History MattersMay 20 to May 30, 2019

Two American aviators made history in 1927 and 1932, respectively. The History MattersMay 20 to May 30, 2019first was 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh, who made a solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic. He started his mission from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, NY in a custom-made, single-engine monoplane on the morning on May 20th and landed at Paris’s Le Bourget Airport 33 hours later.

Seven years later, Amelia Earhart emerged as the pioneering aviatrix who piloted a solo Atlantic crossing. She departed from Newfoundland, flew more than 2,000 miles, and landed after 13 hours in Ireland, near Londonderry.

These daring stories make history exciting. For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize suggests The Flight of the Lone Eagle: Charles Lindbergh Flies Nonstop from New York to Paris by John T. Foster, and Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming.

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History MattersMay 20 to May 30, 2019Clarissa Harlowe Barton, a self-taught nurse at a time when there was no History MattersMay 20 to May 30, 2019such thing as a nursing school, risked her life caring for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. When it was over, she devoted herself to seeking opportunities to be of service–wherever she could. In 1881, Clara Barton, as she was known, founded the American Red Cross at the age of 59. During the next 23 years, she was its president.

She died in 1912.

For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Joshua Hanft’s Clara Barton (Heroes of America).

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The Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia on May 25, 1787 to amend the Articles of Confederation, which had been ratified in 1781. They were—in effect– the nation’s first constitution, but it was considered a flawed document. Instead, the Convention resulted in the creation of the Constitution of the United States–the foundation of America’s Federal Government.

The Constitution is a worthy read for adolescents, as is the story of the Convention. For more information, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Constitutional Convention: A History Just for Kids by the KidsCap group, and—for the Constitution–The U.S. Constitution And Fascinating Facts About It by Terry L. Jordan.

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History MattersMay 20 to May 30, 2019No visit to the Nation’s Capital would be complete without pausing to think History MattersMay 20 to May 30, 2019about the American Dream as envisioned by the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, whose memorial overlooks the Reflecting Pool at the National Mall. The United States Congress officially authorized its construction in 1867, two years after his assassination. However, it was not completed and dedicated until May 30, 1922. It was designed by architect Henry Bacon, along with Daniel Chester French’s life-sized sculpture, “Seated Lincoln”.

As journalist Phil Edwards put it: “the story behind the Lincoln Memorial’s construction is a surprisingly complicated one, and it says something about the contortions that, even today, politicians have to undergo to become monument-making visionaries.”

For more reading: Brent Ashabranner’s Memorial of Mr. Lincoln–is an ideal book for young readers. It is as much about Mr. Lincoln’s life as it is about how and why it took five and a half decades to erect something suitable in his honor. As one reviewer put it when the book was published, the strength “is in the author’s examination of the way the monument has become a powerful symbol of freedom and civil rights in our country.”


May 20 to May 30, 2019 — History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.

SUBMIT YOUR ENTRIES FOR THE 2019 GRATEFUL AMERICAN BOOK PRIZE

Historically accurate books of fiction and nonfiction for adolescent readers published between July 1, 2018 and July 31, 2019 are now being considered for the $13,000 2019 GRATEFUL AMERICAN BOOK PRIZE.

Submissions will be accepted until July 31.  There are no fees. The award—which includes a medallion created by renowned American artist, Clarice Smith, will be presented at an October 17th reception at the historic Corcoran School of the Arts & Design at George Washington University, in DC. Two authors will also receive “Honorable Mention” acknowledgments of $500 each.

Submission Form >>

 

Movie of the Month: The Grapes of Wrath

Looking for a better life, the Joad family packs their possessions in a truck, and leaves Oklahoma for California. Along the way, bad luck beleaguers them and other families. When they arrive, the hoped-for dream turns out to be something quite different. Based on the book by John Steinbeck, the movie stars Henry Fonda and Jane Darwell.

June 2019 Book Recommendations

Jane Smiley’s A THOUSAND ACRES; a re-telling of Othello by the Pulitzer Prize winning author.

