball are great and light. My kids loved Hey Batta Batta Swing! We also did some picture book bios of the greats. You must read a book on Jackie Robinson when you read about segregation. So inspirational!


Don't forget to add art and movies. We have a giant book of the art of Disney (talk about light! :lol:). You could do a whole study (science and history) of the beginning of film. You could watch Chaplin and do a progressive march through modern film.


We've only done modern as part of American history so far, so my ideas are biased toward that. I'm excited to hit it again looking at the world.

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Remembering more...


We focused a lot on the history of aviation and automobiles. That stuff is fun. We really enjoyed The Wright Brothers.


We'll Race You Henry is a good start. In the way of light, fun fluff, my kids loved If I Built a Car. They invented their own cars and designed ads for them. It was so much fun! DS9 prefers instructions for some drawing and really benefitted from Draw Cars. We also own and enjoy Car Science. DS9 still pores over his volume of History of the American Auto. (He comes from along line of car guys.) He has a similar volume for aircraft. You could find something similar at your library, I'm sure.


If you're not already past the period, The Story of Thomas Alva Edison was also a big hit (and provided yet another way to incorporate science with history). Mr. Bell Invents the Telephone and Andrew Carengie and the Age of Steel were also great.


Oh, and rockets. This Is Rocket Science has some good world history included. Read about Robert Goddard and do some rocket science. Then get to space exploration and get a good book of Hubble photos. Oh, and How to Build a Rocket is fantastic.


Are you past the Industrial Revolution yet? I just stumbled upon this newish book from the DIY series.


Also, did you do a bio of Helen Keller or Anne Sullivan? I enjoy doing inspirational stories with the kids.


We also got a lot of mileage out of music. Jazz and Its History and The History of Rock Music were two books we used to give us an overview and put together playlists to enjoy.


I will try to think of more, in a mighty effort to continue procrastinating about culling the kids' rooms for the upcoming move... :lol:

Edited by Alte Veste Academy
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General Books
- American Adventures: True Stories from America's Past, 1770-1870 (Greenburg)
- American Adventures: True Stories from America's Past, 1870-present (Greenburg)
(both of these were fascinating -- little known heros, inventors, and interesting people and events)
- Usborne Twenthieth Century -- 2 page spreads, lots of illustrations and captions, on different topics
- Usborne Book of Discovery -- 3 books in one: Explorers, Inventors, Scientists
- History of Medicine (Tiner) -- key people through history who have made contributions
- Exploring Planet Earth (Tiner) -- key people/discoveries through history having to do with geography/exploration

Wars -- But Gently
Our DSs enjoyed these adventure tales -- true stories from various wars, but told as exciting adventures:
- Great Escapes of World War II (Sullivan)
- "True Adventure Collection" (Dowswell & Fleming) -- 3 book collection: "Survival Stories"; "Heros"; "Spy Stories"

And ideas in these past threads:

"Non Fiction 20th Century War books appropriate for 8yo?" (WW1, WW2, Korean War, Vietnam War, Cold War, Persian Gulf War)

"What to read about World War I" (for 7yo)

"Any books for WW1 and WW2 for 10yo son, maybe like Magic Tree Hours research guides"

"x-posted: Need recs for World War 2 history books for a 10yo"

"World War Two hands on project" (for elementary ages)

20th Century - General
- Great Black Heroes: Five Brilliant Scientists (Jones/Garnet)
- Great Black Heroes: Five Brave Explorers (Hudson/Garnet)
- Great Black Heroes: Five Famous Writers (Jones/Garnet)
- Great Black Heroes: Five Bold Freedom Fighters (Hudson/Garnet)
- Great Black Heroes: Five Notable Inventors (Hudson/Garnet)
- Baseball's Best (Gutelle)
- Baseball's Greatest Hitters (Kramer)
- Basketball's Greatest Players (Kramer)
- Hoop Stars (Kramer)
- Antarctic Adventure: Exploring the Frozen Continent (Martin)
- True Life Treasure Hunts (Donnelly)
- Great Women Atletes (Bailer)
- Spies! (Pratt)
- Mountain Climbing: Scaling the World's Highest Peaks (Martin)
- Movie Magic: A Star is Born ( Cottringer)

