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Everyday Life: World War I: Review by Carissa Ruiz

With Cross-Curricular Activities in Each Chapter Everyday Life: World War II: With Cross-Curricular Activities in Each Chapter
Walter A Hazen
Good Year Books
PO Box 91858
Tucson, AZ 85752-1858

Both of these books provide an overview of the corresponding world war. Written for ages 10-15, these volumes are part of a series of books that can be used as a supplement for your history program. The chapters are about four to five pages long and are topical, meaning that you do not necessarily need to read the chapters in sequential order, but the text is written so that it flows better if you do. At the end of each chapter, there are about four worksheets that provide chapter review activities. Types of activities include critical thinking essays, fill in the blank, crossword puzzles, and true or false questions.

Chapters in the WWI book include "Background and Causes," "The Lights Go Out in Europe," "Leaders in Wartime," "New Methods of Warfare," "Life in the Trenches," "Major Battles," "The USA Enters the War," "Women Join the Fight," "Home Fronts," "Unusual and Interesting Stories," and "The Aftermath."

Chapters in the WWII book include "Background," "Blitzkrieg," "Important Leaders," "Pearl Harbor," "The Soldier's Life," "Major Battles," "Women at War," "Home Fronts," "Unusual and Interesting Stories," "The Atomic Bomb," and "The Aftermath."

The Pros
The books are easy to read with short chapters. The information is well explained for the target age range. The history in each book covers the major causes, events, and effects of the wars. Both books give a nice broad overview of the subject, which will give the student a good knowledge base. There are good activities at the end of each chapter so that the child can review or better understand what was taught. The pictures are age appropriate, considering the nature of the wars. Also, the price is reasonable.

The Cons
There are two things that would have made these books better. First, the books needed a timeline of the major events discussed, because not all of the chapters followed a consecutive timeline. Second, the books should have included maps of the countries involved and maps where the battles took place. There were times I was confused as to what countries were where and had to reference a map of that era.

Personal Thoughts
I enjoyed both books. I thought that the information was easy to follow, except when I needed the maps. I liked that the author gave historical context to the information. For instance, when he explained the cause of WWI, he didn't just give the event that started the war (the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Bosnia); he gave the political history leading up to the event. Therefore, when the assassination takes place, it makes sense to the reader how that event would cause the war. I also liked how he broke the information down for the student. For instance, when he described what the Japanese soldiers ate, he named one of the foods as mugwort and then explained briefly that "mugwort is a weed that grows along roadsides."

A child could read the books and do most of the activities independently. However, a parent might need to provide some assistance with some of the critical thinking essays, especially when they ask such things as the following:

  • Write a dialogue between a pacifist and a person who supports the war.
  • If you are a girl, pretend to write a letter in the year 1918 about how you think it is unfair to have to give up your job now that the men are back from war.

These types of questions go beyond what is presented in the text, so the child may not be able to give meaningful responses. My advice would be either to skip some of the critical thinking activities or to assist your child in understanding what is being asked of them.

One other concern is the description of the harsh treatment the Jews received during WWII. I appreciate that the author does not go into great detail, but the material may still be disturbing for children younger than 10.

In conclusion, both of these books are well worth looking into. The books are not written from a Christian worldview, but I did not find them offensive to the Christian faith. They are educational yet not overly "academic." They are the type of books I would buy during a homeschool conference--something easy enough for my kids to read but with enough information to help them understand the subject better. My 10-year-old takes both books to bed with him almost every night and has read each book twice so far. I, too, have come to have a better understanding of WWI and WWII. If you have been looking for simple overviews of WWI and WWII, these books would be good to consider.

Product review by Carissa Ruiz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2007