on September 23, 2008
This series, Childhood of Famous Americans, is great for fictionalized biographies of noteworthy people and role models. The places and names of people seem biographical; many situations in the books are probably not.
We like this series very well.
The Frederick Douglass book was probably more biographical than most. Douglass wrote two autobiographies, and I'm certain many of the accounts in the book are nonfiction.
This book conveys values and choices that children would do well to adopt. It emphasizes strong will, unfailing hope, determination, and self-respect. Excellent.
I read the story out loud to my kids. I found myself editing the book for two reasons. The first is that the dialog is punctuated with the exclamation, "Lord!"... and we try to keep our children from saying that. The second is the violence throughout. I think the violence is historically accurate, but very intense for early readers. The beatings, the physical attacks, and always the threat of whippings and even death were very uncomfortable; some of the illustrations reflect a violence that I was unwilling to show my kids at this early age.
We read through it, and our takeaways were very good. In the end, God used all those horrible, sad things that happened to Frederick in order to build him into a man of courage and strength, a man confident enough to advise the President of the United States, and a man who achieved his lifelong dream of freedom for himself and all Americans.
I recommend this book for more advanced readers, or maybe kids who have had more exposure to situations of human peril. It was excellent, but as a parent, you will be the best judge of whether your kids are ready for this level of intensity.