Teaching and Learning Aids

National Humanities Center’s Humanities in Class Webinar Series and Digital Library

Registration is now open for the 2020-21 Humanities in Class Webinar Series. Each webinar is a live, interactive professional conversation led by prominent scholars on compelling topics in the humanities. Appropriate for educators at all levels from K-12 to collegiate classrooms, each session features research, source documents, and readings to support the discussion. Participants receive a certificate of completion to document five hours of professional development to meet continuing education requirements. All webinars are free of charge. Learn more and sign up for one – or sign up for them all.

From left: Alex Keyssar of Harvard University, Ebony Elizabeth Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania, Geraldo Cadava of Northwestern University, and Elizabeth Lew-Williams of Princeton University

In addition the Humanities in Class Digital Library is now available to the public. The Open Education Resources (OER) platform, provides direct access to the National Humanities Center online educational content. Individual educators and scholars, cohorts and schools, districts and states are encouraged to join and contribute.

The digital library offers useful features to help easily discover, remix, and share humanities content. Register to start enjoying the benefits of the Humanities in Class Digital Library.

iCivic’s “Race to Ratify” Game Helps Students Understand the U.S. Constitution

In Race to Ratify, a game in the iCivics library, the U.S. Constitution has just been written and signed, and states are contemplating its ratification. Race to Ratify covers the platforms of the federalists and the anti-federalists in this debate. Players act as pamphleteers and travel around the 13 U.S. states to interview people and learn their stances on ratification, along with some good arguments for and against. The characters that players interview are based on real-life people of the time and include farmers, officials, enslaved people, businesspeople, and statesmen. As players hold their interviews, they acquire argument tokens, such as Solving a Known Problem, that contain ideas they can use in interviews or when composing persuasive pamphlets. Once a token is earned, players drag it to the federalist or anti-federalist side of the screen for easy access later. Students can view their interview transcripts at any time to refresh their memory.

After initial interviews, the first state holds its convention to decide on the issue of ratification. At that point, players need to pick a side — federalist or anti-federalist — and create a persuasive pamphlet. In the pamphlets, students compose up to three articles by choosing previously earned argument tokens that support the side they have chosen. No actual writing is necessary, however. The game then evaluates how persuasive their arguments are, and players set up their printing press where it can do the most good — that is, near states that need convincing to vote for the player’s chosen side. To provide some challenge, there’s a rival pamphleteer supporting the other side. By the end of the game, players will need to have swayed enough states to pass the overall ratification. Once nine states ratify the new Constitution, it goes into effect for those states. But if just five reject it, the whole thing is rejected and they have to start over.

How Can I Teach with This Tool?

While Race to Ratify is an excellent learning experience all on its own, teachers can make the lesson much more complete by taking advantage of the resources available on the iCivics website. These include a teacher’s guide filled with activities, corresponding PowerPoint slides, a game guide, and a document entitled The History Files that includes additional activity ideas, a ratification timeline, a glossary, a biographical sketch worksheet, in-depth research for each character in the game, and a list of additional resources.

Unlike some of the other iCivics games, Race to Ratify isn’t fast-paced, so students can take their time. Delve into the attitudes on both the federalist and anti-federalist sides at the time the U.S. Constitution was written. Start with the activities called Ye Olde Social Media and Before the Constitution. Then play the game as a class, or assign it to individuals or groups of students. Afterward, tackle as many of the follow-up activities as time allows, and consider holding a class discussion to draw parallels between the federalist and anti-federalist arguments and our political issues of today, as well as comparing the publishing of pamphlets to today’s social media influencers. Poll your students to see which side they chose and why. They can then write their own persuasive pamphlets to try to convince the rest of the class to join their side.

Immersing students in the human side of history — allowing them to see what it was like to live during this time and why people formed the opinions and stances they did — brings history to life and helps students realize that these people weren’t all that different from people today. Their debates may have been on different topics and their methods of communication were different, but they still fought for many of the same issues relevant today.

Is It Good for Learning?

