On my first day of work at Ford’s Theatre, the first thing I saw was the Book Tower in the Aftermath Exhibits, located in the Center for Education and Leadership. It’s an impressive and imposing sculpture - standing at its base in the lobby, you can see that it goes up four floors. I soon learned that the Book Tower features 205 books about Lincoln life and legacy: the books repeat throughout the tower, and the tower totals approximately 6,800 books. But it would take more than two Book Towers to show how much has has been written about Lincoln - to-date there are more than 15,000 books!
Since my first day, I have tried to learn as much about Lincoln’s life and legacy as I could – starting by gathering book recommendations from all my new colleagues. I quickly learned that though there are more than 15,000 books to choose from, my friends on the Ford’s Education team think that some of the best ones are children’s books.
Whether you’re five or 105, children’s books can still be the perfect introduction to President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and legacy.
1. The President is Shot! The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln written by Harold Holzer (Calkins Creek, 2004)
Though Harold Holzer is renowned for his Lincoln scholarship, his young adult book is also a great choice. The President is Shot! is filled with dramatic details and includes historical photographs. The book describes John Wilkes Booth’s conspiracy to kill Lincoln and decapitate the Union government, Lincoln’s assassination in Ford’s Theatre, and the subsequent manhunt to find Booth and his collaborators.
We recommend it for those in grades 6 through 8.
2. The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln (Graphic History) written by Kay Melchisedech Olson and illustrated by Otha Zackariah Edward Lohse (Capstone Press, 2005)
In The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the story of John Wilkes Booth’s treacherous conspiracy is transformed into an action-packed comic book. This graphic novel is sure to make history more engaging for young adult readers.
We recommend this for those in grades 6 through 8.
3. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer written by James Swanson (Scholastic Press, 2009)
Following the success of Manhunt (which appears in our Book Tower!), James Swanson created an edition of his book for young adults. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer is a Ford’s favorite that follows the twelve-day hunt for Booth after Lincoln’s murder.
We recommend this book for grades 5 through 8.
4. Abraham Lincoln Comes Home written by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Wendell Minor (Henry Holt & Co., 2008)
Abraham Lincoln Comes Home tells the story of Lincoln’s funeral procession through the eyes of a young boy. The book captures what it might have been like to watch as thousands flocked to witness the train carrying Lincoln’s body from Washington D.C. back to his home in Illinois.
We recommend it for those in grades 1 through 3.
To learn more about how the country reacted to Lincoln’s death, Ford’s also offers extensive primary resources in our Remembering Lincoln interactive site, where you can search by location, date, or type of resource.
Anali Alegria is Communications Associate at Ford’s Theatre. After gathering children’s book recommendations from everyone on the Ford’s Education Team (and then reading them herself!), she is happy to report that adults will enjoy them as well!