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American Revolution Text Set

Title of Text and Summary

Author & Publisher



*Grade Span

Anchor Text: Katie’s Trunk

Ann Turner (1992), Aladdin Paperbacks


Historical Fiction



Summary: An acclaimed author gives young readers a new perspective on the American Revolution in this thoughtful picture book. Katie, a child of Loyalists, is frightened by all the talk of independence that is igniting passions in her New England town. Then one day, when Patriot neighbors ransack her home, Katie finds that her very survival rests in the hands of the "enemies".

Anchor Text Contribution: This text sparks students’ interest in studying aspects of the American Revolution and is also told from a child’s point of view, enabling students to relate to the emotions of the main character. It is also useful for making comparisons/contrasts to alternate points of view expressed through the other books included in the text set. Additionally, text begs repeated readings to study many elements of author’s craft.

Tea Party

Schoolhouse Rock, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-9pDZMRCpQ



Summary: This is a video in the collection of Schoolhouse Rock videos and can be easily accessed online. This segment introduces viewers to the formation of the American colonies and the tensions brewing in the American colonies in the time leading up to the American Revolution.

Video Contribution: Students can review and/or build understanding about the formation of the American colonies and begin to explore some of the causes of tension in the colonies prior to the Revolution. The video features the Boston Tea Party as an example of how the colonists began protesting unfair rule by England.

If You Lived at the Time of the American Revolution

Kay Moore (1998), Scholastic

Informational-Question/ Answer Format



Summary: Have you ever wondered how the American Revolution got started? This book of questions and answers will help you gather lots of knowledge about this time in America’s history.

Text Contribution: This text contains a number of common and engaging questions students may have about the American Revolution. The questions are presented with 1-2 page explanations making it easy for students to access essential information. It can be read in its entirety but could also be accessed to build knowledge about various aspects as needed.

Liberty! How the American Revolution Began

Lucille Recht Penner (2002), Random House

Informational-Short Chapters



Summary: This engaging text explores the days leading up to America’s fight for freedom. On each page, you’ll find informative text and full-color illustrations that answer questions like:

  • How did the British anger the American Colonists?

  • What is the true story behind the Boston Massacre?

  • When did fighting break out between the Americans and the British?

  • Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?

Text Contribution: The text can be read in its entirety or sections can be read and studied as appropriate. Particular sections may be useful for close reading with all students while some students may utilize the text as part of their independent reading to build knowledge. This text is a good compendium to Moore’s text, but is a bit more qualitatively complex in regard to vocabulary and depth of content.

Colonial Voices: Hear Them Speak

Kay Winters (2008), Dutton

Literary-Historical Fiction, poetic format



Summary: It’s December 16, 1773, and Boston is about to explode! King George has decided to tax the colonists’ tea. The Patriots have had enough. Ethan, the printer’s errand boy, is running through town to deliver a message about an important meeting. As he stops along his route at the bakery, the schoolhouse, the tavern, and more, readers learn about the occupations of colonial workers and their differing opinions about living under Britain’s rule. This fascinating book is like a field trip to a living history village.

Text Contribution: This text is particularly appropriate for helping students study the various points of view American colonists held with respect to British rule leading up to the Boston Tea Party. The text also builds students’ knowledge of colonial occupations and political stances of the time period. A historical notes section at the end of the text provides greater detail about the various occupations. The included glossary is a useful tool as is the map of the 1773 Boston with the errand boy’s route noted.

Boston Tea Party

Pamela Duncan Edwards (2001), Putnam

Literary-Cumulative Tale format



Summary: What would lead someone to go out in the middle of the night and throw shiploads of tea into a harbor? The Boston Tea Party is a familiar tale, but the story leading up to it goes beyond the drama of that one night. Pamela Duncan Edwards' unique take on this event (using the Mother Goose rhyme, This is the House that Jack Built, as the text structure) gets to the root of the story as this prelude to the Revolutionary War unfolds. Rich illustrations support reader understanding of the text.

Text Contribution: This text provides a simplistic explanation of the Boston Tea Party through the use of repetitive text. Additionally, three mice have an ongoing conversation on the bottom of each 2-page spread that adds additional perspective and information about the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party. A timeline is also included at the end of the book to summarize the major events.

Ropes of Revolution: The Tale of the Boston Tea Party

J. Gunderson (2008), Stone Arch Books

Literary-Graphic Novel



Summary: This graphic novel tells the tale of Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty as they plan a protest on British taxes from the view point of 15 year old Benjamin and his friend, Joseph, who want to be part of the action.

