Friday, August 21, 2015

A Child's First Book of American History (Beautiful Feet Books)

Beautiful Feet Books is a publisher that has been around since 1984. It's almost as old as me! They provide quality books for private schools and the growing homeschool movement, and they do this by combining quality literature in all aspects of a curriculum. Authors that they publish come mainly from the "golden era of children's historical literature," which spans from the 1930s to 1960s. A few of their many are Genevieve Foster, Scott O'Dell, James Daugherty, and my personal favorites Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. Today, I am reviewing their title A Child's First Book of American History.

A Child's First Book of American History is a book that has long been out of print, under its old title "The Rainbow Book of American History." It is a little over 300 pages in length and spans from 1000 A.D. to 1945 A.D. Each chapter ranges from five to ten pages and is chock full of illustrations, both black and white and color. The illustrations have a charcoal look to them, and feel very Americana. Before the author (Earl Schenck Miers) dives into the history though, he tells us about his childhood and reading Mark Twain. One can see Twain's influence in this book, as the book is not dry history but fascinating tales. Mr. Miers tends approaches history by focusing on influential figures for a specific time period. Such figures included are Leif Ericson, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Davy Crockett, Thomas Edison, and even Mark Twain.

The book reads like a storybook, because it engages the reader and draws them in, especially when read aloud. There were times I felt like I was transported back in history sailing with Vikings, fighting the British, and travelling with Lewis and Clark. What I liked best about this book was that there was no whitewashing of history. Europeans were portrayed warts and all in their greed to colonize the New World and exploit the Native Americans for their riches. What I wish was included was a chapter on the soon to be Saint Junipero Serra. He was a Catholic friar who founded a mission in California in 1769. Think about that for a second. While we were still under the rule of the British, this great man was doing God's work and so few people know about the impact he had in our country.

With fifty chapters, there is enough for you and your children to read one a week with a one week break in both the winter and the summer. This book is not perfect, but it is a strong introduction to American history. There were times I was reading through the book and I felt I had to re-read some paragraphs because it felt like some punctuation was missing or that they were run-on sentences, but perhaps that was just the way Miers wrote. I also found myself wishing that this book was hardcover. With a paperback version, even one as sturdy as this one, I know it is only a matter of time before I need a new one because this one has fallen apart from reading and re-reading it. Those quibbles aside, I highly recommend this book for the classroom, and that includes public, private, or homeschool. Children won't learn history from dry facts and dates. They need it to come alive, and this book does just that!

This book was provided to me for free by Beautiful Feet Books in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!