Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
Several months ago, some friends of ours borrowed a large box full of books from us. A week later, their house was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Everything in it was destroyed. We had some money in the bank in America, so we decided to replace the books that had been burned, and buy some more. A number of the books that were destroyed were from the Christian Heroes: Then and Now series, by Janet &Geoff Benge. For about 15 years, I have been collecting these books, buying them wherever I can find them used. We decided that since we needed to replace several of them anyway, we would splurge and buy the entire set, as well as the Heroes of History series by the same authors. What an exciting day when a box of 80 books arrived here! (Each stack in the photo is five books!) We’re all looking forward to reading the ones we haven’t read before.
Not too long ago, I was offered the opportunity to to review one of these books and a study guide that the publisher has produced to go with it. Because I’ve been curious about the study guides for a long time, but didn’t want to spend the money to buy one because I wasn’t sure if we would use it, I signed up for the review. Of the books offered, there were three that were possibilities, ones that we hadn’t reviewed yet, and that were not loaned out. I let my three school children vote on those, and they chose Corrie Ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels’ Den. We read through this book for morning history time, and used the discussion questions for each chapter from the study guide to talk about what we have just read each morning. All three children were eager to hear more each day, although it may have been almost too much for my seven-year-old daughter. One morning she told me she had dreamed about being in prison!
Chapter 2 of this book tells the story of Corrie’s life up to the beginning of World War II. There are 15 chapters in the book and, except for the last chapter, the rest of the book tells the story of the Ten Boom family during World War II. The last chapter tells about how Corrie travelled around the world sharing her message of love and forgiveness for the rest of her life after the war. Basically, the contents of this book are almost the same as The Hiding Place, although there were a few things added in. I appreciate the way these authors tell the story of a persons’ life.
As far as the study guide goes, most of it doesn’t work very well for us. There is a section of key Bible verses which are good to read together and discuss how they apply to Corrie’s life. Suggestions are made to form a display corner with a long list of things you could put in it about the Netherlands and Corrie’s life. We don’t have room in our house for something like that so we didn’t even consider doing it. The chapter questions are what we used the most in the study guide. As I said before, after reading the chapter we used the questions to discuss various aspects of the story. Then there are suggestions for essay questions to help older children think more deeply about the story, creative writing suggestions, hands-on projects, audiovisual projects, and some arts and crafts that children can do to go along with the story. There is a chapter that gives suggestions for field trips or people that you can talk to to add to the study. Another chapter suggests map activities and vocabulary studies. More miscellaneous activities are suggested in another chapter and then the appendix has suggestions of books and resources to go along with this book interest. Interestingly, we had just started watching the movie The Hiding Place when we were assigned to this review; because we don’t spend a lot of time watching movies it took us a few weeks to get through it. Watching that along with reading this book made both more meaningful to the younger children. The study guide comes as a PDF download. I printed it and made a cover, so that it would be easy to use.
If you are wanting biographies for your children, I highly recommend Janet and Geoff Benge’s books. These are the best children’s biographies I have ever found. They’re accurate and interesting. Our entire family, from Gayle down to Little Miss, who is seven, enjoys listening to these books, either when I read them aloud or when we listen to an audiobook of one. As far as the study guides I’m not sure I will be interested in using any more, simply because that type of study doesn’t work very well for me personally. I’m glad I have had the chance to look at it, and I know it will be a good fit for a lot of families, especially those with high school children that are academically inclined. There are lesson plans and a schedule for using it as a group that meets periodically, so if you have a homeschool co-op it would be a good way to study the book together.
WARNING (things to consider when thinking about letting children read the book): The Germans mistreated people in chapter 7, 8, 11 and 12. Corrie’s sister died in Chapter 13.
Click the image below to read other families’ reviews of this and other books by the Benges!