cover showing Ms. Bethune leading a group of children

Mary McLeod Bethune

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This is the challenging and inspired true story of a little girl who was determined to learn to read, and who went on to be a teacher, the founder of a college, an adviser to statesmen, and a great humanitarian. Mary McLeod Bethune was the fifteenth child of hardworking and god fearing parents. She was the first of their children to be born free. Her ancestry was wholly of African origin, a point of pride throughout her life.

Mrs. Bethune worked untiringly to restore—through education—her people’s faith in the magnificent heritage that is rightfully theirs. During the many years of and tribulation, she refused to give up her fondest dream—her own school for Negro children. And, as a shining monument to her hard work and faith, she has given to black youth the thriving institution of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, Florida.

So Big by Edna Ferber

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Winner of the 1924 Pulitzer Prize, So Big is widely regarded as Edna Ferber’s crowning achievement. A rollicking panorama of Chicago’s high and low life, this stunning novel follows the travails of gambler’s daughter Selina Peake DeJong as she struggles to maintain her dignity, her family, and her sanity in the face of monumental challenges. This is the stunning and unforgettable “novel to read and to remember” by an author who “critics of the 1920s and 1930s did not hesitate to call the greatest American woman novelist of her day” (New York Times).

So Big is a brilliant literary masterwork from one of the twentieth century’s most accomplished and admired writers, and still resonates today with its unflinching views of poverty, sexism, and the drive for success.

cover with photo of Robert Abbott

The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott

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In May 1905 Robert S. Abbott started publishing the Chicago Defender. The paper attacked racial injustice, particularly lynching in the south. The Defender did not use the words “Negro” or “black” in its pages. Instead, African Americans were referred to as “the Race” and black men and women as “Race men and Race women.” Many places in the south effectively banned the paper, especially when, during World War I, Abbott actively tried to convince southern blacks to migrate to the north. Abbott managed to get railroad porters to carry his papers south and he ran articles, editorials, cartoons -even train schedules and job listings to convince the Defender’s southern readers to come north. The “Great Northern Migration,” as it was called in the Defender, resulted in more than one million blacks migrating north, about 100,000 of them coming to Chicago. The Defender was passed from person to person, and read aloud in barbershops and churches. It is estimated that at its height each paper sold was read by four to five African Americans, putting its readership at over 500,000 people each week.

Son of ex-slaves, Abbott passed from small-town obscurity to national preeminence, due neither to great wealth nor hereditary status, but by sheer character, determination and imagination. He was a crusading journalist, who ultimately developed into a national leader, and, in the process, became a millionaire. As a newspaper editor, he influenced and molded the opinions of millions of Negroes in the United States, and therefore his career is of unique interest—indeed, his extraordinary achievement is a triumphant American success story.

The roots of greatness should be sought in a man’s formative years. Until now, most Negroes who have achieved anything noteworthy seemingly have no traceable background—notably Booker T. Washington and George Washington Carver—and like Topsy seem merely to have “growed up.” But Abbott’s accomplishments represent continuity of family enterprise and perseverance. However, the purpose of this volume is not at all genealogical. Essentially, this is a biography of a people, for Abbott’s life and times spanned the most triumphant period of the Negro in the United States. Born three years after the promulgation of the Emancipation Proclamation, he lived to see and chronicle the spectacular progress of his people.

In the burgeoning economic times of the 1920s, with hundreds of new products and the growth of advertising, the Defender became an economic success and Abbott became one of the first African American millionaires.

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The New Legions by Donald Duncan. Grade level is 6.1.

Donald Duncan wanted be the best soldier possible. He was regular Army, then Airborne, then Green Beret.

In Vietnam, he led reconnaissance patrols deep into enemy-held territory to assess the strength of the Viet Cong, the communist guerrillas. He returned home with questions about Vietnam. Did the peasants on the farms in South Vietnam want another foreign power in their country? Were they as anti-communist as Americans, or anti-foreigner? What did their attitudes mean to the success of the intervention of United States in Vietnam? He went even further as you will see. He asked if South Vietnam was really a separate country in the eyes of the Vietnamese.

