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All my Love, George . . . Letters from a WWII Hero Review by Kirsten WestDarla Noble
This book is a wonderful look at both life as a combat medic in the Pacific Theater as well as the thoughts and perceptions of the war by those people who stayed home during World War II. This work of nonfiction is told by three people. George, a combat medic, tells the story through copies of his actual letters home. George’s younger brother, Benny, tells the story through a transcription of his thoughts and explanations about each letter that include descriptions of life for him as a fourteen-year-old kid growing up in America during World War II. And George’s niece tells the story with information about major events of World War II, details of the various military commendations, and how men were able to get information home to their families in spite of the military’s wartime censorship. As we read this book, my kids learned how people got their news about the war. They learned about the hardships placed on those who stayed home. And they learned what it was like for those whose loved ones did not come home alive.
The book, which embodies both a patriotic and a Christian worldview, is excellent for children in middle or high school (grades 7-12). If you read it aloud in your homeschool, the book becomes a wonderful catalyst for questions and further discussion with your children. The book would stand alone in your homeschool, but it is a wonderful addition to a broader study of America during World War II. This book gives you and your children a wonderful picture of George and his family during World War II as well as background about life as a soldier and life for those at home.
There is some discussion of death in the book and an allusion to the atrocities in the Pacific Theater, but the book does not include any details of combat or death. That is one of the aspects that makes it a great resource for children to understand the impact of World War II on all Americans, without being exposed to any of the horror of the war. I would feel comfortable reading it to any children, ages twelve or older.
The book is divided up as groupings of letters written by George to his family back home, followed by a transcript of his brother’s verbal reaction to that letter as an elderly man speaking to his adult daughter. This second portion usually includes a broader background of where George was and general context for the letter as well as descriptions of life back home during the war. The letter and transcript are followed by an FYI section written by the author, George’s niece, which provides additional background about the war and about George. Overall, the letters from George and accompanying explanations are all arranged chronologically, starting with George’s drafting into the army and time in boot camp and ending with the letter announcing his death in the Battle of Luzon in the South Pacific.
Priced at $12.00, the book is flexible enough that you can use it in a variety of ways in your homeschool. It will easily work with older children who read the book on their own, or special needs or younger children who benefit from you reading aloud to them. You can add unit studies or field trips or documentaries that will enhance their understanding of life during World War II. You can also use the book as a supplement to a history textbook. But regardless of how you use it, your children will benefit from the contents.
You could pace the book very easily to match the timeline and events of World War II and pull it out as a supplement as your children work through a history textbook. If I were doing that with my children, I would work through a history textbook of my choosing and then pull out the letter/response sections from the All my Love, George . . . Letters from a WWII Hero book to match the history timeline as we went.
We chose to use this book as the center of a unit study and as the anchor piece for lessons about World War II in the Pacific by adding additional resources. George’s brother has a viewpoint and recollection of life during World War II that does not necessarily match with the histories written today. It took my children a while to understand that life at home during World War II was influenced by a combination of news and propaganda and, of course, the effects of making do without fathers and sons who were away fighting. And so, I added some unit studies covering life for Americans at home and the effect of propaganda on public opinion during World War II to the reading of this book. You could also add trips to museums. Or if you happen to live near some local landmarks, you could add some visits to World War II era barracks or airfields that ground the history your children are learning right into your own community.
Many of us do not have living family members who were alive during World War II who can share their stories with our children. These stories are so important as they add color and connection to events in the past and help to ground our children in our history. Stories, like those told in the letters from George back to his family, make the history of America in World War II our history, not just words on a page or designations on a timeline. While reading this book, your children will feel like they are sitting in the living room with George and Benny and his daughter, talking over the events of the war as they happened. And after finishing book, your children will understand their own history just a bit better. And after all, isn’t that one of the reasons we all homeschool?
-Product review by Kirsten West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2017