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America's Federal Holidays, The True Story Review by Kathy GelzerJohn De Gree
San Clemente, CA 92673
Do your kids know the history and meaning behind our federal holidays? Do you know? American’s Federal Holidays will tell you the background and story for our eleven federal holidays: New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, Inauguration Day, George Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
Further, it is important for us to learn about these holidays as they have increasingly become merely convenient times to go out of town more than they are days to commemorate important historical events. Another disheartening change in recent times is the disrespect now given to some of the people associated with these holidays. The book’s introduction states, “When we honor George Washington, or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., or Christopher Columbus as great men who accomplished much for Western civilization, we are not claiming that these individuals were perfect. We are making the argument that without these individuals the United States may have lost the American Revolution, continued to practice segregation, or might never been formed. These men are heroes for the country, but they are not examples of perfect men.”
Each chapter is devoted to one holiday and includes photos and/or art, two to three pages of text, ten review questions for children 8 and above, and a research or analysis assignment aimed at children 12 and over. It is suggested that teachers or parents read each pertinent chapter of the book aloud and create lesson plans prior to the corresponding holiday.
While at first glance America’s Federal Holidays looks like a book for younger children, my high school girls and I enjoyed reading it as well. The text is written at a level most anyone would understand and enjoy. I appreciated the extras: charts, poems, and songs, and especially the primary source documents and speeches that were quoted. I would have loved to see even more of these additions!
Surprisingly, there were no cited sources or suggested resources for further reading. This book is a great starting point for learning about our holidays, but I think older students in particular would enjoy learning even more and would like to know of specific resources the author recommends. (Another note: George Washington’s birthday should be listed as February 22nd.)
America’s Federal Holidays is a much needed book and is accessible to a variety of ages. It would be a great addition to the homeschoolers’ curriculum collection.
-Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2017