If you are looking for history books that teach kids not only facts about famous people but also character lessons, look no further than Brad Meltzer’s “Ordinary People Change the World” series. This is the book series that has gotten my kids hooked on history.
You guys. WE BIG PUFFY HEART LOVE THESE BOOKS.
I picked one up on a whim at a used book sale – “I Am Abraham Lincoln” – and we fell completely in love with it. I think we read it six times the first day we got it. They could not get enough. It’s the book that started my kids’ obsession with Abraham Lincoln.
Not only are these books interesting, but they tackle topics that can be hard to talk about with kids – like racism, social issues, slavery, etc – and they’re presented in a gentle way that kids understand. These books have prompted lots of big, juicy conversations about some pretty heavy topics.
Books that combine history facts with character lessons? Yes, please.
These books are perfect for expanding on a topic we’re studying. For instance, I bought the Helen Keller book to go along with our study of American Sign Language. And Abby is obsessed with Sacagawea, so that book was part of her birthday present this year.
In the interest of saving a bit of money, I decided to see if the library owned any books in this series. They had one – “I am Jackie Robinson” – which my son was thrilled to check out since he’s currently obsessed with anything baseball related.
Immediately after we read it, I hopped on Amazon and bought it (at the time of this posting, you can grab it for an AMAZING price on Amazon.) So much for saving money by using the library. 😉
This book is SO GOOD, and is the perfect example of why we love this series…the message of being a brave leader is woven throughout Jackie Robinson’s story. Not only did Jackie have amazing athletic skills, but his bravery brought about equality for athletes in America.
Fun factoid: Did you know that once a year, every MLB player on every team wears a #42 jersey in honor of Jackie Robinson? I did not know that and mentioned it to my husband, who is a huge MLB fan, and he basically looked at me like I was crazy for NOT knowing that. Ahem. (So thank you, Brad Meltzer, for including little bits of trivia like this in your books.)
At the end of each book are two pages that cover the individual’s actual life, including photographs, quotes, facts, etc. My kids LOVE this. It helps it sink in that these are real people, real events, real stories. I can honestly say that I have learned things from every one of these books that I didn’t know before.
Most of all, I love that these books encourage kids to do hard things. That’s exactly what we want our kids to know – that doing the right thing matters, and that it’s important to persevere and do the hard thing, even if it goes against what everyone else is doing.
So we are hooked on history, thanks to this series. I love that.
“Ordinary People Change the World” books that we own and recommend:
- I am Abraham Lincoln
- I am Jackie Robinson
- I am Sacagawea
- I am Helen Keller
- I am Jane Goodall
- I am George Washington
Have you read any books in this series? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!