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WE WERE THERE, TOO! by Phillip Hoose


Young People in U.S. History

by Phillip Hoose

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-374-38252-2
Publisher: Melanie Kroupa/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

“We’re not taught about younger people who have made a difference. Studying history almost makes you feel like you’re not a real person.” This remark by a girl Hoose had interviewed for It’s Our World Too: Stories of Young People Who Are Making a Difference (1993), inspired him to embark on this major project. He follows the traditional arc of US history, from Columbus and the Colonies to hippies and the computer revolution, by relating the stories of individual young people—both familiar and little known. Each three- to four-page narrative begins with a quote (often—when available—from the person herself), and ends with a few lines describing “what happened” to the person in her adult life. Illustrations (mostly black-and-white print and photo reproductions with ownership credits at the end) on every page and sidebars of interesting historical tidbits or explanations make every spread inviting, and should encourage browsing. Hoose’s short entries are accessible and give a good sense of the historical process by using attributed quotes and explanations of how each individual’s story survived. However, for the curious, he provides no direct references to his sources. His selected sources at the end—grouped by chapter—will give readers a general indication of where to go next, especially as he marks those most appropriate for young readers with an asterisk. This approach to history will intrigue and delight readers. Frederick Douglass and Sacajawea take their place alongside Caroline Pickersgill (who in 1813 helped her mother and aunt stitch the flag that Francis Scott Key wrote about), and Jessica Govea (whose education as a union organizer started when she was a four-year-old migrant worker in California). Hoose brings his narrative firmly and elegantly to the 21st century with contemporary examples. An index of proper names and topics may help kids with reports, but for those wanting a broad but approachable book on US history, this is a thoroughly enjoyable choice. (sources, index, picture credits) (Nonfiction. 9-14)