Book Club

"In addition to the self esteem this opportunity provided, [this program] was of enormous educational value. . .Reading these books has really given us a springboard to explore. . .important time periods in history."
-AM, parent

Reading into History
Ages 9 – 12

Love reading books about the people and places in New York history? Want to discuss them with other history fans and their authors? Want to explore real museum artifacts from the time you've been reading about? Reading into History is a family book club for history detectives.

Each month families read an historical fiction or nonfiction book at home. Throughout the month, they learn about each RiH book, get ideas for discussion, post comments, and read author interviews on our History Detectives blog. At the end of each month, families can attend a Book Wrap event where they will share reactions to the book, see cool museum artifacts and documents related to the book, meet other history detectives, and even the authors! Past author guests have included Walter Dean Myers, Neela Vaswani, Donna Jo Napoli, Matt Phelan, and Joyce Hansen.

September-May book wraps are held on Sundays from 3-5 pm. June-August book wraps are held on Wednesdays from 3:30-5:30 pm. See our family programs calendar for exact dates for each wrap.


Current Read 

At this meeting, we'll discover how one person started an outbreak of a horrible disease in 1906 New York...without ever being sick herself. Join us and author Julie Chibarro to discuss her thrilling fictional account of the hunt for "Typhoid Mary" through the eyes of a sixteen year old girl. After discussing the book with the author, we'll take readers to see rare objects from American medical history and living conditions for immigrants at the turn of the 20th century.

About Deadly
Sixteen year old Prudence Galewski doesn't know what she's in for when she takes a job with the Department of Health and Sanitation in 1906 New York City. All this lower east side girls knows is that lots of people in her crowded city are getting sick, and she'd rather help stop the disease's spread than get caught up in romances like her friends. Strangely, the only link Prudence can find to all the sick patients is one perfectly healthy Irish immigrant named Mary Mallon. In this novel "paced like a medical thriller" (NYTimes, 2011), Chibarro takes readers with Prudence on the hunt for Mary, and on a journey of discovery about women's opportunities in a new century and age-old discrimination.

Future Reads

Author Barbara Wright will join us for this meeting to discuss her book. Families will hear from her and see objects and artifacts that were useful to her in her research and writing of the book. Then educators will take families into the galleries and/or the Klingenstein Library to view artifacts related to the history of the black press, race riots, and Reconstruction. The author will also sign attendee’s copies of her book.

This program is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

About Crow

Readers follow fictional Moses Thomas, a young African-American boy living in Wilmington, NC through the summer of 1898. When the novel starts, the Thomas family is experiencing the promise of the Reconstruction era, but that tenuous progress is destroyed by the real-life Wilmington Race Riot. Through Moses’s eyes, Wright helps explain the difficult origins of the Jim Crow South, a largely unexplored topic for this age group, to young readers. This book earned starred reviews from School Library Journal, Horn Book Magazine, Publisher's Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews, and was a finalist for the 2012 New-York Historical Society Children's History Book Prize



Past Reads

Do you believe in giants? At this first book club meeting of the 2014-15 school year, we'll talk about one of the greatest hoaxes of the nineteenth century, the Cardiff Giant, and how the scam finally came to light. After book discussion, we'll head up to our Patricia D. Klingenstein library for a private viewing of rarely-seen artifacts related to P.T.Barnum, other humbug superstars, and some lesser-known nineteenth century hoaxes that will amaze, stupefy, and shock just like they did back then.

About The Giant and How He Humbugged America

Jim Murphy takes readers through the story of how a 10-foot-tall "petrified man" was dug up in upstate New York in 1869, displayed as America's greatest spectacle, examined by top scientists.. then proven to be a fraud. Who made the Giant, why, and how did they get so many people to believe he was real? Jim Murphy expertly answers all these questions and more with thorough research, primary source evidence, and still manages to make the book "entertaining and intriguing" (BOOOKLIST, starred review). Readers will be even more astounded to see how, even after its unveiling as a scam, the Cardiff Giant remains an attraction even to this day! If you like stories about mischievous masterminds, you will like this book.

