While these books were selected for teens in grades 7-12, the titles on this list span a broad range of reading and maturity levels. We encourage adults to take an active role in helping individual teens choose those books that are the best fit for them and their families.
This list was prepared by YALSA’s 2006 Booklist Taskforce. YALSA is the world leader in selecting books, videos & audiobooks for teens. For more lists of recommended reading, go to www.ala.org/yalsa/booklists.
- Blackwood, Gary. Second Sight. Dutton Children’s Books, 2005.
As part of a mind-reading act, Joseph meets many Washington, D.C. area actors, including the dashing John Wilkes Booth. When a young girl staying at Joseph’s boarding house has dark visions predicting Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, they work together to try to prevent it, in this gripping alternate history.
- DuPont, M. Kay. Loving Mr. Lincoln: The Personal Diaries of Mary Todd Lincoln. Jedco Press, 2003.
Purporting to be the reprinting of the newly-discovered diaries of Mary Todd Lincoln, this engaging novel shows Mrs. Lincoln to be an advocate of women’s rights, a proponent of abolition and the driving force behind Lincoln’s success as President. Recommended for 8th graders.
- Myers, Anna. Assassin. Walker & Co., 2005.
Told from the viewpoint of John Wilkes Booth, as well as from the perspective of a fictional young girl, this novel details Booth’s plot against President Lincoln.
- Rinaldi, Ann. An Acquaintance with Darkness. Harcourt Brace, 1997.
1998 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
In the wake of President Lincoln’s assassination, Emily’s mother dies and arrangements for her to live with her best friend fail when the father is implicated in the assassination plot. Emily goes to live with her sinister uncle instead, a doctor who seems to spend a lot of time in graveyards after dark.
- Slotkin, Richard. Abe: A Novel. Henry Holt & Co., 2000.
A deep and haunting story of the formative years of Abraham Lincoln, this novel is rich, intelligent and thoughtful. Through the death of his beloved mother and sister, he learns many survival skills and develops a clear understanding of the equality of all humankind through his life-changing journey down the Mississippi River. Recommended for all levels of high school.
- Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln at Home: Two Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln’s Domestic Life. Simon & Schuster, 2000.
An informative biography of Abraham Lincoln in two parts. Part One discusses life in the White House in the early years; part two provides details of the Lincoln family’s life through letters between the president and his wife.
- Kennedy, Caroline, ed. A Patriot’s Handbook: Poems, Stories, and Speeches Celebrating the Land We Love. Hyperion, 2003.
A comprehensive anthology of American culture, including poetry, major documents, works by authors from all walks of American life, presidential speeches and more.
- Marrin, Albert. Commander in Chief: Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Dutton Children’s Books, 1997.
Excellent treatment of the life of Abraham Lincoln, focusing on the personal aspects of his experience, from birth to death. Using photographs and quotations, Lincoln is brought to life in a riveting fashion. Meredith,
- Meredith, Roy. Mr. Lincoln’s Camera Man: Mathew B. Brady. Dover Publications, 1974. A fascinating historical collection of Brady’s photographs, chronicling the course of the Civil War, with commentary by Roy Meredith.
- Donald, David Herbert. “We Are Lincoln Men”: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends. Simon & Schuster, 2003.
This book documents Abraham Lincoln’s friendships and acquaintances; beginning with his childhood and ending with his working relationships with his two private secretaries, Nicolay and Hay, near the end of his life.
- Goodwin, Doris Kearns. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Simon & Schuster, 2005.
A discussion of the major contenders in the 1860 presidential race, many of whom President Lincoln later invited into his cabinet. It is the story of how Lincoln succeeded in melding this group of rivals into a strong team through his strength and political acumen.
- Keneally, Thomas. Abraham Lincoln. Lipper/Viking, 2003.
An in-depth biography of President Abraham Lincoln, from his birth to his presidency. The majority of this book deals with the years before his presidency, including his relationships with those who influenced him and his bouts with a depressive illness.
- Lincoln, Abraham, et. al. Lincoln: Speeches and Writings. Library of America, 1989.
Volume I (1832-1858) and Volume II (1859-1865) contain an extensive collection of the works by Abraham Lincoln, including campaign speeches, the seven Lincoln-Douglas debates, letters to his Civil War military leaders, inaugural speeches and more.
- Marvel, William. Mr. Lincoln Goes to War. Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006.
Marvel says the Civil War was unnecessary, and leaves no stone unturned in this revisionist history of the president’s role in the war. Includes original photographs, extensive bibliography, biographical sketches of the key players and more.
- Shenk, Joshua Wolf. Lincoln’s Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness. Houghton Mifflin Co., 2005.
Shenk successfully manages to address the issue of Lincoln’s bouts of chronic depression and its affect on his role as president and Commander-in-Chief.
- Swanson, James L. Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer. William Morrow/Avon, 2006.
With great attention to the tiniest fascinating details, Swanson examines John Wilkes Booth’s motives and previous opportunities for his momentous action; his meticulous planning of an event which, if it had played out as intended, would have resulted in the simultaneous deaths of a number of important figures and the crippling of the United States government. He also examines Lincoln’s final hours, and Booth’s bumbling but nearly successful attempt to escape capture.
- Tripp, C. A. The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln. Free Press, 2005.
Tripp delves into the intimate world of Lincoln for a fresh look at his character. Lincoln’s relationships with both men and women are explored, as well as how his own inner strength helped him through the most turbulent presidency in history.