Title: You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Civil War Soldier
Author: Thomas Ratliff
Series: You Wouldn’t Want to…: American History
Major Themes: US Civil War
Synopsis: The history of the American Civil War is briefly described in this comical picture book.
I have been working through American history with my 7-year-old daughter. We have been reading a lot of interesting books and stories about American history, and have just gotten past the Civil War. The book that was assigned to us for this topic was You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Civil War Soldier. I hadn’t read any books in that series before, but this one makes me think I would like to find more of them!
This book begins with a timeline of the Civil War, and a map of the major battles. Most of the entries on the timeline have a picture with them. After that, the introduction sets the scene for the rest of the book, telling you that you are a farmer from Connecticut who decides to join the Union Army. The rest of the book tells about the war from that point of view.
Each two-page spread describes a different aspect of the war, such as what life was like in the Union Army, the first battle, weapons, and a few of the major battles. One page talks about your counterparts in the Confederate Army, and another tells what happens if you are wounded. At the end of the book is a glossary of potentially unfamiliar words, some random facts about the war, and lists of some of the important battles and the bloodiest battles.
You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Civil War Soldier is illustrated with colorful paintings, done in a slightly cartoonish style. This is a good introduction to that war, helping children understand what it was like without glorifying war. My daughter didn’t like this book, because she doesn’t want to read about war, but I noticed that my 12-year-old son has been picking it up and reading it at odd times, because it’s been laying around the living room. As I said, I would like to have more books in this series. If this one is a good sample, I think they are a good way to introduce children to various parts of American history.
WARNING: Pages 22 and 23 show injured soldiers, and a lot of blood.
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 7 – 9, 8 – 12