On April 9th, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse. April's full of Civil War days-- April 12 marks shots at Fort Sumter and the start of the war. April 14th, 5 days after Appomattox, is when Lincoln was shot. In honor of Appomattox Day, here is a list of books about the Civil War. For more books on Lincoln and the assassination, see the list for President's Day.
Soldier's Heart : Being the Story of the Enlistment and Due Service of the Boy Charley Goddard in the First Minnesota Volunteers by Gary Paulsen. Charley joined the war because he thought it sounded exciting. He quickly learns the reality and horrors of the battlefield.
Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent: How Daring Slaves and Free Blacks Spied for the Union During the Civil War by Thomas B. Allen. Focusing on the spy craft, Allen gives several examples of why slaves and freed blacks were important secret agents during the Civil War, and details the codes and methods they used, as well as the information they uncovered. Many of their codes are included, which is useful because there are coded messages throughout the text that need to be deciphered.
Riot by Walter Dean Myers. During the Civil War, you could buy your way out of the draft. Northern states saw many riots in retaliation. Written in screenplay format, Myers looks at four days when New York rioted and burned. Claire is half-Irish, half-black. The Irish are the ones rioting against the rich and the black. She's never felt like she's had to choose between her two sides, but now the city wants to make her.
The Killer Angels: A Novel of the Civil War by Michael Shaara. This novel of Gettysburg follows many characters on both sides. I was assigned this novel in high school-- read the first part over Christmas break. Once I read the first part, I couldn't put the book down and finished it before break was half-way over. When school started again, our English teacher was pleasantly surprised to find almost half the class had done the exact same thing.
Photo by Brady: A Picture of the Civil War by Jennifer Armstrong. Photographer Matthew Brady had the idea to use the new technology to capture the war around him, both himself and by sending photographic equipment with soldiers on the field. The results gave us our first sense of what war really looks like, with photographs that haunt us a century and a half later.
March Toward the Thunder by Joseph Bruchac. Louis is too young, not Irish, and not even American, but still joins a northern Irish brigade. The 15-year-old Canadian Abeneki thinks the money is good, so he signs up, only to discover the realities of war.
A Soldier's Secret: The Incredible True Story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War Hero by Marissa Moss. This novel takes a look at the real-life Frank Thompson-- a nurse and Union spy who was captured by the Confederates. But his biggest secret isn't that he's a spy-- it's that he's actually a girl named Sarah Edmonds.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. Scarlett may think that her biggest problem is that the man she loves is marrying someone else, but her entire way of life and living is about to fall down around her, and she needs to find the strength and courage to persevere. There's a reason this is an enduring, popular classic after all these years.
The River Between Us by Richard Peck. The Priutt family takes in two borders from New Orleans-- a high society Southern belle and her companion, who may or may not be a slave. They may or may not be spies, but the whole town is talking and guessing. But when her brother enlists, it's up to 15-year-old Tilly and one of the boarders to find him and bring him home.
What are your Civil War must-reads for teens?
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