The Holiday Zone celebrates Columbus Day on October 12.

Recommended Books for Columbus Day

Top Picks - $.99 Books, DVDs, and morecoverAdmiral of the Ocean Sea: The Life of Christopher Columbus (ages 12 and up)
By Samuel Eliot Morison

A generation ago, this Pulitizer Prize winning biography of Christopher Columbus appeared on almost every recommended reading list for college-bound high school students. Its popularity has waned in recent years, as discovers of the New World have fallen from honor. But its content is still unrivaled. Lengthy as it is, it reads like a novel from cover to cover. This work is a must for school and home libraries.

Christopher Columbus: Adventurer of Faith and Courage (ages 9-12)
By Bennie Rhodes

A part of the Sower Series published by Mott Media, this biography for younger readers examines the life of Christopher Columbus from a distinctly Christian perspective.

cover Christopher Columbus, Mariner (ages 10 and up)
By Samuel Eliot Morison
This condensed version of Morison's Pulitizer Prize winning Admiral of the Ocean Sea is ideal for younger readers and those who aren't willing to tackle the 680 pages in the unabridged work. Having read both, I don't think this abridged version equals the original, but it's still a fine biography presented by a masterful storyteller.

cover Christopher Columbus (ages 4-8)
Written by Stephen Krensky; Illustrated by Norman Green

This easy-to-read account of Columbus's fateful voyage includes maps and a cutaway view of one of his ships.

Columbus and Cortez: Conquerors for Christ (ages 14 and up)
By John Eidsmoe

Too often, we evaluate historical figures by modern standards, Eidsmoe contends. In this work, he challenges readers to cast aside their 21st century biases and examine the conquistadors--and their conduct--in the contexts of their 15th- and 16th-century cultures. Eidsmoe uses primary sources to go beyond the "what" and into the "why" of their actions.

Columbus Day (ages 12 and up)
By Jimmie Durham
Cherokee poet, artist, and social activist Jimmie Durham vividly portrays the Columbus Day holiday from a Native American perspective.

Columbus Day (ages 4-8)
Written by Vicki Liestman; Illustrated by Rick Hanson

This illustrated book tells about Columbus's discovery of the New World and relates the history of Columbus Day. It includes a look at the controversies surrounding the holiday and discusses both the positive and negative effects of Columbus's first voyage.

First Voyage to America: From the Log of the 'Santa Maria' (ages 9 and up)
by Christopher Columbus

A reprint of a 1938 work, this illustrated book features translated excerpts from the journal Columbus penned during his first voyage. The abridged text ends when the ship reaches land.
cover Follow the Dream: The Story of Christopher Columbus (ages 4-8)
(also available in hardcover)
By Peter Sis

This beautifully-illustrated book, along with its brief, uncontroversial text, serves as an excellent introduction to American history for young children. Sis depicts the world of the 15th century and re-creates the obstacles Columbus faced as he crossed the sea, while avoiding the debates that now surround the discovery of the Americas.

If You Were There in 1492If You Were There in 1492 (ages 8-14)
By Barbara Brenner

This amply-illustrated book helps children visualize the world of Christopher Columbus. It examines school, family, government, work, food, clothing, and other aspects of life in Spain, including little-known facts. It also discusses life after the discovery of the New World and portrays the impact Columbus's discovery had on the lives of his contemporaries.

The Life of the Admiral Christopher Columbus by His Son Ferdinand (ages 12 and up)
Trans. Benjamin Keen

This thick volume strikes most as a heavy read for adults, much less children. For anyone with a deep interest in the life of Columbus, however, it's fascinating. I read this book from cover to cover when I was in seventh grade and have used excerpts from it even in the elementary classroom. I would highly recommend it for use in the high school classroom or the home school setting.

The Voyages of Columbus (ages 8-12)
By Ken Hills

Teacher and historical writer Ken Hills offers a brief overview of each of Columbus's four voyages, as well as a short biography of the explorer, in this illustrated volume. Now out of print, this book can still be found on the shelves of a few bookstores or special ordered through

coverWestward With Columbus (a Time Quest book) (ages 8-12)
By John Dyson

In the summer of 1990, a crew of adventurers stepped aboard a replica of the Nina to re-enact Columbus's first voyage. In this book, one of the adventurers takes young readers back to the days of Columbus, describing the journey through the eyes of a fictional cabin boy. Photos taken throughout the journey complete the work.

For Young Children

For Older Children

For Teens and Adults

Please keep in mind that Columbus's behavior toward the native populations of the islands he discovered was not above reproach. Books earmarked for teens and adults may include graphic references inappropriate for younger readers.

For Teachers

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