With the recent upheavals of the pandemic, protests, and riots, right now there is renewed interest in learning about the foundational government that the USA was built upon. It's an opportune time to dig deeper into learning not just how the government is structured, but also why it was created as it was.
Back when I was in high school, we learned about the American government in Civics class, and it was kinda boring. But it doesn't have to be that way! By tying together the study of American government with Revolutionary War history, learning about government can be exciting and compelling. Studying history and government side-by-side allows us to gain a broader perspective of why our government was set up the way it was, and what the founders were trying to overcome.
Following is a list of 35+ books for kids and adults to learn about the American government and Revolutionary War. These are books that my kids and I particularly enjoyed. For each recommended book, I have included age codes to make it clear for which ages the book will be best suited. The age codes are:
C = Children 5-9
Y = Youth 9-13
YA = 13-15
A = Adults and Later Teen Years 16-18
Read-Alouds, Not Assignments
I encourage you to use this book list to create an enjoyable, shared experience with your children. Many of these books will work best if they are read aloud to your children, which will allow you to learn together and discuss new ideas along the way.
With read-alouds, children can be easily introduced to new ideas, cultures, and places. Read-alouds also spark some of the most important discussions, leading to the foundation of good character, integrity, responsibility, and kindness in the children.
"Spine" Book About the American Revolution
Stories of America: Volume 1 by Simply Charlotte Mason serves as an excellent "spine" book to provide a flowing narrative of this period in American history. This book tells of American history in an engaging story format, and provides a jumping off point for further learning. This book is well suited for kids in elementary school and middle school.
Picture Books and Chapter Books About The American Revolution and American Government
Alongside the Stories of America "spine" book, the following picture books and chapter books will allow you and your children to dig deeper with your learning.
Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere, and Benjamin Franklin
The Boston Tea Party by Russell Freeman (Y, YA)
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes (Y, YA, A)
A Picture Book of Paul Revere by David A. Adler (C, Y)
The Many Rides of Paul Revere by James Giblin (Y, YA)
Now & Ben: The Modern Inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Barretta (C, Y)
How Ben Franklin Stole the Lightning by Rosalyn Schanzer (C, Y)
The Real Benjamin Franklin by Andrew Allison (A)
Declaration of Independence, Fourth of July, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Banneker
Give Me Liberty! The Story of the Declaration of Independence by Russell Freedman (YA, A)
The Signers: The Fifty-Six Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence by Dennis Brindell Fradin (YA, A)
The Declaration of Independence (YA, A)
The Fourth of July Story by Alice Dalgliesh (C, Y)
1776 by David McCullough (A)
Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by Maira Kalman (C, Y)
Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation by Peggy Thomas (C, Y)
The Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain (C, Y)
Thomas Jefferson and the Mammoth Hunt: the True Story of the Quest for America's Biggest Bones by Carrie Clickard (C, Y)
The Real Thomas Jefferson by Andrew Allison (A)
Dear Benjamin Banneker by Andrea Pinkney (C, Y)
Ticktock Banneker's Clock by Shana Keller (C, Y)