(Secular) History Books for Children of All Ages
Excerpt from If You Were Me and Lived in … Ancient Greece” This line captures your attention, even that of a young, wiggly child’s. Don’t you agree? Children’s author Carole P. Roman, has published an entire series of these engaging books. Children of all ages can relive the daily lives at various historical time periods, through the eyes of other kids just like them.
What We Received
Author Carole P. Roman and AwayWeGoMedia sent us a generous package of four “If You Were Me and Lived in…” books for free. In return, I am posting our thorough and honest review of these history books for children:
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 1)
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2)
- If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3)
- If You Were Me and Lived in…the American West (Volume 7)
What to Expect
The If You Were Me and Lived in… series is a collection of picture books. A full page spread features big-letter text on the left, and a whimsical, colorful illustration on the right. The last few pages include a summary of famous people of that time period, a glossary, and other relevant notes.
The story, is not a story really, but an account of what to expect if you lived at the time. With a child’s point of view, the narration tells clear details such as where you would live, what you would eat and at what times of the day, where you would go to school, if at all (no school if you were a girl), what you would learn, etc. Such straightforward details succeed in bringing history to life in a explicit, vivid, and evident way.
If You Were Me and Lived In… Elizabethan England tells about the life of a middle class child in London. The streets were narrow and made of cobblestone which were slippery and uneven. People threw their dirt, garbage, and waste out the window. There were no bathrooms in the houses. You could imagine what the trash smelled like when it rotted on the streets!
This English child lived in three-story house. The family’s bakery was downstairs, and upstairs was a big room to play, eat, and work. The sisters shared a bed, the brothers another. The floors were covered by straw rush to keep them from being too cold. There are many more details of course, such as the child’s social and cultural life, and the religious practices. It goes without saying religion, was of the utmost importance, especially in England during those volatile times.
If You Were Me and Lived In… The American West describes a pioneer family’s journey to Oregon from Ohio. It tells a child’s experiences and responsibilities following the challenging Oregon Trail in 1843. During this time, hundreds of families migrated west for the dream of a better life:
“If you had to describe the trip in one word, it would be mud! […] Wheels got stuck in the thick mud. You learned to put grass on the ground in front of the wheels and then joined all the men pushing from behind. The wheels turned on the grass, and the oxen pulled it out of the mud. The dust was bad too. If there was no rain, it was so dry, the whole train had to stop because nobody could see through the clouds of dust. You had to cover your mouth with a bandana to protect it from the dirt and sand. Sometimes you couldn’t even see your hand, and it was right in front of your face!”
If You Were Me and Lived In… Renaissance Italy recounts life of an upper class girl in Florence. You loved to go shopping in the marketplace in town, but you were not allowed to go anywhere but to church or visit family. You couldn’t go out without a nursemaid. You thought you were too old for her, but Papa insisted she had to be with you. When you turned twelve, you knew your parents would be looking for a match for you. You would soon be betrothed to someone special and married by the time you turned sixteen.
If You Were Me and Lived In… Ancient Greece reports about Greece around 350 B.C. This volume includes a brief recount of a Greek God in each page, which are absent in the previous volumes for obvious reasons. Also, this book doesn’t pick a boy or a girl like the others. Instead, it refers to both genders: Either way, you would brush your hair often and for a long time. Whether you were a boy or a girl, your hair would be complimented for its thick and healthy shine.
Just like the others in the series, this book describes a child’s daily life including education, dwellings, diets, economy, recreation, and religion.
How Did We Like’em?
Super Hero loves History so he was happy to read the accounts of how “children lived back in the day!” His personal favorite was Ancient Greece, mainly because of the illustrations. Indeed, the illustrators are different in most every book, and their styles are quite distinct. I, too, liked some artwork better that others, yet there’s talent in all of them most definetely.
If you love history, and are always looking to bring the past to life, then you can’t go wrong with these precious little books. They are easy to read for elementary children and beyond, and they’re filled with substantial material. Not only are the details vivid and authentic, the author also sneaks in thoughtful questions here and there, to get the children thinking.
I like that Carole P. Roman included an upper class child’s point of view (Renaissance Italy, and Ancient Greece), and a middle class child’s point of view (Elizabethan England and American West.) I can only infer a distinct lower class point of view is also included somewhere in the series, too. This helps offering Super Hero a more comprehensive understanding of society throughout historical periods. And it further assists him in growing his understanding of today’s socio-economic affairs.
In a Nutshell
I like the books because they were picture books, and they tell you how people of the time lived. They were short books, and I liked the drawings.
These books have been a refreshing surprise for me, personally. I like author Carole P. Roman’s choice to narrate from a child’s point of view. And I like the actual recounts of how ordinary life transpired for children (and adults, too.) Both of us have learned many fascinating tidbits. We look forward to enjoying the rest of the series.
Want to Learn More?
If so, there’s plenty more reviews from my fellow Crew members. Or pay Carole P. Roman a visit at any of her social media accounts:
Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5854108.Carole_P_Roman
I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse 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. All opinions are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.