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"Joy Hakim is, "breathing new life into the study of our nation's past, inspiring teachers and schoolchildren from Maryland to Michigan and beyond to become passionate about the civil war and civil rights."
-Sue De Pasquale for Johns Hopkins magazine


Each of the ten volumes of A History of US has superb coordinated teaching materials developed in classrooms by Johns Hopkins educators. See the Teaching Resources page for details.




A History of Us
, has been hailed by reviewers, historians, educators, and parents for its exciting, thought-provoking narrative. Breaking the textbook mold, A History of Us doesn't intimidate as do behemoth texts. It tells the tale of America in 10 user-friendly small, illustrated books. (An 11th source book, with original documents, is also available.) Whether it's standing on the podium in Seneca Falls with the Suffragettes or riding on the first subway car beneath New York City in 1907, the books in Joy Hakim's A History of Us series weave together exciting stories that bring American history to life.

Perhaps most innovative: where these books have been used to teach reading, scores have risen dramatically. While fiction is wonderful and we all love good novels, the reading form of the Information Age is nonfiction. Narrative nonfiction uses the tools of the novelist to tell true stories. So consider treating these books as reading texts, you may be surprised by student response.


Book One: The First Americans (Prehistory-1600)

Thousands of years ago, long before Christopher Columbus set sail, wandering tribes of hunters make their way from Asia across the Bering land bridge to North America. They don't know it, but they have discovered a New World. The First Americans tells the story of Native Americans from Alaska to Patagonia. It also tells the story of explorers like Leif Eriksson, Columbus, Cortes and others.

From the text:
“[Christopher] Columbus took his ideas to one person after another. Each one said “sorry,” except King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, who said “perhaps.” Maybe they were just being polite, because they seemed to forget all about Columbus. Years passed. He asked them again; this time they said “no.” One thing you can say for Columbus: he never gave up.”

2006 192 pp.; 142 b/w halftones & maps, 62 color halftones & maps
978-0-19-518894-3 hardcover
978-0-19-532715-1 paperback

Teaching Guides
978-0-19-976730-4 elementary study guide
978-0-19-976734-2 elementary teaching guide
978-0-19-530612-5 middle/high school teaching guide



Book Two: Making Thirteen Colonies (1600-1740)

The American continent, long isolated from the rest of the world, has been rediscovered. This time by Europeans. Some come in search of freedom, some come with the hope of riches. They sometimes bring Africans, in chains. As to the Native Americans, they face disease and competition from these newcomers. Read Making Thirteen Colonies to learn more. Meet Pocahontas and John Smith in Jamestown. Join William Penn and the Quakers of Pennsylvania. Sit with the judges at the Salem witch trials. Hike over the mountains with Daniel Boone. And read what Ben Franklin has to say in Poor Richard's Almanack. The dynamic interaction of all these diverse peoples will create a new kind of nation, one based on the idea that all people deserve equal treatment. Getting that fairness doctrine to work won't be easy.

From the text:
"Plantation children don't live at all the way you do. Some of the ways they live are nice, but some you wouldn't like... If you are a very rich planter's son you have to wear velvet pants and ruffled shirts and high-heeled shoes when company comes just like your dad. That must be uncomfortable."

2006 192 pp.; 155 b/w halftones, 58 color halftones & maps
978-0-19-518895-0 hardcover
978-0-19-532716-8 paperback
Teaching Guides
978-0-19-976731-1 elementary study guide
978-0-19-976735-9 elementary teaching guide
978-0-19-530613-2 middle/high school teaching guide



Book Three: From Colonies to Country (1735-1791)

It really didn't make sense for a nation far across the ocean to control the fate of people living on the American continent. Many realized that, but Tom Paine put it into words. This book, perhaps the key book in the whole series, tells the story of the American Revolution. Lots of nations have had revolutions, but few have handled the rebuilding process as well. A group of "founders" realized that it wouldn't be easy for people to run their own government, so they designed a remarkable constitution. Nothing like it had ever been written before. Its ideas would change the whole world.

