Do you know why Abe Lincoln had a beard? It was not, as my mother guessed, to cover up acne. It was to make him appear more presidential. It also came at the suggestion of an 11 year girl. In a letter, she told Lincoln that not only would he look better with a beard, but that she was certain she could convince her older brothers to vote for him in the upcoming election if he had facial hair. Lincoln took her advice.
Spoiler alert: he won the election.
Thanks to my nonfiction/information sources for children class, I've become really interested in finding nonfiction texts that aren't boring. Steve Sheinkin's Two Miserable Presidents is one such book.
|Look at that beard. So presidential.|
Without patronizing the reader, he describes the American Civil War from the perspective of both sides, focusing on the difficulties Lincoln and Jefferson Davis faced throughout the ordeal. He presents standard information regarding war plans, army tactics, and advantages and disadvantages to both sides, but he also includes stories of lesser known soldiers and quotes that highlight the soldiers' experiences during the war. A lot of information is presented humorously, like the history factoid detailed above, which enhances the information typically found in textbooks. Amusing illustrations also add to the non-textbook feel. This presentation is more accessible to children who often find that history textbooks are boring and difficult to read.