Anita Brookner’s HOTEL DU LAC; a woman goes to an elegant lakeside hotel in Switzerland to recover from a disastrous love affair.

Sarah Booth Conroy’s REFINEMENTS OF LOVE; a historical novel about the unhappy life–and mysterious death–of Clover Adams, wife of author Henry Adams.

Claire Cooperstein’s JOHANNA: A NOVEL OF THE VAN GOGH FAMILY; a historic novel about Vincent Van Gogh’s sister-in-law, and how she “introduced” him to the world.

 

June 2019 Book Recommendations

Why You Should Start Binge-Reading Right Now

Ditch Netflix for a novel. And not just because a novelist is telling you to.

By Ben Dolnick for The New York Times
Mr. Dolnick is a novelist.
May 4, 2019

One night a couple of summers ago, the power went out and, unable to watch Netflix or engage in my customary internet fugue, I lit a candle and picked up a thriller by Ruth Rendell. For the first time in as long as I could remember, my sole source of entertainment for an evening was going to be a book.

And yes, yes, just as you’d expect, it was wonderful, it was cozy, the internet is terrible. But what struck me more than the night’s general delightfulness, was how much my experience of reading the book was influenced by the speed with which I was suddenly moving through it. To that point, I’d been reading the book the way I usually read books, which is to say in five- or 10-minute snatches before bed. And I’d been more or less enjoying it — watching Rendell’s criminal protagonist get out of prison, following along as he searched for his victim — but I’d been enjoying it the way a person enjoys hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party. Those cheese puffs are delicious; I just wish I could sit down with a plate of them. Now, by reading for an hour or two straight, I’d found my way into the caterer’s tent. I could savor the particular tart flavor of the author’s voice. I could admire the elegance of the trap she was setting for her doomed criminal.

Before my storm-induced Rendell marathon, I’d been reading the wrong way. John Gardner, the literary critic, wrote that the job of the novelist is to create a “vivid and continuous dream” for the reader, but I’d somehow developed a case of readerly sleep apnea. I’d gotten into the habit of consuming novels so fitfully that I was all but sealed off from their pleasures. It was as if I’d been watching movies in a special buffering-only mode, or listening to music through the world’s balkiest Bluetooth headphones.

This style of reading had, I realized, shunted me into a vicious circle. I was reading less because I was enjoying it less, which made reading even less enjoyable, which inclined me to read even less. In this way, a bookmark lodged at page 128 of “Wolf Hall” began to seem as immovable as a Stonehenge tablet.

I had accidentally discovered one of the great disadvantages of books (a medium that is not exactly short on disadvantages at the moment). There is no team of brilliant and vaguely sinister engineers, cooking up ways to get you binge reading. There is no auto-play technology frictionlessly delivering you from one chapter of the novel you’re reading to the next. There is only you, alone in the silence of your room with a chapter break before you and your phone cooing at you from the dresser. No one could blame you for putting “The Count of Monte Cristo” back on the bedside table where it spends its days. Maybe, like a long-forgotten glass of water, it will evaporate of its own accord.

But in book after book, if you do push on through one chapter break, and then on through the chapter break after that, something amazing happens. Subplots that would once have been murky to the point of incomprehensibility (what was the deal with that dead sea captain again?) step into the light. Little jokes and echoes, separated by dozens or even hundreds of pages, come rustling out of the text forest. A writer’s voice — Grace Paley at her slangy best, Nicholson Baker at his hypomanic craziest — starts to seep into and color the voice of your innermost thoughts.

You will, in other words, find yourself propelled through a book that would once have been a multiseason dead weight in your tote bag. And this will not be the creepy propulsion of the countdown that draws you guiltily into a “White Collar” marathon, but the intimate, happy propulsion that keeps you talking well into the night with a visiting friend.

Now this may all seem a bit rich, coming from a fiction writer. You aren’t enjoying reading? Then read longer! Read faster! The problem is you! But the corollary to this way of reading — of taking books down in gulps rather than sips — is that you will discover much more quickly when a book isn’t for you, and you can then set it aside without the nagging suspicion that you might have sabotaged it by your method of ingestion.

