I love to incorporate biographies into our history studies so that we can get a real feel for the time period we are studying. However, most biographies do not catch my little busy boy’s attention very well. Often times, biographies tend to be well….dry. I’ve been searching for great biography resources and have often seen this series so when I received the opportunity to review a biography from YWAM Publishing, I was excited. I chose to review Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side from the Heroes of History Series. For this review, I received the physical book and the curriculum study guide on CD to go along with it.
About the Publisher
YWAM (Youth with a Mission) Publishing is a unique company. They are non-profit and are completely focused on helping to evangelize the world. The have volunteers all over the world helping with their mission. They are committed to providing quality literature to help educate, evangelize and encourage. With every purchase, a portion of the money goes to assist adults and children in need in various countries. Be sure to read all about YWAM here.
(Ronald Reagan: Destiny at His Side is actually published by Emerald Books who works with YWAM.) You can view a chronological guide of the Heroes of History series here.
Format: paperback (other formats available: ebook, Nook, Kindle, MP3 download and audio CD)
Ages: 10+ (Although we used this as a family read aloud and my 8 year old LOVED it!)
The book begins with Ronald, who was called “Dutch”, as a young boy. He was the son of an alcoholic father who often lost his job as a result of his addiction. This caused the family to have to move around a lot. Dutch enjoyed playing outside, playing football and collecting things. As he grew, he enjoyed spending time at the local movie theater and spent some time in politics at his high school. Little did he know then, how his life was being shaped. Dutch earned his own way to pay for college, being the first in his family to attend.
While he was attending Eureka College, the school organized a boycott in hopes to get the president to resign. Dutch was asked to give the speeches to rally supporters. He had been in several plays during school but this time, he loved the connection and power he felt as he spoke to a huge audience. Again, his life was being shaped.
The book continues through Dutch’s radio broadcasting, military service and movie career. At the start of his Hollywood days, the publicity crew decided that “Dutch Reagan” was not a good name and debated alternatives. Finally, they decided they needed an “R” name because that would sound good and there wasn’t any stars for awhile with an “R” name. Dutch suggest “Ronald” or “Ron” and so he was able to start his career using his own given name.
During his life, Reagan was always interested in politics. He was also a man of integrity. He grew up in a time where he was friends with black children and could not imagine discrimination that was going on in the Southern states. Later, he even cancelled his membership to a country club when the club would not extend membership to Reagan’s Jewish friend. Ronald grew up and supported the Democratic party; however, his values were those of what became the Republican party. He often said that he did not desert the Democratic party, that it deserted him. Even though he was working in television, he often followed politics and was friends with Senator Goldwater who decided to run for President. Reagan supported Goldwater in his political efforts and when his friend was caught up in an “emotional” election surrounding nuclear war rumors and Communism, Reagan brushed off his speech-giving skills and on October 27, 1964, he delivered a speech to millions of American via television and live audience titled, “A Time for Choosing.” Goldwater did not get elected but Reagan’s speech captured the interest of the Republican party.
Reagan began his political career as governor. During the campaign he was attacked by the opponent verbally who thought Reagan was not qualified since he was an actor and that he only read scripts of speeches that others wrote for him. Reagan decided to throw away the speeches, speak from the heart, make direct eye contact and do a lot of question and answer opportunities. This should him as honest, forthright and trustworthy which allowed him to win by a landslide.
He campaigned with the Republican party to support other presidential candidates and then decided to run himself. On July 17, 1980, Reagan gave his speech, “Together…A New Beginning” and won the nomination for the Republican party. The beginning of that speech reads:
“More than anything else, I want my candidacy to unify our country; to renew the American spirit and sense of purpose. I want to carry our message to every American, regardless of party affiliation, who is a member of this community of shared values.”
We all know that Reagan won the election and became the fortieth President of the United States.
The Study Guide
The study guide contains the following chapters:
- Key Quotes – this contains quotes from Reagan and other famous people. We used them for copywork for handwriting. Our favorite is “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction.” by Reagan.
- Display Corner – I love this idea! We usually do lapbooks but this idea is to make a small display table, like you sometimes see in libraries. There’s a whole list of ideas of what to include.
- Chapter Questions – there are six questions for each chapter to ensure comprehension and have some great discussions.
- Student Explorations – there are various activities that students can choose from and there’s something for every learning style!
- Community Links – these are suggestions of field trips or speakers that would enhance what we’ve read about Reagan’s life.
- Social Studies – this section is broken down further into places, terms/vocabulary, geographical characteristics, timeline, and conceptual questions.
- Related Themes to Explore – there are more suggestions given here to make this a complete unit study including history, current events, math, geography, science and literature.
- Culminating Event – this is an idea for wrapping up the unit study by hosting an event
- Appendix A: Books and Resources – here’s a list of not only more books about Reagan but also related books, other Heroes of History books, movies, documentaries, audio CDs, articles and relevant internet sites.
- Appendix B: Answers to Chapter Questions – for chapter 3
- Appendix C: Social Studies Reproducibles – maps, timeline, fact sheet
I am THRILLED to have found a biography series that not only I approve for its content but that my children also enjoy hearing/reading. We cannot wait to read more from this series!!