Race to Ratify is a rich learning experience with an enjoyable story and a lot of player agency and critical thinking. The game will keep students’ interest, and get them engaging material they might not have expected to find interesting. They may even want to play it more than once, to uncover some of the arguments that their storyline didn’t address the first time. Paired with the rich teacher resources, Race to Ratify helps students learn the differing positions of the federalists and anti-federalists and the ratification process for the U.S. Constitution. Students simulate exactly what was going on in political debate at the time, and the game draws attention to different articles of the Constitution and their effect on government and representation. Advantages and disadvantages of the Constitution are discussed, including how these relate to taxation, slavery, and the branches of government. Students also learn about a few actual historical people who held a variety of opinions and perspectives, lived in different regions, and came from different socioeconomic classes. At the end of the game, students unpack how the game’s version of events differed from what really happened during the ratification years.

As students work their way through the game, they’ll expand their vocabulary with era- and context-specific words that are highlighted in the text. Students can click on the words to see the glossary entries for them. They can also play the game with one of two game modes: Historical or Free Play. In the former, the starting conditions are identical to how they really were in the fall of 1787; in the latter, the game randomly changes the starting conditions and convention order.

While it’s an effective game, there’s a little room for improvement. Sometimes interview options are worded in a silly fashion, undermining the difficulty of answer choice. This doesn’t prevent students from learning about the topic, but it seems to be a missed opportunity for practicing crucial critical thinking skills. There’s also a lack of audio to accompany the written text, which might make it a no-go for some students.

Read the 5-Star review of iCivic’s “Race to Ratify” Game on Common Sense >>


  1. MY ANTONIA by Willa Cather
  2. A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN by Betty Smith
  3. THE HOUSE OF MIRTH by Edith Wharton
  4. MOBY DICK by Herman Melville
  5. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee
  6. THE FINANCIER by Theodore Dreiser
  7. SISTER CARRIE by Theodore Dreiser
  8. LUCY GAYHEART by Willa Cather
  9. GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
  10. I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS by Maya Angelou (Vol 1)

11. GATHER TOGETHER IN MY NAME by Maya Angelou (Vol 2)
15. ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
16. THE BELL JAR by Sylvia Plath
17. JOHNNY TREMAIN by Esther Forbes.
18. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
20. THE SCARLET LETTER by Nathaniel Hawthorne

21. THE HOUSE OF SEVEN GABLES by Nathaniel Hawthorne
24. THE GRAPES OF WRATH by John Steinbeck
25. OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck
26. THE PEARL by John Steinbeck
27. A MOVEABLE FEAST by Ernest Hemingway
28. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway
29. A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingway
30. SOPHIE’S CHOICE by William Styron

31. DARKNESS VISIBLE by William Styron
32. THE CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
33. PORTNOY’S COMPLAINT by Philip Roth
34. GOODBYE, COLUMBUS by Philip Roth
35. PATRIMONY by Philip Roth
37. THE CHOSEN by Chaim Potok
38. MY NAME IS ASHER LEV by Chaim Potok

41. WALDEN/OTHER WRITINGS by Henry David Thoreau
43. THREE BY FLANNERY O’CONNOR by Flannery O’Connor
44. THE WINDS OF WAR by Herman Wouk
45. WAR AND REMEMBRANCE by Herman Wouk
46. A WOMAN OF INDEPENDENT MEANS by Elizabeth Forsythe Hailey
47. THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE by Stephen Crane
48. THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers
49. ORDINARY PEOPLE by Judith Guest


Helpful Links for Students at Home:
Part II—Literature and Poetry Resources

Almost overnight we’ve become a nation of stay-at-home learners. Fortunately, there is a wealth of material online offering constructive and stimulating reading projects for middle and high school age students. To assist parents and teachers in this new environment, we present the following links to free, expertly curated resources focused on American literature and poetry from Library of America and other leading cultural institutions. (An earlier post identified resources for American history.)