June 2014: A Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

Twelve year old Tetsu's life completely changes after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when he and his family are forced to relocate to an internment camp in the Arizona desert. Life in the camp is hard, but things look up when someone tries to put together a boy's baseball team. Tetsu lived for baseball before the war, but here in the camp other duties call. Between taking care of his sister and worrying about why his father has been taken for questioning, will Tetsu still get to be a kid and enjoy his favorite sport? Adult and child readers alike will connect to this beautifully told story of family, responsibility, and the love of the game.

This program is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

May 2014: Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

It's 1958, and Arkansas is divided over the subject of school integration. In fact, Governor Faubus has already shut down all public high schools to keep them from being integrated like they were the year before by the Little Rock Nine. Marlee isn't thinking about all this too much when she starts middle school and meets Liz. Up to now, Marlee has struggled with a painful shyness, but with Liz, that shyness starts to crumble. Then suddenly Liz is removed from school after it's discovered that she is a light-skinned African American who was passing for white. Marlee can't imagine losing her friend; however, Liz and Marlee's attempts at remaining friends mean danger for their whole families. In the process of fighting to keep her friend, Marlee and those around her learn the value of speaking up against injustice.

This program is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

April 2014: The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Philip Hoose

In honor of Audubon’s Aviary: Parts Unknown, Part II of our tripartite series Audubon’s Aviary: The Complete Flock, author Phillip Hoose will join the book club to discuss the epic, 200+ year battle to save the illusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker. After discussion, we'll visit the galleries to see Audubon's works and then Mr. Hoose will sign books. Do not miss your chance to discuss the history of wildlife conservation and meet this multi-award-winning author!

This program is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

March 2014: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
This Newbery Honor Award-winning work of historical fiction takes readers through a summer in the life of Calpurnia Tate, a just-about-to-turn-twelve year old girl in Fentress, Texas in 1899. Little Callie Vee, as she is called, is at a crossroads: her mother expects that Callie will assume more traditional womanly responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning and sewing. But Callie has just begun to form a special bond with her aloof grandfather, an avid naturalist. As Callie and her grandfather make an incredible discovery, Callie discovers her own interest in and gift for the natural sciences. Readers will be dying to know if Callie is able to follow her passions, or if she will be forced to follow her mother into the kitchen. This novel combines rich characters, luscious historical detail about life at the turn of the twentieth century, and a peak into the early acceptance of Darwin's theory of evolution.

This program is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

February 2014: No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Lewis Michaux's National Memorial African Bookstore was the cultural center of Harlem from the 1930s to the 1970s. Come discuss this extraordinary place and its extraordinary founder at our monthly meeting. We'll talk about New York during the Civil Rights Movement, Malcolm X, and the role that books play in uplifting communities.

This program is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


January 2014: We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March

Author Cynthia Levinson tells the history of the Children’s March, its build-up, and its aftermath through the voices of four of its participants, Audrey Faye Hendricks, Washington Booker III, James Stewart and Arnetta Streeter. Extensively researched and grippingly told, this book has earned many starred reviews and multiple awards including the IRA Young Adult Nonfiction Award and the Jane Addams Book Award.

This program is supported by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.


December 2013: The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure
Whaling used to be big business in the United States- and it was extremely dangerous. Come to the museum on January 5th to discuss the amazing rescue of hundreds of men whose ice-encrusted whaling ships left them trapped in the arctic for the harsh winter of 1897. What it took to get these men to safety is almost unbelievable. At the meeting, we will discuss the history of the whaling industry through our amazing Museum collections. Ages 9-12.

About The Impossible Rescue: The True Story of an Amazing Arctic Adventure
Eight whaling ships encased in ice off Alaska's coast. 300 stranded men. One of the coldest winters ever. Brave rescuers achieving the impossible...with the help of 1,500 reindeer. In this gripping work of non-fiction, Sandler shows us the almost unbelievable dangers faced by both those stranded and those who fought to save them. Sandler's deft use of primary sources brings the story alive through photographs, diary entries, and other texts from the time. One would expect no less of an author who has been nominated for two Pullitzer Prizes and has won multiple Emmys and a Boston Globe Horn Book Award.

