About the Holiday
Today we celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday! Abe Lincoln was born in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky and later worked as a riverboat worker, a shopkeeper, and a postmaster in Illinois before becoming the 16th President of the United States. With compassion, bravery, and strength, Lincoln shepherded the country through the Civil War and signed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution outlawing slavery in the United States. Lincoln’s birthday is commemorated with wreath-laying ceremonies at his birthplace and at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.
I am Abraham Lincoln
Written by Brad Meltzer / Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
In his I am… series of biographies, Brad Meltzer writes about famous people as they grow from childhood into the influential adults they became. In I am Abraham Lincoln, Meltzer illuminates various experiences of Lincoln’s life that formed his beliefs of equality and inclusiveness. At a time when most children liked to hunt, fish, and tend the farm, young Abe spent his time reading, and he was one of the few people in town who could write. Even at the age of 10, his compassion showed when he stopped a group of his peers from treating a turtle roughly. Later, as a young man and newcomer to Illinois, he faced a group of bullies and dispersed them without throwing a punch.
It was when he witnessed the indignities of a slave boat, however, that his most deeply held beliefs took hold. As President, Lincoln acted on those beliefs, helping the country through the Civil War, gave speeches, and signing laws that ensured all people would be treated equally.
By relating stories from Abraham Lincoln’s childhood, Meltzer not only teaches children about his life, but demonstrates that his young readers can also make a difference by speaking up and helping others whenever they see injustice.
Christopher Eliopoulos’s cartoon-like illustrations are particularly effective in showing the earnestness of Abraham Lincoln’s personality from early childhood on. Speech bubbles display dialogue, modeling the simple words that can so often create great change. Part of the book’s charm is that even as a child Lincoln sports his iconic beard and top hat, making him instantly recognizable as the hero children are familiar with and emphasizing the “man in the child” theme.
Ages 4 – 8
Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Group, New York, 2014 | ISBN 978-0803740839
Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday Activities
Abe Lincoln’s Top Hat Chalkboard
Abraham Lincoln was known for the black top hat he wore – and for his inspiring words In this activity you can learn how to make a top hat chalkboard to use for your own drawings or inspiring words!
- Cereal Box (I used a large sized cereal box), cardboard or poster board
- Chalkboard Paint (black)
- Paint brush
- Hot Glue Gun or extra-strength glue
- Removable mounting squares
- If you are using cardboard or poster board: cut a rectangle at least 8 inches wide by 12 inches long for the hat and 12 inches long by 2 inches wide for the brim (but your top hat can be any size you’d like!)
- If you are using a Cereal Box: open the seams of the Cereal Box
- Cut the panels of the cereal box apart
- Take one face panel and one side panel
- With the chalkboard paint, paint both panels
- Let the panels dry
- Attach the side panel to the bottom of the face panel to create the shape of Lincoln’s top hat
- Hang Abe Lincoln’s Top Hat Chalkboard
Donate to a Food Bank
Today can be a day to remember the hardships that many people still endure. Many still live with hunger every day. Today, gather a bag of non-perishable foods and donate them to your local food bank. This activity can also be done by a group—a classroom, scout troop, youth group, or group of friends. Even a little bit helps a lot!