Written by Elaine Landau
Anyone who has seen the movie Lincoln or studied the 16th president’s time in office knows that Abraham Lincoln was president during the darkest and most difficult days of American history. Lincoln saw his country torn in two over the issue of slavery and faced the almost impossible task of waging war on his own people, while trying to pass legislation that many people disliked. One of Lincoln’s greatest, yet most difficult accomplishments, was passing the Emancipation Proclamation to free the slaves. Would You Do What Lincoln Did? takes readers on a journey with President Lincoln and gives them a first-hand look at the problems he faced.
Would You Do What Lincoln Did? begins with an attention-grabbing description of violence as it describes how a mob broke into a warehouse, destroyed a printing press, and killed its abolitionist owner. From there, the book goes into a careful and detailed explanation of slavery, abolitionism, and other hot issues of the day before going on to describe President Lincoln’s efforts to rid the United States of slavery and unite the country during the Civil War. What sets this book apart from other history books is a page at the end of each chapter that asks the reader, “What would you do?” and presents a series of options. This page is followed by the next chapter, which begins by saying, “This is what happened.” This format is a wonderful way to involve the reader and make him or her think about what was going on 250 years ago and how different choices could have changed history. I can see teachers and students engaged in lively classroom discussions as they ponder the choices Lincoln faced!
I highly recommended this book for any second-grade classroom in need of a great way to present a vital chapter in American history. The book is well-organized, detailed, and appealing to readers, with plenty of action and personal detail. Despite the wealth of information, the text is easy for second graders to read and understand. Period photographs, paintings, and newspaper reprints provide an up-close “you are there” feeling to the book that is sure to keep readers’ attention. The book also includes a timeline, a glossary, a list of books and websites with more information, and a detailed index. This is an excellent choice for a book report or history project. The book could also be used as the basis of a reading worksheet or history enrichment lesson. It’s a great choice for independent reading by strong readers but would also work as a classroom read-aloud that is sure to spark discussion as the students ponder what they would do in Lincoln’s place.