December 11 is Indiana's birthday - or statehood day! Celebrate Indiana by sharing these books and resources all about the Hoosier state.
Book Review & Beyond

Hoosier Books & Beyond: Happy Birthday, Indiana!

Today is a special day on the blog, as it is the “birthday” – or statehood day – of our home state, Indiana, the Hoosier state! Two years ago, in 2016, Indiana celebrated its bicentennial, and today we now celebrate 202 years since becoming one of the United States of America.

So, to celebrate our 202nd anniversary, I have put together a special list of books and resources for young Hoosiers who would like to learn more about our wonderful home.

The People of Indiana – Hoosiers

We have been home to a wide diversity of people – from the prehistoric Paleo-Indians, the Adena and Hopewell peoples, to the Miami, Lenape, Potawatomi, and more… to the French traders to the pioneers, and beyond.

Today, we are still a diverse people. I personally know Hoosiers who hail from places such as Iraq, Nepal, Uganda, Syria, and the Congo. I also know Hoosiers who descend from past Hoosiers who hailed from places such as Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Russia, China, South Korea, and more. We are truly a multicultural place, and for that I am exceedingly proud. May we continue to grow together to embrace our neighbors as brother and sister Hoosiers!

And without further ado, following are special resources to study Indiana. 


Hoosiers and the American Story: This is technically a textbook, written by historian James Madison, but it reads almost like a storybook. It spans the history of Indiana, from prehistoric times to the present. 

Legendary Hoosiers: Famous Folks from the State of Indiana: This book by Hoosier historian Nelson Price shares biographies of Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to Reggie Miller, and even includes a special shout-out to our hometown cat, Garfield. 

The Indiana Home, by former Indiana University historian Logan Esarey, includes a first-hand account of what Indiana was like for the pioneers. If I daresay, it is an utterly fascinating read. 

Indianapolis, Then and Now by Nelson Price, is a beautiful book of our capital city, Indianapolis. It showcases photos of places in Indy “back then” and what they look like “now”. (I wore out my copy of this book – just being honest.) 

Indiana State Parks: Despite the rumor that Indiana is nothing but cornfields, that could not be further from the truth. As an avid hiker, I have hiked some pretty steep hills and through some beautiful ravines in Indiana state parks and beyond. This book is full of beautiful photography of our beloved state parks. 

Online Resources

Indiana Historical Society 

Indiana State Museum 

Conner Prairie Interactive History Park 

Indiana DNR – State Parks & Reservoirs 

Special Feature:

When Mother Read Aloud: The Life Story of Almyra King Holsclaw

This is a book that was years in the making, the effort of several people, all to tell the story of one incredible Hoosier woman: my great-great-great grandmother, Almyra King Holsclaw.

A distant relative of mine, Ralph Harris, first sent me the manuscript of Almyra’s memoir, and I later found it in the files of the Jennings County Public Library in North Vernon, Indiana – very near where Almyra and her family made their home.

The memoir read like a children’s book, and I knew that I needed to turn it into one in order to preserve it and share it.

So, I researched.

I made contact with more distant relatives, historians, genealogists, and librarians. I dug through my grandmother’s old photos and recalled our conversations – she had known Almyra when she was just a little girl. I studied pioneer Indiana and Jennings County, and I studied Almyra. Did I ever study Almyra. I got to know her, and came to love her. I realized why my grandmother had such fond memories of her, and became even more excited to share her story.

Then, since the book was to be for young people, I decided I needed to involve young people in its creation. Through a dear friend who attends an arts charter school in Indianapolis, I made connections with five high school Art students, and they became the illustrators.

A section of an illustration in the book, illustrated by Kiah Cheney 

Finally, in the fall of 2017, When Mother Read Aloud: The Life Story of Almyra King Holsclaw was published. Today, you can purchase it on Amazon, or read it on Kindle, and even for free on Kindle Unlimited.

And tomorrow: Wednesday, December 12 at 7PM EST on our Facebook page, I will be reading aloud the book on Facebook Live. Come join us with your kids and curl up and listen to the story of the pioneer woman who became a mother, who became a grandma, who became my ancestor, my “storybook ancestor”. Live attendees will be eligible for a signed giveaway of the book. (Facebook is in no way affiliated with the giveaway.) I hope to “see” you tomorrow!

Happy birthday, Indiana! To many more years… 

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