The Best Books for Kids to Get them Hooked on History and Reading!

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Hey, did you know that this past week marks 100 years since World War I started? I discovered that thanks to the Tom Woods show this past week. He spent the whole week focusing on WWI. This war continues to fascinate me. I learned a bunch about WWI from teaching the Hero Project last year for some homeschooled youth. We read and discussed Richard Maybury’s WWI book. This book enlightened me to know much more beyond the Hollywood version of WWI. It’s not really a book for kids younger than 14 though. Well, I found the best book for under 14 kids about WWI! Pictured above, it’s a graphic novel, which is a fancy phrase for “comic book.” 

What I love about this book is that the author and illustrator, Nathan Hale, has such a knack for visual storytelling. He is so creative! He uses a different animal to represent each nation involved in the war. So, Britons are bulldogs, Serbians are wolves, Russians are bears, Austrian-Hungarians are griffins, Germans are eagles, and Americans are…bunnies! (That’s right, not bald eagles!) That innovative feature, combined with the cool maps that Nathan includes in the book has allowed me to remember how the war got started and who was on which side. Even though I’ve taught a class about it, I would get confused by all the nations involved and who was on which side. Since I am a visual learner I will remember from now on that the Serbs were against the Germans and Austria-Hungarians, because of the animals and the maps in the book.

I’ve been reading the book to my little kids over the summer for bedtime and they have loved it. I’ve I highly recommend this book, along with the other books Nathan has written and illustrated, featured below. They are all part of a series called “Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales.” If you care about going in order when reading a book series, you will want to read the book below first. It sets the stage of the three main characters who appear in each book: Nathan Hale (the real person who was caught spying in the Revolutionary War, who coincidentally has the same name as the author), the Hangman, and the Provost. I have had so much fun coming up with different voices for these characters as I read the books aloud to the kids. Trying out British, German, and Russian accents for the WWI book has also been delightful.

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This one is about the Revolutionary War. Again, the maps have helped me better understand the history I’ve heard over and over through the years since my public school lessons.

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This one is about the War Between the States. I was disappointed it only covers navy battles. It’s still great though! I guess I will have to wait for Nathan to do one about the land battles.

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We haven’t read this one yet, but I have confidence that somehow Nathan will pull off his balance of mixing tragedy with comedy without being offensive. We are talking about cannibals here, after all. 

You can listen to a fascinating interview Nathan Hale did here. It will give you background into how he came up with the three main characters, a peek into his life as an author/illustrator, and more.

Enjoy these books! They are especially great for reluctant readers, like my 9 year old boy. I started reading Big Bad Ironclad for bedtime. He snuck off with it the next day to read it in secret and finished the book! That’s probably the fourth chapter book he’s been motivated to read on his own. Hooray! Show your kids that history is not boring with the Hazardous Tales. Get your kids reading these books and they will get hooked on history and want to know more!

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