My husband came to me one day to tell me about this book he had seen in an email. “It looks great for the boys,” he told me. Little did he know the book was already on my wishlist. You just know it’s going to be a good fit for your family when both parents think it’s a good choice. When I was asked to review the very same book I will admit, I squealed with joy. It was meant to be.
Why was I so excited about this book? Well, I had been on the hunt for a collection of short biographies suitable for my boys (aged 2 and 4). Charlotte Mason talks about sharing stories of heroes with young children to introduce them to history and to develop good citizens. Hero stories teach them to value what is good. Similar to Fairy Tales, they help children develop a “moral imagination.”
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls was recently released and, while I think boys should definitely hear stories about heroic women, I knew my 4 year old would not cope with a book written “for girls.” (This is simply because he is incredibly literal, not because he subscribes to stereotypes.) I also didn’t want to neglect the male heroes, given I do have boys. What I really wanted was a book that incorporated both and was aimed at younger children. I couldn’t find one that I liked. Then “Everyone A Child Should Know” was released and I knew I had found the perfect book.
Everyone A Child Should Know, written by Clare Heath-Whyte and illustrated by Jenny Brake.
The first thing I noticed about this book was how good it feels in my hand. I opened the parcel expecting a large, unwieldy book, but really it’s quite small and compact. I love that I can hold it in one hand to read. It has a lovely, thick hardback and even has a ribbon which is pretty handy and gives the book a luxurious quality. The pictures are lovely – simple and yet full of detail. They’re not realistic, yet still recognisable enough. My 4yo was able to point out a few that he knew.
The biographies are sorted alphabetically but they are dated so you could read them chronologically if you wanted to. There is a good mix of men and women but unfortunately only a few minority figures. There are 52 so you can read one per week. We have read a few already, but next year we will read through the whole book as part of our Morning Time.
Most importantly, every person we meet is a “hero of the faith.” Clare Heath-Whyte explicitly draws out their friendship with Jesus and what this meant for each of our heroes. Rembrandt (who we have recently seen in exhibition!) “showed that Jesus is a real person.” T.C. Studd “knew that being Jesus’ friend was better than fame, fortune and even cricket!” (That one’s for my husband).
The biographies are conversational in style and read similar to a child’s devotional book. They ask questions to introduce each hero and often conclude with a question or point of application. Each one also has a corresponding Bible verse. They are aimed at young children and would be perfect for 2-5 year-olds, although 6-7 year-olds would probably enjoy it too, depending on the child. The language and detail is quite simple and definitely written with young children in mind. The biographies are not painful to read though, unlike some books aimed at young children. We have a children’s Bible that doesn’t have a sentence longer than 6 words! That is horrible to read aloud. These biographies are written to be read aloud and are quite easy to do so.
I also received the corresponding Memory Cards which are simply gorgeous. They have a picture on one side and the name, date and very brief summary (just a few words) on the other and come in a handy box. Since my son is quite a fan of card games, he absolutely loves these! I am not quite sure how we will use them yet. I would like to come up with some sort of game, rather than just as reminders. So far he has just browsed through them and put them through the card shuffler many, many times. (It’s new, and a novelty.)
I would say that this book would definitely make a worthwhile addition to any family morning time, devotional or bedtime story collection. It would be an excellent choice for a preschool or kindergarten (homeschool or school) history curriculum, where the emphasis is on people rather than events. We will be using the book next year, during AO1, although I would recommend it primarily for AO0/0.5.
You can (and should!) buy this book from The Wandering Bookseller. This is an Australian homeschooling family’s business and I highly recommend supporting them.
I received this product for free in return for providing my honest and unbiased review. All opinions truly are my own, including my support of the Wandering Bookseller.