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TPS Quarterly

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Thomas Jefferson’s Library: Connecting the Books to the Life Activity


The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to Thomas Jefferson by examining some of the books from his personal library. Students, working individually or in pairs, will draw connections between Jefferson’s reading and his life’s work. Students will match Jefferson’s books to different roles he played (scientist, builder, leader, and scholar), select the book they believe Jefferson would have used most often, and later defend their decisions in class discussion.


After completing the activity, students will be able to:

  • Identify some of Thomas Jefferson’s many roles in life
  • Explain the importance of books to 18th century people, including Thomas Jefferson
  • Evaluate some of Jefferson’s books and speculate about how they might have influenced him

Time Required

One class period

Recommended Grade Range



United States History/Government


Social Studies, Language Arts (Reading)


Standards & Benchmarks

Grades K-4 History

Standard 4. Understands how democratic values came to be, and how they have been exemplified by people, events and symbols.

Historical Understanding

Standard 2. Understands the historical perspective.

Language Arts: Reading

Standard 5. Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process.

Thinking and Reasoning

Standard 3. Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences.

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