Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: For You They Signed

It is so exciting to get the chance to review For You They Signed by Marilyn Boyer.  I think I was expecting a long novel type of a book...

What I got, however, was something quite different.  This book is enormous.  It looks like a textbook -- about 8.5"x11", glossy hard cover, and 342 pages.  Wow.

I thought this was a book that I would sit down and read myself.  You know, over a couple of weeks.  I was clearly quite wrong.  So, I settled in to read the introduction and forward and to rethink how I would review this.

That led to my discovery that Boyer has created an Activity Book to go along with the book (a free download), and that convinced me that I can actually use this title with my kids.

I read through a few of the bios on the signers in an effort to figure out how to do this with my kids.  And it is pretty easy to get sucked into just reading.  Fascinating people, and I know NOTHING about the vast majority of them.  How many signers can you name?  John Hancock, of course.  Benjamin Franklin.  Thomas Jefferson.  Benjamin Rush.  And I was pretty sure that John Adams and Samuel Adams were on this list (they are).  That means I knew of six.  That puts me above average (according to the introduction, most people can name three or fewer), but still... that's FIFTY names I don't know.

How we are going to be using this book:
We are going to study one person per week, which is one of the suggestions they make for using the book.  From the Activity Book, I will print the coloring page (a portrait of the individual) for whoever wants one.  The kids can color that as I read the chapter.

Each chapter is roughly 4-5 pages of text.  I'll confess that even with the coloring page, it is too much for my 4 year old, and probably too much for my 1st grader as well (he's tuning out the final page or so).  At the end of each chapter are some questions.  Some of these made us go back through the text to answer ("What qualities did William Ellery observe in Josiah Bartlett?" -- uhh, WHO was Ellery???), others led to interesting discussion ("Look up the definition of enthusiasm.  How did this characterize Bartlett's life?") and still others I just chose to skip over.

The Activity Book also includes a page for each signer listing their name and state, a character quality and definition, and a Bible verse.  For Josiah Bartlett, the character quality is enthusiasm (which is obvious from the questions above), and the Bible verse is Colossians 3:23.  We are printing these sheets out to hang up for the week, alongside the portrait coloring pages.

The Activity Book also includes 27 Family Fun Quizzes.  The first one is to be completed after all the New Hampshire signers (3 of them).  We'll try that, maybe turning it into some type of a Jeopardy-style game.  I'm not sure we'll use this part though.

Overall, I think this is going to continue to be a fantastic part of our school week. 

Disclaimer:   I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group.  No other compensation was received.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.


Catherine said...

This sounds wonderful. Thanks for the review. I definitely see this making its way into our curriculum next year!

Blossom Barden (NorthLaurel) said...

Nice! I love history books- almost of any kind. And it's a bit pleasant to know that I am above average also ;)
I am checking this out further...

Heidi said...

I received this book to review as well. Impressive! I think we're going to use it - mostly with Ashley - as she and I are doing a bit of a "different" government study this year. :)

Debra said...

I think this makes a great curricula addition!!

Heidi -- definitely check the intro material and download the activity guide. You may not want the coloring pages (maybe not), but the character quality page, I think, is great for pretty much any age.

Dawn said...

Thanks for the link to this I'm REALLY excited about it! Dh can enjoy it AND we can use it with ds14. WOO HOO!