Wednesday, May 2, 2018

This Heroes of History - Milton Hershey Book Review Could Not Have Been More Timely for Us!

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Who doesn't like chocolate, reading, and inspiration? 

My family enjoyed all three of these things as we reviewed 
Heroes of History- Milton Hershey from YWAM Publishers, a vendor we came to know and love several years ago!

Why We Chose the Milton Hershey Book

When my children and I were given an opportunity to select another YWAM Publishers book for review, we were delighted! We had previously reviewed titles about George Washington, John Adams, and Ben Franklin from their Heroes of History series and had no doubt that we wanted to receive another history biography along with its accompanying Study Guide. Our only problem was deciding which biography to request, because every title in the series looks so interesting!

After some debate, we finally landed on Milton Hershey.

To be honest, none of us had ever thought much about Milton Hershey before besides the fact that he had left the world a legacy of yummy chocolate.  However, as we read the description of Janet and Geoff Benge's book about him, we knew that reading his biography could not be more timely for us! 

Milton Hershey was a man with a
 fourth grade education who overcame adversity and became a famous businessperson and philanthropist.  Our family needed the inspiration of such a man a we faced our own challenges.  

My husband was out of work, my daughter was becoming increasingly discouraged by dyslexia, and all three of my children were wondering how, at their young ages, they might open a business or at least make some money. Thus, reading about a man who was willing to work hard and sacrifice in order to triumph over debt, lack of support, fatigue, and other setbacks while also maintaining a positive and generous spirit seemed perfect for us.

Edified by Milton Hershey's Story

Without question, Milton Hershey grabbed our family's attention right away and kept us turning all of its 191 pages with eager anticipation

We enjoyed the book as a nightly read aloud, and every time we sat down to read just one chapter, we could not resist reading another.  For, prior to reading the book, none of us knew much about Milton Hershey and, as we read, all of us wanted to find out details of his difficult childhood, failed early business attempts, hard-earned later successes, compassionate charity, and persistent spirit. 

We found ourselves edified by the example of Milton Hershey as we immersed ourselves in the book's compelling narrative and well-researched historical depth.  Seriously, the story was replete with examples of resilience, determination, and compassion that my family needed over the past couple of months. 

It also connected to past studies and inspired some new learning in everything from American wars and their effects on the economy, to how to make chocolate, to where different states and countries are, to how creating a single product is often an international process, to what labor disputes and unions were all about, and more.

We appreciated that 
Milton Hershey is:

  • an engaging read aloud (which can also be read alone by late elementary schoolers and up, I'd say)
  • inspiring as you read about how Milton Hershey persevered through struggles and worked hard to succeed and help others
  • consistent in quality to other books in the Heroes of History series.  These books are truly top notch biographies for late elementary school on up or family read alouds.

My children were also inspired to turn our home into candy making test kitchen, experimenting with recipe after recipe to make soft and brittle chocolate candy recipes.  What a riot!

Broaden Your Learning with a Study Guide

The candy making proved a humorous, tasty, and educational diversion for my crew.  With so much stress in our home lately, it was fun for them to pull out ingredients we had and to see what would happen as they mixed, heated, chilled, squeezed, and, ultimately, ate them, all the while alternating their chatter between talking about Milton Hershey's life and planning businesses they might open.

It was only after they did this that I saw in the 
Study Guide that we had received a recipe for making your own chocolate.  It looked wonderful, but, I have to tell the truth: I did not give it to my children.  They were doing so well exploring with their own self-start ideas, I did not want to impede them.

Thus, I only used the the 
Milton Hershey Study Guide casually, asking a few questions from it and bookmarking ideas in my brain for possible future studies.  For, honestly, during this season for my family, simply reading Milton Hershey, chatting about it, allowing my children to make forays into making their own candy, and entertaining their children's future business plans was perfect for us.

In another stage of life, we might appreciate broadening our learning further by using the plethora of ideas in the 
Study Guide, for the resource is definitely a complete one for homeschool families, large groups, and classrooms alike. 

In it, you'll find:

  • Key Quotes (which would work well for memorization or copywork)
  • Display Corner ideas (which would work well for strewing, for focus for a book club, or for a book presentation)
  • Chapter Questions (which drew from for casual chats, but which could be used for formal discussion or writing exercises)
  • Ideas for Essay and Research Topics (which could deepen student learning)
  • Creative Writing Prompts (which extend student's imagination)
  • Suggestions for Hands-On Projects (which are great for all ages)
  • Field Trip Ideas (both the kind you go on and the kind that come to your classroom)
  • Terms/Vocabulary (to highlight new words)
  • Geographical Questions and Mapping (to give context to where the story takes place)
  • a Timeline (which helps place the story in history)
  • a Books and Resources Appendix (which is always fabulous for finding quality books, websites, and more)

In other words, no matter what your homeschool style is or how old your students are, you can likely find something in the Study Guide to expand your learning!

What the Children Had to Say

Even though it has been a couple of weeks since my family finished reading Milton Hershey, we continue to talk about the story and to relate it to our own lives.  It has been so apropos to my husband' job loss and search, my children's desire to make money, my daughter's reading and writing struggles, and all of our need to stay positive as we persevere through challenges. 

