Today I’m sharing with you about a fun book series that will help your children step right into history by imagining that they they are a part of it. This is by far my children’s favourite way of relating to history — they just love to use what they are learning and explore other lands, cultures, and times through imaginary play. And reading, both of fiction and non, is always the catalysts for this play. For this reason I always keep a basket full of books with geography, science, history, literature, and art themes that go along with our current studies.
This review of books from the If you Were Me and Lived in… series is brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com. I was given my choice of two books in the series to review, and was graciously given two additional books! I chose If You Were Me and Lived in… Colonial America and If You Were Me and Lived in…The American West to co-ordinate with our current history studies using Story of the World 3: Early Modern Times. The additional books they included featured two of my daughter’s favourite time periods, Ancient Greece and the Middle Ages.
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My history loving, book-a-holic daughter devoured the four books we were sent the day we received them. She was all ready to tell me which ones she liked best and why the next morning! Since then I have had the chance to read them myself, and I can definitely see why she liked them so much. Here are the books in chronological order:
If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 1)
In If You Were Me and Lived in … Ancient Greece, Roman helps your child imagine they are a young boy living in Ancient Greece around 350 B.C. She begins by suggesting that what your name and that of your sister might be from among names that were common at that time. The reader is then provided with a little background information regarding greek politics, religion, culture and social customs.
The illustrations by Mateya Arkova are colourful pastels with soft, undefined edges. My daughter loved them, as did I.
Especially interesting to young children are the details provided regarding every day life that are often left out of other books: where and what people ate, what they did all day, and where they slept! These are important details for kids!
In this book, as well in all the others, pronunciation aids are written alongside new words that may be new to the reader. If you’ve ever read any greek mythology, you’ll know how useful these are! Mentions of noteworthy ancient greeks such as Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Homer are made, and the book concludes with a listing of gods and goddesses as well as a glossary of unfamiliar terms.
You Were Me and Lived in…the Middle Ages (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 6)
This book was my daughter’s favourite from among the four we received, because in this book, you imagine you are a girl (and the illustrations include beautiful dresses and castles, which are always favourites around here).
You imagine that you are a young girl living around the year 1072 and are the daughter of a knight under William of Normandy (William the Conqueror/King William I of England). This book is almost twice the length of the others, with a total of 97 pages it’s a bit lengthy for a single sitting of independent reading. There is a lot of information regarding diet, clothing (there was a lot more clothing to be worn in the middle ages than in ancient Greece!), social structure and employment/trades.
While we did enjoy this book quite a bit, I did notice a few typographical/editing errors in the text. These books are self-published though, so it’s not that surprising.
If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4)
This book is a great fit to go along with our supplemental history reading in Early Modern Times. In this story, you are a young Puritan English boy living amongst the Dutch when your family choses to cross the Atlantic on the Mayflower to start a new life in a land where they could freely practice their faith.
This book references the Reformation and founding of The Church of England and the role these events played in the colonizing of America.
It also highlights the extreme hardships borne by those early migrants — it’s pretty hard for children in our time and circumstances to imagine the hard work, poverty, and illness that was a part of the daily life of children during that time. As with the other books, details about clothing and diet are also given. It seems a little odd for children (or even adults!) in our time that in those days, the sleeves, torso, and skirt of a woman’s dress were all separate pieces, and that young boys wore gowns until they were 5 years old and were “breeched” and allowed to wear breeches or pants!
Of all the four books we received, I liked the illustrations in this book the least. It is illustrated by Sarah Wright in a very simple, harsh looking, graphic style using dark colours. The images appear to me to be computer generated rather than hand drawn.
In this book, you imagine that you are a 12 year old boy joining the wagon rains heading from your home in Ohio to Ohio in The West.
It includes details regarding the preparations required before making this trip, what was brought (can you imagine what 200 pounds of flour, 20 pound of sugar, 60 pounds of beans and 25 pounds of coffee look like?), and how the trip was organized.
It’s hard for us today to imagine the trials of travels, pushing wagons through mud, crossing rivers, dealing with illness and even death along the way. And when you finally arrive at your destination, the work has only just begun, and even as a child you must play a role in the building of a new home and farm!
This book is illustrated by Paula Tabor with lots of detail so your kids can see clothing, food, tools, and of course the wagons. As with the other books, this one also includes the pronunciation help, listing of famous people, and glossary at the end.
If like us, your history studies include a lot of supplemental reading (and imagination!), then you will want to check out these and other books in the If You Were Me and Lived in … series! You can also click the banner below to read reviews of the other books.
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy
- If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China: The Han Dynasty
- If You Were Me and Lived in…the Middle Ages
- If You Were Me and Lived in…the American West
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Viking Europe