Another Side of History: First Mothers

Books GeekMom
First Mothers
Image: Courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company

Did you know that Andrew Jackson’s mother saved him from a British prison camp? Or that Abraham Lincoln’s mom was a wrestler?

It’s easy to find books about the many presidents of the United States. Occasionally we also run into books about the First Ladies. But another important member of each president’s family is his mother, someone who isn’t often covered in the history books.

A new book called First Mothers, written by Beverly Gherman and illustrated by Julie Downing, aims to remedy this oversight. (Fathers of presidents are more often talked about, and are even occasionally presidents themselves.) Intended for kids aged six to nine, it’s still a fascinating read for any age, considering that we learn very little about presidents’ mothers in schools.

Starting with Mary Ball Washington, George’s mom, the book goes through history’s first mothers–and in one case, an additional stepmother–giving each a nickname, such as Abigail Smith Adams, The Modern Mother (mom to John Quincy, of course). It also gives important dates in the mothers’ lives, such as birth, marriage, divorce (where applicable), and death, plus the birth date of their presidential offspring. It ends with Stanley Ann Dunham, President Obama’s mother.

While the book does focus mostly on the mothers’ lives, it is also sure to include each mom’s relationship with the son that would later be president. Some moms are given a full two-page spread, others one page, and others get half of a page. But whether we get a single anecdote or a more involved history, First Mothers gives plenty of biographical information, and is worth a read for anyone interested in United States history.

First Mothers retails for $17.99 and comes out on September 11, 2012. Give this book a read with your kids, and learn a bit about our presidents’ upbringings.

Note: I received a copy of this book for review purposes.

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