In From Colonies To Country you will find other stories that may surprise you. Read about two Spanish explorers who set out on July 4, 1776 on a journey that covered an enormous expanse of western land. Or read about a rich landowner and fur merchant whose wife was Native American. They fair, decent and heroic, and won some important battles.

From the text:
"In some ways [the American Revolution] really was like a fight between parents and children. Sometimes those kinds of fights come about because parents don’t realize their children are grown-up and can take care of themselves. Sometimes the children aren’t as thoughtful as they could be. There was something to be said for both sides in this quarrel. But, almost everyone agrees, King George made some big mistakes. His pride was more important to him than the valuable American colonies... George wanted to be a good king. But to be a good king you need some wisdom, and George III didn’t have much. He wasn’t anywhere as smart as you are.”

2006 224 pp.; 191 b/w halftones, 39 color halftones & maps
978-0-19-518896-7 hardcover
978-0-19-532717-5 paperback
Teaching Guides
978-0-19-976732-8 elementary study guide
978-0-19-976736-6 elementary teaching guide
978-0-19-518882-0 middle/high school study guide
978-0-19-518888-2 middle/high school teaching guide



Book Four: The New Nation (1789-1850)

Beginning with George Washington's inauguration and continuing into the nineteenth century, The New Nation tells of Thomas Jefferson's purchase of the Louisiana Territory (bought from France for four cents an acre!), Lewis and Clark's daring expedition through the wilderness, the War of 1812 sometimes called the "Revolutionary War, Part II," Tecumseh's effort to form an Indian confederacy, the growth of Southern plantations, the beginning of the abolitionist movement, and the Trail of Tears. These dramatic events and more are woven into a tale that just happens to be true. It's a History of Us.

LOOK FOR THE STORY OF ENSLAVED ONEY JUDGE WHO RAN AWAY AND WAS PURSUED BY A PRESIDENT. AND THE STORY OF A RICH VIRGINIAN WHO FREED 500 SLAVES. WHY? WHY INDEED!

From the text:
"When [John Marshall] opened up a law office in Richmond he didn't have enough money to buy law books. It didn't matter, he had ability, ambition, and that easygoing, not-stuck-up nature... John Marshall never seemed to take himself seriously. Someone who knew him said his clothes seemed 'gotten from some antiquated slop-shop.' His dinner parties were famous for their good-natured, witty conversation... In 1799, Marshall was elected to congress as a member of the Federalist party. The following year, President Adams named him secretary of state."

2006 208 pp.; 196 b/w halftones, 38 color halftones & maps
978-0-19-518897-4 hardcover
978-0-19-532718-2 paperback
Teaching Guides
978-0-19-976733-5 elementary study guide
978-0-19-976737-3 elementary teaching guide
978-0-19-518883-7 middle/high school study guide
978-0-19-518889-9 middle/high school teaching guide



Book Five: Liberty for All? (1820-1860)

Henry David Thoreau said, "Eastward I go only by force, but westward I go free." Lots of Americans agreed. The 19th century was an exuberant time in the United States and many were on the move. Liberty For All tells of mountain men, railroad builders, whalers, gold rush hopefuls, and farmers, as well as of poets and painters. Read of westward migration, the California Gold Rush, war with Mexico, the Oregon boundary conflict, and Texas and the Alamo. AND MEET TWO BLACK WOMEN WHO WHEN THROWN OFF A STREETCAR. GO TO COURT, WIN THEIR CASE, AND INTEGRATE STREETCARS--all this before the Civil War and 100 years before Rosa Parks.

From the text:
“Elizabeth Cady read the nation’s great Declaration, and it bothered her. All men are created equal, it said. But what about all women? Elizabeth’s father, Daniel Cady, was a judge; she spent hours in his office listening and learning law. ‘If only you had been born a boy,’ he told her. ‘You could have been a lawyer’ ... Elizabeth didn’t want to be a boy; she was happy being a girl. But she wanted to use her mind—and she did. She decided to learn everything the boys were learning.”

