5 Eye-Opening Kids’ Books about South Carolina History
Named for King Charles I (the Latin word for Charles is Carolus), who created the original grant for the land, South Carolina was the eighth state to join the Union. It gained its nickname, “The Palmetto State” in honor of the state tree, although government officials called it “The Iodine State” during the early 1900s to promote its high levels of this mineral as a health campaign.
Long before it had iodine fame, became a state or received recognition by European royalty, people called the area we now know as South Carolina home. A thousand years ago, native peoples established homes along the rivers and created trading systems. People of the Mississippian culture left behind ceremonial mounds as evidence of their time spent living in the region. When Europeans first came to the area, they encountered people of the Yamasee and Catawba tribes.
By 1729, South Carolina became a colony (separate from North Carolina) and on May 23, 1788, it became a state. Kids discovering state history in upper-elementary school grades certainly have a great deal to learn. You can support your child’s history lessons at home by providing engaging, age-appropriate books set in historic eras in the state. Following are five terrific kids’ books about South Carolina history:
I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl, Mars Bluff, South Carolina 1865
By Joyce Hansen
Patsy begins her diary on April 21, 1865, but she has to do it in secret. A plantation slave in Mars Bluff, South Carolina, Patsy knows her mistress will likely whip her if she discovers the little book.
She doesn’t know who or where her parents are and she isn’t sure of her age –12 or 13 years old, she guesses—but Patsy knows what it means to serve the white people who own the plantation where she has lived since she was a baby, born with a physical handicap that makes work especially difficult for her. Through this book, kids will see what life was like for a young slave in South Carolina following the Civil War.
By Walter Dean Myers
This book begins in 1753, when a young man named Muhammad Bilal was taken from his home in Africa to Curry Island, South Carolina as a slave. Readers follow along through multiple generations of Muhammad’s family, who became known as the Lewises.
In 1864, some of the Lewis family members have run away from the Live Oaks plantation and Old Man Lewis (the plantation owner) plans to get his “property” back. But the story moves on and by 1900, the Lewises are farming the eight acres they received after the Civil War. Kids will see how the past affects other generations of the family through the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement, and on into present day.
By Anna Myers
Thirteen-year-old Joey Kershaw becomes the man of the house when his father leaves to lead the Americans against the British. He does his best to live up to his father’s example, even though deep down he is terrified.
After they hear rumors of losses in battle, the Kershaw family faces even more upset. British General Cornwallis arrives in Camden, South Carolina, seizing the Kershaw home as his headquarters and hanging prisoners in their garden. This book is based on actual people and events from the Revolutionary War era in South Carolina.
By Ann Rinaldi
Fourteen-year-old Caroline Whitaker enjoys life on her family’s expansive South Carolina plantation, until the Red Coats occupy their home, forcing Caroline, her stepmother, and her older half-sister to remain confined to a single room.
This experience gives Caroline time to reflect about herself and her own background. She is the light-skinned child of her plantation owner father and one of his slaves. Her mother was sold to the West Indies and her maternal grandmother acts as her caretaker but lives with the other slaves. This book gives readers a unique perspective on the Revolutionary War as well as slavery.
By Elise Weston
Eleven-year-old Hugh is spending the summer with his family on the South Carolina Coast in an attempt to escape the polio epidemic. He spends most of his time at a high point on the beach watching the ocean. He misses his father, who can only come to visit when he can save enough gas rations to get to his family.
When Hugh spots what looks like a periscope in the water and finds a German cigarette pack on the sand, he believes the enemy has invaded the coast. Then, his sister comes down with a fever. Could it be polio? Readers will be riveted by this historical fiction book set in 1943.
Children in fourth or fifth grades will enjoy learning even more about our 50 states with these enjoyable and enlightening stories.
Do you have a favorite book about South Carolina history for kids? Share the title with us!
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