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Abraham Lincoln Biography for Kids (and adults)

Updated on October 24, 2013

During our study time, I read along with the kids from the Heroes of History series, enjoying the glimpses into lives of well-known public figures on a level that kids can really enjoy. We just finished with the Abraham Lincoln: A New Birth of Freedom selection by Janet and Geoff Benge, and it was truly a pleasure to read. I would recommend it just as heartily for adults as for kids. It's not lofty in vocabulary, but it drives some great points home. While I realize that there are many Abraham Lincoln biographies to consider, this is an excellent option for kids' book reports, papers and history projects.

One of the best things about the Benge biographies is the fact that you begin at the beginning. You meet the character in his or her childhood. In the Lincoln biography, you begin in Kentucky as the family is dealing with the plight many in the area faced at the time. Poor surveying led to the unreliability of land titles, meaning that rich people could venture in and force poor landowners out because they didn't have the resources to stand up to claims of ownership and legal threats. The Lincoln family moved on to Indiana.

Some of Abe's childhood highlights include:

  • Shooting his first and only turkey
  • Helping his father to clear land and construct a cabin
  • Dealing with the unexpected death of his mother due to milk disease in a cow
  • Contending with the inner turmoil of his father going back to Kentucky to find a wife
  • Finding odd jobs on the river
  • Turning his money over to his father because the law said that a young man under the age of 21 must do so

As the family concludes its time in Indiana, they move on to Illinois. One rough winter was enough for young Lincoln, who left to work in a general store along the Mississippi River. We view a challenge from the Clary's Grove gang and a serious wrestling match that was finally won by Abe. My kiddos laughed when I commented, "How presidential!" We see him become good friends with his opponent. We also see him delve into career fields in surveying and law. He runs for office, commands a militia unit and heads to the legislature. He finally becomes a lawyer. Of course, this takes place with little formal education, and an important part of Lincoln's platform included an interest in making education accessible to all children.

The Benge biography of Lincoln also provides an important view of the man as a humble and quiet individual who felt passionately about slavery and other issues but who preferred not to be in the spotlight. We view the origins of the Lincoln Douglas debate as Stephen Douglas attempts to convince his constituents of the validity of his stance in the Kansas-Nebraska Act, an effort undoing the limitation of the spread of slavery that had been instituted with the Missouri Compromise. We see family challenges as one of Lincoln's sons dies as a little child, and we see ongoing conflict as he contends with a wife who has grown up in a much more privileged life.

The latter part of the biography deals with the presidency and the challenges Lincoln faced as the Union faced war and peace. The antics of the Lincoln boys in the White House provides young readers and listeners with lots of entertainment. The death of a second son during his tenure as President of the United States was traumatic, and this turn in the story is a serious point to consider with the kids just how fragile life was in this part of our history. Even presidents could be affected by illnesses like Typhoid Fever.

The biography concludes with the famed train procession and multiple funeral services throughout the country. Overall, the view into the past of the 16th president was interesting and sobering. Entertaining moments tell us that he was very down to earth and that he truly cared for people.

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One of the things I love about these Heroes books is that you get a realistic view of life. It's not dry and boring, and you are allowed to laugh at funny events while also viewing the serious issues confronting these individuals. After all, it's hard to be a hero if you never face adversity. Today's adversities are much different, but the fortitude of men like Abe Lincoln and women like Harriet Tubman encourage us to aim higher and care deeper.

You'll appreciate that these stories are available in both paperback and in digital form. If you love your Kindle, you can download these in an instant. I'm tempted to add to my collection via Kindle, but I really like the idea of the kids being able to pick up one of these at will and read to their hearts' content. I also like the idea that there would be a day when grandkids might enjoy these stories anew. The pricing for paperback isn't much different than Kindle pricing, so there's value in choosing the options that works best for you. And if your child needs a great book report book, you can have access to it quickly via Kindle!

Check out some of these titles:

C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)
C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller (Christian Heroes: Then & Now)

This is an exciting portrayal of one of the kids' favorite authors, C.S. Lewis.

Harriet Tubman: Freedombound (Heroes of History)
Harriet Tubman: Freedombound (Heroes of History)

This will be one of the next American Heroes books on our reading list.

Daniel Boone: Frontiersman (Heroes of History)
Daniel Boone: Frontiersman (Heroes of History)

Another read from the Benge biography series that I'm looking forward to enjoying with the kids.


Have you read any of the biographies by Janet and Geoff Benge?

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