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Just the facts, ma'am: history books for kids

 
 
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2011 03:24 pm
Does anyone know a good series of history books for kids that don't sugar coat things and that don't editorialize? Something that just has the basic facts that led up to certain events, what the conditions were like for the soldiers -- the nitty gritty.

Mo (10, but a bit behind with reading) wants a book about the events leading up to WW2 and I'm not having a whole lot of luck escaping the whole "greatest generation" mindset that most books for kids seem to have.

A single title instead of a series would help if there isn't such a series.

Any help appreciated!
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2011 06:40 pm
@boomerang,
Hmmm. Normally, I'd recommend Gerhard Weinberg's Hitler's Foreign Policy and Akira Iriye's The Origins of the Second World War in Asia and the Pacific, but those books obviously are pitched to a much older audience than the typical ten-year old. In general, books exploring the origins of wars (as opposed to the military operations) don't interest the general reader. Even Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August focused mostly on the military operations at the opening of World War I rather than the causes of the war.

You might want to try Osprey Publishing's "Essential" series on World War II. Osprey publishes a lot of books to an audience of military buffs and wargamers. The books tend to be short and full of pictures and maps. I imagine that a bright 10-year old wouldn't have much problem with them. The hardback editions are really expensive, but there are plenty of used paperbacks out there for under $5.00.

And then there's also World War II for Kids, which is either a history or a how-to book.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2011 06:50 pm
@joefromchicago,
Thanks joe, I'll look at those.

I'm not looking for a "how to" but a "why" when I mention conditions. Like Mo came to me the other day and said "Did you know that more people died from disease than from injury during WW1?" I don't know where he might have picked up that tidbit (TV probably since he like the History and Military channels). I'm looking for books that might discuss that sort of thing.

Or how the invention of this changed how wars were fought.

Something beyond "Well.... Germany invaded Poland...." and then following up with my American history lessons starting at Pearl Harbor.

When Mo talks to my brother about such things Brother will start off with something like "2000 years ago....." (that's no extra 0).

Brother is much smarter than I am.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2011 06:57 pm
@boomerang,
The DK "Eyewitness" books are geared toward middle schoolers. The text is usually pretty light, but they always have plenty of interesting and detailed pictures. A kid could spend as much time reading the photo captions as reading the text. There's one for World War II.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 17 Jun, 2011 06:59 pm
@joefromchicago,
We have looked at some of those Eye Witness books before -- those are great!

Thanks.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 04:56 am
One of the problems you'll encounter is that, for the second world war in Europe, the causes are pretty much assumed. Just yesterday a member here posted that the Versailles treaty "caused" world war two. As Joe's first post takes notice of, there happened to be the little matter of the second world war in Asia, which in fact began earlier than the war in Europe. If i were you, i'd steer clear of the causes of the second world war, both because it is not a subject upon which there is general agreement (among laymen at least--i am not prepared to say if academic historians agree on the causes), and because, with the best will in the world, you are not likely to come up with anything a ten-year-old will understand, unless it's the pap of popular "history."

Joe's book list looks good, i think you wouldn't go wrong. I just think you should avoid the issue of what caused the war in Europe.
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 08:37 am
@Setanta,
I guess that explains why I was having a hard time coming up with a book that looked good.

I was looking through Joe's list and one of the reviews for WW2 for kids mentions "The Good Fight : How World War II Was Won"

Quote:
Veteran adult historian Ambrose (D-Day June 6, 1944; Citizen Soldiers) hits the mark with this patriotic photo-survey of America's involvement in WWII. His highly visual and textually concise approach make clear the giant scope of a war that truly spanned the world. The author covers a great deal of factual information by breaking down the events into digestible sections of one to two spreads each (the D-Day invasion, photos of the concentration camps, and the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki each have two spreads). Topics vary from the origins of the war in both Germany and Japan to Japanese-American relocation camps to the Manhattan Project and women in the work force, always keeping an eye to the human side of war and sacrifice. Carefully selected quotes reinforce the individual's experience, such as Major Richard Winters's reaction when his troops liberated concentration camp prisoners at Dachau: "Now I know why I am here." Ambrose also points out the irony that the U.S. battled a racist Hitler with a segregated army, and effectively argues that the exemplary performance of African-American troops paved the way for integration in the army and, eventually, for the civil rights movement. Haunting and powerful full-page and inset photographs bring each subject to life, including Joe Rosenthal's famous flag-raising after the battle of Iwo Jima. Because of the brevity, some issues such as Russia's temporary alliance with Germany are not discussed. The format succeeds in allowing Ambrose to flash back and forth between events around the globe, creating a heartpounding urgency. Ages 9-up.


That sounds like it might be a good one.
0 Replies
 
tsarstepan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 08:40 am
@Setanta,
Then I guess recommending the audiobook of Mein Kampf is out of the question?
http://www.amazon.com/Mein-Kampf-Translation-Adolf-Hitler/dp/0977476049
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 08:42 am
@tsarstepan,
I wouldn't expose an adult to that idiocy, never mind a ten year old boy. Was that intended as humor?
tsarstepan
 
  2  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 08:45 am
@Setanta,
Wink

Does this belated emoticon answer your question? Rolling Eyes
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 08:48 am
Oh, i already suspected that was your intention, i just didn't find it to be the effect.
0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 08:54 am
@tsarstepan,
Yes, entirely out of the question. So far out of the question I'm not quite sure what the question is anymore!

