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We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S.…
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We Were There, Too!: Young People in U.S. History

by Phillip Hoose

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I picked up this book, because I loved Philip Hooses' book on Claudette Colvin, and wanted to know more about his research on young people in history. This book is equally as insightful and well written as Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice, but carries the breadth of centuries of history.

This book is organized chronologically with chapters dividing up major periods in history with catchy titles like, "Strangers in Paradise: The British Colonies" and "Elbow Room The West." These chapters span U.S. history from colonization to the late 20th century. In each section there are several short biographies (1 to 3 pages in length) about a young person who played an important role in the part of history. Each biography includes supporting information such as sidebars, photographs, diagrams and maps to help the reader better understand the person and the time period. While this book covers such a wide stretch of time, it would be possible for the reader to understand the stories without much previous knowledge of the time periods of events mentioned. And yet, Hoose is also able to provide this information in such a concise way, while still focusing on the individual stories!
Many of the people featured I had never heard of before. This clearly illustrates the title: We were there too! as history has ignored youth's contributions.
One of my favorite biographies was the true story of Pochahontas, which I did not previously know! I would definitely share this with high schoolers to talk about history and how it is distorted for other purposes.
Additionally, I would use this book to provide engaging stories for students when covering any topic from US history. These stories accomplish a lot: they make history relatable, they are engaging, they show that young people make a difference and they teach kids something they will probably never learn in another class.

A wonderful book! ( )
  kharding | Apr 25, 2012 |
“We Were There, Too!” is a unique kind of work, at least different from anything I have seen so far. In it, Phillip Hoose tells specific stories of young people in American History. Undoubtedly, young people have played a role in our history, and this book explores that. The stories in this book are organized chronologically. It is divided into different eras, such as Columbus’s voyage, the colonial period, the American Revolution, and so on. The last story in the book takes place in the 1990’s. Within each era, Hoose tells several stories of children and young who made important contributions. For example, we learn about a boy who was part of Columbus’s crew and a young woman who was critical to the women’s suffrage movement. The stories themselves are usually interesting and occasionally inspiring.

The language of this book is easy to read and accessible to middle school ages and above. For the most part, the format is appealing. Though this is a lengthy 250 page book, the stories themselves are short and easy to read. The book features illustrations and photographs that complement the stories. I would not expect a young reader to enjoy this book straight through, cover to cover. The book is organized in a way that a reader could reference the specific era in which she were interested. On nearly every page, there are information boxes that are connected to the main text, and sometimes the connection is looser than others. This can be seen as a desirable feature, as they are informative. However, they do tend to clutter up the page and do not always contribute directly to the story being told. The stories themselves are informative offer insight into the eras in which they are set. While young readers may be interested in reading stories of people near their own age, it is not a deep source of historical information. ( )
  DustinB1983 | Apr 7, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374382522, Hardcover)

Quick--name five noteworthy children in U.S. history. If you're like most, you probably stalled after Sacagawea and Pocahontas. Young people have always gotten short shrift when it comes to the record of American history. And yet, wouldn't the study of history be far more compelling to students if they could relate to figures their own age? Author Phillip Hoose believes so. He found that behind every major event in U.S. history were young people--brave, fearful, poor, rich, adventurous, clever, tragic, curious, and strong. We Were There, Too! examines the lives of dozens of youth who helped shape our nation: Nine months before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus, 15-year-old Claudette Colvin did the very same thing. On one of Columbus's voyages to the New World, 56 (out of 99) crew members were 18 or younger. In 1814 two sisters from Massachusetts, Rebecca Bates, 19, and Abigail, 15, routed approaching British soldiers by playing "Yankee Doodle" on fife and drum. The British, believing an American army was congregating for an attack, turned and fled. And in contemporary times, 13-year-old Ryan White, infected with AIDS, stood up to a school district that wanted to prevent him from going to school, eating in the cafeteria, and having a normal life with his friends.

Every story in this beautifully written volume is a heartening example of the spirit of young people. Each essay is accompanied by photos or illustrations, as well as sidebars with fascinating related tidbits of information. Readers of all ages will find a multitude of new heroes to respect and emulate. This is one history book that should be on every shelf. (Ages 10 and older) --Emilie Coulter

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:16 -0400)

Biographies of dozens of young people who made a mark in American history, including explorers, planters, spies, cowpunchers, sweatshop workers, and civil rights workers.

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