Sunday, January 4, 2009


As many of you know, this year I was a CYBILS panelist for Intermediate Grade/YA Nonfiction. Since the middle of October, I've read almost sixty terrific nonfiction books- everything from biography and memoir, to science experiments, to real-life historical mysteries, to girls' health books. Our panel had to have all of the books read and select our top 5-7 by the end of the year. The shortlists were announced on January 1st. I got the books read, but still have 10-15 that I have not reviewed. I'll be finishing those up over the next few weeks. 

LINCOLN THROUGH THE LENS: HOW PHOTOGRAPHY REVEALED AND SHAPED AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE is one of the books that made it onto our shortlist. The book chronicles how Abraham Lincoln, one of America's most beloved presidents, used photography, the newest technology of his era, to propel himself into the White House, free the slaves, and ultimately, save our country. As I read it, I couldn't help but think of how Obama used the internet, text messaging, etc. during his 2008 campaign.  Or of Franki and Mary Lee's conversations about 21st century literacies

Historian Martin Sandler has done a masterful job telling the story of Abe Lincoln's life through stories, quotes, photographs, and drawings. Each two-page spread addresses a certain period or event in Lincoln's life. The left page contains a quote from Lincoln and a few paragraphs of text, and usually a photograph or drawing. The right-facing page contains one large image, usually a photograph. Commenting about the book, one of the CYBILS panelists said, "It's not often that we find a book where the author does such a masterful job melding story and images." I totally agree with her. 

LINCOLN THROUGH THE LENS would be a terrific read aloud for Lincoln's 200th birthday in February. The text and information  are appropriate for kids from second or third grade all the way through adult. Because of the way the sections are divided, it would also be an outstanding read aloud for middle and high schoolers (and yes, I absolutely do believe we should be reading aloud to older kids!)

Happy Birthday Abe! And thank you, Martin  Sandler!

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