Our family was very excited for a second opportunity to review one of the many wonderful books from YWAM Publishing. There is much to appreciate and learn in two of their series, Christian Heroes: Then and Now and Heroes of History. In addition to reading and reviewing Heroes of History – Ronald Reagan, we also received a digital study guide to use in our homeschool and review. We requested the biography of Reagan to review as I knew it would be a great fit for our study of United States history this year.
YWAM Publishing offers many wonderful books including a complete complement of products as part of their Hero Biographies such as paperback books, Unit Studies and Curriculum Guides, Audio Books, and books for young readers. Some of their books are published in Spanish.
What We Are Reviewing
We received a paperback copy of the 224-page biography of Ronald Reagan entitled Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side. The majority of the pages focused upon Reagan's early life which I found particularly interesting as I knew little about our 40th president until I read the book. I wanted to read it myself before giving it to our teen to read.
We experience the life of "Dutch" (as Reagan was nicknamed) from a young boy, his working as a lifeguard to make the local lake safer, his time attending college, and his moving to California after his career as a radio sports announcer. Readers are also invited into his first marriage as well as that of his second to Nancy.
I also received an email with the study guide to download. Just like the study guide I received for William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All, this one contained overviews for us in a homeschool, classroom and with small groups, two unit studies documents, a short biography of the individual, as well as links for more information. Unit Study 1 is 82 pages long with chapter questions, student exploration ideas, vocabulary and geography terms, places to study, and more.
Each of the overviews provides similar information and more detailed instructions on how to use the unit study and book in that particular setting. For example, there is a chart (please see image below) that explains how the books fit into the history of the United States and World as well as the social studies topics that can be studied and the character qualities that can be reviewed and studied while reading each particular book.
There is also a curriculum timeline if you are interested in using the entire series in your homeschool history courses. There is also a breakdown to help you figure out if you wish to use the unit studies with a parent-directed study or student-directed study approach. I find the overview a fantastic way to preview the different possibilities of using the book.
You can teach social studies, language arts, and more using the Unit Study Curriculum Guides from YWAM Publishing.
How We Used Heroes of History – Ronald Reagan and the Study Guide
Prior to incorporating Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side into our homeschooling day, I read it so I could be familiar with it. I was also trying to decide if it would appropriate at this time as a read aloud for our younger two children (ages 3 and 5). In the future, I think we would read it all together but for now I am requiring our teen to read it as part of his US history studies. (There is nothing questionable in the book. It is just is longer than the usual books we read aloud and does discuss war, the 1981 assassination attempt, and other key details of Reagan's life that our two younger children will learn about later.)
I finished reading the book in about two weeks by reading a few chapters each day. I was trying to mimic the assignments I would present to our teen son. About three weeks ago, I assigned the book to our teen and asked him to read a few chapters a day and complete the accompanying questions. During the first week, I also presented him with the biography sheet (Unit Study 2) to complete. In the second week, I asked him to complete the timeline after he was further along in the book.
During the third week, I sat down with our teen and asked him to look through Student Explorations projects and decide which one he would like to complete. There are essay questions, creative writing tasks (writing a screenplay), hands-on projects (canning food), audio/visual projects (radio show), and arts and crafts (model White House). He decided to complete a slide presentation in which he would present a campaign for the election of Reagan.
When we are further along in our US history studies (right now we are studying the 1920s-1940s), I will assign more from the study guide—including using the graphic organizer to help guide our studies. I really love how we will be able to tie so many topics into our reading of one book.
What We Liked
I love how the authors, Janet and Geoff Benge, bring the individual to life. As someone who was mostly unfamiliar with the life of Ronald Reagan, I felt that I walked away with a greater appreciation of our 40th president and a desire to learn more about him. In fact, I will be using the list of resources and biographies at the end of Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side and the study guide to learn more about him.
The book is also very easy to read. While it presents important ideas and facts, it is not bogged down in too many small details. If one wants to learn more details about a particular event or topic, the Unit Study offers the opportunity to dig deeper into the life of Reagan and the events of his life.
The variety of activities that are presented in the study guide. With the most basic activities being the chapter questions (to confirm your child read the book and to check reading comprehension of culminating events (such as holding a rally for Reagan), there are so many options to make the book and unit study work in your homeschool setting.
In the Future
I firmly believe that the Heroes of History and Christian Heroes: Then & Now will continue to be mainstays in our homeschooling studies. There are so many titles available that might be of interest to me, my husband, and our teen (not to mention our two younger children). I know that I would like to read about Ernest Shackleton and Billy Graham.
Do you want to learn more?
If you are interested in seeing what other fantastic books YWAM Publishing offers in these two series, please be sure to visit other reviews. If you would like to read our review of William Penn: Liberty and Justice for All, please visit here.