I was going to read Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin for the US Presidents Reading Project. But then I started to be intimidated by its 800+ pages; I’m currently reading a 700+ page book and I have been for three months. So, while I do plan on reading Goodwin’s book at some point, I thought I’d start a little easier with President Lincoln by going for some of the children’s books about our 16th president that have won the Caldecott or Newbery awards or honors.
Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman, the Newbery Award winner for 1988, is absolutely fantastic. I learned a lot as I read the short 150 pages about the life Abraham Lincoln, complete with a brief introduction to the political turmoil surrounding him in the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s. I forgot I was reading a children’s book.
Freedman intersperses his clear, straight-forward, and intensely interesting text with photographs and paintings of Abraham Lincoln and his era. Thus, I felt like I could see the development of Abraham Lincoln throughout his life. My favorite picture of Lincoln was this one. Lincoln said it was his best likeness, but some people, notably his wife, didn’t like the disheveled hair!
There were interesting facts and tidbits that made Abraham Lincoln real for me. The best part was it was all backed up by Freedman’s research. In the acknowledgments, he includes a list of museums, libraries, and books that he referenced while writing this book. In the text, he debunks some myths for lack of evidence.
In the end, I fully trust Freedman’s account of Lincoln to be as close to fact as possible. And yet, it was easy to read, delightful, and approachable. I highly recommend Lincoln: A Photobiography to anyone, child or adult, interested in learning about our sixteenth president.
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