From YWAM: The Biography of C.S. Lewis Book and Study Guide (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

I have always enjoyed reading biographies. And, as a homeschool mom, I quickly realized the great value in reading biographies with my children. A biography can encourage readers and can model strength, bravery, courage, and many other positive values. A few years ago, I discovered the biographies available through YWAM Publishing.  This publisher offers many, many biographies written for children. Their Hero biographies include Heroes of History and Christian Heroes Then and Now.  I previously had the opportunity to review the biography of Jim Elliot along with the study guide that corresponds with the book. And over the past year, I’ve read quite a few missionary biographies from YWAM with my younger girls as we’ve studied geography.

Christian Heroes Then and Now biography

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For this Crew review, we had the opportunity to read and review C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller along with the Unit Study Curriculum Guide that corresponds with the book. This book, one of the Christian Heroes Then and Now series is recommended for ages 10 and up. I read it aloud to Ashlyne- age 11- and Rachel- age 10- because I really enjoy reading biographies aloud. They provide so many good opportunities for discussion as we explore the lives of well-known people and the choices and decisions they made. As an aside, although the biographies are recommended for age 10 and up and the reading level is one that many upper elementary students and older could handle, the books are just as interesting to me as an adult. There are also young reader versions of many of the YWAM biographies.

We received a physical paperback book and a CD with digital content. On the website you can purchase the book for $7.50 and the unit study guide for $7.49. The book is also available as an e-book or audio book. Samples of both the book and the unit study are available as well.

Christian Heroes Then and Now biographyThe biography relates the story of C.S, Lewis’ life from his birth- I never knew that he was born in Ireland!- through his years as an atheist, denying the existence of God and to his conversion when he came to accept that God was real and present and to see a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The book relates Jack’s (Lewis’ nickname) relationship with J.R.R. Tolkien. This was interesting to the girls because we’re all familiar with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series. It also follows Jack into adulthood and through the publication of his fiction and nonfiction books.

One thing I’ve appreciated about the YWAM biographies is that they don’t gloss over hard things or over character issues that the subject had. There is not detail of bad things given, but there isn’t always a glowing rosy picture of the person of whom the biography is about. Lewis’ aversion to Christianity isn’t skipped over. We had the opportunity to discuss why Lewis felt the way he did as we read through. World War 1 and 2 are also not just skimmed over. There is no great detail of the horrors of war, but we learned of the effect that the war had on Lewis physically and mentally, and we learned that Lewis’ brother never really recovered from the effects of war and had much difficulty dealing with the emotional trauma caused by the wars. Because we read about it, we had the opportunity to discuss the effects of war on those who lived through the world wars. This discussion of difficult topics is one reason I love to read aloud and why biographies are so interesting to me

Our favorite C.S. Lewis books and the ones that are usually most popular with children are the Chronicles of Narnia. It was so very interesting to read about the life of C.S. Lewis and to see how many things from his life that he wove into his stories. The large attic of his childhood home, a boy’s sadness over his mother’s sickness, the horrors of boarding school, the effects of war on the children of London- all of these and more are elements of Lewis’ life that show up in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Christian Heroes Then and Now biography

Besides the biography, we also received the Unit Study Curriculum Guide. This guide comes in CD form. On the CD are a variety of resources. There are links to other YWAM resources, more information about C.S. Lewis, a Meet the Authors section that introduces the authors of the YWAM Christian Heroes Then and Now Series- Janet and Geoff Benge, and a unit study guide. The unit study itself consists of an overview/introduction file with suggestions for using the unit study for teaching as you’re reading the book and two PDF files- one that contains instructions and ideas for extending the learning and one that contains printable pages that are used by the student in the unit study.

Christian Heroes Then and Now biography

The overview also has an awesome resource that might not be recognized right away but which I was thrilled when I found.There is a listing of all of the YWAM biographies with the time period and geographical region related to the book listed. I found that using these biographies last year as we studied geography was great. As we studied a geographic area, we would read about a missionary who lived and worked in that area. Not only did we learn about the person, we learned much more about the culture and people groups of the area because we were reading it in context. Using the chart in the overview of the unit study guide, I can choose biographies that correspond with a historical time period we’re studying or with a geographical area we’re learning about.

The first part of the unit study guide contains key Bible verses; suggestions for setting up a display that features items pertaining to the person being studied; chapter questions, hands-on activity suggestions; community links that offer suggestions of field trips or community involvement in learning; a social studies section that has vocabulary; mapping, and questions; a very handy visual web that explores themes from the life of C.S. Lewis that off suggestions for further exploration and learning; and ideas for a final event to demonstrate all that’s been learned in the unit study. The second part of the unit has three printable pages- a fact sheet about the United Kingdom, a map of the United Kingdom, and a map or Europe.

Christian Heroes Then and Now biography

I chose not to use the unit study guide as a complete unit study. I do believe that you could truly use this to build the majority of your curriculum around the biography you’re reading. It’s easy to see how this could make up a year of study if you chose several biographies to work through and used the suggestions in the unit study guide to build your entire unit. You could cover literature, history, Bible, and science easily. I was using the book and guide as a literature unit instead. So I chose some of the activities to do, but I didn’t build a complete unit study.

I printed one copy of the main portion of the guide and placed it in a notebook so that I could easily flip back and forth to find activities and read the questions or Bible verses. I printed two copies of the maps and United Kingdom fact sheet so that both girls could have one.

Christian Heroes Then and Now biography

One of the activities that we did throughout our reading was to keep a timeline of the events of Lewis’s life. The unit study guide suggested the timeline, so I printed out a blank timeline, and we filled it out with the life events as we went along.

Christian Heroes Then and Now biography

We also used the United Kingdom and Europe map work to label important places from Lewis’ life such as Ireland where he was born, Oxford where he taught, and Germany which was heavily involved in the World Wars.

We answered the chapter questions orally as we went along as well. The questions were a good mix of factual questions and thinking questions. We answered them orally, but you could easily have kids keep a literature notebook and write the answers.

We have thoroughly enjoyed C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller, and I appreciate the unit study guide that helps me extend the reading with questions and activities. I’m sure we’ll be reading many more YWAM biographies. I think all of them are on my curricula wishlist!

The Facts:

PublisherYWAM Publishing
Book C.S. Lewis: Master Storyteller and digital Unit Study Curriculum Guide
Recommended Age- 10 and up

Crew Disclaimer

Other Review Crew members had the opportunity to review this as well as other biographies from YWAM. You can see what they thought by clicking below.

YWAM Publishing Review

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