The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History


American history comes alive in these 100 true stories that define our country.
This magnificent treasury tells the story of America through 100 true tales. Some are tales of triumph—the midnight ride of Paul Revere, the Wright brothers taking to the air, Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. Some are tales of tragedy—the fate of the Donner Party, the great fire in...
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American history comes alive in these 100 true stories that define our country.
This magnificent treasury tells the story of America through 100 true tales. Some are tales of triumph—the midnight ride of Paul Revere, the Wright brothers taking to the air, Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon. Some are tales of tragedy—the fate of the Donner Party, the great fire in Chicago, the eruption of Mount Saint Helens.
There are stories of inventors and athletes and abolitionists and artists. Stories about struggling for freedom—again and again, in so many ways.
With full-color illustrations on nearly every page and short, exciting stories, this book is perfect for browsing by the entire family. Notes at the end of each story direct readers to related stories. And a guide to thematic story arcs offers readers (and teachers) an easy way to follow their particular interests throughout the book. A treasure trove of a book that belongs in every home!
“This lively and engaging collection of stories recounting American history is a wonderful gift not only to the children of this country but also their parents. I can’t wait to share it with my grandchildren.” —Tom Brokaw
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This lively and engaging collection of stories recounting American history is a wonderful gift not only to the children of this country but also their parents. I can’t wait to share it with my grandchildren.”

–Tom Brokaw

Children's Literature - Kathleen Isaacs
History is first and foremost a story. This personal selection of 100 events in U.S. history has been retold by a master storyteller with drama, variety, and an engaging narrative voice. Topics from the Spanish sacking of the first permanent French settlement in Florida in 1565 to the Supreme Court's settlement of the disputed U.S. election in 2000 are brought to life in three or four pages and illustrated with lively pencil and watercolor illustrations. Topics mentioned in earlier stories recur, and the back matter includes a list of story arcs, from the obvious like "Crossing the Continent," "Religion," "Native Americans," to the surprising like "Bananas," "Cuba," or "Crime." Four pages of bibliography include a list of particularly useful and reliable Internet resources, and there is an extensive index as well. At times this veers toward being collection of American myths rather than American history, in spite of the subtitle "true tales." Sometimes the author is up front about that, as in her explanation about the Pocahontas story, or her description of Johnny Appleseed as not quite the man of the tall tales. But sometimes she includes mythology as fact: retelling the story of Banneker's reproduction of L'Enfant's plan for Washington although in fact he had left the city before L'Enfant, and ignoring the careful planning of civil rights workers, including Rosa Parks herself, that led to the moment she chose not to give up her bus seat in 1955. Still, this is an excellent read, an enticing invitation to find out more.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-This collection of lively tales demonstrates the broad base of individuals who make up our country and the slow accretion of incidents that create a heritage. Starting with the colony of Saint Caroline, founded by French Huguenots near what is today Jacksonville, FL, in 1565, the short tales proceed chronologically to the election of 2000. Along the way, readers move through sections entitled "Settlement and Colonies" (1565-1778), "A New Republic" (1791-1863), "Expansion and Invention" (1867-1899), "Becoming Modern" (1900-1945), and "Brave New World" (1946-2000). The tales are pulled from politics and government, social and religious life, recreation and science. Students will hear about personalities as various as John Chapman, Carrie Nation, Typhoid Mary, Babe Ruth, and Maya Lin. An excellent classroom resource, the stories are a perfect way to fill the odd three or four minutes, and the book's organizational structure ties in well with more comprehensive titles, such as Robert D. Johnston's The Making of America (National Geographic, 2002). The selections are cross-referenced into "Story Arcs" so that readers can follow historical threads, such as immigration or science and technology. The lively prose is matched by numerous soft color illustrations. A grand way to introduce children to the history of their country.-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Armstrong approaches history as a storyteller, and each of these stories is a gem of clear and concise writing. Readers are encouraged to find patterns and themes in the tales, and the section called "Story Arcs" serves as a guide. "Black History and Civil Rights," for example, includes accounts of Thoreau, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall and Rosa Parks. Intended more as a "patchwork quilt of history" than a comprehensive or traditional time line, the volume ranges far and wide, with witch trials and monkey trials, hoaxes and curses, whale attacks, balloon rescues, Lizzie Borden and Pac-Man. The abundant full-color art is lively and essential to the great visual appeal of the volume. The superb bibliography contains a big mix of histories for children and adults. Young history buffs will enjoy dipping into this fine collection, and parents and teachers will find it an invaluable resource. (introduction, index) (Nonfiction. 7+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375812569
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/22/2006
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 52,374
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 1050L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.36 (w) x 11.19 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Ever since the first grade, Jennifer Armstrong knew that she would become an author. She loved making up stories and sharing them with others. Her family treasured books and this led her to become an avid reader of all types of fiction. It was no surprise when she chose to study English and American Literature at Smith College in Massachusetts.

Armstrong is the author of over 50 books for children from kindergarten through high school. Best known for writing historical fiction, she has also been successful in creating picture books, easy readers, chapter books, young adult novels, as well as nonfiction.

Armstrong, who grew up outside of New York City, now lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Jennifer Armstrong is the winner of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World. Many of her books have been designated as Notable Books by the American Library Association and the International Reading Association.

For more information on Jennifer Armstrong, visit her website at, or read her blog at

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2006

    Stories for young and old

    In this impressive volume, Jennifer Armstrong presents a mini-course in American history so engaging that young and old readers will want to curl up with it. She has carefully selected one hundred stories that address a broad list of historical themes, among them the violent conflict between Native peoples and European colonists, the struggle for independence, the heartbreak of slavery, the advent of the transportation and industrial revolutions, and the fight for women¿s suffrage. These themes and others are addressed through familiar stories (which bear repeating), as well as through stories unfamiliar to most young readers, including the building of the uranium pile in the Manhattan Project, the radio broadcast of the War of the Worlds program, the flood of molasses through the streets of Boston, and the murders committed by Lizzie Borden. I was surprised, and pleased, to read so many story topics from the last half century that are touchstones of our times, namely the Bay of Pigs, the Riggs-King tennis match, the George Foreman-Muhammad Ali fight, and the 2000 election. Armstrong cleverly adds a ¿Note¿ at the end of each chapter which provides much-needed context or reveals the story¿s impact on American history. I found myself looking forward to the Notes. My children loved the book too. Roger Roth¿s lively illustrations (which convey the emotion of the story without bogging down in excessive detail) caught the attention of my eight-year-old son. When he saw the illustrations of the slave Henry Brown popping out of a wooden crate in which he had shipped himself to freedom and of Henry David Thoreau sitting in jail, my son wanted to read about these men. With his curiosity satisfied, he continued until he had absorbed a dozen or more stories, hooked by Armstrong¿s lively prose. She put the ¿story¿ in ¿history¿ and my son soaked it up. The story selection was what attracted my other son, aged ten. After sitting with the book for an hour, he announced: ¿This was good. I hadn¿t heard a lot of the stories before. None were boring. Besides, they make good points, and the points are clear. All the writing is clear.¿ He praised the stories¿ brevity: ¿They were short, but you don¿t miss out on a lot either.¿ Brevity became a problem for him only once, in the St. Valentine¿s Day massacre story, there were too many characters and not enough background for him to understand the event. Telling a short story clearly must have been a special challenge for the author, one which, with very few exceptions, she met superbly.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 4, 2010

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    Posted July 26, 2009

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