I don’t know about you, but nostalgia hits me hard particularly in the summer. One of the things I was reminiscing about the other day was when my mom would take my siblings and I to our public library that was a half mile walk from our house in NY. Thinking back on the many books and VHS’s I checked out, the various free programs that my mom would take us to throughout the school year and summer, and even doing schoolwork there sometimes (we were homeschooled after all…), I thought back to one of my favorite book series that my library carried to feed my addiction. 😉
When we were all little girls, I’m sure we had our favorite books to read. When my younger siblings and I were about the ages of 7 & 9, my mother subscribed to an order of particular book series for each of us through Scholastic Books. While I started out with a Disney collection series when I was about 7, by the time I was 9, I transitioned into a new series that would further my love for reading, writing, and history. The Dear America series presented a new twist to the historical fiction genre as it focused on the diaries of young girls who lived through important times/events in American history. While these are certainly written for a young audience in mind (10+), these books are very well written and I still enjoy re-reading them to this day!
The first book I ever received was “Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell.” I fell in love with this series instantaneously given the detailed description of personal and public events taking place in the book. This series is written by a variety of authors, but one author to note is Mary Pope Osborne, the author of The Magic Treehouse books (My little brother was reading this series through his Scholastic book orders). They all contain the diary entries (the main stories), an acknowledgement, a forward, and historical notes. Some of the historical notes include songs and recipes from the time period that the story took place in.
These books dive into everything from family, friends, love, war, marriage, children, poverty, wealth, and death. I think what makes these stories relatable for me to this day is their ability to capture all of these mature topics and themes affecting children in those times so realistically.
They’re short reads, highly entertaining and educational, and present American History in a very realistic, yet honest way. In these times when American History is often not taught, altered to fit political agendas, or belittled in our public school system, it’s encouraging to know this series exists to introduce young readers to both history and fictional characters resembling those who lived through the time period of the story. I wanted to share my appreciation for this series and recommend some of my all time favorites for you all:
1. “My Secret War: The World War II Diary of Madeline Beck. Long Island, New York” by: Mary Pope Osborne (OG Favorite)
2. “A Coal Minor’s Bride: The Diary of Anetka Kaminska. Lattimer, Pennsylvania” by: Susan Campbell Bartoletti (Newest favorite)
3. “Voyage on the Great Titanic: The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady. RMS Titanic” by: Ellen Emerson White
4. “Standing in the Light: The Captive Diary of Catherine Carey Logan. Delaware Valley, Pennsylvania” by: Mary Pope Osborne
5. “Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie: The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell” by: Kristiana Gregory
There are more where those came from! While I’ll admit I haven’t read EVERY SINGLE book in the original 36 book series, I’ve read most of them, and thankfully my library carried many of the books so I could read the ones that didn’t come in my subscription. As someone who has been journaling since they were six, these books spoke to my soul as a young girl, and continue to do so as a young woman.
There are also other spin-offs of this series from Scholastic that I have never read, such as My America (children’s journals), My Name is America (young men’s journals), Dear Canada, and The Royal Diaries (obviously journals written by royal young people). But I’m sure they’re just as great! 🙂
Have you ever read/heard of this series before? If so, what were your favorites in the series?
Today’s Scripture meditation comes from Proverbs: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1:7)
Have a great week ladies, and remember that you are loved and created with dignity by God! ❤️