This review is brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com.
Reading is a huge part of our lives. With literature being the foundation of our schooling, I depend on living books for the majority of our learning. Textbooks have their place, I suppose, but a book that puts you in the story and teaches without feeling like work is much preferred in our home. My kids enjoy history especially in this manner. We were able to study 4 different time periods and locations with the following books:
- If You Were Me and Lived in...Ancient Greece (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume I)
- If You Were Me and Lived in...Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume II)
- If You Were Me and Lived in...Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume III)
- If You Were Me and Lived in...the Middle Ages (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume VI)
As soon as the books came, the kids were excited. They enjoy the other If You Were Me books by Carole P. Roman that we own, and they expected these to be the same. They are similar in that the books are written in second person format. Each book places you, the reader, in that location during that time period. What we didn't expect was that these book, which are part of the Introduction to Civilizations set, are so much more in depth. The books are substantially longer and contain much more information.
If You Were Me and Lived in...Ancient Greece takes you back to 350 B.C.. It teaches where the country is located and its capital and other cities. It describes that Greece is "the Cradle of Western Civilization" because it created the foundation for many countries for their government systems, literature, and philosophy. It talks about the Ancient Greeks' clothing, like a chiton, peplos, and toga. Almost every page spread talks about a Greek god, describing their names, appearance, and traits.
If You Were Me and Lived in...Renaissance Italy focuses around the year 1483 in Tuscany. Popular names were Lorenzo and Cosimo for boys and Dolce and Lisabetta for girls. This was an important period of rebirth and inspired many famous artists, like Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello. Because Florence was the birthplace of the new movement and became known as "The Athens of the Middle Ages." The book gives a good understanding of how the people lived with a detailed drawing of a typical house and explanation. Common seasonings during that time were cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, saffron and pepper, along with oranges and lemons. It was a time of sporting events, festivals, and dances.
If You Were Me and Lived in...Elizabethan England describes life in 1578 during the reign of Elizabeth I. This was the golden age for art and literature and saw an increase in exploration. The narrow, cobblestone streets were filthy as people threw dirt, garbage, and waste out the windows. Houses were half-timbered and made of wattle and daub and the floors were covered in straw. Middle class people ate mutton, sausage, cheese, stew, and bread. No one drank water, but chose ciders and ales instead. The clothing consisted of many layers, and laws stated what color each class of people could wear. The religion was determined by whomever was on the throne.
If You Were Me and Lived in...the Middle Ages focuses on 1072 in a small town in London, England. This book, at nearly 100 pages, is double the length of each of the other books. so there's a ton of information. It talks about names, like Geoffrey, Roul, Melisende, and Aalis, and explains how they determined surnames. It's written as if the reader is the daughter of a knight. It describes life in a castle with wealth, servants, a large family. It mentions the Crusades, the importance of the church, the classes of society and their occupations and how they lived.
I used these books as read-alouds with the kids. We spent days cuddling together on the couch, traveling back in time reading these stories. We talked about the pictures and compared to how differently people lived back then. The books contain a brief overview of each period and leave it open for further study. We spent much time discussing the information. The author, Carole P. Roman, offers many free printables and worksheets to accompany the books and lists other resources, as well. We haven't started the Middle Ages book yet, as I know that one we can easily spend weeks working through with all the details included.
The back of each book contains a glossary of people, places, and things that are pertinent to that time and place. Each one also has a section about important or famous people and a description for each. These resources can be used as a spring board for further study.
Here's what my kids had to say about the books:
"I liked learning how people used to live."
"I liked learning what foods they ate and what they did. I liked learning their names."
"It was cool seeing how they dressed."
We learned some interesting bits of information like where the phrase "it's raining cats and dogs" originated, who once considered tomatoes poisonous, that chicken cost a penny at one point, and what was called "white gold." If you're looking for a way to teach your children about time periods in a fun, easy manner, these books will meet that need.
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