Compiled by our Education Team
Books for You as a Parent or Teacher
There is always more to explore when it comes to history–historians ask new questions and find new sources every day. If you’re new to teaching the Civil War era or approaching it with your own children and feel unprepared, here are some great books that provide information about slavery, the Civil War, and its legacies, as well as how to talk about these complicated topics with children.
- Two Miserable Presidents, Steve Sheinkin
Yes, it’s a children’s book, but it’s excellent–especially if you’re new to teaching or learning about the Civil War. This is an easy to read, well-researched, and occasionally funny overview of an immense topic.
- The Civil War: A Concise History, Louis P. Masur
This book is exactly what it promises: a concise history. From the military campaigns to the politics in Washington and Richmond, this book is a quick introduction to it all.
- Understanding and Teaching American Slavery, Bethany Jay & Cynthia Lynn Lyerly, Eds.
Everything a teacher could need in one place: a brief history of chattel slavery in the United States plus techniques and strategies to use in the classroom.
- Interpreting Difficult History, Julia Rose
From the AASLH Interpreting History Series. Designed to help museum educators broach difficult topics, this book provides valuable information about how we as learners process complex and challenging topics–and how we as teachers can help learners through that process.
- Interpreting Slavery, Kristin L. Gallas & James DeWolf Perry, Eds.
Another from the AASLH Interpreting History Series that specifically explores how different institutions across the United States talk about slavery. What works and what doesn’t work for helping people process the tough information?
- American Slavery, Peter Kolchin
An incredibly thorough overview of the history of chattel slavery in the United States. Statistics and data covering slavery from the first laws limiting the rights of non-white people in the British colonies to the end of the Civil War.
- Before Freedom Came, published by the Museum of the Confederacy
Compiled to coincide with the Museum of the Confederacy’s groundbreaking exhibit of the same name, this collection of essays explores various facets of American slavery.
Books and Links for Students
At ACWM, we think of history as a story, and there are so many stories to tell about the Civil War, its causes, and its legacies. A great way to start a difficult conversation is by reading a book featuring real people who lived through history. This way, children can encounter people who remind them of themselves and begin to think about what it might be like to have experiences like historical figures.
Books for younger students
Memoir of Susie King Taylor, a Civil War Nurse, Pamela Dell (upper elementary)
Pink and Say, Patricia Polacco (picture book)
Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom, Shane W. Evans (picture book)
Abe Lincoln’s Dream, Lane Smith (picture book)
Henry’s Freedom Box, Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (picture book)
I am Abraham Lincoln, Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos (picture book)
I am Harriet Tubman, Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos (picture book)
Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad, Henry Cole (picture book)
Chapter books and graphic novels
Two Miserable Presidents, Steve Sheinkin (4th-8th grade)
The Underground Abductor, Nathan Hale (graphic novel, 3rd-9th grades)
Big Bad Ironclad, Nathan Hale (graphic novel, 3rd-7th grades)
Growing Up in Slavery: Stories of Young Slaves as Told by Themselves, Yuval Taylor, Ed. (9th-12th grades)
Our list of books including how to talk to children about problems
Our list of books from Black History Month 2018
Online and Digital Resources
Whether you’re digging for a primary source for your lesson or searching for a new podcast to expand your worldview, there are lots of amazing digital sources for you. Here are some that we use and recommend daily.
- Teaching after August 12 segment from “Pilgrimage” episode of “With Good Reason”
“For teachers in Charlottesville, August is an opportunity to reflect on how their classrooms have changed since the white supremacist attacks on August 11 and 12, 2017, and how they plan to teach race going forward. Anne Ernst and Rachel Caldwell discuss racial healing in the classroom.”
- Primary source collections and databases