It’s rare as a UK reviewer to have the opportunity to review actual, real, hold-in-the-hand products, so you can imagine my delight when I was asked to review not one, not two, not even three, but four of my most favourite items in the whole wide world – books! An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time series is brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com. There are seven volumes in this series and include:
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time)
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time)
- If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time)
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time)
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient China: The Han Dynasty (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time)
- If You Were Me and Lived in…the Middle Ages (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time)
- If You Were Me and Lived in…the American West (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time)
This review will focus on the following four titles:
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 1)
- If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 3)
- If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 4)
- If You Were Me and Lived in…the American West (Volume 7)
Our school is based primarily on history, using great literature as our texts. I kind of make it up as I go along (not the history, you understand….just the activities!) and books which spark ideas in me are books I treasure in deed. As I flicked through these books after they arrived on my door step, I just knew I was going to love them.
These are primarily historical non-fiction. They are heavy in text, but it is interesting and highly educational. We have already covered Ancient Greece, Elizabethan England, and the American West in our homeschool, so we used these as revision and a quick look back over the fun we had. I have included a collage of hands on ideas which would go very well with these books.
If You Were Me and Lived in…Ancient Greece
This is such a great book! It basically covered pretty much all of what we had learnt in six months in just one book! It is crying out to be used as a main unit study book. It touches upon almost everything you would want a young student to know about ancient Greece and would be a perfect core text to add both fiction, non fiction, literature of the time and stacks of hands on activities to:
It begins by introducing the reader to where in the world the ancient Greek civilisation was to be found, and then goes on, beginning with the sentence ‘If you were me and lived in Ancient Greece….’
Throughout the book the reader is addressed as the main subject. Sentences such as ‘You would be proud that Greece introduced a system of politics called demokatia’ and ‘Your home usually had an open-air court-yard where you enjoyed the shade of many olive trees’ reels the reader in and helps them to feel very much a part of both the book and the civilisation being studied.
This book mentions so much about the ancient Greek peoples including their homes, beliefs, politics, family life, work life, food, Spartan soldiers, clothes, roles, the agora, the sea faring Greeks, the ancient Olympics as well as references to well known Greek men such as Alexander the Great, Hippocrates and Homer.
If You Were Me and Lived in… Elizabethan England
This time, Gary read the book to the little ones just before bed. I wasn’t sure how well they would listen as the Elizabethan book is quite information rich, and again non fiction. I needn’t have worried though, they were enthralled the whole way through:
The book is, similar to all the books in the series, addressed to you the reader (or in this case the little ones as the listener), which I believe is one of the keys to its success. It helped the girls to see themselves in the picture painted of this time in history. This book covers a similar list of subjects as the Ancient Greek book but obviously, this time, the facts were pertinent to Elizabethan England, and once again, a homeschool mum could very easily use it as a spring board for further study and many hands on activities:
I enjoyed the illustrations much more in this book as they were more detailed and in general gave a much clearer ‘picture’ of how life was back in Elizabethan England. I also liked the detail given when describing certain undesirable traits of Elizabethan London such as:
‘The streets were narrow…….People threw their dirt, garbage and waste out of the window….you could imagine what the trash smelled like when it rotted on the streets’ (Carol R Roman)
I could hear the girls giggling throughout the book with cries of disgust and horror, as they experience the full onslaught of Carol’s imaginative writing 🙂
If You Were Me and Lived in…the American West
All five of the children had covered the American West when we spent a summer learning about The Little House on the Prairie. Again Gary read this one out to the girls and they were won over from the very first sentence, and it brought back some very happy memories for my eight year old:
This was an excellent book, chockablock full of information for its listener to absorb. This time you are a boy who is traveling west to find land that could be worked and a living made. It covers the preparations for the journey and how your parents might be feeling, as well as mentioning historic moments pertinent in America’s history such as The Great Migration of 1843 and The Gold Rush in California.
Again, the book covers things such as clothes you would have worn and food you would have eaten; the chores you would have needed to do to help your family survive; likely problems you would have encountered during your travels west; the Indian tribes you may meet along the way. The last half of the book focuses on you making your home on the other side of the Columbia River and includes information such as building your own house; how you lived day to day; farming the land; getting an education to the growth of a town.
At the end of the book there is a few pages dedicated to some well known people from the American west such as Annie Oakley, Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, Geronimo, Red Cloud, Sacajawea, Wild Bill Hickok and Wyatt Earp.
Again, this book is so information rich it could easily be used as a core text for a unit study about the American West; it would make an excellent spring board for all sorts of hands on activities:
The illustrations of this book were different again from the other two, with drawings which seemed to have been placed over slightly blurred photos of the actual area (?). The photos behind give a feel of real-ness to each illustration, and very much help the reader to imagine themselves there.
If You Were Me and Lived in…Colonial America
This book covers the lives of the settlers who migrated from Europe to American and began small colonies there. We had covered this briefly a few years ago, but apart from a few field trips whilst we were in Ireland we had never focused our studies on the colonists. This book, then, was part revision and part new knowledge for us. And it was, just like the previous three full of interesting information.
It begins by explaining why people from Europe wished to leave, and does a very good job managing the tricky religious atmosphere over the seas at that time. It doesn’t talk too much about the trip over the seas, which for us was fine as we had done a long study on the Tudor explorers who had ‘found’ Plymouth a couple or so years ago. It mainly talks about the life you would have had as a new colonist including the Mayflower Compact, the difficulty of that first year, making your own house, using daub and wattle, the food you would have eaten, the resulting plantation (as the village was known), how hard life would have been, trading with the native Americans, your daily routine, the clothes you would have worn and the chores you would have done, the games you played and the education you may have got. As you can see, it is full of lots of information written in such an interesting way, you won’t even know you are learning 🙂 The pictures are lovely and equally informative and the whole book, much like the others lends itself well to a hands on approach unit study:
We really enjoyed these books, even though we had studied each of the civilisations/ times the books wrote about. Each of the books in the If you were me and lived in ……. series of books by Carol P Roman would be an excellent spring board to a more involved unit study or a stand alone glimpse of all the past has to offer our young historians. I would highly recommend these books.
Connect with Carol:
Good Reads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5854108.Carole_P_Roman
For more reviews about all the volumes in this series click on the banner below: