Reading and learning about the Civil War

Apr 09, 2013
My tenth grade history teacher was a Civil War buff. Every year he participated in reenactments up and down the East Coast; he was even an extra in the movie Glory. He led the school’s history club, where we traveled to various Civil War battlefields — Gettysburg, Harpers Ferry, Antietam; fields that haunted me with their beauty, their tragedy. You know how teachers can assign a book you really don’t want to read, but then you read it and a whole new world opens up in front of you? Yeah, that’s what happened in my tenth grade history class, in the middle of all these Civil War lessons, when he assigned us The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. And since then, I’ve been fascinated by the Civil War and its repercussions. This year marks the 150th anniversaries of several important Civil War battles and events, including the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address. And today marks the anniversary of the end of the Civil War, quickly followed this weekend by the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. So you might say this is a week, a year, a time, where we should keep talking about how that war shaped our country, and how we can still learn lessons from it. Of course, there are books and resources to help. In 2011 — the 150th anniversary of the start of the war — we issued a special report, which is still available here. You’ll find news articles, maps and videos perfect for kids. We also have a Dear America Civil War section, complete with scrapbooks, recipes and even arts and crafts. And of course — books, books, books. Check our our Civil War titles, both fiction and non, right here. Teachers, how do you teach the Civil War in classrooms? Parents, are there any favorite books you encourage your child to read?