Monday, May 2, 2011

A History of Us: the First Americans by Joy Hakim

I enjoyed the George Washington: Spy Master so much I decided to read another nonfiction. This is actually the first in a 10 volume set on the History of the United States. It is an interesting book, part text book, part story book. If I were going to do home school I might consider it as a text for teaching American history. It is geared for about 4th or 5th grades. Admittedly, there are some parts that might seem condescending for that age group. During the book she tells the reader to pretend to be driving a time/space machine. I am not sure a 8 year old will go for that because it might seem too juvenile. Beside that, however it is quite a good overview of history. I learned a lot I didn't know before. The writing is informal and engaging. I think she is more likely to show both the good and bad in each situation--less propaganda than some American History text books. She stops every once in a while to ask searching philosophical questions. She just kind of throws them out without giving an answer. Much of the book is spent on both the Native Americans and the Spanish explorers. Hakim doesn't paint them in black and white, but rather admits that some native people were more just than others, and that many Spanish Conquistadors were evil, but others had good motives. All in all the book was not as engaging as the Washington book, but accomplished what it set out to accomplish quite admirably.

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