Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
Growing Up in Revolution and the New Nation 1775 to 1800 by Brandon Marie Miller
The American Practical Navigator: “Bowditch” by Nathaniel Bowditch
The World of Ships by Philip Wilkinson
Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time by Dava Sobel
Webster’s New Explorer Dictionary of Word Origins by Merriam-Webster
You will also need to use encyclopedias or the internet and an atlas.
The following suggestions are starting points. Dig deeper into any subject in which your children show an interest.
Chapter 1: Discuss the setting of the book. Discuss what a historical fiction novel is. Find Salem on a map. How long did the Revolutionary War last? Was Nat superstitious? Discuss the process Nat’s mother used to start their fire. What is a nor’easter? Find out more about the House of Seven Gables.
Chapter 2: Read the story of Jonah in the Bible. Find out what a sloop, schooner and square rigger are. Discuss privateers. Were they pirates or was it justified? Have there been privateers at other times in history? Why would a sailor sell an expectation?
Chapter 3: Why didn’t Master Watson believe Nat worked the problem? What were schools like in Nat’s time? What is an apothecary shop? Go to an auction to see how one is done. Find out what continental currency is.
Chapter 4: What is a letter of marque ship? Learn about the last battle of the war when Cornwallis was taken. What was the Treaty called that ended the war? Learn more about Captain John Derby.
Chapter 5: What was the life of an apprentice like? What is a chandlery? Learn more about Dr. Bentley.
Chapter 6: Why was Ben so unhappy? Learn more about the way ships tracked their speed.
Chapter 7: Can you think of another person who wrote almanacs? Find Cambridge on the map. Nat kept notebooks about anything that interested him. If you don’t do notebooking already, try researching a subject that interests you and put the information into a notebook, scrapbook or lapbook.
Chapter 8: A lot of our words come from Latin. Learn a few. Nat is learning Latin so he can be prepared in case his chance ever arises to attend college. Is that smart?
Chapter 9: What can you find out about Richard Kirwan, Irish scientist?
Chapter 10: Find out more about Nathan Read’s inventions. Try to tell time using the big dipper and North Star. Learn about some of the sailing tools mentioned.
Chapter 11: Learn more about freedom of the press. Find out why France and England were fighting. What is a Derby ship?
Chapter 12: See if you can take a lunar. Learn about longitude and latitude.
Chapter 13: How did Nat’s new way of checking lunars work? Find out about the French Revolution.
Chapter 14: Trace their journey on a map. Why were the French causing trouble with American ships? Learn about the culture of Lisbon.
Chapter 15: Continue tracing their journey. What else can you find out about the East India Trading Company? (What part did they play in the Boston Tea Party?)
Chapter 16: What can you find out about Manila Harbor? Why was Nat disappointed at the end of the chapter?
Chapter 17: How did the American navy get its start? Learn more about the history of the navy. Who was Dr. Holyoke? What is a husking bee?
Chapter 18: Trace their route. How was Napoleon beaten?
Chapter 19: What is consumption? Who invented the smallpox vaccine? Did Salem really build a frigate for the navy?
Chapter 20: Why did teaching the sailors cause them to be better behaved? What is a monsoon?
Chapter 21: How was sealing done then and now?
Chapter 23: Learn about typhoons. What is the culture of Sumatra like?