A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Excellent overview of the major debates of the antebellum period, the Civil War, and its fallout, including helpful infographics defining key terms.
According to Kanefield, Lincoln was "a practical statesman and not an idealist. At each stage he was willing to settle for what he could accomplish, while remaining alert for opportunities to achieve his long-desired objective of liberty and justice for all."
Positive Role Models
Though Lincoln remained politically savvy and troubled in his personal life, his commitment to preserving the Union, his eventual determination to see abolition achieved, and his steadfast resolve in the face of grave dangers and pressures made him an American icon, one whose "historic heights ... dwarf all others in our annals," as one abolitionist of his day predicted.
Violence & Scariness
The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict in United States history, but there are no details or gory depictions of the brutal violence that's alluded to in the text.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Teri Kanefield's Abraham Lincoln: The Making of America is an extremely informative, fact-filled biography for middle schoolers about the life and times of one of the towering figures in U.S. history. Carefully attuned to the nuanced historical debate surrounding "the Great Emancipator," Kanefield shows Lincoln as a flawed, complicated figure who nevertheless served as an essential spokesman for the cause of black freedom and national unity. The book includes frank discussions about white supremacy and racism in the 19th century, though these issues are dealt with in such a way as not to glorify the North or demonize the South. Instead, Kanefield explains the complexity of the heated debate and eventual armed conflict over the future of slavery.
Is It Any Good?
Well-written, compelling, and at times moving, this short but comprehensive biography serves as a perfect introduction to Lincoln. It also reflects the rich work done by historians to uncover the complicated man behind the legend. Author Teri Kanefield clearly did an immense amount of research for the book, and her ability to summarize heated debates between historians and describe the current consensus of scholars makes Abraham Lincoln incredibly useful for young readers who want to look beneath the surface at the true dynamics at play in one of the most difficult times in the United States' tumultuous history.
Full of images, photographs, and drawings from primary sources like Harper's Weekly Magazine, the Making of America series continues to set the standard for engaging, educational writing about historical figures that may not be well-described in middle school textbooks. For any student interested in the Civil War or learning about 19th-century U.S. history, this biography is an excellent place to start.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Amazing Books for Teens Exploring Black History
Graphic Novels That Teach History
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate