Abraham Lincoln – farm boy, reader, lawyer, and the 16th president of the United States. Many books have been written about Abe, presumably because he was one of our country’s most beloved Presidents.
We remember his relentless pursuit of truth, his advocacy for the rights of all people, his love of reading, his stoic courage in troubling times, and his death that came far too soon.
Below are our picks for the best picture books about Abraham Lincoln, in alphabetical order.
Written by Kay Winters; Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
This charming book recounts Abraham’s childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and rise to presidency with eloquent text. The poetic words, combined with delightful illustrations, make this one of the best picture books about our sixteenth president. We especially love that the story emphasize’s Abe’s love of learning (“letters cast a magic spell”).
Written by Ann Turner; Illustrated by Wendell Minor
In this biographical picture book, the author imagines what Abraham Lincoln might have said about his life experiences. The text falls short of inspiring, but does provide a basic overview of Abe’s life. It is Wendell’s paintings that really steal the show – realistic and emotion-filled images of Abraham at work and play.
written and illustrated by Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire
This detailed full-color picture book is hard to resist due to the lovely lithographs. The story begins “deep in the wilderness down in Kentucky” at Abraham’s birth and ends with words about his legacy. The assassination is not mentioned.
Written by Erin Edison; Edited by Gail Saunders-Smith
This mini biography is clearly designed for younger readers (grades 1-3?) to read themselves – with a bigger font, few words, and an included timeline that runs from page-to-page. Because of these limitations, the book is a skim overview without much inspiration or nuance. Even so, it accomplishes its purpose to provide the key facts in a readable format.
Written by Robert Burleigh; Illustrated by Wendell Minor
This somber book follows Luke and his father as they go to pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train as it passes by a nondescript town in midwest USA. Beautiful paintings accompany simple text and end with an afterword about Lincoln’s death and burial.
Written by Ann Malaspina; Illustrated by Colin Booth
Louis lives in a world where “the strawberry milkshakes at the drugstore lunch counter, the swings in the city park, and the best seats at the movie theater” are reserved for white people. Even the library is off-limits. After dreaming of new books (including a book about Abraham Lincoln – who he is doing a school report on), Louis bravely steps inside the doors anyway. This beautiful story recounts what happens next.
Written by Kelly Starling Lyons; Illustrated by Don Tate
This book begins on the eve of a runaway slave. Hope’s father slips away in the dark of night, hoping to join the fight to abolish slavery. Hope stays behind with her mother and younger brother, holding on to something intangible as the seasons pass…hope. Although not directly written about Lincoln, his name is certainly a pivotal part of the story. He is, without a doubt, a hero in their minds.
Written and Illustrated by Maira Kalman
The unnamed narrator of this book is presumedly a child. While some of the text is lacking in depth and beauty (especially the parts where the narrator asks questions), the illustrations are unique and the book provides a solid overview of the life of Lincoln. Not the best book about our 16th president, but still worthy of attention.
Written and Illustrated by Karen B. Winnick
In October 1860, eleven-year-old Grace Bedell sends a letter to Abraham Lincoln on his campaign trail. She expresses her support of him as a presidential candidate…and advises him to grow a beard because “all the ladies like whiskers.” To her surprise, he sends her a warm letter in return – and then proceeds to grow his whiskers. Based on a true story, young children will love this behind-the-scenes look at one of our most beloved Presidents.
Written by Mike Allegra; Illustrated by David Gardner
Meet Sarah Josepha Hale – widow, mother of five, writer, and entrepreneur. A woman beyond her time, she loved to read and yearned to go to college. With a hefty amount of self-education from books and conversation, she eventually became the Editor of Lady’s Book Magazine and one of the strongest influencers of women in her time. Over the course of her life, she sent letters to five different presidents to make her case that Thanksgiving should be a national holiday. Finally, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday. A beautiful story about the power of persistence.
What are your favorite picture books about Abraham Lincoln? We’ll update our list as other treasures are discovered, always keeping our list to the very BEST children’s books.