Library of America
Library of America’s Story of the Week is a free online service that offers an important piece of American writing of high literary quality each week to over 100,000 readers. Every Story of the Week selection features a newly researched introduction providing essential background for understanding the selection, topic, or author. Ranging from short stories, narrative poems, and one-act plays to essays, historical documents, and journalists’ dispatches, all selections are available online to anyone with access to the internet—and most may be photocopied and distributed in the classroom.

To date, nearly 500 selections have been posted, with new ones added every week, and thousands of teachers and students use these expertly edited and annotated classic texts. Below are the top Story of the Week selections based on cumulative site traffic from school district servers, classroom discussion boards, and college and university websites:

  1. “The Yellow Wall Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  2. “Charles” by Shirley Jackson
  3. “The Ransom of Red Chief” by O. Henry
  4. “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  5. “The Swimmer” by John Cheever
  6. “Désirée’s Baby” by Kate Chopin
  7. “The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving
  8. “Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln” by Frederick Douglass
  9. “A Presidential Candidate” by Mark Twain
  10. “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation works to raise poetry to a more visible and influential position in our culture. To assist home learners, they are making available poetry teaching content organized by grade level. In addition to content from their website, Teaching Poetry Online provides links to resources from other educational organizations.

Poets.org is the official website of the Academy of American Poets, providing free access to poems, essays, interviews, audio clips, poet biographies, and virtual live events. They’re also the home of National Poetry Month, offering 30 Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month at Home or Online, including writing exercises, podcasts, letters to poets, and suggested videos of poets discussing their work.

In partnership with the National Council of Teachers of English and the International Literacy Association, ReadWriteThink provides educators and parents with free, high quality teaching material in reading and language arts. They offer a wide variety of at-home lesson plans and learning activities organized by grade level.

Storybird is a short story creation website with a beautiful interface and engaging prompts. Older students can accept writing challenges created by experienced teachers or write their own tales.

TeenBookCloud gathers videos and books in a variety of different categories including fiction, historical nonfiction, drama, and poetry. Works from graded AP English curricula are presented separate for easy reference (Grades 6–12).

Explore Further
Some helpful links for students at home: Part I—History Resources

Compiled by the Library of America.

Helpful Links for Students at Home:
Part I — History Resources

Almost overnight we’ve become a nation of stay-at-home learners. Fortunately, there is a wealth of material online offering constructive and stimulating reading projects for middle and high school age students. To assist parents and teachers in this new environment, we offer the following links to free, expertly curated resources focused on American history from Library of America and other leading cultural institutions. (A second post will identify resources for American literature and poetry.)

Library of America
The Civil War: Prepared for the 150th anniversary of the nation’s most devastating conflict, these six readers collect firsthand historical accounts from Americans of every stripe—men and women, Northern and Southern, enslaved and free—with introductions by acclaimed historians and questions for review and discussion.

Secession and Union, introduced by Professor Manisha Sinha
Reckoning with the War, introduced by Professor Eric Foner
The Experience of Battle, introduced by Professor Brooks D. Simpson
From Slavery to Freedom, introduced by Professor Thavolia Glymph
Women and the War, introduced by Professor Elizabeth D. Leonard
The War at Home, introduced by Professor Stephanie McCurry

World War I and America: U.S. involvement in the Great War was a transformational event in the history of our country. Here is a series of concise firsthand historical accounts by Americans who experienced World War I accompanied by video introductions by leading scholars and questions for discussion.

Why Fight?, introduced by Professor Michael Neiberg
The Experience of War, introduced by Professor Edward Lengel
Race and World War I, introduced by Professor Chad Williams
American Women at War, introduced by Professor Jennifer Keene
The Home Front, introduced by Chad Williams
America on the World Stage, introduced by Michael Neiberg
Coming Home, introduced by Michael Neiberg

American Environmental Writing: A special Library of America website invites you to join activist and author Bill McKibben on a fascinating and inspiring tour of two centuries of essential American writings that changed the way we look at ourselves in relation to the natural world. In a series of short videos McKibben comments on a sampling of the most seminal works from his award-winning anthology American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau. (A free downloadable teacher’s guide is also available on the site.) Featured works include:

Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Rural Hours by Susan Fenimore Cooper
A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf by John Muir
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
“Smokey the Bear Sutra” by Gary Snyder

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Colonial Williamsburg, the nation’s premier living history museum, is closed, but it is making its extensive library of teacher’s resources about subjects ranging from the founding of Jamestown to the Jim Crow era available for free to home learners. Register for free here.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
A nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History promotes the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources. Amid the COVID-19 crisis they are offering a new free family website subscription to support remote learning (registration is required.)