0 Replies
 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 09:06 am
History books for kids are strange things. I understand that you don't want them to be too bloody and graphic but they seem to lack any context and they are almost always disappointing.

I think there's a market for good kid's history books out there that aren't just a bunch of information presented in sidebars and "fast facts" boxes held together by a small block of text.
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 09:42 am
@boomerang,
There is one book that tells the story of a 15 year old boy who was drafted to Hitler's army - "Youth at War"
Here is the synapsis
Quote:
Youth at War: Feldpost Letters of a German Boy to His Parents, 1943-1945 is a bilingual (German and English), annotated edition of a large collection of Feldpost letters and postcards written by a German boy between September 1943 and February 1945. Born in 1927, Gerhard G. was one of Germany's youngest soldiers during the Second World War. He was only fifteen years old when in September 1943 he became a student (Luftwaffenhelfer) in the German Flak, an anti-aircraft gun unit that defended Germany against frequent aerial attacks by the Allied Forces. In July 1944, he was drafted into the R.A.D., a compulsory national labor service for young men and women. Finally, in October 1944, Gerhard joined the German navy (Kriegsmarine), where he served on the pocket battleship Admiral Scheer from January to March 1945. In May 1945, at the age of seventeen, he became an American prisoner of war. Due to his young age, he was released and permitted to return home in August 1945. This collection of one hundred and forty letters and postcards he had mailed to his parents was found in his house, shortly before his death in May 2008, neatly tied together by a string and in chronological order. It represents the large majority, if not all of the correspondence to his family that reached them while he was away from home. Gerhard's letters give deep insight into many aspects of military and social life during the Second World War, while offering the reader a rare and close look at the war experiences, thoughts, and feelings of an intelligent German boy who, from one day to the next, was made a part of Hitlers war machine. In combination with photographs and other documents from his childhood, youth, and young adulthood, these letters help reconstruct an interesting piece of German Alltagsgeschichte and can perhaps shed new light on a much-discussed time in German history. The edition, which includes a historical and biographical introduction, is not only a valuable source for scholars and students in various disciplines, but also addresses general readers with an interest in the social history of the Second World War.


http://www.amazon.com/Youth-Studies-Themes-Motifs-Literature/dp/1433111098

0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 10:59 am
@boomerang,
I 'd enjoy a nice conversation concerning the causes of WWII
over a nice meal when we meet at the American Mensa Annual Gathering in 2 weeks, boomer.





David
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 05:47 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
I think Mo will want to talk to you about guns.

I'll probably have to bribe him to make him talk about anything else.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 06:05 pm
There was once a hard-bound magazine entitled American Heritage (we used to have a subscription when i was a child). I don't know if the magazine is still in business, but they published a series of short histories of events in American history. Their one volume history of the First World War was done by S.L.A. Marshall, a former U. S. Army historian--although he has been a controversial writer, i found that brief history of a huge event to have been well done.

So, i went looking for an American Hertiage history of the Second World War, and came up with this. The original version, from the 1970s, i think, was done by C. L. Sulzberger, an excellent writer. This new edition has been edited by Stephen Ambrose. Ambrose has established himself as the contemporary American authority on the Second World War, but i suggest that he be approached with caution--veterans have challenged his versions of events in which they were themselves involved, and i found some small and one large factual error in his book D Day. However, Sulzberger can be trusted, and Ambrose is editor here, not author.

This is not a book for children, but it is a single volume history of a huge event, and decent versions of those are hard to come by. I suggest that, with guidance, Mo can handle this, and learn from it. Sulzberger is from the family that owns the New York Times and was a renowned foreign correspondent in the 40s and 50s. Give it a shot.
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 06:26 pm
@boomerang,
boomerang wrote:
I think Mo will want to talk to you about guns.

I'll probably have to bribe him to make him talk about anything else.
I can go on for a long, long time on that subject; its one of my favorites.
I can remember my 3rd birthday party, and time leading up to it.
I remember seeing guns on the hips of NYC police officers
and bank guards.
My eyes LOCKED on to them.
I remember lying in bed, remembering them,
fantasizing my misappropriating not only the gun, but the whole rig.
When I saw those revolvers: it was lust at first sight!

In NY, up to age 8, I had no access to functional guns (plenty of imitations).
That changed, as a citizen of Arizona; very different culture.
When I was 9, I was in school; the teacher, Mrs. Kraus, spoke,
as I looked in my history book. In boredom, I chanced to look
into the back of the book. ( "I wonder what's back here ?" )

I stumbled upon THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, including its Bill of Rights.
I read it in about 2 or 3 sittings.
I almost fell off my chair, when I got to the 2nd Amendment,
with NY fresh in my mind. By then, it was a moot point,
in that guns were all around: plentiful in Arizona (not enuf, but plentiful).

(Is "enuf guns" an oxymoron ?)



David
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 06:39 pm
@Setanta,
Thank you!!

At first the price made me wobble but then I saw that the used copies were really inexpensive. I'll be ordering that. It's certainly okay if it's something we need to explore together (I could use a better understanding of history) or something that he has to grow into. He has a lot of books that he revisits over years.
LionTamerX
 
  3  
Reply Sat 18 Jun, 2011 06:47 pm
@Setanta,
This was the first book I thought of when I saw this thread. I got the Sulzberger edition for my birthday when I was probably just about Mo's age, and just devoured it. For 10 year old me, it was the perfect balance of text, pictures, and maps. I actually picked up a second hand copy a few years ago, and re-read it just for fun, and it holds up very well.
 

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