Fine, you say. If I were Thoreau, with nothing more on my agenda than a pond walk at noon and an apple at 3, it might be nice to read like this. But who has the time?

To which I say: Let’s talk again about all those hours of “White Collar.”

Because the mind — for all its endless rationalizations and solemn prohibitions — is in fact a ceaseless pleasure hound. Once I’m actually enjoying a book, it really does feel as if the pages are turning themselves; I find myself reading in all the little pockets of time that were once reserved for the serious business of checking to see if my dishwasher pods have shipped.

And pleasure is, after all — once I scrape away the layers of self-image and pretentiousness — the reason that I read. When I’ve found the right book, and I’m reading it the right way, reading is fun — head-tingling, goosebump-raising fun. It’s a vivid and continuous dream that is somehow both directed from without and cast from within, and I get to be awake for it. Netflix can wait.

History MattersMay 1 to May 17, 2019

Ten years after the devastating terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 History MattersMay 1 to May 17, 2019that took the lives of approximately 3,000 people in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania, the mastermind of the diabolical assault, Osama bin Laden, was found, and killed. U.S. Special Forces carried out a daring raid on his secret compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan in 2011 where bin Laden and his cadre of minions were hiding out. The unprovoked 9/11 assaults were carried out by terrorist hijackers who commandeered four U.S. passenger planes; two were crashed into the 110-story Twin Towers in New York City, a third hit the Pentagon in Washington DC, and passengers aboard a fourth fought back against the bombers aboard their plane as it tumbled into a field in Pennsylvania.

For more information: The Grateful American Book Prize recommends Live Aware, Not in Fear: The 411 After 9-11, A Book for Teens by Donna Wells and Bruce C. Morris.

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History MattersMay 1 to May 17, 2019We remember the veterans who fought and died for our country on History MattersMay 1 to May 17, 2019Memorial Day, each year, at the end of May.

But, the original observance was on May 5, 1865, and it was called Decoration Day. It was established so the nation could pay its respects to the soldiers who lost their lives in the Civil War. Relatives, friends and neighbors “decorated” their graves with flowers. Many years and too many wars later, the day was renamed, and in 1971 Congress turned Memorial Day into an official national holiday to be observed on the last Monday in May. It created a three-day holiday weekend that has become the unofficial start of summer.

The Grateful American Book Prize recommends the engrossing Memorial Day by Vince Flynn, to better understand the holiday.

 

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History MattersMay 1 to May 17, 2019Before the War Between the States, America had already been involved History MattersMay 1 to May 17, 2019in three international conflicts. The Revolutionary War established the country’s independence and the War of 1812 reaffirmed our sovereignty from Great Britain. And, then there was the Mexican-American War from 1846 to 1848. On May 13, 1846, Congress declared war on Mexico at the behest of President James K. Polk. The cause was what President Polk called “manifest destiny,” or the United States’ right to expand its western boundaries. In the end, the nation extended to the Pacific Ocean, including parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and Colorado. But, it was a costly war in which 11,300 American soldiers perished.

For more information: The Mexican-American War by John DiConsiglio; a good book for young readers to interpret the times and causes of the fight, according to the Grateful American Book Prize.

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History MattersMay 1 to May 17, 2019On May 17, 1954, the landmark Brown v. Board of Education was decided History MattersMay 1 to May 17, 2019by the U.S. Supreme Court. It declared that separate educational facilities for black and white students were “inherently unequal,” even if their physical accommodations were designed to be tangibly equal. Thurgood Marshall, who later became the first African American jurist to be appointed to the Supreme Court, argued the ground breaking case before the court. The story behind Brown v. Board of Education is a must for young learners in order to understand what it means to be a responsible citizen of the U.S.

For more information, read Susan Goldman Rubin’s Brown v. Board of Education: A Fight for Simple Justice.


May 1 to May 17, 2019 — History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.