We were recently invited to review a book and unit study from YWAM Publishing.
Today, I’m going to talk about their book, William Penn, from their Heroes of History series and the accompanying unit study. We used this book as a read aloud in our home school, and I was very pleased, as I always am with YWAM’s books. They produce exceptional, moving, and historically important biographies that teach and are entertaining at the same time.
History and Teaching with Biographies
I love having family reading time. I try to choose books that will have wide appeal, which at my kids’ ages now, is not too difficult of a task. We read books with good solid morals, books that are fun, and books that make learning incredibly interesting. The story of William Penn fits two of those categories, as it caused us to have conversations about right and wrong, and how we treat others; it also helped me teach the kids history. When I was in school, history was usually memorizing facts or reading a book filled with things you needed to memorize. I am so thankful for companies that make biographies we can actually use as a part of school time.
I’ve never met an adult who loves to read a dry, fact-filled history book (but perhaps they are out there), but we all love a good story. I completely see biographies as a great way to teach history in a way that is memorable and interesting. If it’s not interesting, who is going to pay attention anyway? I used this book and unit study to spark conversations with my kids about what we were learning, as any good book should inspire conversations well beyond the time you spend with it in your hands.
What We Received and How We Used It
We received a paperback copy of William Penn and a paperback copy of the corresponding unit study. The unit study is also available as a digital download. The biography says it is for kids ages 10 and up, but I read it to my younger kids as well. There is no graphic content as far as we got, and YWAM tends to handle things in a very clean way in my experience. There are some tough topics to approach though, as the book talks about being in prison quite a bit. There is also an ongoing theme of whether some people are better than others (spoiler alert: they’re not). These are ideas I don’t mind talking about with my younger kids, but they do feel like grown-up topics. The unit study has lots of goodies in it, like how to complete maps and a timeline along with the study, but we have not used those to date. I used the study guide for the discussion questions, which really delve into the text at the end of each chapter, making you think about the story more in-depth. I was surprised when some days I didn’t know all of the answers…and I was reading it! It makes you really pay attention to the small details as well as the “big picture.”
I think the age range of 10+ is appropriate, but you can use the books for younger kids as well. If you want a book that is geared toward a younger reader, YWAM also offers books specifically for younger kids. We own a couple of them, and I love them. They are illustrated, but still tell a thorough story. I adore a picture book that has a good story too, not just pictures. We did not get to finish the book before this review came up, which is crazy to me, but it’s because of the length and the time we took to really discuss the book as well. It’s a great story about a man who changed the course of history, and it’s a great addition to any history curriculum.
We used this as history curriculum 3 times per week for the last 6 weeks, and my kids really looked forward to the next part of William Penn’s story. We will continue to read it until we are finished, and I will probably order more YWAM books in the future. I haven’t met one I didn’t like yet. I am picky too; so that is saying something. YWAM also offers a bulk discount if you order a set of biographies or a certain number of copies of any book. This is a great way to get books at an excellent price, especially if you have friends who want some as well. A good friend of mine ordered that way a few years ago and got a crazy good price on her books.
If you want to read other YWAM book reviews, click the link below. The Review Crew all received different biographies, some Christian Heroes, and some Heroes of History. We all teach different ages and abilities, and they are a great group of ladies. Check them out below!