Children's Toy & Media Reviews Since 1978

5 Picture Books About Abraham Lincoln

In case you have not heard, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln will be released nationally this weekend. Though the two-and-a-half-hour long, PG-13 rated film might not be appropriate for little ones, the five picture books about Abraham Lincoln listed below are.

Vinnie and Abraham

Author: Dawn FitzGerald
Illustrator: Catherine Stock
There’s no shortage of children’s material about Abe Lincoln, but this non-fiction picture book by Dawn Fitzgerald is a notable deviation from the standard Lincoln biography. Here, the focus is primarily on Vinnie Ream, a gifted young sculptor who defied society’s objections against her age and gender in order to create a lasting tribute to our sixteenth president. Ream identified with Lincoln’s self-taught background and was moved by his “brave, sad face,” wanting to capture his humanity in marble. Lincoln, meanwhile, burdened by the Civil War and feeling himself too homely to be worthy of a statue, was reluctant. But Ream’s determination won him over, as did her humble origins. Thought Lincoln: “’Poor? Self-taught? Raised in a log cabin? Such a person is not unfamiliar to me.’” As a mere teenager, Ream was given a regular appointment with the president, five days a week for a half hour until the sculpture was complete. Despite this coup, Ream’s struggle for artistic recognition remained an uphill battle for some time. Fitzgerald’s text brings this remarkable story to life in easy-to-follow language, touching on women’s rights, war, and other issues of the nineteenth century. Catherine Stock’s lovely watercolors highlight the characters and their story, but what is most fascinating are the actual photos of young Ream and her Lincoln sculptures (one of which is still housed in the United States Capitol Rotunda).

A. Lincoln and MeA. Lincoln and Me

Author: Louise Lewin Borden
Illustrator: Ted Lewin
Skinny as a beanpole and tall for his age, an awkward young boy learns that Abraham Lincoln was often called “gorilla” and “backward hick” by his peers. Yet along with big hands and big feet, Lincoln had the amazing gift to lead a nation through a troubled time. The poetic story by Louise Borden and magnificent paintings by Caldecott Honor recipient Ted Lewin introduce young children to a wonderful boy and a great president.

Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln

Author: Amy Cohn and Suzy Schmidt
Illustrator: David A. Johnson

Beginning with his birth on a cornhusk mattress in Kentucky, nineteen vignettes of Abraham Lincoln’s life form this seemingly simple biography. The authors pick very telling events from his life that depict his character-including his humor. The conversational style is intimate. The tall format of the book, with exquisite, muted pictures of ink and watercolor washes, enables the artist to emphasize Lincoln’s size through interesting perspectives and the bits of Lincoln’s body that spill out of the framed illustrations. A successful melding of text with illustration.

Lincoln: A Photobiography

Author: Russell Freedman

Although most Americans are familiar with the accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln, Russell Freedman’s photobiography concentrates on Lincoln as a person –one who endured severe hardships and individual crises. The book begins with Lincoln’s youth and proceeds through his early days as a lawyer, his political beginnings, his complex relationship with his wife, his rise to the presidency, his problems with the slavery issue (and subsequent war), and his assassination. This journey includes Lincoln’s sobering losses of two sons at young ages, resulting in a period of severe depression as the strains of the Presidency increasingly took their toll. Listeners can put themselves in Lincoln’s shoes and imagine the torment of trying to manage a war in which over 600,000 American soldiers died in battle.

Lincoln and DouglassLincoln & Douglass: An American Friendship

Author: Nikki Giovanni
Illustrator: Bryan Collier

Our 16th president is known for many things: He delivered the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address.He was tall and skinny and notoriously stern-looking. And he also had some very strong ideas about abolishing slavery, ideas which brought him into close contact with another very visible public figure: Frederick Douglass. Douglass was born a slave but escaped in 1838 and became one of the central figures in the American abolitionist movement.

This book offers a glimpse into the unusual friendship between two great American leaders. At a time when racial tensions were high and racial equality was not yet established, Lincoln and Douglass formed a strong bond over shared ideals and worked alongside each other for a common goal.

See also the DVD adaptation of this book and other titles about American history.