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The Lincolns

Reading Discussion Guides

The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Mary and Abraham Lincoln by Candace Fleming

About the Book

The basic facts of beloved president Abraham Lincoln’s life are taught in American schools as early as kindergarten. In The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, award-winning author Candace Fleming moves well beyond the basics by delving deeper into who Lincoln was as a son, a husband, a father, a friend, and, yes, a president. In addition, she reveals the complex Mary Todd to be a person in her own right, not as merely the wife of a great man.

This museum-in-a-book is organized as a historical scrapbook, loaded with images of primary source documents, such as newspaper articles, photographs, and election memorabilia. Accompanied by insightful and thoroughly researched text, these visuals lend The Lincolns an authenticity and realism that present Abraham and Mary as living, breathing people who worked hard, endured loss, made tough choices, maintained friendships, and celebrated accomplishments.

Guide prepared by Colleen Carroll

Discussion Questions

  • Although Lincoln suffered an awful loss in the death of his mother, how did his stepmother contribute to Abraham’s life in ways that would later serve him as president?
  • Why was the Emancipation Proclamation such an important document, even though upon its publication it did not actually free any slaves in the Confederacy? Why did Lincoln wait until 1862 to write the Emancipation Proclamation, even though he detested slavery and wanted to see it abolished?
  • After Abraham’s death, Mary struggled with family relationships, finances, and her own mental and physical health. Discuss Mary’s life in the years after her husband’s death. Do you think she made poor decisions? Was she was treated in a way befitting a former first lady?

Extension Activity

  • Have students study the political cartoon on page 100, showing a demon-like Lincoln penning the Emancipation Proclamation. Have them research the history of political cartoons. As a follow-up activity, have students choose one political cartoon from a contemporary publication and write a short essay explaining its meaning in the context of the current political climate.
The Lincolns

The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Mary and Abraham Lincoln

Candace Fleming
Age Level:
Middle Grade
Biography, Nonfiction