Who Was First? Discovering the Americas



Freedman, Russell. Who Was First? Discovering the Americas. Clarion Books, 2007. 88pp. Lexile 1310.

This is an excellent model for inquiry in terms of research and writing.  Freedman takes the title question, "Who Was First?" and starts with Columbus.  But then he moves back chronologically to consider the various claims about others who may have reached North or South America earlier than Columbus.  Some claims are from amateur historians, and Freedman lays out reasons to dismiss them.  But he also highlights an amateur who is believed to be right about an early Viking settlement in Newfoundland.  Freedman demonstrates how views of history change over time.  He shows how archaeology and newer research tools like DNA analysis and linguistic findings change historians' perspectives.  Artwork and maps add interest and information.  The author provides chapter-by-chapter bibliographic essays about his sources, followed by an index.

Reading Std #8: Delineate and evaluate argument and specific claims in a text, assessing reasoning & evidence.  This text repays careful study.  It uses reasoning and evidence to evaluate the topic. Have students lay out the argument and then,  just as Freedman applies analysis to his subject, have students apply it to Freedman's own writing to see if his conclusions are justified.