The "On My Own" Biographies series
- Alexander Graham Bell (Sherrow)
- Aunt Clara Brown (Lowery)
- Babe Didrikson Zaharias (Sutcliffe)
- Benjamin Banneker (Wadsworth)
- Booker T Washington (Amper)
- Cesar Chavez (Wadsworth)
- George Washington Carver (Carter)
- Georgia O'Keefe
- Helen Keller (Sutcliffe)
- Jackie Robinson (Walker)
- Jesse Owens (Sutcliffe)
- Margaret Bourke-White (Welch)
- Mary Anning: Fossil Hunter (Walker)
- Mother Teresa (Ransom)
- Pablo Picasso (Lowery)
- Sojourner Truth (Swain)
- Wilma Mankiller (Lowery)
- Wilma Rudolph (Sherrow)
- Laura Ingalls Wilder (Wadsworth)

CarolRhoda biography series OR Creative Minds Biography series
- Mr. Blue Jeans: A Story About Levi Strauss (Weidt) -- 1829-1902
- Mark T-W-A-I-N! A Story About Samuel Clemens (Collins) -- 1835-1910
- Story of Thomas Alva Edison: Wizard of Menlo Park (Davidson) -- 1847-1931
- CLICK! Story of George Eastman (Mitchell) -- 1854-1932
- Bully For You, Teddy Roosevelt (Fritz) -- 1858-1919
- George Washington Carver: Man's Slave Becomes God's Scientist (Collins) -- 1864-1943
- Helen Keller's Teacher (Davidson) -- 1866-1936
- Helen Keller (Davidson) -- 1880-1968
- Say It With Music: Story About Irving Berlin (Streissgut) -- 1888-1989
- Shoes for Everyone: Story About Jan Matzeliger (Mitchell) -- invented a shoe lasting machine
- Will and Orv (1903)
- Pocketful of Goobers -- George Washington Carver's work at Tuskeegee College 1900s
- We'll Race You Henry Ford -- invents model T/assembly line, early 1900s)
- Frontier Surgeons: A Story About the Mayo Brothers -- founded Mayo Clinic; 1880s-1939
- Between Two Worlds: Story of Pearl S. Buck

Chronological Gentle Modern Films:
And don't forget fun movies set in the late 19th Century and throughout the 20th Century!

Late 19th Century
The Story of Alexander Graham Bell
The Gold Rush -- Charlie Chaplin, 1899 Alaskan Gold Rush
Around the World in 80 Days
My Fair Lady
Anne of Green Gables
A Little Princess
The Secret Garden
The Indomitable Teddy Roosevelt
Sherlock Holmes (old Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce films)
Marie Curie

Buster Keaton silent films
Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines
The Great Race
Mary Poppins
Yankee Doodle Dandy
A Night to Remember (the Titanic)
Jim Thorpe (1912 Native American Olympic athlete)
Young Tom Edison
Edison the Man
Stanley and Livingstone
The African Queen

Chariots of Fire (1920 Olympic runner Eric Liddle)
The Spirit of St. Louis
Pride of the Yankees (Lou Gerhig biog.)
Boys Town
Cheaper by the Dozen
Black Stallion
Singing in the Rain
Miracle on 34th Street
Sound of Music
It’s A Wonderful Life
The Glen Miller Story

Apollo 13
October Sky
The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!

Edited by Lori D.
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LIST OF STEPPED READERS for gentle modern history


1849 - The U.S. Gold Rush
- Chang and the Paper Pony (Coerr) -- historical fiction
- The Secret Valley (Bulla) -- historical fiction
- By the Great Horn Spoon (Fleischman) -- fun historical fiction

- Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie (Roop) -- Maine lighthouse
- The Tree in the Trail (Holling) -- Santa Fe Trail (1 of 4 Holling books in Beautiful Feet Geography)
- The Daring Escape of Ellen Craft (Moore) -- Underground Railroad

1860s - Pony Express
- Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express (Coerr)
- Bronco Charlie and the Pony Express (Brill)
- Riding The Pony Express (Bulla)

- Robert Smalls Sails to Freedom (Brown) -- Civil War, escaping slave
- Civil War Sub: Mystery of the Hunley (Jerome)
- USS Monitor: Iron Warship That Changed the World (Thompson)
- Caddie Woodlawn (Brink) -- pioneer girl hijinx

- Alexander Graham Bell (Sherrow) -- invention of the telephone
- Snowshoe Thompson (Levinson) -- pioneer mailman in the Sierra Nevadas

- The Big Balloon Race (Coerr)
- The Copper Lady (Ross) -- building of the Statue of Liberty
- Snow Walker (Wetterer) -- record blizzard that shut down the Bronx
- Dinosaur Hunter (Alphin) -- early paleontologists
- Helen Keller (Davidson)
- Helen Keller's Teacher (Davidson)
- Mr. Blue Jeans: A Story About Levi Strauss (Weidt)
- Shoes for Everyone: Story About Jan Matzeliger (Mitchell)

