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History of California Study Guide Review by Kendra Fletcher

Rea Berg
Beautiful Feet Books
1306 Mills St.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

I have to admit straight out of the gate that I am a big fan of Beautiful Feet study guides. Their literature selections, timelines, and study guides have been a delight to our family over the years, filling in our chronological history studies with interesting living books and stories that have brought history and its people to life.

The Beautiful Feet History of California Study Guide is a really great place to start a study of the Golden State's fascinating history, beginning with Columbus' discovery and touching upon the occupations of both the Spanish and the Mexicans, right through statehood and the effect of the Great Depression on California's migrant workers.

Designed for grades 4-6, this study includes some really terrific literary vehicles. Many of the selections have become favorites in our home, and several have been re-read to the delight of both my children and myself. Columbus by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire, Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Cruise of the Artic Star, and Zia by Scott O'Dell, Patty Reed's Doll by Rachel Laurgaard, Riders of the Pony Express by Ralph Moody, Jessie Benton Fremont: California Pioneer by Marguerite Higgins, By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman, Blue Willow by Doris Gates, and Song of the Swallows by Leo Politi are required reading for the study, but Pedro: The Angel of Olvera Street and This Is San Francisco, both by Leo Politi, are suggested.

As a native Californian, I have to say that I really appreciate Rea Berg's literature choices. She has covered many important aspects of California's colorful history while at the same time not overwhelming its target audience with historic concepts that might prove to be uninteresting. Additionally, Ms. Berg has chosen authors like O'Dell and Politi, both prime writers of California history for young people. For those of us born and raised here, books covering wonderful little varied details (like historic Olvera Street in Los Angeles, the migrant workers who sustain California's agricultural dominance, and the return of the swallows to Mission San Juan Capistrano) are a delight. They serve to show the bigger picture, too: California is a diverse state comprised of unique cultures from all over the world.

The study guide (priced at $19.95) contains comprehension question, topics, for discussion, vocabulary words, map work literary elements, and suggestions for a student notebook--64 lessons in all. We particularly like the Beautiful Feet California history timeline with nicely created pictures the student can color and attach, but you'll have to purchase it separately. If it's within your budget (priced at $9.95), I think you'll be happy you added it to your study of California.

I'm happy to see that the study guides are now available to download. It's a great option for those with limited bookshelf space, and the guides are reasonably priced at $13.95.

Product review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2010