|George Washington (Premier Presidents)
Behind the Book
How did a farm boy who never went to college learn how to lead young soldiers in war, and a new country in peace?
Writing a biography of our nation’s first president for the youngest readers was a challenge for me. I had to keep the sentences short and simple. Tell Washington’s life in 1,200 words. Make the tale exciting. And, help students feel like they are there, back in 1776.
“Washington’s men shivered in the snow. Some of his soldiers were barefoot. Their bloody feet left tracks in the snow.”
Reading about that severely cold winter reminded me of an article I’d written for The New York Times years ago. It was a story about an archaeological dig around the remains of a Continental Army barracks from 1778-79. That year, “Many soldiers didn’t have clothing or shoes,” I wrote. “There were not enough blankets, and the men sometimes went a few days without food because the heavy snowfall made it impossible to gather supplies….”
I was amazed at what the archaeologists found around those old soldier quarters in Connecticut. A musket ball. Small pewter buttons. And, what even looked like peas left over from one of their meals!
Read the New York Times article here.