Founders of Freedom

Book cover: 'Founders of Freedom'
Sister M. Benedict Joseph SNJM
Neumann Press
The Land of Our Lady
Sewn Hardcover
Number of pages: 
296 pages
Grade / Age level: 
Resource Type: 

This first volume in the Catholic American history program, Land of Our Lady, is intended for the fourth grade. It overviews history from Creation to just before Columbus' voyage in 1492. The focus is mostly on Western History - Europe and the Middle East - but Ancient China is also touched upon. Emphasis is placed on the origins of democracy and people in history who were instrumental in its development in various forms (as a preparation for the study of American History - this year's text develops the "background"). The text is very Catholic with a great deal of attention given to Saints who had a role in history and the Catholic Church's influence on civilization. Also included between each Unit are a Marian hymn (with a black and white illustration of Our Lady) and the history of the hymn. While some more controversial issues such as the Inquisition aren't covered (which is reasonable for a 4th grade text), I was happy to see the author point out some of the good and bad of events such as the Crusades. This balanced presentation of history is more helpful for students who have to prepare themselves to defend their Faith in the future.

The text is readable and interesting (although do keep in mind that I LOVE history), but still rather textbookish. Because it is an overview, many topics are covered rather briefly and the "stories" of history aren't present. There are a rather large quantity of written problems, activities and other reviews designed to reinforce the ideas in the text. I would be inclined to only use some of the written problems and instead supplement with some "living books" (stories from History), such as those listed on our Timeline of Good History Reading.

I did notice a few small errors (as is common in textbooks).

First, the term Oro et Laboro which means literally means "I pray and I work", is interpreted as "To work is to pray" which I think is not only a mistranslation, but a misunderstanding of the rule of St. Benedict.

Second, on page 205, a photo of Neuschwanstein Castle (from Germany),which was built in the 1800s, is labeled "a medieval castle". (No, I'm not an expert on castles - our family put together a 1000piece puzzle of this castle last year!).

Some brief references to the Latin Mass (as a universal institution) and Communism are slightly outdated. Overall, I thought it to be quite a good text and I'm looking forward to reading the next volume.

Additional notes: 

This book was donated for review by Neumann Press

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