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Thomas Jefferson for Kids

His Life and Times

With 21 Activities

I think it was my fourteenth summer that my dad took my siblings and me on an amazing summer vacation where we toured President’s homes. We spent a week in Washington DC and then ventured into the outskirts visiting the home of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Both were amazing; however, Monticello truly stood out as a remarkable home, even for my mid-1980 mind.

As an adult, Thomas Jefferson inspires me. Seemingly, there is always something new I discover about him either through his inventions, his farming, architecture, and of course, his time as President. Like our nation’s founders, I immediately think of him as a man of courage. This continues as we learn that he was left without a father as a young boy. He didn’t let not having a father figure stop him from working hard at his studies, becoming a lawyer, a landowner, and a leader who did incredible things in the name of freedom.

Before his term as President, he was elected to the Virginia Assembly in 1769. Here he developed a following for his debates and colonial policies of Great Britain and King George III. Perhaps these policies prompted him to write the Declaration of Independence, allowing America freedom and independence in a world Monarchs ruled.

That summer I was fourteen, my heart sank in learning that Thomas Jefferson was an enslaver. It didn’t compute in my mind that a man who wrote, “all men are created equal,” didn’t practice this belief. I wanted to believe he treated them as his friends, but a tour of Monticello and viewing the servant’s quarters proved that he considered himself of far more worth than the men and women he claimed as his property.

Someday, perhaps I will take my children to Monticello. In the meantime, we are learning about this man through Thomas Jefferson for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities. The author, Brandon Marie Miller, uses the original letters and papers of Thomas Jefferson to create the life of this amazing man. Miller does an outstanding job at bringing to the forefront of my mind how much he accomplished and left me in awe of his many achievements.

I was thankful for page 65, where Miller writes:

“Jefferson covered a multitude of topics, including slavery in Virginia. Jefferson believed African Americans were inferior to whites in reason and imagination. He favored a system where blacks gradually became free. But he felt they could not stay in the United States after gaining that freedom. He did not believe the two races could live together in harmony.”

My appreciation came from her honesty. That she painted Thomas Jefferson as he was–I suppose, a hypocrite, in terms of “all men created equal.” There is no fluff. It’s just as it should be. Proving that even the greatest of men are with weakness and hypocrisy.

Author Brandon Marie Miller captures the complexity of this talented leader through his original writings and hands-on activities from the colonial era.

I enjoyed reading about the Colonial times and what life was like then. It’s fascinating to me to see the roots of where I came from, the foundation of this country, and the people who shaped America.

This book is interesting, entertaining, well-written, and informative. There are beautiful illustrations throughout the pages. While it may be geared for children, my husband didn’t let this stop him from browsing the pages.
I’m a fan of the “Learn by Doing” activities. They appear simple and to the point while teaching fun and inspiring. Li’l Man is looking forward to making a “simple microscope” (page 66). The Divine Miss M thinks “Making Grape Juice” (page 30) is something our family should do together. Even I want in action with “Bake a Macaroni (pie)” (page 73). Other activities include designing a Palladian window, building a simple microscope, painting a “buffalo robe,” and dancing a reel.
My only complaint about this book is that its paperback and a little awkward to hold and read to the children. They don’t seem to mind, and I’m thankful they are learning and enjoying a moment in American History.

About the Author

Brandon Marie Miller writes History for young people. She writes about both the famous and the common folk, about great events and everyday life. Her books have been honored by the International Reading Association and the National Council for Social Studies. Brandon grew up in Park Forest, Illinois, and earned her degree in American History from Purdue University. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. Find out more at and check out
*I received a copy of Thomas Jefferson for Kids in order to facilitate an honest review. The opinions expressed are my own and were in no way influenced by the sponsor. Others’ experiences may vary.
About Julee: Julee Morrison is an experienced author with 35 years of expertise in parenting and recipes. She is the author of four cookbooks: The Instant Pot College Cookbook, The How-To Cookbook for Teens, The Complete Cookbook for Teens, and The Complete College Cookbook. Julee is passionate about baking, crystals, reading, and family. Her writing has appeared in The LA Times (Bon Jovi Obsession Goes Global), Disney's Family Fun Magazine (August 2010, July 2009, September 2008), and My Family Gave Up Television (page 92, Disney Family Fun August 2010). Her great ideas have been featured in Disney's Family Fun (Page 80, September 2008) and the Write for Charity book From the Heart (May 2010). Julee's work has also been published in Weight Watchers Magazine, All You Magazine (Jan. 2011, February 2011, June 2013), Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine (Oct. 2011), Red River Family Magazine (Jan. 2011),, and more. Notably, her article "My Toddler Stood on Elvis' Grave and Scaled Over Boulders to Get to a Dinosaur" made AP News, and "The Sly Way I Cured My Child's Lying Habit" was featured on PopSugar. When she's not writing, Julee enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new baking recipes.
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