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Make it Happen! Series Review by Sabrina Scheerer

(Upper Level Interest Level: Grades 4-10)
Ashima Shiraishi - Rock Climber
We McDonald - Singer
Solomon Dubner - Podcaster
“Big Boy” Wills - Cartoonist
Dr. Alfredo Quinones - Surgeon
By: Ryan Hume and Dan Gunderman
Lightswitch Learning
150 E 52nd Street, Suite 32002
New York, NY 10022

The Make it Happen! series from Lightswitch Learning is a set of five books about people who overcame challenges to establish amazing careers doing what they love. This series is available in two levels; I received the upper-level set which the company recommends for kids in fourth through tenth grades. They suggest the lower level books for second through eighth grade. Each biography tells about the person’s early life, how they became interested in their career, the path they took to get there, and the challenges they overcame. They also all contain vocabulary words, “Make it Happen” sections with project or research assignments for the reader, and fun facts and side information about other topics related to the person’s life. At the end there is a glossary, discussion questions, a final project related to the field of study, suggested reading and internet links, and a bibliography. Each upper-level book is $10.95 (lower level are $8.95) or you can buy the set of 10 books with each book in both levels for $99.50.

In my family, we used these as general reading books. The kids could read them to themselves or ask to be read to. My kids enjoyed the real-life stories and the pictures of each person’s life. They also enjoyed the side information and fun facts. We did not delve deeply into the projects or extra assignments but doing so could give you a very interesting unit study of each book. I found these upper-level books to be just the right reading level for my young third grader to read herself. My kindergartener had no trouble understanding them when I read them to him and was quite interested in some of the career fields. The “Make it Happen” assignments were a little too difficult for either of them and would be more suited to an older student. My 12-year-old would have been a great age for most of those assignments, but she found the books themselves a bit too simple for her liking and felt they were really geared for younger kids.

These were neat books that really stress the importance of diligence and hard work in order to achieve your goals and dreams. They have enough extra information and assignments to create in-depth unit studies with each book and really explore each career field depicted. This could be a fun way for a Jr. High student to explore career fields of interest as long as the student didn’t feel like the books were “below her level” like my daughter did. They included a variety of people from different background who all overcame challenges of some sort to achieve their dreams so they are great examples of doing something even if it seems difficult. 

These books are not written for or about homeschoolers specifically and are written from a very mainstream worldview. I found that my kids had trouble relating to a good bit of the content because our life often looks quite different from what is generally considered the “norm.” For example, my kids had no idea who any of the artists referenced in the We McDonald book were.  The books also put a lot of emphasis on what each featured person did to achieve their goals through hard work, perseverance, and support from family and community but have no mention of God or faith. In our family, we put significant emphasis on doing all things through Christ and giving Him the glory.

These books have a lot of useful information and I appreciate all of the ways provided to expand on that information. Personally, I doubt I would pick these out and purchase them myself due to the discrepancy in the age they appeal to and the student level the assignments are geared toward and the lack of Christian worldview presented but I do think they are a neat concept with a lot to offer a homeschooling family.

-Product review by Sabrina Scheerer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2018