Monday, February 9, 2009


Abraham Lincoln's birthday is Thursday. So at school today Ms. H asked me to read a story to the children. It was a picture storybook about Lincoln's life. I told about going to his log cabin in Kentucky and the little church where he and Mary Todd married. Then I began to read. Remember these are first graders.

First I had to explain why a 7 year old would be helping to build a log house. Why they kept moving. Pioneers, no cities ( that they just couldn't believe), no electricity.

One of Lincoln early trips was to New Orleans where he saw a slave market. The book showed slaves in chains. Later in the book it showed a battle during the Civil War. And then Booth shooting him. All this is history. But these are 6 year olds and they didn't know what some of the words meant. They had hard questions.

They saw the slaves and said that is wrong, awful, mean. We didn't discuss that very much. Too big a topic for a volunteer reading a book. Then they wanted to know what Civil War meant, what The Confederate States of America meant. These I answered the best I could at their level. Then they asked what happened to Booth? We discussed him getting away, and finally caught. We even talked about hanging murderers. They didn't know what hanging is. Try explaining that without giving them nightmares. I did find it interesting they didn't know hanging. My generation grew up on Westerns and the bad guys were always hung, from trees, gallows. : )

I told you Ms. H is sadistic. She has branched out from art projects to a painful period of our history.

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