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4.5 out of 5 stars13
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on April 29, 2003
I read this book to my two boys, ages 5 and 9. They enjoyed learning about such a great man. Of course, we unlike many Americans, knew something about Roger Williams before we read this book. We are descendents of his, through his son, Daniel. I was very proud to read about such a great man, who did the courageous things that he did at the time that he did them and to be able to call him Grandfather, was a treasured moment. Thank you to the Author for writing the book. What most people do not know is that Freedom of Religion and Separation of Church and State were ideas that he was the first to fight for in America. So whether you are Baptist, Catholic, Muslim or Buddhist, you should Know that the men who wrote the American Constitution, got some of their ideas from a man who lived 150 years before their time; and that he fought for you to be able to worship as you choose.
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on June 11, 2011
I very much appreciate the other reviewers who are Roger Williams' descendants and wrote here. With all due respect to them, I feel this account of Roger Williams is slightly biased, which is why I only gave it four stars.

To be sure, my early elementary kids enjoyed it. It is a great story, and it fits in very well with the other I Can Read Books on early American history. It is also one of the only ones that address the 1600s. At face value, it deserves at least four stars, so that's what I gave it.

But as an adult, I felt there was some co-opting going on. I am very sensitive to revisionism, and the book came across as very judgmental against the Puritans. There were Puritan elements that warrant criticism, but the court scene with Roger Williams in the beginning and the dialogue that likened them to the British was too harsh. It came across as though the Puritans were the bad guys, very similar to Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" or even the Pharisees in the Bible. I could almost hear the crowd calling out, "Crucify him! Crucify him!" Perhaps this is exactly what the author intended.

I don't think that is appropriate for a first reader. A more balanced approach would have presented the case more matter of factly. And given due respect to the Puritan heritage of the country in contrast to the religious oppression in Europe. Some of the I Can Reads do this very well when talking about the British during the American Revolution, for example (even though we of course still side with the Americans in the end). But there was not even one sentence in this book that explained why the Puritans thought Roger Williams was wrong. There was just a nameless faceless crowd that came across as emotional and irrational.

I also think while Roger William's relationship with the Indians was special, it too came across as jumping on the "Puritans were bad" bandwagon. It made it seem like all Puritans were hated by Native Americans and Roger Williams alone understood them. But throughout history, Americans of all kinds won favor with the Indians and advocated gentleness with them. Even though relations were often strained, historic persona should be held to account on a case-by-case basis, not maligned as a group.

So I suspect there has been some "liberal adoptionism" with this book. To those who know their Roger Williams history very well, there is good reason to differentiate him from the traditional Puritan stream. But for most people picking up this book, especially if they are not Protestant, the tone is somewhat dangerous. It encourages people to disrespect our Puritan heritage. Roger Williams is part of the early Protestant heritage of our country---not altogether different from the Puritans in comparison to the streams of thought we have available to us today. To put "I just want everyone to think for themselves" in Roger Williams' mouth is rather over the top... that is the mantra of secularism today, and it will be read that way, not in the way that Williams meant it in contrast to a particular Puritan doctrine.

Of course we can have these discussions with our kids later on, but it is a bit too loaded for the first or second grader who is going to read this book. To allow an author to promote Roger Williams in this way, and to jump on the "Puritans were evil" and "Indians were saints" bandwagons is not ultimately helpful to the Protestant cause today.

Still totally worth the read, though. Glad they even publish old stories like these anymore.
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on April 18, 2004
I was elated to find this book, have purchased 10 copies to date for children, cousins, etc. As a 13th generation direct descendent of Roger Williams daughter Mary (later married John Sayles) who tells the simple yet historically correct and fascinating story of her father's banishment from Mass. and how they ended up "founding Rhode Island." This is simple to read for children and interesting for adults alike. I would like to recommend this for all school age children interested in learning more about our American heritage.
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on February 22, 2013
This book provides excellent background to Roger Williams and the foundation for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution concerning freedom of religion, and the prevention of government from imposing a certain kind of religion.

It tells the true story of the banning of Roger Williams, a well-respected minister, from Massachusetts Colony because he preached that government had no right to tell people how they are to worship God. Williams spent one of the coldest winters in New England history living in the wilderness, surviving only with the help of the Native Americans. He then went south and eventually founded Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, established a successful trading relationship with the Narragansetts and other tribes, and founded the American Baptist Church. his writings influenced Thomas Jefferson and were used in formulating the Bill of Rights that includes the First Amendment.

There are several other good books about Roger Williams for adults. I would recommend reading them all to understand this complex man and this complex issue of separation of church and state.

"Finding Providence" tells a compelling story about personal struggle and overcoming obstacles set up by well-meaning fellow human beings when defending a moral principle. This book should be in every child's library, to be read and re-read.
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on November 14, 2014
I really enjoyed this book. It seems that life was different then and I believe part of the difference is because Roger Williams stood up for what he believed. We all see life through our own lenses and I loaned this book to my younger family members to read. I have read three other books about him that go much deeper into his background and things he did and why. This author has captured the adventure and essence of the period in a manner that is easy for young readers. I may be biased about the guy since he is my 10th great grandfather. I'm quite a radical person. I only wonder if it comes through the blood line. I wish that I had the other great qualities that this man had. Every story is a perspective and this one is exceptional since he actually continued friends with the group that tossed him out and friends with those who others looked on as savages. Great "values by example" book besides being historical.
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on December 5, 2015
I used this book as a read-aloud while teaching RI History with a homeschool co-op. My students were grades 3-6. It was a pleasure not only reading this with them but also watching their faces hanging on every word. This little book is a great living book for inclusion when studying Roger Williams and/or RI History.
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on October 11, 2014
Thank you for finding this out of print book- my grandson was looking for an historical figure for school and this sounded perfect, plus it is an important story of our country's past for anyone to learn. Amazon kept me informed about the shipping since it took a few weeks, but it arrived safe and sound and when promised.
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on October 23, 2012
Roger Williams was a preacher in the 1600s. He went to trial for preaching about freedomn. He was going to be arrested but one of his friends told him to go away so he wouldn't be arrested. He ran away to the Indians who treated him well. One of the Indians goes and tells Williams' family to come and live with him.
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on July 12, 2007
I am very impressed with the detail of this book. 2nd - 4th graders are introduced to the Puritans' struggle for religious freedom and their tendency to fall back to old patterns of persecution. Roger Williams and his family are portrayed as the real people they were, making it easy for the ready the empathize. However, the books ends with the comment that the separation of church and state has been secured by our constitution, which is untrue. The separation of church and state is an idea that came through a court decision years after the constitution was ratified.
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on September 21, 2006
This is an adventurous book, and it is a true story. I learned that the man who founded Providence is named Roger Williams. It was nice for the kids that it was told from his daughter's point of view. I gave the book three stars because the people in the pictures were stiff and not real looking. I would recommend this book for someone who likes history.
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