Grateful American Foundation
Billed as “an interactive, multimedia educational series designed to restore enthusiasm in American history for kids — and adults, too,” the Grateful American Foundation offers remote teaching and learning aids, podcasts, videos, a guide to recommended history books for children, and other resources through its extensive website.

The National Constitution Center
The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia encourages individuals from across America and around the world to learn about, debate, and celebrate the world’s oldest functioning democratic charter. As part of their Online Civic Learning Opportunities the Center is offering daily live conversations for middle school, high school, and college students, available through Zoom, and accessible on home computer, laptop, or device.

The New-York Historical Society
This acclaimed New York cultural center and museum is conducting live stream online classes on Zoom. Lessons are content-based and inquiry-driven, featuring images and historical documents from the society’s collections. Different grade levels meet on different days, and each class lasts approximately an hour. No log-in or membership is required. Find our more about the schedule of classes here.

The Rosenbach Museum and Library
The Rosenbach is a world-renowned collection of rare books and manuscripts in Philadelphia. With schools closed, the Rosenbach continues to inspire students by sharing learning guides paired with primary documents penned by famous Americans ranging from Phillis Wheatley to George Washington to Abraham Lincoln.

Explore Further
Some helpful links for students at home: Part II—Literature and Poetry Resources

Compiled by the Library of America.

Abigail & John Online Curriculum Lesson Plans and Activities Compiled by Dr. Neme Alperstein

Dr. Neme Alperstein, Teacher of Gifted and Talented Students in the New York City Public School system since 1987, compiled the teaching tools that accompany Abigail & John, the children’s history book. This list was shared on TPS Teachers Network.

The recent publication of Abigail & John by David Bruce Smith, illustrations by renowned American artist Clarice Smith, is one I highly recommend for young readers and teachers. As a very well developed educational online resource, this resonates when it comes to teaching American history. See the resources below along with podcasts that have been developed to accompany the book.

This is the story of America’s power couple, Abigail and John Adams. In this book we see Abigail’s impact on her husband’s role in history. The relationship is collaborative giving a long overdue nod to the woman behind (and often in front of) the man. Clarice Smith’s illustrations show just how important art is in telling a story, and the artwork adds a dimension of strength as well as beauty to the narrative.

The accompanying online curriculum lesson plans and activities across content areas are prescient for the learning mode of our times. It includes professional development introduced by California teacher Sara Garza (Teaching With Abigail & John). Below are the various links to those resources guiding educators and students who read the book. David Bruce Smith, both an author and publisher, established the Grateful American Book Foundation to support learning about American history through stories. The foundation holds an annual competition, The Grateful American Book Prize, for newly published books on American history geared towards young readers.

Curriculum Activities:


Podcasts – Interviews with the Author for a possible author study:


Grateful American Book Home Page

http://gratefulamericanbookseries.com  with links to podcasts and curriculum materials

Teaching Abigail & John – California teacher Sara Garza speaks to teachers with ideas to implement using the book. This lends itself beautifully to the online remote teaching mode (although no one could have anticipated this).

Curriculum for Download:


Includes reading activities, social studies, STEM, Art activities and assessment tools

Content Areas:

Teaching Abigail & John

Reading Activities (pages 3–4)

  • Venn Diagram: Students will compare and contrast topics and people related to Abigail and John Adams, using a Venn diagram.
  • Close Reading: In this literacy-based activity, students will perform close reading of the text by using sticky notes to annotate it. They will then answer questions and complete a challenge.

