Heroes of History Biographies from YWAM Publishing: Theodore Roosevelt (a Schoolhouse Crew Review)

I love to read good biographies with my children. Good biographies aren't dry and dusty and boring. Good biographies make the characters come alive so that readers see them for the real people that they were (or are).

We've been thoroughly impressed with the selection of biographies we've found from YWAM Publishing- some we've reviewed and some we've just read on our own-, and we were glad to have the opportunity to review for them again. This time we reviewed Heroes of History- Theodore Roosevelt. We also received the Digital Unit Study Guide for the book. This is a downloadable unit study to accompany the book.

YWAM Publishing biographies
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YWAM Publishing

YWAM Publishing offers a variety of Christian books- fiction, books about missions, audiobooks, Christian living books, and more. They are well known for their children's biography series which include the Christian Heroes Then and Now series, Heroes of History series, Heroes for Young Readers and Heroes of History for Young Readers. Many books in the biographies series also have accompanying study guides.

YWAM Publishing focuses on providing books that will strengthen Christians and help them to make a difference in the world. Many of their books focus on missions and evangelism. When you purchase through YWAM Publishing- a nonprofit organization- a portion of the proceeds goes to benefit missions in countries around the world.

Heroes of History- Theodore Roosevelt

I read aloud the biography of Theodore Roosevelt to Ashlyne and Rachel- ages 10 and 12. The biographies are generally recommended for ages 10+, while the Young Readers series is recommended for ages 5-10. Although Ashlyne and Rachel could both read the regular biographies independently, I love to read biographies aloud.

Theodore Roosevelt was a good choice for us because we've been covering American history this year. Having discussed Theodore Roosevelt when we covered his time period in history, it was especially interesting to learn a little more about him in this biography.

True biographies

As always, we loved this YWAM biography. I learned as much as the girls- which is why I love reading biographies aloud. I was never aware of much of Theodore Roosevelt's early life, and, while I had read that he wasn't always in good health, I didn't know how much asthma affected him as a small child and how hard he worked to overcome that.

It was also interesting to read about how the Civil War affected Roosevelt's life. Because his presidency is some time after, I've not ever really thought about the fact that the war had impacted his life as well. He grew up in New York, and his father's family were all Union supporters. But his mother was from the South, and her brothers actually fought for the Confederacy.

Downloadable Unit Study

In the past, we've received CD versions of the accompanying unit study guides for the biographies that we read. My newer computer doesn't have a CD ROM drive, so I was glad to receive a downloadable version this time.

Homeschooling curriculum

The unit study guides are able to be adapted to use with multiple ages. Although the books are recommended for ages 10+, I would probably read them aloud to younger students. The study guides, though, would probably work best for upper elementary and middle school. They could be adapted for younger and older if you're using them with the whole family.

The downloadable content includes a brief overview of Theodore Roosevelt's life, links to some bonus content, ideas for using the guide in a classroom, small group, or homeschool, and a two part unit study guide. Part one of the guide includes the bulk of the content while part two contains printable pages.

Historical biographies

Part one of the study guide contains enough material to make a complete unit study using the biography as a spine. It contains:

  • Key quotes from the book
  • Ideas for creating a display area to feature items collected or created during the study
  • Questions and answers for each chapter
  • A selection of student explorations that children can choose from such as essay questions to write about, arts and crafts projects, creative writing activities, audio/visual activities, and other hands-on activities
  • Community links which suggest various sites you might have in your local area that will give students a glimpse into a part of Roosevelt's life- visitng a modern cowboy to learn the difference between his life and Teddy's; talking with an elected official; visiting a zoo or aquarium to learn more about animal life and conserving it (a passion of Teddy's); and others
  • A social studies focus section that includes activities such as finding and identifying the places mentioned in the biography, creating a timeline of Teddy's life, learning vocabulary from the biography, and discussing questions related to the biography
  • An awesome chart (because I'm a visual person) that shows a variety of topics from various disciplines that will all relate to the time period of Teddy Roosevelt
  • Suggestions for a grand culminating event to finish up your unit study
  • An appendix of suggested books and resources 
American history biographies

The second part of the sutdy guide includes all of the printables that go along with the social studies activities in the book.

Christian heroes

Because we've primarily read the Christian Heroes Then and Now series, I hadn't spent much time looking at the Heroes of History study guides until I received this one. In the suggested uses for homeschool, there is a great section on how to use these books to make a core American history curriculum. I love that idea. We've covered American history this year, but my girls would have loved it so much more if we had used all YWAM biographies as our core! I plan to revisit American history before they are in high school and use these biographies as a core curriculum. Reading these, using the unit study guides, and incorporating some of the additional books and suggested resources would make a very complete curriculum.

True biographies

Our use and opinions

I read aloud the book to Ashlyne and Rachel as an accompaniment to our history time. I read a chapter or two each time, and then we would often discuss what we read. I didn't use the complete unit study guide this time around. I used it primarily for answering the questions about the chapters as we read. I also used it as a jumping off point for some discussion about the book. This time I didn't print the entire guide but read it off of my computer. Only printing pages we need as we come to them- like those in the printables section- saves paper and ink.

We loved this biography as we have loved all of the YWAM biographies. They are easy to read, and, although any biography is relating the details of a life, these biographies do it in a way that tells a story. It's not just a dull recitation of facts. I've read some biographies that are. These biographies are told like stories- very interesting stories of a person's life.

I also like the fact that the YWAM biographies don't gloss over the facts. When a person makes bad decisions, the facts are laid out there. People aren't perfect. We are all fallen and sinful. And when we read these biographies we see that. But we also see God at work. All of this makes for some great discussion, and that's why I love to read them aloud.

Although we didn't use the study guide in depth this time, I love having it as an extra resource. And I do love the idea of using the study guides as full unit studies to make a complete American history curriculum. (Just as a note: I realized when I read the information about an American history curriculum that you could do a complete countries and cultures unit study with the missionary biographies. We used them as supplemental reading the year we did geography, but with the study guides, you could easily use them to make a complete curriculum.)

We definitely love and recommend YWAM Publishing's biographies and unit study guides. You can see what other Crew members thought about this biography and others by clicking below.

Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}

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