The book has also reminded us of how one kindness can beget another and how a generous spirit builds community. 

The book has staying power!  
When I asked my 7-year-old for thoughts about it for this review, he said:

I liked Milton Hershey.  When we were reading it, I wanted to keep going each time. 
Some things I learned about Milton Hershey are: 
  • He made a chocolate bar, but also made a sugar company.
  • He had many businesses and some failed.
  • He had great persistence!
Milton Hershey went through so many failures, but kept doing what he wanted to do and succeeded!

More than one since reading the book, he has compared people in our home to Milton Hershey, Milton's mom, or Milton' Dad, indicating a need for each of us to persevere, help, encourage, or work instead of just dreaming.

.My 10-year-old had this to say:

I really enjoyed this book about Milton Hershey.  I did not really know much about him before I read this book, and I think it is perfect for learning all about him. 
What I found was fun to do was to look at the picture on the cover and guess what each part of it was about, and, then, as I read, to figure out what each piece of the illustration was about.
For example, on the cover, it has a cow.  I thought, What does a cow have to do with Milton Hershey?  I thought it was for milk chocolate, but I also learned that one of Milton Hershey's successful businesses after failures was because of his caramels, and he used milk in them.  So, that's what I figured out the cow was for.  It reminds me of how Milton Hershey persevered until he found successful things.
The Hershey's Kiss illustration has a funny story that goes with it.  In his early businesses, his mom wrapped candy for him.  Once he had an exploding success, she still wanted to help, so she protested until he sent her Kisses to wrap.  He just did not bother to tell her that he just could not actually sell those because they were not wrapped in the factory.  This showed how much he cared for his mother and her wishes.
There is a picture of Milton Hershey standing in front of a really big building with two children. I thought it was his factory and the kids were his.  Through reading the book, I learned that Milton Hershey never had children.  He wanted them, so he opened a school for boys who did not have fathers.  He also built a whole town!  He was so into his business.  he cared for his employees and others. H was compassionate!
I would recommend this book to all people, because it is a fun and entertaining book.

My daughter was wholly taken in by the book as a story of a charitable and dedicated man's life and an inspiration to create chocolate and, more recently, to build a chicken business dream.  It has been fun witnessing her reactions to the story.

My 12-year-old had this to say about the book:

Milton Hershey is good.  I learned a lot from it.  Before reading it, I did not know Milton Hershey once owned a huge caramel company, and that caramels were originally made with paraffin, not milk.  I also did not know how many businesses he had before the chocolate one.  He was persistent!
I also learned that Milton Hershey started a school for fatherless boys.  He had no children of his own and wanted to help other children.
Milton Hershey was a charitable person.  He was kind to the boys in his school, to his family, and to his employees.  Obviously, he gave the boys an education.  He also gave them a home - a good home.  He gave his family good houses when he had the money to do so, let his mother wrap Kisses even though he could not sell them, and kept loving his father even though his father did not make the smartest choices.  Milton Hershey gave his employees good homes with electricity and built them beautiful towns.  He was a generous man and reading about him taught me generosity. 
I like the way Milton Hershey's story was told by the authors because it started at one point, returned to an earlier time, and then went forward through Milton Hershey's whole life. They end chapters on cliff hangers usually and the titles of each chapter make you want to keep reading. 
I would recommend this book to others.  It would be good to read when you are really down, because Milton Hershey was in bad situations and got out of them to become a successful candymaker and virtuous man.

As you can see, Milton Hershey's generous spirit and ability to rise above circumstances captured his attention, as did the way Janet and Geoff Benge wrote the biography! 

All three of my children, my husband, and I found 
Milton Hershey an outstanding read aloud with well-researched history and highlights of virtue strong throughout.  The booked proved to be as good - if not even better - than other Heroes of History books we have read and we are happy we chose to make it a part of recent life and leaning.

I truly have not found a series of biographies that engages my children more than 
Heroes of History and cannot recommend this particular Milton Hershey book and the series it comes from enough!

As an aside for religious readers:  Milton was a Mennonite and his wife was Catholic,so the book does discuss religion in context, depicting strict and more luke-warm individuals of faith.  It also mentions how some members of Milton's family were not thrilled at first that he was planning to marry a Catholic woman.  However, there is nothing that I found offensive in its treatment of any faith, and, in fact, I think people of all faiths will appreciate strong examples of Christian charity in the book.

Learn More

Heroes of History- Milton Hershey
 is available at 
YWAM Publishing for $7.50 (as opposed to its typical $9.99 cover price).  It is one of the many bestselling biographies written for children in the Heroes of History and Christian Heroes Series.

Our family has enjoyed reviewing these other titles from the series, too:

There are 40+ books in the Christian Heroes series, which cover the time period from the 1700's through the 1960's and 20+ 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.

YWAM Publishing Review

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.

YWAM Publishing Review

Christian & History Heroes {YWAM Publishing Reviews} 
Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review} 

YWAM Publishing can be found at FacebookTwitterPinterest, and on their own blog.

If you are looking for well-written biographies that are as engaging as they are inspiring, check out Heroes of History !

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