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Outdated and Distorted Perspective of Colonial America
on March 26, 2015
My children and I frequently visit historical sites, watch documentaries, and listen to the Colonial Williamsburg podcasts. In preparation for our next trip, I decided to read aloud "If You Lived in Colonial Times." First of all, it isn't about Colonial Times in the American colonies, but Colonial Times in New England. However, even given the narrowed subject matter, I was surprised by much of the information and how it conflicted with what we'd learned about the colonies from other, more recent, sources. Much of the information in this book reflects outdated ideas and theories about the colonial period. For instance, there were marketplaces in colonial towns, which included vegetable and meat sales. The book explicitly says there were no markets and people made all their own goods. Religion was an important part of some of the colonies there weren't strict rules governing behavior in church nor did meetings last four hours on Sunday's as the book claims. At no point was slavery mentioned, and native Americans were only mentioned in terms of colonists learning about corn from the Indians and planting "in the Indian way." Half way through the book, it occurred to me to check the copyright page. The text copyright is 1964. Illustrations copyright is 1992. The cover says "New and Updated," but I suspect based on the copyright page that only the pictures were changed. The book itself could be a useful starting point if placed in context and elaborated upon, but since it's aimed at younger children (mine are 5 & 8 and listened intently), I'm concerned this book will be taken as fact. It desperately needs a true updating of content, and ideally the title, not just pictures.