5 President's Day Read Alouds to Share with your Class! (and a FREEBIE!)

I LOVE picture books centered around historical events and real people. Are y'all with me on that? Those are some of the most fun read alouds to do, because they are colorful and engaging, but then you get to tell your students that THIS REALLY HAPPENED and THOSE PEOPLE ACTUALLY EXISTED. I love it. I think it's a lot of instructional bang for your buck, and I'm

all

about that. 

So, as we look ahead to planning for February, I have 5 President's Day read aloud that you could try this year. A couple on this list are new to me, so I'm wondering if they will be new to you, as well!

Oh, and stick around for a fun activity, AND a freebie at the end. :) 

1. Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend)

Written by Deborah Hopkinson

Ok, whew. That title is a mouthful. This book is adorable. It does not discuss much about Abraham Lincoln as a president, which makes it a little out of the ordinary. Instead, it describes his childhood, and introduces us to his best friend as a kid: Benjamin Austin Gollaher. 

Everything about this story is loosely based on real events. Gollaher was a real person, and legend has it that they were really best friends. His headstone in Kentucky even reads "Lincoln's Playmate". The story that takes place in this book (they try to cross a creek), is based on stories Benjamin Austin Gollaher told about his own childhood. You and your class can speculate how much of it is really true, but the scenes in Kentucky are really the way Abraham Lincoln grew up, and I think that's just plain fascinating!

2. Dear Mr. Washington

Written by Lynn Cullen

In April of 1796, George Washington went to Gilbert Stuart's home to have his portrait made. These are the facts that we know:

-This really happened. The portrait still exists.

-Gilbert Stuart was known for pranks and outrageous antics.

-Mr. Stuart had 12 children. They were present at the portrait painting.

These facts were all Lynn Cullen need to craft a fascinating story about the Cullen children's behavior during President Washington's portrait session. The book is told from the point of view of Cullen's daughter, Charlotte, as she writes letters to "Mr. Washington", apologizing for all of the crazy mishaps that her siblings were responsible for. 

It's funny, it's adorable, and it opens the door for lots of conversation about "then & now" (

what are portraits? They didn't have iPhones?)

, and how children are children no matter the era. 

3. Abe Lincoln's Dream

Written by Lane Smith

There are specific lines from this book that make me choke up a little EVERY time I read them. Like, I know they're coming! But it's just too powerful...Abe Lincoln had a raw and specific dream for this country that he never really got to see come to fruition. Have we made his dream come true yet?

If you have upper elementary or middle school students, this book could bring forth plenty of deep discussion about modern-day racism, equality in our country, and current events. It also could give you a chance to reflect with your students on how far we've come as a country, which always brings me peace when I realize how much work still needs to be done. <3

4. George Washington's Teeth

Written by Deborah Chandra

This book is a rhyming, silly story about...you guessed it, George Washington's Teeth! It describes silly ways that he loses his teeth one-by-one, ultimately having false teeth. But, the thing I admire about this book is how it laces real history in the midst of the goofiness. George is leading troops in the revolutionary war, he's married to Martha, he's elected president...all while losing his teeth. There are tons of mini-history lessons you can pull out of this text, but your students will be smiling at the silliness! 

5. Lincoln and Grace

Written by Ann Kronheimer

Abraham Lincoln's beard is pretty iconic, but do your students know it was just a kid who inspired him to grow it? 

This book tells the precious story of Grace, the girl who wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln, telling him he would look nicer with a beard. 

My students (and I would imagine yours will, as well), got a huge kick out of the idea of a kid writing a letter to a president...and on top of that she

criticized

him! Now, I'm not advocating for your class to take a day to write critical letters to the president about his appearance. But, I do believe it's a powerful lesson for students to learn...anyone, no matter how big, can voice their opinion. And it's valid, even if their opinion is about someone with a lot of power!

Ok, so maybe you don't necessarily want to spend the week of President's Day reading aloud to your students with no writing or activity to go with it. (Or maybe you do...and that's totally fine with me!)

But, in case you are seeking ways to make these read alouds a little more

interactive

, I have 2 things for you...and one of them is free!

This

President's Day KWL Booklet

has students record what they already know about each of the presidents, and what they wonder. Throughout the week, you could read aloud various stories about the presidents and have them record what they LEARNED! You can have them choose which president's face they would like to be the front cover, but have information about both presidents in there, or you can have your students make 2 separate books!

Either way will be adorable, I promise.

Additionally, you could turn either of these read alouds into a Think-Pair-Share activity! I have some

FREE resources

for you in my store! Your students can track their thinking as you read, and then you have an anchor chart to teach them how to pair and share their thinking, as well as talking stems to help your students really discuss what they wrote about! Check them out!

Happy Teaching, everyone! I hope your February is FANTASTIC!

XOXO, Stephanie

Psst...Don't forget it...Pin it!

Stephanie Sutherland