A History of US: It's Our Story
History is chronological and so is this 10-book series: Book one begins thousands of years ago with people walking and boating toward an unknown continent. Book three deals with the revolutionary and constitution-making era. Book six tackles the Civil War. Book ten ends with the election of Barack Obama. These small books are easy to read, and there's none of the intimidation that comes with behemoth texts. A History of US is an attempt to break the textbook mold. As one child reader wrote, the books seem like "an action movie."
Winner of the James Michener and other prizes, the series meets standards in Virginia and California and most states. A hardcover edition provides a durable classroom choice, but the books are also available in softcover. The small book format brings flexibility: some schools and literacy programs use the books to teach nonfiction reading as well as social studies.
Teaching materials, audio books, and classroom films are available. The Talent Development Program at Johns Hopkins University uses the series in its schools and has done classroom-tested teaching materials, available from Amazon. The audio version is available from Recorded Books and also can be downloaded on your iPad. K12Inc. has produced a concise 4-book edition.
A coordinated teaching website can be found at PBS. A PBS special, with 16 video adventures based on the series, is available for school use.
DOWNLOAD SAMPLE CHAPTERS (Click below).
A History of US, Book One Sample Chapter (5.3MB)
Book One: The First Americans, Chapter 19, Sailing Around the World
A History of US Book Two Sample Chapter (8.4MB)
Book Two: Making Thirteen Colonies, Chapter 24, What's a Colony?
A History of Us Book Three Sample Chapter (4.1MB)
Book Three: From Colonies to Country, Chap 20, Declaring Independence
A History of US Book Four Sample Chapter (8.0MB)
Book Four: The New Nation, Chapter 3, The Parties Begin
A History of US Book Five Sample Chapter (665.7KB)
Book Five: Liberty for All? Chapter 10, Texas: Tempting and Beautiful
A History of Us, Book Six Sample Chapter (955.1KB)
Book Six: War Terrible War, Chapter 29, Mr. McLean's Parlor
A History of US Book Seven Sample Chapter (2.3MB)
Book Seven: Reconstructing America, Chapter 19, A Villain, A Dreamer, A Cartoonist
A History of US Book Eight Sample Chapter (331.6KB)
Book Eight: An Age of Extremes, Chap 18, Rolling the Leaf in Florida
A History of US Book Nine Sample Chapter (2.1MB)
Book Nine: War, Peace, and All That Jazz, Chapter 21, A Lonely Little Girl
A History of US Book Ten Sample Chapter (2.8MB)
Book Ten: All the People Since 1945, Chapter 14, MLKs, Senior and Junior
Click here to read excerpts from David McCullough's testimony before the Senate Education Committee. (21.0KB)
Read what Pulitzer Prize-Winning Historian and Author David McCullough had to say before the Senate Education Committee about Joy's Books and the State of History Textbooks
Quotes from Authorities
"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, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of John Adams
"In the sorry state of current textbooks the achievement of Joy Hakim's A History of US is all the more impressive. Hakim set out to write a series of books that would combine the best qualities of the earlier narrative histories with modern historical research. Convinced that history is inherently fascinating, she fills her books with anecdotes, quotations, humor, and well-described characters. Instead of talking down to children in simplified language, her books invite children to make an effort." –The New York Review of Books, June 11, 1998
"Humanizing details have made Joy Hakim the J.K. Rowling of the history world." –Alison Adato, Joanna Blonska, People Magazine
"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
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
Quotes from Kids
I often get letters from kids about my books. Here are just a few examples of what they have to say.
"You have saved me from another year of boring Social Studies text books. Your books are great and make you feel you are in the book with the Indians or the Europeans or whatever it is. You make me feel like I am really jumping into a time machine into the past. -Katie Rahowski
"My name is Jason Goodine. I am in 6th grade. Last year when my class studied the Civil War I did not want to stop learning about it....I like how you talk about so much in your books. Before our school got the History of US books, I hated social studies...Then I really started to like social studies. I like your books. They are so descriptive. In my spare time when I start to read one of your books I cannot put it down." -Jason Goodine
"Ever since your book on American History was first published, our eighth-grade teacher, Charles Schefer, has wanted it for our school. Well, after five years our class is the first to use it! It is an awesome way of presenting American History, so that we look forward, five days a week, for our American History class!" -Katie Schneider, St. Petersburg, FL
"My name is Claire Dorman. I have all ten of your A History of US books, and I love reading each and every one of them. I like the way you make the reader feel like she is in the time that you are talking about...One of my favorite books was An Age of Extremes. Yes, the one with the "boring" presidents chapter. Hey, you know, that chapter was not boring at all." - Claire Dorman, Newark, CA
"Other books just give the information, plain and flat. You make it fun. I don't know exactly how you made Social Studies fun, but you did, and I thank you for that." –John, 5th grade, Hearst Elementary, San Diego
"Joy Hakim makes it so kids can understand about Martin Luther King, Jr, Harry Truman, and Thurgood Marshall, or Malcolm X, Cesar Chavez, and Ronald Reagan....I think this is one of the top history books, if not the best. But I haven't read all the history books, and I probably never will, but this will be my all-time favorite." - Jason Diemer
"I think it's so important that kids understand about America. If we don't know how it was formed, if we don't understand what freedom, liberty and justice mean, how will we ever become good citizens? You can't stand up for your rights if you don't know what they are. And now I do." - Susie Allen, Palo Alto, CA
Freedom: A History of US (PBS)