A Year of Picture Books (June)

We had a lot of variety in our picture books we read this month. We learned about female authors, an Egyptian king (who was a female), a German baker who fought for liberty by baking bread and cookies, the story behind The Cat and the Hat, and an ex-slave who became one of the best US Marshals ever.

How the Sphinx got to the Museum tells the story of how a set sphinxes that were supposed to have been destroyed thousands of years ago survived and made it to museums all the way around the world. I had never heard about the Egyptian queen Hatshepsut, but she seems to have been a formidable ruler. She declared herself King (or Pharaoh) after her husband died and grabbed the throne for herself. Hatshepsut ordered a set of sphinxes to be made to mark her time as ruler, but after her death her stepson ordered them destroyed and buried so that no one would find them. This order actually saved these historical sculptures because they were protected from the elements for 3000 years, so when the archaeologists found them, all they had to do was reassemble them and ship them to museums around the world. This book was fun because it introduces vocabulary words in fun ways through repetition and children get to learn how museums work too.

Ben loved learning about how a German baker helped win the American Revolutionary War with gingerbread cookies. Christopher Ludwick wanted to help America defeat Britain in the Revolutionary War but he could not cut it as a solider, so instead Washington asked him to try and convince the Hessian mercenaries to stop helping the British since Ludwick himself had fought in the Hessian army. Using his amazing cookies and his charming personality, he did just that and even got some of the Hessians to fight for Washington instead. He also went on the become the official bread maker for the Revolutionary army and made over 6,000 loaves of bread in one day! On top of helping America fight for freedom, Ludwick was also a wonderful person who donated a lot of money to the poor and set up a foundation that still helps people today.

We loved learning about the first Black US Marshal west of the Mississippi. Bass Reeves was a former slave who loved justice and found his calling in bringing fugitives in for justice. Apparently he was one of the most feared marshals because he almost always caught his man. Bass was also one of the more respected marshals because he rarely shot any of the suspects that he sought. Instead he used costumes and tricks to capture the fugitives. I was amazed to learn that he had over 3000 arrests to his name and killed only 14 men in his 30 years on the job, even though he himself was shot at numerous times.

To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorite books, so the story of how Harper Lee came to write this amazing classic was a fun read. I loved learning that she based a lot of the book off of the small Alabama town that she grew up in and she herself was a lot like Scout. After struggling to pay her bills and make it as a writer, Ms. Lee’s friends surprised her with a monetary gift that allowed her to quit working and devote herself to writing her first (and most famous )book which she finished in two years. It went on to sell over 30 million copies to date and is largely accepted as one of the greatest American novels of all time.

We love Dr. Seuss, so we loved learning the backstory as to how The Cat in the Hat came about. Apparently there was a lack of fun books to keep early readers engaged back in the 1950s, so Dr. Seuss’ publisher challenged him to write a book using only sight words (223 words to be exact) that all early readers were being taught to read at the time. It took him 9 months to write The Cat in the Hat because of those limitations, but he eventually succeeded and gifted the children of the world this gem to enjoy for generations to come. We loved the illustrations and all the quotes from Dr. Seuss sprinkled throughout this book.

I had never heard about Marie Tharp before, but I had fun learning some interesting things about her. Marie Tharp was a geologist who specialized in learning about the ocean floor. Since women were not allowed to go on research boat trips back in her day, she was in charge of mapping the coordinates and the sonar depths that the men relayed back to her in the lab. Her drawings showed there was a huge rift in Atlantic Ocean and also that the ocean held some of the tallest mountains on Earth in their depths, but the science community did not believe her. Thankfully she kept detailed data for all of her drawings and eventually proved them all to be correct. Her work was ground breaking because it proved the plate tectonics theory and why earthquakes happen in certain parts of the world. She went on to create a map of all the world’s ocean floors in 1977 and found even more amazing things hidden in their depths.

As always, we found all of these books at our local library, so head to yours to find these books or others that will help to keep your kids engaged (and learning) this summer!

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