What YA Lit Would George Washington Read?

photoWhen you think of George Washington, you might think of his false teeth, or the quote attributed to him about never telling a lie, or chopping down that cherry tree. As improbable as those last two things are, it is true that he was a man of integrity who avoided scandal. So, it might surprise some of you to know that he was a Spymaster during the Revolutionary War. The American spy network in operation during the war was called the Culper Spy Ring and they provided Washington with information on the movements of the British troops. The spies in this network were protected by having pseudonyms, and were identified by numbers (Washington’s was 711) rather than names. They even used invisible ink to conceal their messages.

In honor of Presidents’ Day, originally held on the anniversary of George Washington’s birthday (February 22) but in 1971 moved to the third Monday in February, I thought I would highlight some YA books that I think George would have really enjoyed reading.

To assist him in his role as Spymaster, Washington might have found this book useful:

  • Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers and Secret Writing by Paul B. Janeczko (Editor), Jenna Lareau9780763629724 (Illustrator) (2004) Janeczko gives middle grade aspiring codemakers and codebreakers everything they need for staging their own information exchanges–terminology; instructions for making simple devices; concrete advice (assemble a “spy toolkit,” using film-canister “vials” to store homemade invisible ink); and plenty of practice activities with answers at the back of the book accompanied by fascinating historical anecdotes and nice illustrations by LaReau. Continue reading What YA Lit Would George Washington Read?