Social Studies Activities (pages 5–8)

  • The Letters of Abigail & John: In this primary source-driven activity, students will locate and read an actual letter written by Abigail and/or John and answer questions about the letter.
  • .Historical Timeline: Students will use the major events in the lives of Abigail and John to create an in-depth historical timeline.
  • Modern-Day Comparison: Students complete a graphic organizer in which they compare and contrast a modern-day influential couple with Abigail and John.
  • Let’s Talk!: Students will write and perform a talk-show skit featuring Abigail and John Adams.

STEM Activities (pages 9–11)

  • With WiFi: What if WiFi were available in the past? In this imaginative activity, students are asked to create social media profiles for Abigail or John Adams.
  • Spy Games: In this engineering-inspired activity, students are challenged to design a device that will transmit top-secret information during the Revolutionary War.
  • The Cost of War: Wartime often results in an increase in prices for everyday necessities. In this activity, students are faced with the challenge of cutting their modern-day expenses in half.

Art Activities (pages 12–15)

  • All About the Art: What makes the book Abigail & John so unique is its beautiful and inspirational art created by world-renowned artist Clarice Smith. This activity directs students to study the art and answer questions about it.
  • Commemorative Stamp: For today’s students, stamps may seem like relics of the past. In this activity, students will use their creative skills to design a commemorative stamp for Abigail and John.
  • Museum Display: In this hands-on activity, students will use clay to create a bust of either Abigail or John. They will then write a detailed description of their bust to accompany the piece in a museum.
  • Historical Monument: What better way to honor two of history’s most celebrated figures than with a historical monument? In this activity, students are faced with the challenge of creating a historical monument for Abigail and John worthy of the ages.

Assessments (pages 16–19)

  • Multiple-Choice Quiz: Assess student knowledge with this multiple-choice quiz.
  • Short-Answer Assessment: Allow students to use the book with this assessment. This way, students can cite specific evidence from the text when providing answers to the questions.
  • Crossword Puzzle: Looking for a fun and creative way to assess student comprehension? Look no further than this crossword puzzle based on information from the text.

The podcast page includes the Instructional Video for Teachers and Parents to Use in Conjunction with Abigail & John.

The podcasts are interviews with the author, David Bruce Smith. Each interview is quite different from the next examining the presidential power couple (Abigail & John), and offering insights into the author and his motivations for writing what is the first of a series of books on power couples in the White House. Renowned American artist Clarice Smith is the artistic collaborator whose illustrations contribute a beautiful tone to the text.  Each link below takes you to the interview from a particular historical institution. David Bruce Smith shares personal stories, his biography and who he embarked on becoming a writer. They are perfect for an author study.

With: The New York Historical Society, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Arena on Air, National Council for History Education, Advancement of the Supreme Court Society, George Washington (GW) Today, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Constitutional Sources Project, the French-American Cultural Foundation, The Grateful American Foundation, Maryland Humanities, American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), BookMarketingBuzzBlog.

Below are details of each podcast and the institution conducting the interview with the author:

New York Historical Society

It took a Long Time for Abigail and John Adams to secure a place in history. Now, what?
February 26, 2020 – Podcast with Louise Mirrer, President & CEO of New-York Historical Society, and author David Bruce Smith to learn more about Abigail & John and their times.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Illustrating a Historical Partnership: Abigail and John Adams February 24, 2020 — In an interview with National Museum of Women in the Arts, David Bruce Smith discussed the genesis of the book, Abigail & John, and his creative partnership with his mother, renowned painter Clarice Smith, who created the book’s illustrations.

Transcript of the Interview: https://blog.nmwa.org/2020/02/25/illustrating-a-historical-partnership-abigail-and-john-adams/

Arena Stage:
Abigail Adams warned her husband, “Remember the Ladies” Did She Foresee the Suffrage Movement? Molly Smith, Artistic Director at Arena Stage, and Author David Bruce Smith, Ponder it

National Council for History Education
Have We Deviated From John Adams’s Vision for Education, or Is the System too Sick to Fix? February 3, 2020 – Author David Bruce Smith interviews Grace Leatherman, Executive Director, National Council for History Education.

