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If you love living books about historical or Christian heroes, YWAM Publishing is the place to go! Their best selling biographies have proven a favorite in our home, and, recently, my children were psyched to read another book from their Heroes of History series: Heroes of History- Benjamin Franklin.
Since we had previously read - and loved! - the John Adams and George Washington biographies in the Heroes of History series, my children knew a bit of what to expect from our copy of Benjamin Franklin- Live Wire and were eager to dig in as soon as it came into the house.
My children have long had an affection for the colonial and revolutionary war periods, since we live where much of the action during these time periods took place and tend to frequent reenactments and encampments. As such, my children also had prior knowledge about Ben Franklin before we cracked open Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire and were keen to see how the authors would weave facts that we already knew about Franklin and his time period into their story, and, also, what new things they might present to us.
None of us were disappointed as we read Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire. In fact, the 197-page softcover biography became the most requested book in our read-together pile and as we devoured it, my children kept piping up with comment such as, "I never knew that before...", "Mom, remember when we first learned that...", and "You know what else I have heard?"
We found the book corroborated and expanded upon much of our prior learning and kept us wanting to read more! I, personally, was also delighted that the book did not get into some of the baser aspects of Ben Franklin's life. For, in truth, the reason my children and I had never read any longer, deeper biographies about Benjamin Franklin before was, in part, because I did not want to deal with details about Franklin's history of fornication and adultery. My children are not wholly sheltered, but I do try to avoid focusing on vice rather than virtue with them. Having read other books in the Heroes of History series, I was confident that Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire would do just that, and I was right.
The Children's Words
Since we finished Benjamin Franklin: Live Wire weeks before this review was due, I decided to wait to ask for my children's narrations and thoughts about the book to see what they would retain.
I just asked my children for their thoughts yesterday, then, and, this is what my six-year-old narrated:
Ben Franklin was beat by someone else in making the lightening rod.
He went to Britain. He tried to make them understand the unfair taxes in the colonies.
He also went to France. He tried to convince the French to be on the the colony's side against Britain.
He tested water for currents and warmth when he traveled by ship.
After reading the book together as a family, I sometimes found my youngest and middle child, reading parts of it to each other, which I found adorable since neither of them reads chapter books on their own yet.
When I asked my middle child about the book, she said:
I liked this book about Ben Franklin. These are some facts I learned or relearned:
- I learned that Ben's father made candles. Ben did not want to make them, so his father let him be an apprentice to his brother, a newspaperman.
- I also learned that Ben ran away. He ha problems with his brother, and ended up in Philadelphia. Philadelphia became his home, and he did many things for the city. For example, he made a public library, had the roads paved, and organized a fire department.
- I relearned that Ben went to Britain and France. He went to Britain to try to make peace for the colonies. When that did not work, he later went to France to get the French to help the Americans.
- Ben died as an older man having lived a useful life.
I hope you will enjoy the book, too.
My oldest, at eleven-year-old (who was the one who requested this book and was found once re-reading part of it after an evening shower before he'd even changed into his jammies when he had spied it sitting out), wrote:
This is a great book. I love how it starts later in Benjamin Franklin's life, then goes back in time, then catches up, and, then, surpasses the beginning. The book starts with what Ben is remembered for - proving lightening is electricity. Then, it returns to when he was a child and moves through his entire life, highlighting Ben as a printer, an inventor, a scientist, a businessman, a civic-minded man, a patriot, and a founding father of the United States.
We learned so much in this book about Ben Franklin, such as:
- He left the 13 colonies and came back to the recognized 13 States.
- Ben's last words were, "A dying man can do nothing easily."
- He was the only man to sign all five important documents that built the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Amity and Commerce with France, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Peace with England (Treaty of Paris), and the Constitution of the United States.
Like all Heroes of History books, this one was great for its cliff hangers at the ends of chapters that make you want to keep reading.Overall, this book was interesting book that taught me a lot about history. If you like history, you would like it, too.
All of the children truly enjoyed the book and took things away from it. (I did, too!) Better still, they connected the book to prior learning and learning since reading it, too.
At a local encampment event, they got excited when a reenactor was showing them different types of old glasses and began telling the man about the Ben Franklin book they had just read.
Recently, when reading another book where a substitute character was challenging his students to name a historical figure based on some clues, my children gleefully called out that the figure was Ben Franklin long before the students in the book did.
The children have also been recognizing some of Ben's inventions when out and about and at museums and encampments, too.
It is so much fun when connected, organic learning happens like this. Snuggled up read-togethers with family days out with other directed and self-directed studies... I so appreciate how Benjamin Franklin-Live Wire has played into our family's learning and recommend the book to you if your family enjoys living history books, too!
For Those that Like Unit Studies
Along with our copy of the Heroes of History - Benjamin Franklin book, we received a downloadable study guide, which was excellently written and chock full of ideas for review, learning, and extension.
The Study Guide includes over 80 pages of materials to help you turn the reading of an engaging living history book into a full-fledged unit study for an individual, family, or classroom should you wish to do so. It can also be used - as my family used it - as a "buffet" of sorts, so you can chat about a discussion question there, select a quote for copywork there, etc.
Included in the guide are pdf's with:
- a fact sheet with illustration
- a time line
- several maps
- key quotes
- suggestions for a display area
- questions for each chapter,
based on vocabulary, facts, and basic comprehension, as well as ones
that were open-ended, asking for an opinion or interpretation
answers for all questions, except the open-ended one
- ideas and instructions for essays, creative writing projects, hands-on projects, and audio/visual projects
- ideas for a culminating event
- and more!
The study guide truly is helpful whether you seek a full-on unit study or simply well-organized ideas, questions, and quotes to dip into.
Heroes of History- Benjamin Franklin is available at YWAM Publishing for $7.50 (as opposed to its typical $9.99 cover price). It is one of the many fantastic biographies written for children in the Heroes of History and Christian Heroes Series.
There are 46 books in the Christian Heroes series, which cover the time period from the 1700's through the 1960's and 28 books in the Heroes of History series. Titles can be purchased individually, in five-book sets, or in complete sets through YWAM Publishing.
Downloadable unit study guides are also available at YWAM Publishing.
One hundred families read and reviewed different YWAM Publishing titles from the Heroes of History and Christian Heroes series. See what each Review Crew family had to say.