Text Contribution: This text provides another accessible read for students to build background about the Boston Tea Party and the political landscape that existed in colonial American prior to the start of the American Revolution. The plot twist in this text builds suspense to keep readers engaged.

Some Laws are Intolerable

W. M. Akers, www.ReadWorks.org




Summary: This text is an article that outlines and explains the Intolerable Acts that were imposed after the Boston Tea Party.

Text Contribution: This article provides an avenue for helping students build understanding of the sanctions imposed by Britain after the Boston Tea Party that stoked continued division among the colonists and fueled calls for independence.

Liberty’s Kids Series

Public Broadcasting System, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJ-FWHN3ljI



Summary: The Liberty Kids series was produced by the Public Broadcasting Corporation and follows the events leading up to America’s declaration of independence from Britain through the eyes of a colonial printer (Ben Franklin), his apprentice and a young woman (family friend of Franklin’s) who has come to live in the colonies.

Contribution: Students can watch this series to build background about the time period and events leading up to the revolution. Teachers can also view particular episodes with the entire class and engage in discussion. Character study is doable through this series and students will be able to make direct connections between the texts they are reading and the events/plot/characters in the series.

Sleds on Boston Common

Louise Borden (2000), Margaret K. McElderry Books

Literary-Historical Fiction



Summary: An accounting of Boston folklore, this text is set shortly after the Boston Tea Party when British soldiers were sent to enforce British law. In the tale, young Henry Price questions General Gage about the soldier’s encampment on Boston Common which prevents children from sledding. Henry not only discovers his inner courage, but also learns how enemies may still possess some goodness.

Text Contribution: This text is an excellent companion text for Katie’s Trunk. The main character, Henry, demonstrates many of the same characteristics as Katie but represents the Patriot perspective.

Paul Revere, Messenger of the Revolution




Summary: This short (approximately 3 minute) audio recording provides an introduction to Paul Revere and his historical ride that marked the beginning of the American Revolution.

Contribution: This audio text is a helpful stepping stone for building background about Paul Revere and other Patriots who were preparing for a potential revolution. Direct connection is made to General Gage (read about in Sleds on Boston Common). The audio presentation makes the text accessible to all students and can be stopped and restarted on subsequent listening sessions to discuss the historical figures and events.

Paul Revere’s Ride (Longfellow)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Illustrated by Ted Rand (1990), Dunton

Literary-Epic Poem



Summary: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s immortal poem about the famous American revolutionary is portrayed in this beautifully illustrated text.

Text Contribution: This classic piece of literature is excellent for close reading to develop understanding of the historical event as well as aspects of author’s craft, including word choice and use of inference. The text is also a rich source for comparison of a poetic version of the historical event that can be compared with narrative accounts.


Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Obediah Thomas, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dKJ75F3tj8

Rap Version of Poem


Summary: Obediah Thomas presents an audio version of Longfellow’s epic poem. Using a rap style reading, this version is engaging and provides students with easy access to a recording of the poem.

Contribution: This recording can serve as a critical scaffold for students who need support reading the poem. Additionally, the visuals that accompany the online recording are paintings of the time period which students can discern historical content from and which can be studied for interpretation. This version of the reading of the poem can also be compared to other readings and/or print versions.

Paul Revere’s Ride (Corey)

Shana Corey (2004), Random House




Summary: This Step Into Reading book depicts the ride of Paul Revere. Every second counts as patriot Paul Revere rides into the night. Can he warn his friends before British soldiers capture them?

Text Contribution: This is an easy to read account of Paul Revere’s ride also includes basic information about events leading up to his ride and about his role during the war. The text could be read by students at any point during the unit to build background and scaffold the reading of other texts in the set.

A Picture Book of Paul Revere

David Adler (1995), Holiday House




Summary: As in other entries in the series, Adler briefly traces his subject's life, covering the major points and important dates. The matter-of-fact, easy-reading text is enlivened and expanded upon by attractive and informative line and watercolor artwork.

Text Contribution: This beginning level biography provides information about Paul Revere’s life that underscores his contributions during the American Revolution and build understanding of the time period.

Let it Begin Here!

Dennis Fradin (2009), Walker Children’s

Informational-Narrative Nonfiction



Summary: Told in a step-by-step account of the 24 hours leading up to the battles of Lexington and Concord that sparked a revolution, this tale both informs and entertains.

Text Contribution: This text provides a more detailed accounting of the events leading up to the first battles of the American Revolution. Sections of the text could be used for close reading even if they are read and reread to students. Additionally, this text could be an extension for students who are ready for more sophisticated reading and study of these historical events.

*Grade Span is based on both quantitative and qualitative features of the text.

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