Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
by Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
About the book:
From the time he was a young man, Abraham Lincoln was pained by the cruelty and evil of the institution of slavery. A voracious reader, Lincoln spent every spare moment of his days filling his mind with knowledge, from history to literature to mathematics, preparing himself to one day lead the country he loved toward greater equality and prosperity.
Despite the obstacles he faced as a self-educated man from the backwoods, Lincoln persevered in his political career, and his compassion and honestly gradually earned him the trust of many Americans. As president, he guided the nation through a long and bitter civil war and penned the document that would lead to the end of slavery in the United States. The passion for humanity that defined Lincoln’s life shines through in this momentous follow-up to Martin’s Big Words and John’s Secret Dreams. Told in Doreen Rappaport’s accessible, absorbing prose.
About the author:
Doreen Rappaport has written numerous award-winning books for children, including: Freedom Ship and The School Is Not White, both illustrated by Curtis James: Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Caldecott Honor Book, a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award winner, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, and John’s Secret Dreams. The Life of John Lennon, both illustrated by Bryan Collier. She lives and writes in upstate New York.
Kadir Nelson is the illustrator of many books for children, including Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, an NAACP Image Award winner, A Caldecott Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner. He is also the author-illustrator of We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. He lives with his family in southern California.
Brainstorm a list of everything you know or believe about Abraham Lincoln.
Questions to consider:
- Why do you think the author makes a point to tell us in the first sentence that Lincoln was born in a slave state?
- Describe Lincoln’s early years and compare them to your own.
- Why are some of the words in the book written in italic? Why do you think the author decided to include them?
- Why do you think Abraham Lincoln lived in so many different places? Why do people move? Has that changed over time or not?
- Who did Abraham Lincoln like to listen to? Who do you? Why?
- What did Lincoln see happen in New Orleans? Do you think it changed him or only convinced him of the feeling he had? Defend your answer.
- What jobs did Lincoln have? Did they match what he liked to study? How did he get them to match? Which job would you most like to have? Least like to do?
- Why did people like Lincoln? Did he always win the office in government that he wanted?
- What happened just as Lincoln to the office of President? Did he think of the south as the enemy of the union? What makes you think so or not?
- Why did people doubt Lincoln’s skill to lead the country during war? How did he react to everyone’s negative views of him?
- What was the Emancipation Proclamation? Why was it important? Where did it count the most? How did Lincoln get it to count in the North too?
- How did Lincoln plan to put the country back together without hatred? Why did he never get the chance?
Inspired by the clear and lyrical prose of Doreen Rappaport write a biography of another important American hero inspired by Abe’s Honest Words.
In the following chart pull important facts, quotes, or details from the book and list them on the left side. On the right share your reactions including feelings, thoughts, memories or connections you made to the text.
Important quotes, facts or details
Connections and reactions:
Ex. “He had just a mite of schooling.”
Wow! I just figured that Lincoln went to school a lot to end up being the President!
Learn the lyrics for both “Yankee Doodle” and “Dixie Land” after singing them, discuss what the lyrics mean.
Create a dimensional map of the United States as it looked during the Civil War. Be sure to label which states fought on the Union and which Confederate.