There are lots of wonderful books and movies for kids about the American Revolution. In this post, I’m going to highlight some of the resources we used during our American Revolution Unit. Our kids are currently elementary and middle school age: 7, (almost) 10 and 12.
Books and Resources we used for this unit study:
We have a number of different American History textbooks, but we wound up using another resource that I had from my teaching days. It worked well for our family because it had one page for each topic we covered. The style was really engaging. We used this as a read aloud. We only used the second half of the book, but I definitely recommend it.
The American Colonies (affiliate link) by Tim McNeese (1 page or so on each topic). We used pages 66-93 for this unit. There are no illustrations/maps to speak of (just small black and white drawings on every other page or so), but this book worked well for our family.
Johnny Tremain (affiliate link) – This book has really made this era come alive for the kids. Many of you have probably heard of this Newbery Winner. This has been our read aloud the past few weeks. The kids really love this book and it has made some of the people we’ve learned about come alive! When we talked about smugglers and merchants being upset about the Townshend Duties or Tea Act, the kids knew John Hancock really well (from Johnny Tremain). We highly recommend it!
Because our family is reading Johnny Tremain (affiliate link) in conjunction with this unit study, I made a interactive notebook page for the great men of Boston… Men who feature prominently in that book. We used this as a lapbook page. We cut out the page below, folded it along the dotted line, and made cuts between each of the names/photos. Kids can either write in their own description under the flap, or use the information provided to glue within the flap-book.
Liberty’s Kids – The Complete Series: (affiliate link) My daughters have been watching one episode most days this semester. (They are 7 and 10) The Amazon description reads: “Travel back in time to witness history in the making with Benjamin Franklin’s teenage reporters as they confront the real and physical dangers of the American Revolution. Trapped in opposite sides of the war – James, an American colonist, and Sarah, a young English reporter – are forced to choose between friendship and allegiance to their countries.” There are about 40 episodes. It touches on the major events leading to the American Revolution. This is the first thing ED does every morning (is watch an episode) and she said she wishes she could watch more than one! So, it gets two thumbs up from our family!
Liberty! The American Revolution -(affiliate link) This was a series made for adults, but I got this (6 hour series) for my (middle school age) son. Because we had some traveling to do, we wound up watching the first several episodes in the car (on a portable DVD player). All three kids really liked it. I definitely learned some things I didn’t know before (and I spent years teaching the American Revolution on the high school and college level!!) Even though my 7 year old liked it, I think it is better suited for 10+.
April Morning (affiliate link) – This is a 1980s film about the Battles of Lexington and Concord. Some of the battle scenes may need to be previewed if you have sensitive kids, but it was fine for my kids. My kids really enjoyed this film. It is available on Amazon instant video:
Let It Begin Here!: Lexington & Concord: First Battles of the American Revolution: (affiliate link) We read this children’s book the day after we watched April Morning. The kids said — Wow, that was just like the movie! This is a quick read.
Other children’s resources we used during this unit:
George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides (affiliate link) — This book helps kids look at this period of history from both points of view — from that of King George III in Britain and from that of George Washington in the colonies. It tries to give an even-handed portrayal of both sides… and we had a really great discussion about being on the “right side.” It depends!
Sleds on Boston Common: A Story from the American Revolution (affiliate link)– by Louise Borden – Set in Dec. 1774, this story portrays General Thomas Gage as an understanding, fatherly figure to some boys in Boston who want to go sledding. This book really helped my kids understand how difficult it was for the British soldiers who were so far away from their families… and for the people (and kids) of Boston, whose town was overrun by soldiers (one British soldier for every 5 Boston citizens.)
Katie’s Trunk (affiliate link)– by Ann Turner – This story was told from the perspective of a Tory family. A little girl runs back into her house to try to protect her family’s belongings when rebels came and started looting. We had a good discussion on how it wasn’t as clear cut which side to support (the king or the patriot cause) at the time, as it is looking back on history.
Henry and the Cannons: An Extraordinary True Story of the American Revolution (affiliate link)– The story of how Henry Knox dragged 59 cannons from Fort Ticonderoga in NY, all the way back to Boston. This was a journey that took nearly five months, but led to the recapture of Boston in March 1776.
The Ride: The Legend of Betsy Dowdy (affiliate link) This is a story of a girl who rode her horse from the North Carolina coast inland to General Skinner’s militia 50 miles inland to warn that Lord Dunmore were marching on the Great Bridge and were after supplies and ponies. Set in Dec. of 1777. The story is based on oral tradition.
Redcoats and Petticoats (affiliate link) This book is based on a true story of people on the north shore of Long Island (60 miles east of NYC). A spy ring began in 1778 and ran for six years, with Nancy Strong passing along information on her clothesline.
The Scarlet Stockings Spy (Tales of Young Americans) (affiliate link) This is a fictional story about a girl who uses her clothesline in Philadelphia to share information about the ships in the Philadelphia Harbor. It is set in 1777 around the time of the Battle of Brandywine, Valley Forge, and the Battle of Monmouth.
They Called Her Molly Pitcher (affiliate link) This is the story of Molly Pitcher who accompanied her husband to Valley Forge and then brought water to soldiers at the Battle of Monmouth (in July 1777) and eventually took over her husband’s job firing a cannon.
You might also be interested in some of our other history packets:
- Native Americans of the Northeast (Part I: The Algonquian Indians)
- Native Americans of the Northeast (Part II, Iroquois Indians) where I shared our Wampum belt project and the printable you see below:
- 6 Native American Picture Books for Kids
- A Visit with Pocahontas’ Great (Gr, Gr…) Granddaughter
- Native Americans of the Southeast: Cherokee, Seminole Indians, Trail of Tears
That’s about it for today! Have a wonderful day!
See you again soon here or over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page! ~Liesl