Quick--name five noteworthy children in U.S. history. If you're like most, you probably stalled after Sacagawea and Pocahontas. Young people have always gotten short shrift when it comes to the record of American history. And yet, wouldn't the study of history be far more compelling to students if they could relate to figures their own age? Author Phillip Hoose believes so. He found that behind every major event in U.S. history were young people--brave, fearful, poor, rich, adventurous, clever, tragic, curious, and strong. We Were There, Too!
examines the lives of dozens of youth who helped shape our nation: Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin did the very same thing. On one of Columbus's voyages to the New World, 56 (out of 99) crew members were 18 or younger. In 1814 two sisters from Massachusetts, Rebecca Bates, 19, and Abigail, 15, routed approaching British soldiers by playing "Yankee Doodle" on fife and drum. The British, believing an American army was congregating for an attack, turned and fled. And in contemporary times, 13-year-old Ryan White, infected with AIDS, stood up to a school district that wanted to prevent him from going to school, eating in the cafeteria, and having a normal life with his friends.
Every story in this beautifully written volume is a heartening example of the spirit of young people. Each essay is accompanied by photos or illustrations, as well as sidebars with fascinating related tidbits of information. Readers of all ages will find a multitude of new heroes to respect and emulate. This is one history book that should be on every shelf. (Ages 10 and older) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
Hoose's (It's Our World, Too!) impressive survey places young people at the center of every event that shaped America, from 12-year-old Diego Berm£dez who sailed with Christopher Columbus in 1492 to high school junior Claudette Colvin's refusal to give up her seat in 1955 Montgomery, Ala., nine months before Rosa Parks. The diverse contributions of these gutsy children and teens include 16-year-old Deborah Sampson, who masqueraded as Private Robert Shirtliffe and fought in the Revolutionary War, and 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall who, in the absence of many major league players-turned-soldiers, pitched for the Cincinnati Reds during WWII. Readers will appreciate the brief epilogues that explain what happened to each person in adulthood. For instance, Chuka, a nine-year-old Hopi Indian subjected to assimilation in white schools in 1899, "struggled to live in two worlds" throughout his life, and high school junior Peggy Eaton, who rode the rails in 1938, continued to live a life of adventure as a missionary and mountain climber. Informative sidebars provide additional, and sometimes humorous, historical asides to the biographical profiles (e.g., a story problem in a Confederate math book during the Civil War calculates the death toll of Yankees). Pictures, maps and prints help bring these stories to life, but it is the actions of these young people that will inspire readers to realize that they, too, can play a part in making America's history. Ages 10-up.
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