Children’s books provide readers of all ages with a glimpse at the lives of American presidents by presenting both their struggles and their heroism.

“Just in Time, Abraham Lincoln” by Patricia Polacco, J. P. Putnam and Sons, 2011, ages 7 and up.

Michael and Derek, at Grandma’s request, put away their cell phones and video games for an afternoon at the Harpers Ferry Civil War Museum. At one exhibit the boys put on Union soldier uniforms and head through a special door that takes them to the Civil War battle scene of Antietam, where the boys meet up with Abraham Lincoln. Is it a game, or is it real? Patricia Polacco, author and illustrator of over 70 picture books, brings to life, in children’s terms, the tragedies and triumphs of Lincoln and the Civil War.

“Lincoln Shot: A President’s Life Remembered” by Barry Denenberg, Illustrated by Christopher Bing, Square Fish, 2008, ages 10 and up.

This unique chronicle of Abraham Lincoln’s childhood, career, and life-ending event is presented in the style of an 1860’s newspaper, complete with the antique look of yellow-aged pages and old-fashioned fonts. Lincoln Shot presents a compelling description through author-created news articles, quotes from Lincoln, authentic photos of scenes and artifacts, and detailed sketches. The unique style of this book brings history alive, while teaching about this important time period in our history.

“Those Rebels, John & Tom” by Barbara Kerley, Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, Scholastic, 2012, ages 8 and up.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson worked together to craft the vision of the United States as a country free of the English king’s tyranny. Those Rebels presents John and Tom as allies with distinct and very different personalities. Beginning in their childhood, each carved his own path that would lead them to friendship and collaboration in the quest for independence. The conversational style of writing and comic-type illustrations makes for a fun and clever story of two American heroes.

“Jack’s Path of Courage” by Doreen Rappaport, Illustrated by Matt Tavares, Hyperion Books, 2010, ages 8 and up.

The life of John F. Kennedy is described through beautiful illustrations, clear text, and quotes from Kennedy and his family in this picture book biography. The President’s personality and charisma shine through as his many contributions to politics and the lives of Americans are presented in an eloquent way.

President’s Day honors presidents from our past, but these books give readers the chance to keep their stories alive.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Dobler

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