Using Vintage Books to Teach American History...And Some Awesome Republished Books for Girls

I love books, ya’ll. If you’ve been around the blog at all, you’ll know that I. Seriously. Love. Books. And I love using real books- not just textbooks- to teach subjects such as history. I often use historical fiction to do this, but I recently had the opportunity to review a set of republished vintage books that have given me the opportunity to see how great it can be to use vintage books as a part of our history curricula as well.

~ I received free books and was compensated for my time writing this post. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.~

I received for review two books from Aunt Claire Presents, published by Laboratory Books. These books, which were originally published in the early 1900s, are an excellent glimpse of American history because they reflect the time period in which they were written. While reading through these books- Vol. 1: The Automobile Girls at Newport by Laura Dent Crane and Vol. 2: Grace Harlowe’s Freshman Year at High School by Jessie Graham Flower, A.M.-I realized that these vintage books could be an awesome accompaniment to our American history study for several reasons.
Aunt Claire Presents vintage books

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Vintage books provide a glimpse of the time period from an author living in that time.

Historical fiction is written by authors who are looking back on the particular time period of which they are writing. The authors research what was happening during the time period, but often their research has to be based on information that has been written and recorded by other people. It’s probably unlikely that the author has been able to get a firsthand account of life during the time period of the book.
But vintage books are written by authors who live in the time period. These authors don’t have to rely only on what they can find in research to create a believable historical setting. Instead, they’re writing about the time period in which they live. They are living the events that they are then writing about. That provides a whole new view of the time period.
Aunt Claire Presents vintage books

Vintage books are consistently historically accurate because they are written in the time period.

Have you ever read a historical fiction book that was awesome…until you realized that there were parts of the story that just weren’t historically accurate? (Sometimes writers change things on purpose. I still don’t like it, but at least they usually explain it in the back of the book.) No matter how much an author researches and tries to present an accurate historical picture, sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
Vintage books, however, are written in the time period. The authors didn’t have to research to find out how people in the time period lived. They are living it! Unless the author deliberately changes something for the purpose of the story, vintage books will give readers accurate historical information because the author was there in the time period.
Aunt Claire Presents vintage books

Vintage books give us a look at everyday life, not just major historical events.

Many historical fiction books are set during the time period of a major historical event. In our homeschool history studies we read books set during the Holocaust, the Civil War, the time of the American pioneers. And, although the characters in the books reflect the day-to-day life of the time period, often the events in their lives are somehow touched or influenced by these major events of the time.
Reading vintage books is different. Vintage books may make reference to bigger world events, but often the characters in the books are just experiencing normal, everyday events. The plots don’t revolve around any major event. Instead the characters just face everyday problems and struggles.
Aunt Claire Presents vintage books

Books from Aunt Claire Presents, Published by Laboratory Books

About the Books

Aunt Claire is a fiction writer and editor that is publishing new editions of books that girls read for fun in the past. The books aren’t classics. They are adventurous, fast-paced stories published for girls in the early 1900s. There are currently two books available.
The Automobile Girls at Newport by Laura Dent Crane is all about four young girls- and a lovable aunt- who drive an automobile to Newport, Rhode Island, finding danger and adventure along the way.
Aunt Claire Presents vintage books
Grace Harlowe’s Freshman Year at High School by Jessie Graham Flower, A.M. is about Grace and her friends as they begin high school. The girls face relationship issues and build friendships just like modern-day teen girls, all the while having lots of adventures along the way.
Aunt Claire Presents vintage books
There are two more books coming soon- Spring 2018…
Just an interesting side note- the Aunt Claire site tells about the original authors of the books. It was really cool to read about!

Using the Books in Our Homeschool

I am covering World War 1 and 2 with my middle school girls this spring. I’m looking forward to bringing in both of the books I reviewed as part of our reading. Both books give a great picture of life in the early 1900s. It is so interesting to see that, although much has changed in terms of technology and even in the way that women are viewed, much has remained the same, such as relationship issues, the desire that we have for adventure, the way that people treat each other, and much more.
The Aunt Claire Presents site has a link to a PDF with suggestions for writing ideas to accompany the books. I’m planning to use some of these as we move into our study of the time period surrounding the World Wars, and I have some other ideas for how we can incorporate these books into our study. 
I really want to draw the girls’ attention to what has changed and, maybe more importantly, what has stayed the same in our culture over the years. I also want them to get a good picture of what day-to-day life was like for Americans before the World Wars, and I think these books are a great way to present that.
Aunt Claire Presents vintage books
Both books have an introduction by Aunt Claire mentioning some of the things that readers may come across in the books that are different in the time period. The Automobile Girls at Newport has a great introduction that talks about the development of the automobile. I want my girls to choose a topic or two from the introductions and talk about the changes that have come about in that area over the years. 

Aunt Claire Presents vintage books to teach American history

I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to have a look at these books and to see how I can incorporate them into our history study. If you haven’t used vintage books in your history reading, take a look at the books from Aunt Claire Presents, published by Laboratory Books. They’re a great fit for middle grade American history! You can certainly add them to my list of real books to use for teaching history.

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