November 2013: Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy
On March 25, 1911, 146 people (mostly young women, mostly immigrants) died in a factory fire near Washington Square, New York City that changed the course of history. Come discuss the remarkable story of how this fire happened, how it could have been avoided, and how it sparked tremendous changes in laws protecting workers in the United States. After discussing the book, we will visit part of the Armory Show at 100 exhibition to learn more about what out city and country were like in the early 1900s.

About Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and its Legacy
Award-winning author Albert Marin earned multiple starred reviews for this gripping account of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911. Marrin takes readers through the conditions and events that lead up to the fire, through the fire itself, and through the legacy the fire left us. This is more than a story of a tragedy, it is a story of what America was like on the eve of World War I, and the historic actions of working class people, many of them women, rising up and demanding their rights.

October 2013: Cooper and the Enchanted Metal Detector
Come discuss the American Revolution and amateur archaeology with author Adam Osterweil. We'll discuss the book, look at artifacts from the American Revolution, and learn how anyone can become a history detective.

About Cooper and the Enchanted Metal Detector
Eleven-year-old Cooper lives with his mother in Elmira, New York. Their family struggles with loss, money, and a battle to save their home and the history of their community. Cooper's family's property (which also houses his mother's antiques shop) lies next to land on which the Battle of Newtown was fought during the American Revolution. With the help of a special metal detector named Decto, Cooper unearths treasures from our nation's roots and learns all about them. "A poignant coming-of-age story and history lesson rolled into one," says Kirkus Reviews.

September 2013: 90 Miles to Havana
Come discuss what happened to the child refugees from Cuba's Operation Pedro Pan with author Enrique Flores Galbis. We'll contrast his and his characters' experiences with those of the "Orphan Train" riders in the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This event honors National Hispanic Heritage Month.

About 90 Miles to Havana
In 1961, Cuban families evacuated 14,000 children to Miami in Operation Pedro Pan. This 2011 Pure Belpre Honor Book for Narrative and 2011 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year follows Julian and his brothers as they experience this mass migration and end up in a Miami orphanage, full of bullies and unfamiliar power dynamics that call to mind the struggles of Julian's homeland. Will Julian and his brothers ever see their parents again? Readers will not be able to put this book down until they find out.

August 2013: Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider

How did a poor kid from the island of Nevis end up forming our new nation’s economy? We’ll discuss Alexander Hamilton’s exciting life and death at this book wrap after reading Newbery-Honor author Jean Fritz’s biography of him, Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider. We’ll also take an up-close look at some rare and precious documents related to Hamilton’s life and times from the Gilder Lerhman Institute’s vast collection. This is truly a behind-the-scenes event!

About Alexander Hamilton: The Outsider

Alexander Hamilton’s story, though it mostly takes place before there is such a thing as the USA, is uniquely “American.” Coming from humble beginnings, he becomes George Washington’s aide de camp and, eventually, the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury…but he’s not without his enemies along the way. From Booklist’s starred review: “Fritz, a notable biographer of the Revolutionary War period for young people, provides a brisk, well-written account introducing Founding Father Alexander Hamilton as an outsider to America…This lively biography sheds light on Hamilton’s character and his place at the nation’s beginnings.”

July 2013: The Brooklyn Nine

Come discuss the novel The Brooklyn Nine with baseball historian Erik Miklich from After we talk about the book, we’ll toss the ball around like they did 100 years ago—no gloves allowed!

About The Brooklyn Nine

Alan Gratz takes us through nine generations, or “innings” of one Brooklyn family. The tie that binds each generation is baseball. This book combines the thrills of America’s Pastime with compelling historical detail about New York from the 1800s to the present day. From the Booklist starred review “Gratz builds this novel upon a clever enough conceit…and executes it with polish and precision.”

June 2013: Home is With Our Family

Come celebrate the first anniversary of the Reading into History Family Book Club and Juneteenth! We will enjoy some celebratory snacks and discuss this novel set in 1850s Seneca Village, a community of immigrants and free African-Americans that was destroyed to pave the way for Central Park. After our discussion, Book club facilitators Katie and Rachel will lead the group on a tour of the remains of Seneca Village, just a short walk from the museum.