2006 224 pp.; 284 b/w halftones, 46 color halftones & maps
978-0-19-518898-1 hardcover
978-0-19-532719-9 paperback
Teaching Guides
978-0-19-976733-5 elementary study guide
978-0-19-976738-0 elementary teaching guide
978-0-19-518884-4 middle/high school study guide
978-0-19-518890-5 middle/high school teaching guide


Book Six: War, Terrible War (1855-1865)

War, Terrible War takes us into the Civil War, from the battle of Manassas to the battle of Gettysburg and on to the South's surrender at Appomattox Court House. Follow soldiers in blue and gray as they endure long marches, freezing winter camps, and awful battles fought on American soil. Abolitionists, slave owners, and ordinary Americans listen to the debates over slavery and states rights. Meet Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Jefferson Davis, soldiers on both sides, slave owners, abolitionists, average citizens, and others. This is the story of a people affected by the horrors of a war where brother sometimes fought brother.

From the text:
"Voices were speaking out against that racial hatred; finally people began listening to them... One of the voices belonged to a man who spoke clearly and said the North must ‘lift the war into the dignity of a war for progress and civilization.’ The man’s name was Frederick Douglass, and he had been a slave and had whip marks on his back to prove it. Douglass had learned to read and write—against great odds—and was one of the most eloquent writers and speakers of his time.”

2006 176 pp.; 220 b/w halftones & music examples, 40 color halftones & maps
978-0-19-518899-8 hardcover
978-0-19-532720-5 paperback
Teaching Guides
978-0-19-518885-1 middle/high school study guide
978-0-19-518891-2 middle/high school teaching guide



Book Seven: Reconstructing America (1865-1890)

Reconstructing America looks at life after the Civil War in the newly re-United States. Railroad tycoons are roaring across the country. New cities are springing up, and a new and different American West comes into being: a land of farmers, ranchers, miners, and city dwellers. Immigration is changing the mix of Americans; mostly the newcomers work hard and achieve. Some rare individuals make their mark: P.T.Barnum entertains. Rascally Boss Tweed steals from his constituents. Thomas Edison lights the world. Carry Nation wields a hatchet in her battle against alcoholism. And Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois have different ideas on how the newly freed African Americans should behave.

From the text:
"The United States is still an experiment. Our Founding Fathers gave us remarkable goals. For more than 200 years we have been trying to build a nation where peoples of all colors and religions and abilities are welcome and treated equally. No nation has ever done that. It isn’t easy.”

2006 208 pp.; 254 b/w halftones, 24 color halftones & maps
978-0-19-518900-1 hardcover
978-0-19-532721-2 paperback
Teaching Guides
978-0-19-976740-3 elementary teaching guide
978-0-19-518886-8 middle/high school study guide
978-0-19-518892-9 middle/high school teaching guide



Book Eight: An Age of Extremes (1880-1917)

For the captains of industry (sometimes called Robber Barons)--men like Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and Henry Ford--the Gilded Age is a time of big money. Technology booms with the new trains, telephones, electric lights, harvesters, vacuum cleaners, and more. But for millions of immigrant workers, it is a time of hardship––workers , including children, often toil 12 to 14 hours a day sometimes under dangerous conditions. In An Age of Extremes, you'll meet Mother Jones, Ida Tarbell, Big Bill Haywood, Sam Gompers,Theodore Roosevelt and others. You'll watch the United States step onto the world stage as it enters the bloody battlefields of Europe in World War I.

From the text:
“Usually, metaphors are words. But this metaphor was a copper-skinned giant of a lady. She soon came to represent two things: the spirit of freedom and America’s policy of welcome to people from around the world. That policy was called America’s golden door. (Yes, the door is another metaphor.)”

