Tuesday, November 3, 2015

{Review} Our America Series by Susan Kilbride

A few months ago I wrote a review of The Pilgrim Adventure, the first book in the Our America series by Susan Kilbride. Amber absolutely adored the book and couldn't wait to read the remainder of the titles in the series. After all she needed to know how the story would end.

When you have a child who is an avid and quick reader, like Amber, it can be trying to find enough material to keep her busy. And just to add another layer of difficulty, I like to encourage historical fiction related to our current studies. The Our America series has been a perfect fit for us in every aspect.

Unexpected Homeschool Review: Our America Series by Susan Kilbride. A fun way to learn American history.

For the purpose of this review I received the Kindle edition of The Civil War Adventure, the last book in the series. However, I purchased the second through fifth Kindle books of the series for Amber's enjoyment. All of the books in the Our America series are available from multiple book sellers as a paperback in addition to the Kindle format from Amazon. (If you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited, these books are also part of that service!)

The Our America series is designed for children ages 10 through 13 and although Amber is toward the top of this age range, she feels the series is comparable to other books targeted to her age group. Each Our America book is entirely appropriate for a middle school age or upper elementary child.

The Our America series includes the following books:
  • The Pilgrim Adventure
  • King Philip's War Adventure
  • The Salem Adventure
  • The Revolutionary War Adventure
  • The Pioneer Adventure
  • The Civil War Adventure

The series revolves around twins named Finn & Ginny who are searching for their parents who have become lost in time. While each book can be read independently, the overarching plot is more enjoyable if you start with The Pilgrim Adventure and read the books in succession. The books follow the two main characters through different American historical time periods as they seek out clues to their parents' location. There is an element of urgency as the time machine will eventually send them home, with or without their parents.

As she made her way through this series, Amber continued to be amazed at how consistently well written and entertaining the books were. She has read many series where the initial spark of interest is lost somewhere in the middle books. Thankfully, this does not happen in the Our America series!

Unexpected Homeschool Review: Our America Series by Susan Kilbride. A fun way to learn American history.
Totally engrossed.

Although these are fairly quick reads for the older age range, it is still the perfect length to ensure the reader does not loose interest. Additionally, the historical information woven throughout the stories keeps them engaging. Amber loved all the verifiably accurate details that are not commonly included in most history texts. It is quite clear the author made a concerted effort to present history in an entertaining but historically correct fashion.

When questioned, Amber had difficulty selecting her favorite of the six Our America books. Eventually she did settle on The Salem Adventure. Her reasoning for this selection was simple: she liked all the books nearly equally, but did not know as much about the time period in The Salem Adventure. She found it interesting how all manner of ills and bad luck were blamed on witches. The topic actually sparked quite the discussion in our house.

Our discussion then prompted me to look through the free PDFs of hands-on activities for each book provided by the author on her website, Funtastic Unit Studies. We ended up going through a mock-trial as suggested for The Salem Adventure, and some of the emergency bandages for The Civil War Adventure. These activities make it easy to turn each book into a small unit study on the topic. However, given Amber's enthusiasm for the story, I'm not sure I could have contained her long enough for a study of each time period.

Unexpected Homeschool Review: Our America Series by Susan Kilbride. A fun way to learn American history.
She might have had a bit too much fun bandaging me up.

After finishing the series Amber says it still reminds her somewhat of a Magic Tree House book, but for older readers. Amber was bereft when she finished the last book and desperately wants more books in the series, or perhaps a related second series to find out what happens next (hint, hint). Never fear though, the original story line is resolved while new details come forth that leave room for additional books.

The Our America series has been one of the best finds of the year for us. Amber loved the story continued throughout all six books and we both appreciated the fun way of learning more about American history. Whether you are looking for free time reading or the basis for an American history study, the Our America series is a great option.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the review. They sound like really good books and I will definitely be looking into them for next term.