Link Across America is a different kind of history book.
This narrative starts at Seedling Mile School with a teacher and
her excited students awaiting a visit from road rally participants.
The students learn that there will be photographers and reporters
attending who will cover the event for the newspaper. Why? Because
the school is located near and named for one of the "seedling miles" of
the historic Lincoln Highway.
Antique cars arrive, and their drivers talk to the children, answering
questions and sharing experiences. Mr. Boomer, a member of the
Lincoln Highway Association, recounts the history of transportation
in general, the importance of President Lincoln, and the highway's
history in particular.
Describing how the highway was constructed covered a broad range
of topics, including how they figured out how wide to make the
road, what materials were used and how they were purchased, the
actual process and the role of horse-powered equipment, and how
concrete was made. Other interesting trivia included Burma-Shave
signs and the still-standing mile markers, brick road sections,
and original bridges.
The back of the hard-covered book includes more information on
the Burma-Shave jingles; lots of photographs, both modern-day and
from the days of the original construction in the early 1900s;
a U.S. map detailing the original route of the highway; a listing
of the cities, towns, and other points of interest along the route;
and contact information for the Lincoln Highway Association.
This book, aimed at elementary students, ties in a lot of different
subjects in a convenient story form, making it a good jumping-off
point for class discussions, assignments and projects. Besides
history, there are tie-ins to science, technology, geography, economics,
civics, and government. It can be read aloud (by teacher or pupil)
or enjoyed by the student alone. The way it is divided up into
sections would make reading homework easy to assign.
Pros: The well-illustrated story form of the book will
keep students of all ages interested. It is not a dry textbook,
but rather it invites the children to become part of the story,
almost part of the class! The sections are short, which makes them
easily digestible and memorable. The additional information in
the back makes it a more substantial resource for a greater range
of ages, allowing for a continued discussion and/or projects to
make the material really come alive.
Cons: Link Across America is definitely aimed
at elementary students. While that is not a criticism, it's good
to know the limits and usefulness of this resource.
I was excited to receive and then read Link Across America.
It's the kind of thing that keeps history fun and relevant. I am
sure it will be read many times in our home--as part of "formal" school
and just for pleasure.