2006 224 pp.; 281 b/w halftones, 38 color halftones & maps
978-0-19-518901-8 hardcover
978-0-19-532722-9 paperback
Teaching Guides
978-0-19-976741-0 elementary teaching guide
978-0-19-518887-5 middle/high school study guide
978-0-19-518893-6 middle/high school teaching guide


Book Nine: War, Peace, and All That Jazz (1918-1945)

From woman's suffrage to Babe Ruth's home runs, from Louis Armstrong's jazz to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's four presidential terms, from the finale of one world war to the dramatic close of the second, War, Peace, And All That Jazz presents the story of some of the most exciting years in U.S. history. With the end of World War I, many Americans decide to live it up, go to silent flicks, drive cars, and cheer their favorite baseball teams. When Depression strikes the good times dampen--jobs are hard to find, farmers are in trouble, and racism won't seem to go away. Along comes President F.D.R., who promises a New Deal, gives Americans hope, and then sees the nation through the horrors and victories of World War II.

From the text:
"Then, at daybreak, the sky filled with airplanes—wingtip to wingtip--9,000 of them. Two submarines raised flags to mark a landing area. The largest armada ever assembled appeared off the French coast: landing vehicles, minesweepers, attack transports, tankers, cruisers, battleships, ocean liners, yachts, hospital shops and puffing tugs—all the boats and ships that could be found. They made an awesome fleet 20 miles wide. Giant military barrage balloons floated above, to interfere with enemy planes... It was June 6, 1944, and forever it would be known as D-Day.”

2006 224 pp.; 282 b/w halftones, 23 color illus.
978-0-19-530738-2 hardcover
978-0-19-532723-6 paperback
Teaching Guides
978-0-19-976742-7 elementary teaching guide
978-0-19-976743-4 middle/high school teaching guide


Book Ten: All the People: Updated Version (Since 1945)

All the People, the last volume in the series, has been brought up to date with coverage of the election of Barack Obama, along with some thoughts on its significance. The book, a new fourth edition, has been completely redesigned with a bold contemporary look; Readers will encounter both famous and little-known Americans (Joe McCarthy, Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama's mother), historical events (the Vietnam War, the first man on the moon, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), and major cultural movements (Civil Rights, 1960s counterculture, feminism). A chapter on the 21st century financial crisis explains the basics of investment banking. This is a book meant to provoke discussion and thought among readers of all ages.

From the text:
"We know that being a productive citizen in a nation dedicated to liberty and justice for all takes effort and education. True freedom (which is different from no-government anarchy) involves responsibilities and participation. Solid citizens consider options, ask questions, make choices, and stand up for their beliefs. Are freedom and democracy worth it? What do you think?"

2006 270 pp.; 253 b/w halftones, 65 color illus.
978-0-19-973502-0 hardcover
978-0-19-973553-2 paperback






A History of US: Sourcebook and Index



Designed to accompany Joy Hakim's ten volume A History of US or as a stand alone reference, this collection of great American documents is ideal for all students of American history. Filled with primary sources, the Sourcebook and Index traces the gradual unfolding of ideas of freedom in America through letters, declarations, proclamations, court decisions, speeches, laws, acts, the Constitution, and other writings.

2005 160 pp.
978-0-19-518903-2 hardcover
978-0-19-532725-0 paperback






Freedom: A History of Us


Freedom: A History of Us explores the birth and growth of freedom in America over the centuries, as well as, the tensions, conflicts, and triumphs that it has sparked. This one-volume history is a compelling, thematic narrative. Hakim calls “liberty and justice for all both our legacy and our destination.” Updated through President Obama’s 2012 reelection, this is also the companion book to the PBS series Freedom: A History of US based on master storyteller Joy Hakim's award winning 10 volume set A History of Us. A wonderful teacher/student website, pbs.org/wnet/historyofus is filled with teaching learning researching materials.

