I am thrilled to review If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England and If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America, both authored by Carole P. Roman. This series, An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time, has been on my wishlist!
Carole P. Roman has found a way to make history real & relatable to the kids. The series really immerses a child in history by presenting an easy to understand but informative story, told from a child’s perspective. Your child becomes the “you” in the story!
Each book has prompts in the story that made it incredibly easy to engage the children in discussion, as well as a glossary in back with word definitions and notable people of the time period. There are easy to use pronunciation guides in the text for kids encountering new or difficult vocabulary words- my son thought this was genius, as he wouldn’t have to flip to the glossary & risk losing his place in the story.
If You Were Me and Lived In… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time Book 3)
I have always been fascinated by the Tudors, though I tend to favor the Middle Ages over Renaissance era when it comes to reading history for pleasure. As such, there was some information within this book that my children already knew- that Henry VIII divorced Catherine in an effort to have a male heir, the religious turmoil which is lightly touched upon, that meats were stewed with fruit (we’ve even made some period recipes, slightly adjusted for modern convenience/availability of ingredients). Topics such as the rise of what we now call the middle class, education inequality, the habit of putting straw down inside the house, and detachable sleeves were new for them.
My son, having the typical 8 yr old humor, was both disgusted and strangely delighted with the illustration and text telling of the unsanitary street conditions in London. This provided a great jumping off point into a conversation about the role of cities in epidemics like Bubonic Plague, Sweating Sickness, etc, and how the fear of these things affected King Henry VIII, Elizabeth’s father.
They were shocked to learn how differently boys & girls were educated, especially because they themselves sit side by side for school every day, & horrified at the thought of an 8 year old with a job, though also in awe over how accomplished a 12 year old could be.
The illustrations in this book are less cartoonish, and detailed- plenty of stuff for your child to look at and talk about- something that is encouraged right at the start of the book.
My kids have been inspired to learn more about #Elizabethan England, and Elizabeth I herself, which makes this book a winner as far as I’m concerned!
If You Were Me and Lived in …Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time Book 4).
My kids & I actually read this one first. My youngest, soon to be 5 and at the pseudo reading/pre-reading stage, expressed a lot of interest and sat flipping through the book for quite awhile, talking about what she spotted in the illustrations. Clearly she was already taken with the colorful pictures!
This tells the story of the early stages of how America came to be. Everything from why the Puritan settlers left England, travel on the Mayflower, the hardship of starting life anew, how the settlements were built, the clothing they wore, the food they ate, the help received from natives, and what games they played are touched on.
As a homeschooler, I am in the habit of trying to engage my children in active listening/reading with questions and predictions while reading, but I have to say, one of the discussion prompts in this story made quite the impression! What do names such as Mercy, Patience, Abraham, and Comfort tell you about the society (paraphrased)? It wouldn’t have occurred to me to use the names to think about the society itself with children so young (4 & 8) by myself. I love it! My kids enjoyed stopping to think of the meaning behind each name and what that indicated about the time and people.
My children got a kick out of new-to-them words like jerkin & wattle. They thought it would be kind of fun to patch your walls with mud, and speculated how annoying it might be if your socks were to come untied. And boy howdy, the work kids had back then! My kids could not fathom having so many chores. Maybe now they’ll appreciate how good they have it and pick up their bedroom without a fight.
Is this the full history of the founding of what is now the United States of America? Of course not. Is it a great introduction to the subject for elementary aged children? Yes!
I was already interested in purchasing the entire series, but now I know that I absolutely must! I would recommend these books to any elementary aged child.
I received these books free of charge in order to facilitate a review. As always, all thoughts & opinions expressed are my own.