Advancement of the Supreme Court Historical Society
Martha Meehan-Cohen, Director of Advancement of the Supreme Court Historical Society, and David Bruce Smith, author of Abigail & John, on John Marshall, George Washington, and John Adams January 20, 2020 – In this interview, Martha Meehan-Cohen and David Bruce Smith talk about George Washington and John Adams’s uneasy alliance, but their mentoring of John Marshall, propelled him to Chief Justice–and durable greatness. Listen to the podcast.

GW Today: Ensuring That History Isn’t Just His Story January 9, 2020 — George Washington Today interviewed author David Bruce Smith about “Abigail & John,” the inaugural book in the Grateful American Book Series. Clarice Smith, a world-renowned artist and the author’s mother, illustrated the book.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts:
Alex Nyerges, Director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Author David Bruce Smith, Discuss Art in Storytelling
December 22, 2019 — They talked about the ways in which paintings and drawings stimulate children to understand their heritage, and America’s, as well.

The Constitutional Sources Project (ConSource)
December 17, 2019 – ConSource Executive Director Julie Silverbrook speaks with David Bruce Smith, author of the children’s history book, Abigail & John.

The French-American Cultural Foundation
Author David Bruce Smith and French-American Cultural Foundation’s Debra Dunn discuss Abigail & John November 26, 2019  – The conversation focused on the history of the nation, presidency of John Adams, the relationship between France and America over the centuries, and how to raise informed citizens who understand our history: its successes and failures.

Online Curriculum Guides discussed (and link for download)
Abigail & John Entertains and Educates Young Readers about American History ,November 19, 2019 – Online Curriculum Guides Enhance the Teaching and Learning Experience

The Library of Congress has vast resources to learn more about John Adams. (John Adams: A Resource Guide)

Abigail & John

David Bruce Smith-Clarice Smith – Liberty Bell Press is an imprint of Pike and Powder Publishing Group LLC – 2019

iCivics’ Remote Learning Toolkit

Now, more than ever, it is critical to help our youth build important civic knowledge and skills to help them understand how individuals and communities can work together to solve local, national, and global problems.

iCivics’ Remote Learning Toolkit is a one-stop-shop for enrichment activities and lessons to help parents and teachers facilitate home learning for millions of K-12 students nationwide. Resources for parents include tailored games and activities such as our Civics BINGO, which can be assigned to learners with our new weekly parent planner.

Teachers will find virtual professional development webinars and support networks, updated resources on timely topics such as news media literacy, and our newly launched Game Odyssey, which encourages student game play at home through leveled game quests with badges earned for completion. Visit iCivics’ website for more information.

Lesson Plans and Online Resources
by L. M. Elliott

Looking for ready made lesson plans and online resources for your home-bound students? The following are compiled by New York Times best-selling author, L. M. Elliott, who is known for her thoroughly researched material. Designed for pupils and teachers who want to learn more about the historical settings of her booksElliott’s website provides wide-ranging, information; familiarity with her work is not necessary. There are general lesson plans and resource lists, according to period, many of which were generated with WETA, educational organizations, and HarperCollins publishers. 


The American Revolution
The webpage for HAMILTON AND PEGGY! A Revolutionary Friendship (a Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year 2019, Grateful American Book Prize Honorable Mention) has links to resources (including a wonderfully accessible Yale lecture series on the American Revolution by expert Dr. Joanne Freeman); biographies (including all Hamilton personas, but also GW’s staff, double agents, British invaders, female poets, and Iroquois allies); battles; general life during the Revolution; and multiple lesson plans (for English/writing, Social Studies, French).



Elliott has another Revolutionary War book about a young fifer in the VA 2nd Regiment titled GIVE ME LIBERTY with similar resources, and Common Core Aligned Curriculum. Boy protagonist and perspective if you are looking to amuse a 10 to 12-year-old Revolutionary War buff.




