Carole P. Roman Review: Picture Books That Bring History to Life

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

We are BIG history lovers in our family, and I'm always on the lookout for more books to keep on our shelves that will correspond with different historical periods we study. Lucky for us, Carole P. Roman has a whole series of colorfully illustrated reference books that appealed to all the children in our family!
I had a hard time narrowing down our choices when I looked at the long list of books in Carole P. Roman's assorted series - she has several fiction books that look engaging, but I was most interested in the "If You Were Me and Lived in..." series, both cultural (based on modern countries and their cultures) and historical (based on historical periods in different countries). Ultimately I decided that it would be most useful to choose books based on the historical periods we're currently studying, have just studied, or are about to study. So we received books on Colonial America, Renaissance Italy, Ancient Greece, and Elizabethan England.

My favorite illustrations were in the Renaissance Italy book - they evoked the style of another children's book illustrator whose work I like, and they were really enjoyable to look at while reading the book to my younger children. The pronunciation guide inside was not the most accurate, which was a bit frustrating but I don't think most people have enough rudimentary knowledge of Italian to notice the inaccuracies. I appreciated the references to the Church, which obviously played a pretty big role in the lives of Italians during the Renaissance!

The illustrations in the Ancient Greece book were much more muted, and I noticed the children didn't reach for this book as often compared to the others. But I noticed them spouting off facts from this book almost immediately. They were excited to hear that Spartan girls learned to fight, as well as the boys! Our oldest son quickly pointed out that in other city-states, the girls had to stay home instead of being educated outside the home. Again, the pronunciation guide wasn't perfect, but I feel as though most of those of us educating our children already know how to pronounce the names of most of the Greek gods and historical figures.

I found my 3-year-old looking through the Colonial America book several times, and she really enjoyed looking at the pictures in these books in general. To me, the text seemed too lengthy to hold her attention, but she sat quietly for all of these! It began with a brief summary of Henry VIII's divorce of Catherine of Aragon, which is a topic that always frustrates us as Catholics, and I think Carole P. Roman handled that, as well as the topic of religious persecution and tolerance, well. Obviously the book is not meant to go into depth on the topic, but considering religious freedom was a major reason for the Pilgrims leaving Europe, I think it went into an appropriate amount of detail before moving on.

Everybody was particularly interested in reading about the food that people ate in these books! Having just visited the Jamestown Settlement and Colonial Williamsburg, the children had encountered this information pretty recently in museums, and it always makes things seem a little more real when they imagine having to go without butter and sugar! The things we take for granted were almost nonexistent in the early American colonies!

Having studied English history for the past two school years, everyone was excited for our last book, which was written on the subject of Elizabethan England. Queen Elizabeth I is not a favorite in our house, but Shakespeare certainly is! Small details of city life in London delighted the children, especially learning that cats and dogs often lived in the thatching on roofs, slipping out when it rained, and (possibly) originating the phrase "raining cats and dogs."

Many of the details in this book were similar to those in the Colonial American book (the time periods being relatively close to one another), but different illustrations and phrasing made them seem fresh and new.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks fore reading and reviewing. I'm glad the children enjoyed them.


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