John Henry by Julius Lester, Jerry Pinkney
Hearthie has inspired me to focus more on my children’s literacy skills this summer, so I just borrowed this one from the library to read to my son. He listened in rapt attention, didn’t breathe at all through the second half of the book, and then sighed and said, “That was awesome!” when I finished.
I highly recommend this slightly modernized version of the tall tale. It’s a great launching pad to discuss things like slave and convict labor, the race to build the transcontinental railroads, the effect industrialization had on manual labor, and what it means to live and die in a dignified manner. Or you could just read it and allow the little boy’s mind to wander to imagine his own great feats.
There’s also a version read by Samuel L. Jackson that is supposed to be amazing and spine-tingling, but my library didn’t have it.
Exodus by Brian Wildsmith
The beautiful and unusual painted ink illustrations are worth the viewing, even though the text is very plain. It really appealed to my daughter, who is 6 years old and very visually-oriented, but my older sound found it interesting, as well.
Although my son is starting to understand the Bible, which is exciting, my daughter is still in the “children’s Bible” stage. Such books are great for elaborating on the most important stories, and bringing the characters alive for those who understand better what is seen than what is heard.
Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis by James Rickards
Although he’s clearly pushing the gold standard (and you all already know what I think about that), this is still a very clear and interesting account of the various currency wars in the late modern period, and a good projection of how a similar war is unfolding in the present. (It was a projection at the time it was written, but now it’s just fact.)
The account of Weimar was especially fascinating for me, and I learned much about financial history by reading this. The writing is concise, but the topic is rather heavy, so I plodded through it, one chapter at a time. Well worth the effort.
My husband actually bought this after seeing it reviewed on Max Keiser’s show, and then insisted that I read it, too.
A Brief History and Explanation of Feudalism by Hutton Webster
Short, simple, and comprehensive. This little booklet from 1917 tells you everything a layman needs to know about the societal system that most closely resembles our own. He describes the benefits and detriments, the Catholic Church’s outspoken criticism of the system, and how national kings eventually came to overthrow the system.
It’s about 20 pages long and I read it poolside, so it’s a great choice for those who want to be informed, but don’t have the time or inclination to pick up a heavy tome on the subject.