McCarthyism and the Red Scare
SUSPECT RED, a NCSS/CBC Notable (National Council of Social Studies/Children’s Book Council), Winner of the Grateful American Book Prize, Bank Street College Best, TX Library Assoc.’s Tayshas Recommended Reading List, and on multiple state Battle of the Books list. Two 15-year-old boys in Washington, DC contend with the impact of the Red Scare on their lives and friendship. Full of local D.C. references and personalities.
Resources and lesson plans on McCarthy, Hoover, Edward R. Murrow, Banned Books/Censorship, music and culture of the 1950s.


A trilogy of books: UNDER A WAR-TORN SKY, A TROUBLED PEACE, ACROSS A WAR-TOSSED SEA. (Used in WWII curriculum in middle schools across the country.) The saga of a downed B-24 bomber pilot who evades capture by the Nazis with the help of the French Resistance and civilians. The sequel goes back to post-liberation France to find those who had helped him escape, and the companion novel to the VA home-front, featuring the war effort in the Tidewater and two preteen British evacuees taken in by the hometown girlfriend’s Richmond family.

Many resources and publisher/educator designed lesson plans about WWII’s European Theatre, the American Air Corps, France, and the home-front on the East Coast. Special feature: podcasts and lessons plans created with WETA.
(NCSS/CBC Notables, Jefferson Cup Historical Fiction Honor Books, Bank Street Bests, and state awards like MD Black-Eyed Susan finalist.)

The Renaissance
The National Gallery of Art contains the only work by Leonardo da Vinci permanently housed in all of the Americas–his portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci, a young poet, whose family was close to the Medici. A biographical novel, DA VINCI’S TIGER (the title comes from the only remaining line of her poetry: “I beg your pardon, I am a mountain tiger”) depicts the portrait’s making during Florence’s time as THE mecca for art. Older YA to adult.

Resources include biographies, information on the Medici, Leonardo and his mentor Verrocchio, the Renaissance in general, discussion of art. Lesson plans including STEM to STEAM worksheets inspired by the inventive mind of Leonardo.

Two of her five award-winning picture books also have multiple lesson plans, some created with WETA’s Reading Rockets website:
HUNTER’S BEST FRIEND (theme: peer pressure)
A STRING OF HEART (theme is Valentines, but Reading Rockets mostly talks about poetry and its elements in child-friendly terminology. Guidance on how to make Valentines at home–good craft activity and valentines you can save to send in February!)

If you would like copies of any of these books or others you can help local bookstores by purchasing audio editions through Libro.fm and choosing them to benefit from the sale. Use the hashtag #ShopBookstoresNow for discounts. Or you can purchase e-books from authors’ publishers.

Implementing Abigail & John at Home
and in the Classroom


From David Bruce Smith, author of Abigail & John, comes an engaging and illuminating instructional video designed to enhance the teaching and learning experience. Created for teachers and parents alike, this video tutorial provides inspirational and creative activities along with teaching strategies aimed to get the most out of the highly regarded book Abigail & John .

Abigail & John looks into the unique roles the Adams’s played in the formation of America, and the contributions and sacrifices they made for the young country. The video perfectly complements the book and illuminates the endless possibilities for using the text at home and in the classroom.

The video discusses literacy activities created to engage and support readers. Art activities are also covered, which connect students with the unique and brilliant art produced for the book by world-renowned artist Clarice Smith. Furthermore, STEM-based activities, and of course, Social Studies activities are covered in-depth, as well.

Video Contents
1:27 – A Closer Look at “Abigail & John” – About the Book
4:30 – Reading Activities
15:40 – Social Studies Activities
23:38 – Arts Activities
31:17 – STEM Activities
44:00 – Assessments
45:06 – Conclusion

Additionally, a free downloadable curriculum packet features activity sheets to go with the activities discussed in the video, as well as assessment materials. These sheets will assist teachers and parents in further engaging students with the Abigail & John book and its rich content.

Abigail & John is the inaugural book in the Grateful American Book Series, which will concentrate on presidential and historical marriages that influenced the nation. For more information about the children’s book visit AbigailandJohn.com.