(Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way).
“What is living history?” Living history is “any of various activities involving the re-enactment of historical events or the recreation of living conditions of the past.” I think this is a good definition and helps to explain what your child will experience when he or she reads a book from the Carole P. Roman's assorted series, including her fun History Series – “If you were me and lived in…”
Carole P. Roman has written and published over 50 books for children. All of her books are educational, and a large percentage of them would qualify as “living history.” Living history takes you back into a time period and makes it much more memorable because it goes beyond facts and figures by including experiences.
For example, the book, “If you were me and lived in Renaissance Italy,” (see picture below), takes the reader on a guided journey to discover what it would be like to live during the Renaissance in the city of Florence, Italy.
Some of the highlights of the “If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy” book include:
- A simple map showing the location of Florence, Italy.
- A a print of a painting created during the Renaissance period compared to a photo taken in modern Florence. And lots of other interesting pictures throughout.
- A short history lesson is provided with the picture of the main city as the backdrop.
- The book discusses the changes that took place during the switch from the Medieval Period (also known as Middle Ages). For example, during the Middle Ages, most people were poor, farmed for others; most children didn't go to school, towns were isolated, and disease was rampant. But the Renaissance changed much of that.
- Another really interesting thing I enjoyed learning about is what basic living quarters would have been like. A simple drawing of the type a building of a well to do family would look like on the inside, complete with the location of the “bathroom.” (Not even close to what we are used to today. 😉)
- Differences in fashion are illustrated for both boys and girls.
- Things we don't think about today such as the weight of clothing, the expectations of how children should behave, how kitchen accessories were used, and many other interesting things are discussed.
- And much more! (I can't tell you too much, because I don't want to spoil the fun of the book for you)!
The back of the book contains important information sections (sort of like an Appendix, though it's not called that because it's a children's book) that tells about:
- Why the Renaissance was such an important part of art.
- Brief synopses of 12 famous people who lived during this period.
- A glossary that includes a pronunciation guide. By the way, a pronunciation guide is included in the text as well, and I really appreciated that. When I am reading, I often don't know how to properly pronounce words, and when I am reading aloud, I prefer to be sure of how to say things correctly. Also, I believe having a pronunciation increases learning and comprehension for children as well.
It's amazing how much information Carole P. Roman included into this 50-page children's book.
I obviously enjoyed the book. 😉 But my son did as well.
I think “If You Were Me and Lived in…RENAISSANCE ITALY” serves as an excellent introduction to the study of ancient civilizations, or as a history review as well.
For my son, who is 14, it was a review, which I think is truly important. For example, he learned some of the facts when he was in 4th and 5th grade. However, reinforcement is good thing, because he didn't remember most of them. Plus, he learned new facts as well (and so did I)! 🙂
This is one of the things I love the most about teaching. I'm always learning something new!
“If You Were Me and Lived on…Mars”
“If You Were Me and Lived on…Mars” was my son's favorite. Mars is not an example of “What is Living History.” It is instead a science book, and this is okay because science is my son's favorite subject.
My son is 14 and on the Autism Spectrum, so I really couldn't get him to tell me much other than this was his favorite book. So, I'll tell what I liked about it. 🙂
I really liked the specific numbers and facts she included (temperatures, for example). The author went into detail the impossibility (in my opinion) of humans (or any life form) living on Mars. There would be tremendous hurdles.
For example, how long it takes to go back and forth between Earth and Mars. So everything you could possibly need would have to be brought from Earth if you decided to move to Mars. This is because there’s virtually nothing on Mars that would help with life. In fact, the conditions on Mars work against life. For example, you can't go outside without a special suit, the extreme temperatures, the fact that the air is toxic to breathe, and much more.
“If You Were Me and Lived in…Norway”
Lots of cool facts, including new words to learn, as well as nicknames of Norway, interesting landmarks, and important holidays and celebrations. As with all of Carole P. Roman books, a pronunciation guide is provided in the text as well as in the Glossary at the end of the book.
As you can see in the examples, the pictures are kid-friendly, At the same time, the facts provided aren’t everyday “something everyone would already know” types of facts. Trivia but not trivial.
“If You Were Me and Lived in…Cuba”
This book was just as fun as the rest. There was just one thing missing that I would have liked to see. I would like to see the type of government Cuba has, which is Communism. Cubans don't have freedom because they live under a dictator.
Under communism, Christians and other minority religions are restricted and persecuted because they are seen as a threat to the powers in charge. As a result, there is a lot of hardship experienced in Cuba, which I think is important for kids to understand.
In summary, I think the Carole P. Roman “If You Were Me and Lived in…” are super cute books. They are easy (and fun) to read and fact filled. I think it's a great way to teach kids. In fact, your kids might not even realize they are learning or are in “school.” 😉
Be sure to check the other reviews by the Homeschool Review Crew here.