Friday, March 16, 2007

A Sterling Series of Biographies

Sterling Books sent me a whole boxful of their biography series, and I am so impressed at the variety of subjects covered and the approach taken. I read Franklin D. Roosevelt: A National Hero from the Sterling Biographies series (click the link for a more complete list of the titles offered). Since I am interested in the Great Depression, I have wondered what his role was in it. The information easily supplemented any knowledge that I had, but also thoroughly covered his early years, the start of his political career, his disability (which I assumed was from birth and I learned otherwise), and his politics. At first the format of the book reminded me of a textbook, and was not so appealing because of this. However, a young person reading this book does not likely have that aversion to history texts, which began for me in my seventh grade Texas History class and continued through my eleventh grade American History class. Only when my history classes included the reading of real books, in college, did I find it interesting. That said, the things that made this book feel like a textbook to me, are the very things that probably make it more digestible for an eight to twelve year old reader, such as well-captioned photos, sidebars of additional information, and emboldened words that are included in a glossary. This format, as well as an easy tone, made this book interesting to begin and to follow and understand. However, the depth is wide enough to cause me to feel as if I really know about FDR. I did find the information I was looking for, including the hows and whys of all of the depression era programs, his wealthy upbringing, and the role of his disability in his political career. I also got a taste of his wife's support and her own social views, but soon I am going to read the Sterling Biography devoted to her, Eleanor Roosevelt: A Courageous Spirit, to get the rest of the story.

Sterling Point Books are another series. Some are biographies, but some tell of a specific event, and they are told in more of a straight narrative (without pictures or sidebars). These books are aimed at a slightly older audience. The variety here is vast. I have begun reading Amelia Earhart: Flying Solo, and it's nicely told so far. The titles here include everything from a pilot Behind Enemy Lines, to Benjamin Franklin: Inventing America, to the Barbary Pirates, to Alexander the Great (To explore these titles and more, click the link above). Camden, an eight-year-old Second Grader, gave me this report on Invasion: The Story of D-Day. I'm enjoying the book, because lots of exciting things are going on. So far it seems like the Allies are winning. I also like it because I'm learning a lot about something I didn't know much about before. It was confusing for a while but now I understand what's going on. I would recommend this book to someone who's interested in wars from history. I like the fact that he was drawn to this particular book, when given a choice of many, but I especially like the follow-up information that his mother gave me. It seems that he orchestrated a little re-enactment on the playground at school one day. Isn't that one of the wonderful things about books? To take the information gleaned from them and springboard into life?

1 comment:

Joyful Days said...

These sound like they might work for us. I think you are right about the textbook feel possibly being appropriate for that age group.

I was so uninterested in historical books until I had my kids. Now I love biographies and have been moving through historical fiction with enjoyment.
Amazing what I have missed. Better late than never.