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Review: The Civil War by Innovative Kids

We love the picture books by David McCauley (The Mosque, The Cathedral, The City, and many others) because both my son and I learn a lot. They are a springboard for other discussions and a reference point when we are out looking at other things. The best kids books for dads to read are books like these that are written in a way that interest and inspire both dads and kids.

That’s why I like the new book Letters for Freedom: The Civil War, a hand-on history book. It’s a thorough examination of the causes and history of the Civil War. The story is well-written and compelling and had my son and I eager to read another 4-6 pages each evening to learn more about the Civil War. My son liked the hands on features, though I don’t know if either of us was really enamored with the centerpiece of the book: the actual fragments of letters written by soldiers, officers and Abraham Lincoln during the conflict.

We both learned a lot reading the book, which wasn’t too heavy handed about which side was “right,” though slavery is covered in enough detail to give kids a lot to think about (for example, despite a lot bucolic photos of slaves in fields, most male slaves died before the age of 30). About half of the book is dedicated to the causes and aftermath of the war and half to the major battles and turning points. Dads, with the benefit of a lifetime of geography, might actually start to understand the enormity of what occurred to our young country and what a miracle it was that the country came back together.

$16.99 for ages 8+