Columbus Day controvery, Columbus Day songs, Columbus Day books for kids

Columbus Day Controversy

Columbus Day is a school holiday but my kids only learned about why they [really] get the day off when they were in preschool. Why don’t they learn more in elementary school? Perhaps it’s because of the controversy over his “feat.”

There are three main sources of controversy involving Columbus’s interactions with the indigenous people he labeled “Indians”: the use of violence and slavery, the forced conversion of native peoples to Christianity, and the introduction of a host of new diseases that would have dramatic long-term effects on native people in the Americas.

Historians have uncovered extensive evidence of the damage wreaked by Columbus and his teams, leading to an outcry over emphasis placed upon studying and celebrating him in schools and public celebrations.


Still, it’s an official holiday. The landing, which occurred on October 12, 1492, is celebrated as Columbus Day. Do you think Columbus Day should be a national holiday in the United States?

He missed the mark but hit it just the same.

This video from The History Channel explains Christopher Columbus’ accomplishments.

And these songs explain what happened as well.

In 1492

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.

Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.

Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.

Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.

October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!

“Indians!  Indians!”  Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

But “India” the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.

Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he’d been told.

He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

The first American?  No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.


Columbus Day Song
(sung to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”)

In 1492,
In 1492,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
In 1492.

For 70 days he sailed,
For 70 days he sailed,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
For 70 days he sailed.

He came to a new land,
He came to a new land,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
And came to a new land.

Exploring he did go,
Exploring he did go,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
Exploring he did go.

He sailed back home to Spain,
He sailed back home to Spain,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
Then sailed back home to Spain.Christopher Columbus
In August 1492,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.October 12th they sighted land,
And set their feet upon new sand.

I found both these lovely poems at Teaching Heart.


Books for Kids about Christopher Columbus

My First Biography: Christopher Columbus by Marion Dane Bauer
This first biography series tells Columbus’ story in a very simple way. [picture book biography, ages 4 to 8]

Christopher Columbus (Step into Reading, Step 2, Grades 1-3) by Stephen Krensky
An easy reader version of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World. [easy non fiction reader, ages 5 to 8]

Who Was Christopher Columbus? by Bonnie Bader
This excellent Who Was series also talks about Christopher Columbus’ childhood. [easy chapter book, ages 7 and up]

Where Do You Think You’re Going, Christopher Columbus? by Jean Fritz
“Fritz’s unconventional look at the great explorer who accidently discovered the New World reveals the navigator’s obstinate as well as his visionary side.” — School Library Journal [non fiction, ages 7 to 9]

DK Discoveries: Christopher Columbus: Explorer of the New World by Peter Chrisp

The DK Discoveries series uses photographs, annotated illustrations, and exploded views help  piece together the story. There is also a gatefold page opens out to show a panoramic view of the scene. [non fiction, ages 4 to 12]

To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

Columbus Day controvery, Columbus Day songs, Columbus Day books for kids

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Interestingly, CA schools don’t have a day off for Columbus Day. I guess we are too “liberal” to celebrate Mr Misguided Mass Murderer, but, whether we like it or not, he is still a significant historical figure and a courageous explorer. We read You Wouldn’t Want to Sail with Christopher Columbus this year and build boats that were even less seaworthy than Columbus ships 🙂
    Natalie recently posted…Non-Fiction Books and Afterschool Blog HopMy Profile

  2. I never heard of Columbus Day until we moved to Massachusetts. I think it is important to learn about Columbus, as we learn about all sorts of historical figures who did good things and bad things. We just need to teach the entire story.
    maryanne recently posted…BRITAX Advocate Review and Giveaway!My Profile

  3. My first year of teaching, I got a little overzealous at teaching both sides of Columbus. Recently I was visiting my friend and her son, who was in that class in fifth grade. Now he’s in his 20’s and still has hard feelings toward Columbus! It was good for them to see that there’s more to history than a paragraph.
    Anna recently posted…Monster Books for Kids: Free Emergent Readers!My Profile

    • Hi Anna,
      I think you did a good thing by presenting both sides of Columbus. It’s true that history is written by the victors but fair is fair. And honestly, he’s probably not the first European to discover America. Aren’t the Vikings believed to have reached the New World first? And certainly the Chinese Admiral made it here as well (without the genocide as well!).
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…Martial Arts Match Up: Selecting Martial Arts for KidsMy Profile

  4. Ann

    I think that is why it would be good for older kids to learn because you can present a more complex position. I think we will look out for these titles. Aren’t books great?!
    Ann recently posted…Winter Survival Tips for MomsMy Profile

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    i will sing that song in my school assembly thnks for this song

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