- The Great Wheel (Lawson) -- hist. fict.; first ferris wheel, Chicago World Fair
- Rescue on the Outer Banks (Ransom) -- true life rescue crew
- Sitting Bull (Penner)
- Jumbo (Worth) -- famous PT Barnum circus elephant
- The Great Houdini: World Famous Magician (Kulling)
- Little Sure Shot: Annie Oakley (Spinner)
- Mark T-W-A-I-N! A Story About Samuel Clemens (Collins)
- George Washington Carver (Collins)
- Summer of the Monkeys (Rawls) -- rural America boy hijinx
- The Great Brain (Fitzgerald) -- rural America boy hijinx

1900s -- First Flight
- Will and Orv (Schulz)
- First Flight: The Wright Brothers (Jenner)
- First Flight: Story of Tom Tate and the Wright Brothers (Shea)
- The Wright Brothers (Reynolds)

- Clara and the Bookwagon (Levinson)
- All of a Kind Family (Taylor)
- Little Britches (Moody)
- Eat My Dust! Henry Ford's First Race (Kulling)
- We'll Race You Henry Ford (Mitchell)
- Bully For You, Teddy Roosevelt (Fritz)
- Little Britches (Moody) -- rural America boy hijinx

- Titanic: Lost and Found (Donnelly) -- sinking of the unsinkable Titanic
- Sea of Ice: The Wreck of the Endurance (Kulling)
- Hero Over Here (Kudlinski) -- worldwide influenza epidemic
- Babe Ruth Saves Baseball (Murphy)
- Cornerstones of Freedom: Story of the Panama Canal (Stein)
- Say It With Music: Story About Irving Berlin (Streissgut)
- Story of Thomas Alva Edison: Wizard of Menlo Park (Davidson)
- Thomas Edison: The Great Inventor (Jenner)
- Wizard of Sound: Story of Thomas Alva Edison
- Zepplin: Age of the Airship (Donkin)
- Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity (Cwiklik)
- The White Stallion of Lipizza (Henry) -- Austria, boy joins the prestigious school for training horses
- Endurance Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

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- Man O'War: Best Racehorse Ever (McKerly)

- Tut's Mummy: Lost and Found (Donnelly)

- The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto (Standiford)

- Night Flight: Charles Lindbergh's Incredible Adventure (Kramer)

- Buddy: The First Seeing Eye Dog (Moore)

- Flying Ace: Story of Amelia Earhart (Bull)

- CLICK! Story of George Eastman (Mitchell)

- Cheaper By the Dozen (Gilbraith)

- Gandhi (Bains)



- The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth (Patrick)

- Vanished! The Mysterious Disappearance of Amelia Earhart (Kulling)

- Eleanor Everywhere: The Life of Eleanor Roosevelt (Kulling)

- A Letter to Mrs. Roosevelt (De Young)

- Horse Named Seabiscuit (Duvowski) -- famous race horse

- Gandhi: Peaceful Warrior (Bains)

- Story of the Trapp Family Singers (Maria Vonn Trapp) -- autobiography

- A Year Down Under (Peck) -- humorous; set during Great Depression, US

- Snow Treasure (McSwigan) -- adventure story; Norweigan kids hide/save country's gold from Nazis



- Hill of Fire (Lewis) -- formation of volcanic mountain in Mexico

- The Little Riders (Shemin) -- more of an adventure; occupied Europe

- Miracles on Maple Hill (Sorenson) -- historical fiction; post WW2

- The Cay (Taylor) -- adventure; Caribbean, boy and old man shipwrecked



- To the Top! Climbing the World's Highest Mountain (Kramer)

- Jackie Robinson and the Story of All Black Baseball (O'Connor)

- The Story of Muhammad Ali (Garrett)

- The Land I Lost (Nhuong) -- Vietnam, pre-war memories of a rural boy



- Cornerstones of Freedom: Story of First Man on the Moon (Stein)

- Race Into Space (Arnold)

- Moonwalk (Donnelly)

- God's Smuggler (Sherill) -- Brother Andrew biography, smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain



- Maniac Macgee (Spinelli) -- US, tall tale of orphan boy and race relations

- A Wall of Names: Vietnam (Donnelly) -- more about making the memorial than the war

- Cornerstones of Freedom: Story of the Vietnam War Memorial (Kent) -- same



- The Bravest Cat: The True Story of Scarlett (Driscoll)

- Ice Mummy: Discovery of a 3,000 year old Man (Dubowski)

- Giant Squid: Mystery of the Deep (Dussling)

- Finding the Titanic (Ballard)

- Pushcart War (Merill)

- View From Saturday (Konigsburg)

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