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Four quadrant graphic featuring the book covers for My Name is James Madison Hemings, How Benjamin Franklin Became a Revolutionary in Seven (Not-So-Easy) Steps, Colonization and the Wampanoag Story, and Spy Ring.
Summer Reading List: 2024 Young Readers Edition

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As the school year winds down and summer approaches, the Museum is looking forward to warm weather, sunny skies, and longer days. Classes may be dismissed until the fall, but that doesn’t mean exploring the Revolutionary era stops for your kids or grandkids. Thus, we are excited to share our annual list of our favorite books for young readers!

The selected books cover a range of early American topics and reading levels, including both old favorites and new releases. One common feature among them is their ability to keep the children in your life reading all summer long.

My Name is James Madison Hemings
Written by Jonah Winter | Illustrated by Terry Widener
Best for ages 5-9 years old

In an evocative first-person account accompanied by exquisite artwork, Winter and Widener tell the story of James Madison Hemings’s childhood at Monticello, and, in doing so, illuminate the many contradictions in Jefferson’s life and legacy.

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Thomas Jefferson’s Battle for Science
Written by Beth Anderson | Illustrated by Jeremy Holmes
Best for ages 7-10 years old

Young Thomas Jefferson loved to measure the natural world: plants and animals, mountains and streams, crops, and weather. With a notepad in his pocket, he constantly examined, experimented, and explored. He dreamed of making great discoveries like the well-known scientific author Count Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon. This first picture book to emphasize Jefferson’s use of scientific methods is an accessible and entertaining approach to a lesser-known side of Jefferson.

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How Benjamin Franklin Became a Revolutionary in Seven (Not-So-Easy) Steps
Written by Gretchen Woelfle | Illustrated by John O’Brien
Best for ages 9-12 years old

Famous founding father Benjamin Franklin was a proud subject of the British Empire — until he wasn’t. It took nearly seventy years and seven not-so-easy steps to turn Benjamin Franklin from a loyal British subject to a British traitor — and a fired-up American revolutionary.

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Colonization and the Wampanoag Story
Written by Linda Coombs
Best for ages 10-13 years old

When you think about the beginning of the American story, what comes to mind? Three ships in 1492, or perhaps buckled hats and shoes stepping off of the Mayflower, ready to start a new country. But the truth is, Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims, and the Colonists didn't arrive to a vast, empty land ready to be developed. They arrived to find people and communities living in harmony with the land they had inhabited for thousands of years, and they quickly disrupted everything they saw. Told from the perspective of the New England Indigenous Nations that these outsiders found when they arrived, this is the true story of how America as we know it today began.

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Spy Ring
Written by Sarah Beth Durst
Best for ages 8-12 years old

Two modern-day kids discover the truth about an American Revolutionary War–era female spy through a treasure-hunt adventure in their hometown of Setauket, New York. With codewords and secret signals perfected, best friends Rachel and Joon are ready to spend their summer practicing spy craft — especially if they can uncover secrets like the one Joon’s parents have been keeping, that his family is about to move out of town.

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Christopher Hawkins and His Daring Escapes
Written by Jeanne Brownlee Becijos
Best for ages 8-12 years old

The Revolutionary War is raging, and 12-year-old Christopher Hawkins runs away to follow his dream of being a sailor and a patriot. During his first sea adventure, the British capture his ship. Quick-witted Christopher escapes at his first opportunity. This novel and tale of survival is adapted and expanded from author Becijos' great-great-great-great-grandfather's oft-quoted memoir, The Adventures of Christopher Hawkins. Learn more about Hawkins’s original journal, which is part of the Museum’s collection.

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Lafayette! (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #8): A Revolutionary War Tale
Written and Illustrated by Nathan Hale
Best for ages 8-12 years old

Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Marquis de Lafayette’s return to the United States with one of our favorite graphic novels! Gilbert du Motier became the Marquis de Lafayette at a young age, but he was not satisfied with the comforts of French nobility. He wanted adventure! A major general by nineteen, he was eager to prove himself in battle. When he heard about the revolution going on in America, he went overseas. Lafayette would become a legend on both sides of the Atlantic and a symbol of the enduring friendship between America and France.

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Two Asian American female children utilize the objects within Revolution Place. They are both seated at a wooden table. The child on the left is writing with a quill pen and smiling, while the child on the right is pretended to pour cream into her silver teacup. On the table to her left is a silver tea pot.
 

Revolution Place

Summer Hours: Daily, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
The Museum’s family-friendly discovery center, Revolution Place, brings to life the Museum’s lively, diverse Old City neighborhood during the 1700s and invites visitors to learn through hands-on exploration.
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For Kids & Families

Inspire the next generation of revolutionaries with hands-on activities, crafts, books, digital experiences, and more.
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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.
 

Read the Revolution

Browse Read the Revolution featuring a curated collection of excerpts from exciting, thought-provoking books about the American Revolution.
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