America’s Story from America’s Library: Primary Sources for Younger Students

America's Story from America's LibraryLooking for Library of Congress materials that are appropriate for elementary students? In America’s Story from America’s Library (“America’s Library”) you’ll find lively stories from America’s past written at an upper elementary reading level, each of which features primary sources from the Library’s online collections.

Stories are organized into five categories: “Meet Amazing Americans” (biographical entries), “Jump Back in Time” (time periods and events), “Explore the States,” “Join America at Play,” and “See, Hear and Sing” (movies, voices and music).  For an example of what you and your students will find, look at this entry on Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson's drawing of a macaroni machineI love to tell teachers about America’s Library because younger students can use it independently; older English language learners can engage with the content; and each primary source is “wrapped” in historical context and includes a citation that even the youngest students can copy and paste into a report. It’s never too early to begin providing proper citations.

Browse America’s Library to discover the wide variety of primary sources appropriate for your classroom. If you’re looking for a way to introduce a specific event or time period in American history, go to Jump Back in Time for a list of stories from a particular era.  Here are some additional ideas:

  • Have students select an entry from Meet Amazing Americans to find primary sources and historical accounts pertaining to important figures from U.S. history.
  • As an “early bird” activity or class starter, have a pair of students go to Jump Back in Time to find out what happened on this day in history and select a primary source to display on a whiteboard or large screen.  As a class, generate speculations or questions about the item before reading the story.  Alternately, have students learn what happened on their birthday.
  • Have students design a quilt, as suggested in Join America at Play.
  • Visit Explore the States as you begin a unit of study on your state.
  • Have students search for select people and events.

For more ideas for the elementary classroom, check out the article “Primary Sources and Elementary Students.”

How might you use America’s Library in your classroom or library?


  1. Garnet Wind
    December 15, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Does your list of amazing Americans include American from all different cultural and ethnic backgrounds? Is America’s story everyone’s story?

  2. Garnet Wind
    December 26, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I’m guessing this web page is still under construction, so please allow me to make a few suggestions that will make the blog and resources more inclusive. The writers an artist section does not mention any Native American writers or artists. N. Scott Mom a day (Kiowa) won the Pulitzer Prize in 1969. Linda Hogan (Chickasaw) was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize. Native Americans are also not represented in the activists and reformers section. May I suggest that you consider activist Russell Means (Lakota) for inclusion. Winona LaDuke (Ojibwe) was a United States vice presidential candidate twice.

  3. Anne Savage
    January 10, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Thank you very much for your important comments. We work hard to make all of our materials representative and diverse, although we are constrained in our selection of subjects by a number of factors. We take all comments into consideration as we plan our ongoing content development, and so are grateful to have your input.

  4. destney mckee
    May 4, 2015 at 8:50 am

    thanks for the story

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.