We have a bunch of history buffs in our family, and the Revolutionary War era has always been a favorite topic. When Liberty's
Kids first premiered on PBS several years ago, it was a HUGE hit with my children. So when I had the opportunity to review the complete Liberty's
Kids series on DVD, I was thrilled--and so were my kids! And since we have been studying the American Revolution this year with our Winter Promise curriculum, the DVDs have been a wonderful addition to our studies. These shows really make history come alive!
Between 2002 and 2003, PBS aired 40 episodes of Liberty's Kids, an animated show that was created to teach children how the United States of America came to be. Shout! Factory has now put all the episodes together in a six-disc boxed set, and it is an outstanding resource for anyone interested in early American history. The series was even nominated for both Emmy and Humanitas Awards.
Students can follow the adventures of fictional reporters, James (an American colonist), Sarah (a young English woman), and Henri (a French immigrant boy), while also learning about the real people of the time. The stories of Ben Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, Lafayette, and even Benedict Arnold, among others, are part of the series. We learn about each of these people through the eyes of Sarah and James as they struggle with the moral dilemmas of the war, their understanding of good and evil, loyalty to their opposing countries, and their relationships with each other.
The first episode is about The Boston Tea Party and the stirrings of the need for American independence. Subsequent episodes cover all the major and significant events leading up to the American Revolution, the war itself, and the results of the war. A sampling of episodes includes:
Washington Takes Command (Disc 2: Episode 4)
The Turtle--about the first submarine (Disc 3: Episode 1)
Valley Forge (Disc 4: Episode 4)
Deborah Samson (Disc 5: Episode 7)
We the People (Disc 6: Episode 6)
Quite a few famous and talented people provide the voices of the major characters, including Walter Cronkite as Benjamin Franklin, Billy Crystal as John Adams, Dustin Hoffman as Benedict Arnold, Annette Bening as Abigail Adams, and Michael Douglas as Patrick Henry. Others, such as General Norman Schwarzkopf, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ben Stiller, Whoopi Goldberg, Liam Neeson, and many more, round out the cast.
Each episode also includes Benjamin Franklin's Newsbytes, Continental Cartoons, Now and Then, and the Mystery Guest Game. Bonuses on the disc set are original pencil tests, a 40-page booklet with a historical timeline, and a pullout poster with a United States map.
The cost of the boxed set on the Shout! Factory website is $59.98 plus shipping and handling, but I think this is a fair price for what you get. Plus, you can preview several of the shows on the Shout! Factory site. And although the series is animated, I feel the content is thorough and accurate. I am often surprised when my children recall a certain fact/event from the Revolutionary War--and it's something they learned from Liberty's
Overall, I highly recommend the Liberty's Kids series on DVD. It is sure to be a valuable addition to any homeschooling family's educational video collection.