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A collection of books featured in the Museum's 2023 summer reading list for young readers.
Summer Reading List: 2023 Young Readers Edition

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As students start the countdown to the end of the school year and the beginning of summer vacation, we rounded up a new batch of books for young readers to keep them reading all summer long! This eight-book reading list inspired by the compelling stories and complex events of the American Revolution features stories of famous presidents, undercover spies, history-making women, and unsung heroes whose names may not be as well-known as Washington, Franklin, or Adams.

All these recently published works will encourage your young reader to explore the past and the people who shaped it, and to find connections with the everyday citizens who made their mark on the nation’s founding. 

Forgotten Founders: Black Patriots, Women Soldiers, and Other Thinkers and Heroes Who Shaped Early America
Written by Mifflin Lowe | Illustrated by Wiliam Luong
Best for ages 7-11

The founding of America was not accomplished by a handful of people; it required the heart, soul, and grit of an entire nation. This inspiring book of stories is about the heroic women, African Americans, immigrants, and others who played pivotal roles in America’s birth.

Excerpt: “In the end, the point of this book is not to rewrite history or dismiss the people long known as the Founding Fathers or make the lives of women, Native Americans, or Blacks sound better than they were. Instead, the goal is to broaden our perspective — and celebrate those who generally have yet to be sufficiently recognized — to make the story of the founding of this country everyone’s story, for everyone’s it is.”

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Cloaked in Courage: Uncovering Deborah Sampson, Patriot Solider
Written by Beth Anderson | Illustrated by Anne Lambelet
Best for ages 7-10

Deborah Sampson longs to break free. To be much more than a girl is allowed to be. Caught up in her country’s fight for independence, 18-year-old Deborah declares her own independence. She soon enlists in George Washington’s Continental Army, signing on as Robert Shurtliff. A young lady can’t battle the British, but a man can! But being a soldier is hard, dangerous work. Can she keep her identity a secret? 

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The World Turned Upside Down: The Yorktown Victory that Won American Independence
Written by Tim Grove
Best for ages 10-14

In October 1781, American, French, and British forces converged on a small village named Yorktown — a place that the British would try to forget, and Americans would forever remember. In his riveting, balanced, and thoroughly researched account of the Revolutionary War’s last pivotal conflict, author Tim Grove follows the true stories of American, French, and British players, whose lives intersected at Yorktown.

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Her Name was Mary Katherine: The Only Woman Whose Name is on the Declaration of Independence
Written by Ella Schwartz | Illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
Best for ages 7-10

When the Continental Congress decreed that the Declaration of Independence be widely distributed, one person rose to the occasion and printed the document — boldly inserting her name at the bottom with a printing credit: Mary Katharine Goddard. Here is an important biography of a groundbreaking woman who had the courage to write herself into the history she helped create.

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Revolutionary Rogues: John André and Benedict Arnold
Written by Selene Castrovilla | Illustrated by John O’Brien
Best for ages 7-11

Young fans of the Broadway smash "Hamilton" will enjoy this riveting nonfiction picture book that unfolds like a play, telling a story from American history. Gravely injured and with little chance for more military honors, Major General Benedict Arnold seeks reward and recognition another way. He contacts Major John André, the new head of British intelligence, and they strike a deal to use Arnold’s intelligence to take over West Point, the strategic American fort. The plan ultimately fails, leading to André’s capture and death and Arnold’s loss of reward and glory. This title brilliantly captures these two Revolutionary rogues' tensions and high drama by highlighting their similarities and differences and by demonstrating how they brought about their own tragic ends.

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Revolutionary Prudence Wright: Leading the Minute Women in the Fight for Independence
Written by Beth Anderson | Illustrated by Susan Reagan
Best for ages 7-10

Annoyed when the British king held back freedoms in colonial Massachusetts, feisty and fearless Prudence had enough. She said no to British goods, determined to rely on her resourcefulness and ingenuity to get by. And when British troops continued to threaten the lives of her family and community, she assembled and led the "minute women" of Pepperell to break free of tradition.

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Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library
Written by Barb Rosenstock | Illustrated by John O’Brien
Best for ages 7-10

Before, during, and after the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson collected thousands of books on hundreds of subjects. In fact, his massive collection eventually helped rebuild the Library of Congress — now the largest library in the world. The rhythmic words and whimsical illustrations capture Jefferson's zeal for the written word and little-known details about book collecting.

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History Smashers: The American Revolution
Written by Kate Messner | Illustrated by Justin Greenwood
Best for ages 8-12

Myths! Lies! Secrets! Uncover the hidden truth behind the Revolutionary War with a fun mix of sidebars, illustrations, photos, and graphic panels in this nonfiction series that smashes everything you thought you knew about history. A great addition to any middle-grade reader!

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200th Edition Museum Staff Picks Reading List includes A People’s History of the American Revolution by Ray Raphael; John Adams by David McCullough; Never Caught by Erica Armstrong Dunbar; American Revolutions: A Continental History 1750-1804 by Alan Taylor; The Shoemaker and the Tea Party by Alfred F. Young; and Spies in the Continental Capital by John A. Nagy. The books are stacked on top of one another on a wooden bench outside on a sunny day. The books and the bench are in clear view while the background is blurred.

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