Read about his patriotism, his courage and his questions. Buy this title on Amazon for $2.99 at https://www.amazon.com/New-Legions-Donald-Duncan-ebook/dp/B077W7P19V/

the cover to One of Ours with a field in the background

Winner of 1923 Pulitzer Prize: One of Ours by Willa Cather

Reading level from a sample of Chapters 16, 17 and 18 from the Flesch-Kincaid index in Microsoft Word is 6.0.

Download an epub version, or a mobi version for Amazon devices from Project Gutenberg.

“It’s December 7, and that means we’re celebrating Willa Cather’s birthday here at NYPL (New York Public Library)! Willa Cather was a novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet known for her descriptions of life on the American frontier and the immigrant experience. One of the foremost American female writers of the 20th century, Cather penned several novels from the 1910s through the 1930s that were highly popular in their time and are widely read today. They include O Pioneers!, My Antonia, and Death Comes for the Archbishop. She died in New York City in 1947, and today is her 143rd birthday.

“If you’ve never been introduced to Cather’s work, or you somehow managed to skip reading her in high school English, then you’re missing out on some truly gorgeous prose, vivid imagery, and moving, mature stories about plains living.

One of Ours
“This book, which is about the journey of Nebraskan Claude Wheeler from unhappy farmer to proud soldier in World War I, won the Pulitzer Prize for the Novel in 1923. One of Ours was criticized by many prominent authors, including Ernest Hemingway and Sinclair Lewis, for its heroic and rosy depiction of war, but the American public disagreed, and it became one of the bestselling books of that year.”

Source: Where to Start with Willa Cather by Nicholas Parker at https://www.nypl.org/blog/2016/11/30/willa-cather

Reviews on Amazon:

1. “Oh, so poignant! Willa Cather’s genius for capturing the American ethos of a century past shines radiantly in this unusual look at the son of a farm family coming of age as the nation hesitantly inches toward the Great War. Achingly sensitive to relationships of all kinds, Cather’s novel ponders delicate aspects of friendship, marriage, love, family, son-ship, and community. Never pedantic, never unoriginal, and full of subtle insight, this engaging but lesser known novel may particularly interest young people.”

2. “This is a beautifully written book with a strong sense of place and time – prairie life prior to WWI, and then the main character’s participation in the war. In that sense, it is almost two books, with the earlier part being the stronger. The main character is a depressed kind of young man, who questions the meanings of things, and this may not appeal to everyone, although it is vividly portrayed by the author. Her lyrical and often poetic language give the book and the character’s experiences a universality.”

3. “This woman could put into words not only glorious descriptions, relating to the minutiae of life and loves in the Midwestern farming community, but also every individual’s feelings. We are there, we are at the kitchen table, we are immersed in the horrors of Flanders and its vermin infested trenches. We live the life and emotions of Claude Wheeler, and at last, in the final moments, we know that he truly chose his destiny.”

here

To read this ebook on a computer, or tablet using Calibre, or Google Play Books, or iBooks on your iPad, download this epub format.

To download a mobi file for your Amazon device, click below.

Directions on how to email this file to your Kindle device are here.
To add this mobi file to your Kindle for PC software to read the chapters on your computer, see these instructions .

The Kindle Personal Document Service allows teachers, or librarians to send a mobi file to up to 15 student Kindle email addresses at a time.

With Calibre, you and your students can read this ebook in epub format on computer screens. By changing the background color, and enlarging the font, the reading experience on a computer screen is reasonable. On Chromebooks, the operating system will offer an ereading app when you open the epub file.



In this fascinating, highly readable biography, Fred C. Kelly, a former newspaperman, author, and an old friend of the Wrights, tells the story of the two brilliant, dedicated, flight-obsessed bicycle mechanics from Ohio who first realized mankind’s age-old dream of conquering the skies.

Long considered the definitive Wright biography (the manuscript was read and approved by Orville Wright), this book recounts the Wrights’ small-town boyhood, their early interest in all things mechanical, the establishment of the Wright Cycle Shop, and the complete behind-the-scenes story of how they designed, built, tested, and flew (December 1903) the first “Flyer.”

Enhanced with sixteen rare photographs, Mr. Kelly’s engaging account avoids minute technical description, yet describes simply and clearly the technological innovations that enabled the two brothers to succeed where so many others had failed. Anyone interested in the mechanics of flight or early aviation will find this volume a splendid introduction to the Wright brothers and their epochal achievement.

Grade level from a sample of four chapters in the Flesch-Kincaid analysis is 10.3.