Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Massachusetts Colony

The Massachusetts Colony 
(A True Book)
by Kevin Cunningham
Children's Press an imprint of Scholastic, 2012
Library Binding
ISBN: 9780531253915

The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her school library.

This summer I've been on the lookout for nonfiction books about colonial America and the American Revolution. My school district recently completed a curriculum review of our K-12 social studies units, and as a result our fifth grade classes will be learning about the birth of our country next year.

I was pleased to see Scholastic has published a series of True Books about the thirteen colonies.  I purchased The Massachusetts Colony to see if it would meet the needs of my fifth grade students, and I was not disappointed. As with other titles in the True Book series, the author poses true/false questions to readers at the beginning of the book to set the stage for reading.

The book is organized in chronological order beginning with a chapter on the Wampanoag followed by the settling of New Plimoth. Readers will learn about Puritan traditions and beliefs as well as the Salem Witch Trials. In chapters  3 & 4, Cunningham concisely lays out the events that led up to the American Revolution making the information accessible to young readers.

The most appealing aspect of the book is the design. The print is large, and information is chunked into paragraphs with headings. Portraits and paintings from the 1600s and 1700s illustrate major events such as the Boston Massacre and the Battle of Bunker Hill. Because of the time period, only one photograph is used (a photo of a Wampanoag longhouse). Captions provide readers with additional information, and the timeline focuses on five important events.

This is not a book that most children will check out for pleasure reading, but it is an excellent resource for providing an overview of colonial Massachusetts for elementary social studies classes and for students researching the American colonies.

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