Heroes of History Review
We recently finished reading Ronald Reagan, Destiny at His Side. I should start by saying, this was our first venture into any of the Heroes of History books and we were blown away by the depth that this book covered. It starts off with a short chapter setting the stage for Ronald Reagan being shot by an assassin and then being rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.
After reading the first chapter, my kids begged me to keep reading. I was asked multiple times if this was a true story. I assured them that, yes, it is. Each chapter was just as gripping as the last as we are led through Ronald’s (or Dutch as he was called in his younger years) childhood and adolescence, then through his college years, his years as a sportscaster and then later a movie star, tv personality, governor and finally president.
Each chapter is dynamic and compelling delving deep into this man’s life. It covers the structure of his character and all the other people who played leading roles in his life’s story while it is set against an ever-changing political and historical backdrop. Although I grew up under a Reagan Presidency and felt that I knew a lot about him, I found myself mesmerized by this carefully crafted story.
It is a story of love and life, wisdom, and strength, courage, and destiny. I’m not too embarrassed to admit that I was in tears as the narration concluded his life’s story. Most days we read one or two chapters a day and then discussed what we read openly. I wanted to make sure my kids were getting a deep understanding of what events transpired in Ronald Reagan’s life and also what was happening in the background.
We used this as our history during the past month and I’m glad I did so. This was jam packed with historical information and I felt that my older kids were able to come away not only with a greater understanding of what made Ronald Reagan who he was but also what was taking place during the majority of the 20th century.
I also received a Digitial Unit Study that is downloadable and printable which can be used hand in hand with this book. The guide includes 8 chapters – this is a huge study guide! There is a section on key quotes from the book which could be used as a memorization activity, to spark an informative dialogue on the meaning of the quotes, or even as a copy work activity! There is a section which encourages children to find artifacts from the time period in which Ronald Reagan lived and create a small display of them on a table in your home. This section includes ideas to spark your interest and imagination. There is also an entire section, chapter 3, which includes chapter questions to open discussion and to test your child’s awareness of the information presented in the book. There are six questions for each chapter: some are related to vocabulary, some are purely factual, some are to gauge comprehension and two are open-ended. I personally love chapter 4 which lends itself to spark a lot of creativity for your kids. The section is entitled “Student Explorations” and there are multiple projects listed which would be really fun to complete including audio/visual projects and arts/ crafts projects.
Chapter 5 contains information on possible field trips that students could participate which link to the story and might bring the story a little more to life for them as they meet real life politicians or radio announcers. There is an entire chapter devoted to social studies which is perfect if you extend your reading of the book and delve deeper into terms and vocabulary, places, and plot the timeline of historical events that Ronald Reagan lived through. There is even a “Related Themes to Explore” Section which is awesome and can assist you in creating an entire unit study surrounding this book. They list History to study (World Wars I and II, Vietnam War, The Great Depression, The Cold War, etc.), current events, science which is mentioned (The Great Flu of 1918, The Telegraph and The Crystal Set Radio), Geography, and even Literature! I think this guide is simply amazing and can turn this biographical book into a multifaceted curriculum which is high interest and engaging to the students!
While I started off reading this to my whole family, I quickly realized that it is geared toward older elementary (and above) so my 9 and 11-year-old enjoyed it immensely. While we enjoyed the quotes and some of the chapter questions from the study guide, I plan to continue to use the unit study with my children, now, so they can keep learning from this amazing story. We were so pleased with this book that I’ve already placed an order for more books from the Heroes of History series which I can’t wait to explore with my children!
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