Carry on, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham (1955)

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is the true story of Nathaniel Bowditch, a boy born in Salem, Massachusetts in 1773 — 3 years before the Declaration of Independence was signed!  Nat’s the fourth child in a family of seven children.  He’s small for his age, but he is SMART.  However, hard times befall his family and at the age of 10, he is forced to quit school and help his father in the family barrel-making business.  Two years later, things have gotten worse for his family and at age 12, he is made an indentured servant for NINE YEARS to a ship’s chandler (someone who sells equipment to ship owners).  Mr Bowditch.jpg

Nat misses school — especially math —  so he teaches himself algebra, calculus, Latin and French!  Latin and French were important to learn so he could read scientific works in their original languages.

Eventually Nat completes his servitude and joins a ship’s crew as the clerk and captain’s writer.  While at sea, he discovers that the navigation books had many dangerous errors!  Using his self-taught understanding of math and astronomy, he re-writes the books to not only be much more accurate, but also simple to understand.  In fact, he teaches the entire crew — including the cook — how to accurately navigate a ship at sea using his new system.  Nat’s book, American Practical Navigator published in 1802, becomes the standard volume used by all sea-going vessels in the western hemisphere and has never been out of print.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch won the Newbery Medal in 1956.  This is a delightful book about a boy who becomes a great man by overcoming countless obstacles and never giving up!  Our family copy has been read multiple times and was well-loved.  I hope your copy enjoys the same fate.

Middle Grade to High School Reading Level, 256 Pages, Books for Boys, Education, Newbery Medal Winner, Published in 1955.

About kidsbooksworthreading

Are you looking for Children’s and Young Adult books that have stood the test of time? I have a master of list of over 600 titles to share. I’m an English major, mother of five and homeschooler for 15 years. My purpose with this blog is to share forgotten favorites that most parents today have never heard of, but are so worth reading! I hope you’ll join with me as I share the best that Youth Literature has to offer.
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