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109 Forgotten American Heroes

Last updated Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Author: Chris Ying and Brian McMullen
Date of Publication: 2009
ISBN: 9780756654054
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2011

Synopsis: From
The first children's book to come from the acclaimed editors at McSweeney's literary journal, 109 Forgotten American Heroes is an off-kilter exploration of some of our nation's most incredible--and little known--stories.

Learn new and amazing stories about the contributions, inventions, wisdom, savvy, courage, and ingenuity of 109 great Americans such as John Russell Bartlett (the first to compile American words and trace their origin), Mr. Charles F. Brannock (who invented the first tool to accurately measure foot size), Cher Ami (a pigeon who effectively saved 194 American soldiers during World War I), and Thomas Jefferson (founding father, author, architect, president, and the man who introduced Americans to macaroni)!

Dynamic photographs and funny, ingenious graphics bring the stories to life. Truly meant for the whole family, there is something in here for everyone.

Note to readers:
•  The introduction page on -1 can be fun to read aloud, so start there (page -2 is written as a joke, so is not true). If you find your kids getting bored at any point, go ahead and start skipping to the heroes we list below, or skim through and find your own you and the kids will enjoy.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Who do you think is an American hero? Do you think you know someone personally who is a hero?

Heroes we think the kids will enjoy:

•  pp. 18-19, Molly Pitcher
•  pp. 30-31, Andrew Jackson's big wheel of cheese
•  pp. 38-39, The importance of a single vote
•  pp. 40-41, Hanson Crockett Gregory, donut hole inventor
•  pp. 50-51, Drummer Boy
•  pp. 60-61, Christopher Sholes and QWERTY
•  pp. 62-65, Edmund McIlhenny, inventor of tobasco sauce, and the evil nutria
•  pp. 68-69, Victoria Woodhull, 1st woman nominated to run for President
•  pp. 86-87, Duke Kahanamoku
•  pp. 94-95, Cher Ami, pigeon hero
•  pp. 84-85, Teddy Roosevelt and the teddy bear
•  pp. 100-101, Frank Epperson
•  p. 117 (p. 116 may just confuse the kids), Josh Gibson
•  pp. 118-119, Philip Johnson and the Navajo Code Talkers
•  A good one to end with: pp. 174-175, everyday forgotten American heroes

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Now that you've read about a bunch of heroes, does your definition of a hero change? Can you think of any heroes this book should add (maybe people you know personally)?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a poster of any American hero you like
•  Create your own page of your own hero (even yourself!) for this book

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!