Lincoln A Photobiography (by Russell Freedman)… Julia’s Reading Project

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about Julia’s reading project.  It’s been a while because we’ve been so overwhelmed and busy.  Too much to do and too little time.  SOMETHING had to give.  Sadly, it had to be her reading.  I hate to slack in this area because I feel like these reading projects that I give her are sometimes the only education she’s getting.  School just keeps getting more disappointing.  I’m STRONGLY considering taking her out of public high school and either placing her in the Catholic school system or home schooling her.  I feel terrible about even considering imposing such a change at this delicate age but she has to get an education from SOMEWHERE.  There are some days where the ONLY educators who show up to teach these kids are substitute teachers who don’t know their A$$ from a hole in the ground.  I guess that’s a subject for a different post.  TRUST me, that will be a rant that you might not want to read.

Back to the book.  A few months ago, while visiting Springfield Illinois, the hubby and I visited The Lincoln Museum and Library.  Abraham Lincoln is such a colorful personality in history and there’s just so much more to his story than his presidency and the way he died. I wanted Julia to learn about the man and what made him tick.  There are SO many books to read on this subject and I didn’t really know which one would be geared more toward a teenager.  I consulted a representative of the Lincoln Library and she recommended a Photobiography.  I’ll have to admit that I wasn’t sold on this as it seems like I would be helping to “dumb down the youth of America”! Lord knows that once we start resorting to picture books for our teenagers, we’ve given up hope on them ever being literate.  lol  Okay, I gave in because the lady had a good idea.  She told me that this particular book touches on all the subjects that interested me PLUS Julia would be able to see pictures that related to Lincoln’s life.  I think if they’re real photographs, that’s history too, right?  There was enough of the story here and I wanted Julia to be interested.  It worked!

Lincoln:A Photobiography

Lincoln A Photobiography by Russell Freedman

Clarion Books

A John Newberry Medal Winner

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master – This expresses my idea’s of democracy.  Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the differences, is no democracy.”

A. Lincoln

“Few, if any, of the many books written for children about Lincoln can compare with Freedman’s contribution… Well organized and well written, this is an outstanding example of what (juvenile) biography can be.  Like Lincoln himself, it stands head and shoulders above it’s competition.”

-School Library Journal

What impressed Julia most about this book?  She tells me that she felt like she actually knew the man.  She discovered what might have motivated Abe Lincoln to feel and act so strongly about certain topics, such as slavery.  Julia was also impressed with how likable a guy Mr. Lincoln was.  She learned that although his photos don’t portray him as a very handsome man, many people who knew him, reported that once they were in his presence, his “spirit” shined through his eyes and his smile and made him appear very handsome.  He was so charismatic and funny.  Julia was also impressed that Mr. Lincoln remained strong in his convictions even while being hated by Democrats and Republicans alike.  He won his last election very narrowly and ONLY because Sherman had torched Atlanta and FINALLY it looked as though the Union would win.  Before that, it seemed as if the war would carry on forever and before too much longer, most of the male population of America, would be wiped out.  Julia tells me that she was amazed to be reminded that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.  In American contemporary issues, it seems like the Democratic party takes credit for being the party who stands up for the rights of African Americans.  In reality, the Democratic Party started out VERY against emancipation of the American slave.  To be fair, not many Republican’s were in favor of emancipation either.  Lincoln BARELY got the Emancipation Proclamation to pass and resorted to a little bit of “trickery” to sneak it past many legislators.  Julia tells me that the schools don’t really focus on the other causes of the Civil War.  Mostly, the kids are led to believe that slavery is the sole reason for the war, when in fact, she learned that slavery didn’t become an issue until after the war had already started.  Through this book, she was able to put faces to names and she learned so much more about this period of time, in history, than she did in school with her history book.

Did she like the book?  Yes and she says she’ll recommend it to anyone her age who needs to do a project on the life of Abraham Lincoln or the causes of the Civil War.  I have to say that even I learned more than I previously knew.  So the picture book thing?  Yeah, I like it!  lol  Julia earned $5 for this one.  However, she had to write 2 book reports because she tried to copy, word for word, part of the first one she turned into me.  So there’s the added lesson she learned about plagiarism!  lol  It’s never too soon to learn about that, right?

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3 thoughts on “Lincoln A Photobiography (by Russell Freedman)… Julia’s Reading Project

  1. I don`t think the solution to poor education is to necessarily take her out of school. It is important to get used to a schedule, due dates, people you don`t like, and friends you do. I have done public, private, and homeschooled, and I have to say the socialization in home school was best. We added lots of reading, and I did a lot of trips to the library to read books about subjects I was interested in. Geology handbooks, field guides, classic books, guitar. I think I`m better prepared for jobs now because I`ve learned how to do what needs to be done even if it isn`t easy or readily provided for you. I am definitely better prepared college life than my friends from the homeschooling group! They were better prepared academically than some other students, but they feel under new social opportunities quickly, like drinking parties and frats. It`s not that they were bad kids, they just weren`t used to peers, let alone peer pressure. And don`t get me started on private school!

    • Thanks for your input! I like hearing from people who’ve gone through other types of education other than public school. I’ll have to go back and reread what I said but I didn’t mean to give the impression that I would take her out of school completely. I’ve also home schooled one of our daughters and I agree, if you do it right, they can be better socialized than some public school kids. I was a VERY active parent though. I took my role as educator seriously. I, myself, went through Catholic school and had very good results. I went through 8 years of Catholic school and 4 years of public school. I was fine. Everyone’s different though.

      Again, thanks so much for sharing your experiences! It makes me think 🙂

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