Bibliographic Information: Moss, M. (1999). Emma’s journal: The story of a colonial girl. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company.
Brief Annotation: This book tells of the unrest and violence leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of the Revolutionary War through the fictional diary of Emma, a girl living in Boston with her aunt.
Genre: Historical fiction
Grade Level: 3-6
Readers who will like this: Readers who like stories about the American Revolution; readers who enjoy historical fiction; readers who like stories about intrigue.
Rating/Response: 4; The format for this book, part of the “Young American Voices” series, provides a range of historical information in a way that is accessible to 3rd-6th grade readers. Along with the words, there are labeled illustrations of items that the reader may not be familiar with throughout the book, from 18th century clothing to seeds. There are also drawings that briefly illustrate scenes from the book. All of the illustrations are presented as though they were drawn by the narrator as an expansion to her diary. The two central conflicts in the book are a nice balance between relatable and exciting, as Emma struggles to get along with her aunt’s boarder, Thankful, and briefly becomes a spy for the Sons of Liberty. This is a long book that is more suited to independent reading than to reading aloud, but it is an excellent way to get children to engage with history.
One question you would ask before a read aloud: What do you know about the beginning of our country? How do you think it felt to be alive during that time for someone your age?