We recently found two gems that are geared for elementary students but that the whole family will enjoy. Those are the best kind of gems!

I love to read a well-written elementary-level living book, for it keeps things focused and I usually walk away having learned something new. (Now, don’t get me wrong; I also love reading Dickens!)

The two books we want to tell you about today are just such works. Best of all they were both written in the “thick of things,” as the events were happening. So they give you a feeling that you were there during those days in history and you can know they were based on first-hand accounts.

Today we’re happy to introduce to you Only a Dog: A Story of the Great War and The Story of Thomas A. Edison.

Only a Dog: A Story of the Great War

It’s hard to find books about war that are appropriate for elementary students. So we were thrilled when we found Only a Dog. It is written from the dog’s perspective and has a tender, first-person style reminiscent of the classic Black Beauty.

The friendly Irish Terrier lives in France with his beloved family. After German soldiers invade the property one evening, the dog emerges from his hiding place to discover things terribly wrong in the house and his little master gone. So he takes off searching for him.

Along the way he witnesses the destruction to the towns and villages and encounters a saddened old woman. When he wanders into No Man’s Land and is wounded by an enemy’s bullet, Private Rice, a British soldier, comes to his rescue.

Army, for that is what the soldiers name him, adopts Rice as his new master and soon learns about life on the front lines. When Rice is wounded in hand-to-hand combat, Army faithfully stays by his side, even until death, and is honored for his loyalty. Their graves lay side by side near Flanders.

It’s a touching true story about faithfulness set against the realities of World War I. While it doesn’t sugar-coat events, it does present them in a style quite appropriate for young students and seen through innocent, loyal eyes. Download the free sample of Only a Dog: A Story of the Great War to read a few chapters and discover Army’s story for yourself.

The Story of Thomas A. Edison

Whenever I hear about an inventor, I wonder how he got to that point in his life. I assume he didn’t grow up planning to support himself by inventing things, so I’m curious what all happened along the way to make that career possible.

The Story of Thomas A. Edison is just such a book. Its living narrative follows Alva, as he was called in his youth, from a serious infant to a teenage “train boy” to a telegraph operator to a world-famous inventor, tracing the events that paved the way for his career.

Its concise yet interesting chapters are great for students of all ages; plus, the book is short enough to easily tuck into any history or science study.

When my husband started designing the book cover, he went searching on the Internet for photographs and images. What he discovered was a gold mine of documents at Rutgers University’s Thomas Edison Papers. As he started digging into the archives there, he found that he was learning more and more about Edison through studying his patents and patent sketches. So we have added an Appendix to the book with some of my husband’s favorite Edison sketches and patents, outlining his “ah-ha” moments as he spent time looking them over. Several pages from Edison’s diary are also included to give you a peek into his personal thoughts and sense of humor.

You can download the first five chapters of The Story of Thomas A. Edison as a sample.


  1. My to- buy list just keeps getting longer because of SCM! Thanks for sharing and look forward to ordering as budget allows. 🙂

  2. Tempting!!! Very Tempting!! As a bibliophile, you MUST know that I can’t resist great books!!! And these two sound absolutely great!!!! 😉

  3. Where would you put these books in reference to the History modules? We will be starting Mod 5 in about 2-2 1/2 months….just wondering if these are something to be added to that order! :0)

  4. We just finished “Only A Dog” tonight. Oh, how difficult it was to read aloud the last chapter with my throat so tight. This was a fitting family book to conclude our WW1 study. Thank you for introducing us to this faithful friend.

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