The PBS' sixteen-part TV series, Freedom: A History of US, produced as a television series for PBS and HBO Family Channel by Kunhardt Productions is available for school use.

In this series, "Freedom" is the overarching theme. It is also the story of the challenges to American freedom -- the "unfreedoms" that litter our national story, and in some cases have called its very integrity into question. But despite our mistakes and sometimes tragic setbacks, this is a history of the United States as the unfolding, inspiring story of human liberties aspired to and won. - PBS

PBS's Freedom: A History of US is narrated by a multigenerational cast comprised of many talented actors and actresses. Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Susan Sarandon, Tom Hanks, and Kevin Spacey along with Brad Pitt and Matthew McConaughey are among an incredible group, all of whom volunteered their time because of their commitment to American history.

This book is available from Social Studies School Services.






"I hear strong praise for your books in lots of places all over the country--all exactly right!"
"Best of all is Joy Hakim's way with the story. Never dull, never the least plodding, she brings refreshing spirit and common sense to the telling of every episode. The historic personages, great and small, are all alive, real people, and the idea that history might ever be thought of as a chore has clearly never crossed her mind."

-David McCullough, author, The Wright Brothers, 1776, John Adams, Truman-

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"Imagine a history textbook so full of provocative storytelling and graphics that it brings your sixth grader to tears."
-Gwen Sublette for Colorado Parent magazine

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"We owe Joy Hakim a great debt of gratitude."-Elizabeth McPike, American Educator Magazine


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"My name is Ben Brown. I am eight years old. I am home schooled. I've never written a fan letter before, but I'm a big fan of you. For history I am supposed to read one chapter of your book. Instead, I read the entire book. I am now on book three of your great series..."

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[Hakim's] punchy take on America's past turns kids into history hounds". People writers, Allison Adato and Joanna Blonska say "[Hakim is the] J.K. Rowling of history textbooks." They quote a middle schooler as saying, "[the first] night I read ... six chapters. I'm saving up my allowance so I can buy the whole series [A History of Us]... I showed it to my parents, and they wouldn't give it back to me until I forced them."
-People Magazine


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"As a teacher and curriculum writer, I have to say that this is a superb book from many, many angles. Joy Hakim is warm, compassionate, and passionately interested in her subject and in making it attractive and accessible not only to younger readers but to adults as well. I should really say "subject(s)" because she weaves history, mythology, science, math, philosophy, and religion together in a way that was fascinating enough to keep this long-in-the-tooth reader fully engrossed throughout...I strongly recommend this book for any human from 13 to 103."
-Nowell Didear, Sheridan, OR


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"Don't make the mistake of thinking that these books are textbooks; these books are treasures."
-Kristi G, Rome, GA


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""Joy Hakim's A History of Us, winner of the NCSS's James A. Michener Prize in Writing, is the perfect text for the Talent Development Middle School history program. Her crisp, narrative style brings history to life, appealing to both high-and-low middle school readers.""
-Susan Dangel and Maria Garriott, Johns Hopkins Talent Development Group









School Orders
Special discounts and sample books are available.

A History of US
Tel: (800) 445-9714

The Story of Science
Tel: (202) 633-2495

Reading Science Stories
Email: joyhakim@​gmail.com

For more information, please visit Joy's Ordering/​Contact page.



















The PBS Freedom: A History of Us DVDs are available at the PBS Teacher Shop. The Freedom: History of US PBS Teachers' website offers free access to great TEACHER and STUDENT RESOURCES. This interactive learning site provides free downloadable activities that include 16 Freedom: A History of US Webisodes along with teacher guides, workshop videos, stories, and games.

A Self-Portrait of 19th Century Political Cartoonist Thomas Nast, From Book 7, Chap 19


Johns Hopkins Teaching Materials for A History of US
The Johns Hopkins Talent Development Middle Grades Program have created engaging teaching materials to go with the books. Please see my ordering page for more details. I am awed by their wonderful work and its results, especially in inner-city schools.