Barbara Brenner takes her readers on a tour of what life was like for the colonists in 1776 when the American Revolution was brewing. She talks about how some colonists still believed they could work out their differences with Britain and King George III, while other colonists were ready for independence. She explores how the values featured in the Declaration of Independence such as freedom and the pursuit of happiness, came from the American way of life.
On top of reflecting the American Revolution, Brenner describes what everyday life may have looked like for colonists. This includes the clothes they wore, the food they ate, the predominant religion, and what they did for fun. She also described the six major cities of the thirteen colonies during 1776. She also particularly focuses on how children lived on a New England farm, a Southern plantation, and the frontier. This makes it much more relevant for students learning about the American Revolution and reading this book. Likewise, she talks about other individuals not included in the Declaration of Independence such as the Indians and slaves and their relationship with the colonists and how they related to the American Revolution.
Because she talks about the everyday life of the colonists, she gives teachers the opportunity to talk to their students about how the American Revolution affected the common people, and how the common people impacted or influenced the development of the American Revolution. She goes into detail about the culture of the time period, which can open a class discussion how culture impacts history and how the culture of America in 1776 helped lead to the American Revolution
Genre/Type: Nonfiction-Chapter Book
Grade Level: 4
Citation: Brenner, B. (1994). If you were there in 1776. New York: Bradbury Press.