Monday, July 4, 2016

A Star-Spangled Read

Happy Fourth of July. Celebrate Independence Day with:

Awesome America 
by the Editors of Time for Kids.
Time Inc. Books/Liberty Street, 2016. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Learning can be fun ... and Awesome America proves it:

"Discover what makes America unique in this comprehensive timeline and photographic overview of American history ...  From America's early history all the way to present day, kids will learn about what it was like to grow up in the 1700's, 1800's, 1900's and today and discover the inventions, innovations, and important social movements great Americans have created over the year (from the publisher)."

Fourteen chapters explore the people, places, and events that shaped America using large, striking visuals and "bite-size" pieces of information. The stunning graphics, which include vivid photographs, period illustrations, sidebars, maps, and charts, make the book highly readable, supporting children's learning. Each chapter has a Find Out section which contains an essential question (chapter 8: how did the struggle for equal rights develop in America?), a Learn section with fun and fascinating facts (chapter 7: Ford's Model T), and a Take a Closer Look at a topic which illustrates that chapter (chapter 5: wild animals that call America hone).

Chapter 14 consists of an especially appealing twelve page timeline of significant American events from the arrival of the Native Americans' ancestors to the election of the first African American president. The timeline includes many iconic and uniquely American entrepreneurial firsts such as:

1860: John Stetson makes his first "Stetson" cowboy hat
1873: Levi Strauss patents his first pair of blue jeans
1928: the invention of a bread slicing machine
1948; MacDonald's sells its first hamburgers 
1998: Google search engine created

Parents and teachers can reinforce the book's learning and build higher level thinking skills for their children with the truly "awesome" curriculum guide.  Extension activities include thoughtful and thought-provoking discussion points for each chapter which meet Common Core Standards. Have children use the guide's printable graphic organizers to explore the book, take part in scavenger hunts, compare and contrast activities, 

The book also includes index, glossary, and a resource list of museums, organizations, books and articles to "Explore More!"

Use this well-organized book and the curriculum guide with children 8-12 years old to examine American history, government, and culture. As 2016 is an election year, Awesome America will help children understand the role of the president and how the government works. Have children figure out if they "have what it takes" to be president by filling out the job application included in the curriculum guide. This book not only provides some great background on the United States, but can provide research or project ideas, and hours of browsing fun.