100 Best Books for Children ~ Higginson

Number 71 on The Hundred Best Books for Children is Higginson’s Young Folks’ History of the United States originally published in 1875.

Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823–1911) studied theology at Harvard before leaving to oppose the Mexican War. Believing that the war was a means to expand slavery, he became an abolitionist writer. He was a Colonel in the Civil War and wrote about his experiences in his book Army Life in a Black Regiment. After the war he continued to support the abolitionist cause, along with rights for women, and temperance. Interestingly, he was also known for helping to edit and publish Emily Dickenson’s poetry after her death.

In Young Folks’ History of the United States, Higginson focuses on the big ideas of human history:

It is the aim of this book to tell the story of the United States in a clear and simple manner, for young and old. In writing it, I have adopted two plain rules, — to omit all names and dates not really needful, and to make liberal use of the familiar traits and incidents of every day.

The book went through several updates, the most recent in 1903. So you will find it leaves us with the death of McKinley and succession by then Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.

In the back you will find an extensive book list for further reading, a list of presidents and vice presidents up through Roosevelt, a list of states (45 at the time) and territories, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Amendments (up through XV), and a chronological timeline.

Please remember that despite the author’s known social advocacies, this is an old book and the language can be dated. We used these opportunities to educate.

Finally, Higginson leaves us with a very telling thought at the end of the Preface:

It will be noticed that less space than usual is given, in these pages, to the events of war, and more to the affairs of peace. This course has been deliberately pursued. It is desirable, no doubt, that the reader should fully understand the way in which every important war began and ended, and that he should read enough of the details to know in what spirit it was carried on. Beyond this, the statistics of sieges and battles are of little value, and are apt to make us forget that the true glory of a nation lies, after all, in orderly progress. Times of peace, the proverb says, have few historians; but this may be more the fault of the historians than of the times.

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Additional Resources

A Book of American Explorers {Free eBook}
Also by Higginson as part of the Young Folks’ series.

Author Notebooking Pages {Free Download}
Use this free set to create an author notebook for our 100 Best Books for Children series.

The Hundred Best Books for Children ~ Introduction
The Hundred Best Books for Children

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