About Home is with Our Family

Learn about Maria Peters, an African-American girl with a lot on her shoulders. Her lovely community is about to be destroyed so an enormous "Central Park" can be built. On top of that, Maria's new friend Anna has a secret past that could destroy both their lives. This is a story of resistance, abolitionism, and the power of friendship from four-time Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winner, Joyce Hansen and acclaimed illustrator E. B. Lewis.

May 2013: Around the World

This graphic novel tells the stories of three people who circumnavigated the globe in different ways: Thomas Stevens did it on a bike, Nellie Bly set a record by steamboat, and Joshua Slocum was the first to make the trip alone on a 36-foot sloop. Each world-traveler faced different challenges while experiencing cultural encounters very few people could in the nineteenth century. This book has earned starred reviews from Kirkus, the School Library Journal and many more publications. The New York Times calls it “A first-rate pleasure from the acclaimed graphic novelist Phelan. And this book - riveting, wondrously drawn, expertly paced - is a triumph in and of itself.”


April 2013: Lincoln Shot: A President's Life Remembered

Barry Denenberg brings his unique journalistic style to this biography of Lincoln. Framed as a collected of newspaper articles issued in the days after Lincoln's death, the book details Lincoln's life from boyhood to the end. Text is intermixed with primary source images from Lincoln's life and times. According to James M. McPherson, Civil War historian and Pulitzer Prize winner, "This unique biography of Abraham Lincoln employs a richly illustrated newspaper format and a vigorous, readable writing style to present the story of the Civil War president's remarkable life and tragic death."



March 2013: Sophia's War by Avi

Follow Sophia Calderwood, a young girl navigating the dangerous world of New York during American Revolution. Learn about the horrors of prison ships and the opportunities for girls and women in this time. Sophia's suspenseful journey unfolds as she becomes a Patriot spy on on a solo mission to stop a traitor. With this book, Newbery Medalist Avi has given young readers a "seamless blend of fact and fiction" (Publisher's Weekly, August 13, 2012 *STAR) that combines "hard fact with thrilling espionage" (School Library Journal,October, 2012 *STAR).




February 2013: Breaking Ground, Breaking Silence: The Story of New York's African Burial Ground 

Co-authors Joyce Hansen and Gary McGowan bring this untold history to young readers through the life stories of individuals buried at the site. In doing so, they show readers how, with bones, artifacts, and detective work, archaeologists can reconstruct histories lost through time and prejudice.




  January 2013:Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

For so many reasons, the Civil War was the worst crisis the United States has ever been through. In the novel Picture the Dead, author Adele Griffin, tells the story of Jennie, a young woman whose twin brother is killed during the war. Jennie lives with her fiance's family, who reluctantly take care of her while her fiance, Will, and his brother, Quinn, are at war. When Quinn returns from battle without Will, some strange things start to happen to Jennie, and she begins to realize that nothing is as it seems. This story is full of mystery and suspense, and maybe even ghosts!


  December 2012:King of Mulberry Street by Donna Jo Napoli

Dom, a nine-year-old boy from Napoli, is sent to make it big in new York City where he makes some friends and some more enemies. Learn what life was like in the Lower East Side of New York through the eyes of this brave young boy. Read about the Book Wrap here!


November 2012: Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani. 

River and Meena seem like they would have nothing in common; River is the son of a Kentucky coal miner, and Meena is an Indian-American girl living in New York City's Chinatown. They begin a friendship as pen pals and, even though their cultures and hometowns are worlds apart, realize they have much to learn from each other. Despite their differences, they live under the same sun. Read about the book wrap here!


September 2012: We Rode the Orphan Trains by Andrea Warren

This book tells the real-life stories of children from New York City, who, between the late 19th and early 20th centuries, were sent by train to new families out west, where some were cared for and loved as if a member of the family and others were treated as less than servants.Read about the book wrap here!






Visit our clubhouse blog for kids who love history! It is created by the staff of the DiMenna Children’s History Museum and New-York Historical Society. Each week will have a book club-specific post, so make sure to check back often as you read your book! Go to the Blog!
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