Books We Read: The Mayflower! … and Galileo

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This week, we looked at the colonization of America.  We spent a lot of time studying the first European colonies, and enjoyed a few interesting books.  We also spent some time learning about Galileo.  (Again, this isn’t a comprehensive list of our resources… just some of the extra reading we enjoyed.)

Next week, we’re looking at Puritans in New England.  Look for that post next Friday!

The Mayflower Adventure, Colleen L. Reece (Historical Fiction, Grades 4-6)

Twelve-year-old John Smythe and his ten-year-old sister Sarah want to worship God in their family’s (Protestant) way.  Unable to do so in either Holland or England, they set sail for the New World aboard the Speedwell, only to transfer to the Mayflower.  The children are realistic, yet desire to honor their parents.  Along their journey, they meet significant figures from real life, including William Bradford, William Brewster, Miles Standish, and John Alden.  It’s really an enjoyable book, and full of interesting historical touches.

This is book #1 in The American Adventure series – 48 consecutive books from Barbour.  Though the series is out of print, it was produced in the late 1990’s, and there are still lots of copies floating around.  I got most of mine in a large lot on eBay.  When I’m looking for a series, that’s my favorite way to buy, as it really lowers the cost of shipping (per book).

William Bradford: Pilgrim Boy, Bradford Smith  (Fictionalized Biography, Grades 3-5)

This is a fantastic introduction to William Bradford, the governor of the pilgrim colony at Plymouth.  The book focuses on Bradford’s childhood, and his connection with William Brewster.  I enjoyed the fact that Mr. Smith highlights Bradford’s childhood character, and contrasts his values with those of his cousin Tom.  Mr. Smith is perhaps not gentle in his evaluation of Tom’s faults, but I see value in his approach, and did not find it to be overly preachy.  In the last few chapters, we see Bradford’s search for religious freedom as he travels first to Holland, then to Plymouth aboard the Mayflower.

Galileo, Leonard Everett Fisher (Biography, Grades 1-3)

I enjoy Mr. Fisher’s books.  He has a knack for writing interesting biographies, and his pictures are magnificent.  Galileo was gifted and prolific in the fields of science, and is worth studying.  I appreciated the fact that the whole of Galileo’s career was covered.  I found it interesting, as well, that Galileo was not officially cleared of guilt in his support of the Copernican theory of the Universe (in which he was correct) until 1984 by the Roman Catholic Church.

Three Ships Come Sailing, Gilchrist Waring  (Non-Fiction, Grades 2-4)

This was an interesting narrative of the Jamestown Colony.  I appreciated the thoroughness of the information, and the presentable format.  It is not short on text, so made for a perfect read-aloud (allow some time).  We found a lot of information in this book that straightened out some of the questions we had from some of the other reading we did this week.  (Namely in A History of US: Making Thirteen Colonies).

Courage and Conviction; Volume 3: Chronicles of the Reformation Church, Mindy and Brandon Withrow (Church History, Grades 4-6)

See more about the History Lives series in Church History Worth Selling Your Silverware For. I couldn’t imagine not including this excellent book in our studies of the Reformation, so I am reading it aloud as we go.

This week, we read a short article:  “The Settling of the Americas”, a brief overview of the initial colonies, and a skeptical look at the motives of those sent to share Christ with the native population.  We also read a biographical sketch: “William Bradford: Strangers and Pilgrims”.  The story covers Bradford’s trip on the Mayflower, the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the initial land exploration and selection of a site for the colony, and subsequent death of Bradford’s wife (left aboard the Mayflower).

2 Corinthians (The Bible!)

I find great comfort in 2 Corinthians!  However, my boys were impressed with Paul’s criticism of the Corinthian Church.  :)  It will be interesting to see how they find Galatians.


What did your family read last week?

~Danika Cooley


  1. says

    I’d be interested in hearing your views on the History of US Series. It seems to be used by all of the history programs I’m looking for at the fall for American history (Sonlight, Veritas Press, and Tapestry). Any comments (positive or negative)?

    • says


      So far, we’re just ten chapters into our first A History of US. I think it’s colorful… and that it leaves out facts that may help explain events. For example, it mentioned that Pocahantas was kidnapped and held against her will in Jamestown. However, the author did NOT mention that the abductor was attempting to trade Pocahantas for colonists and weapons that were taken during an earlier raid on the colony. Those sort of blatant omissions have me concerned. I’m glad we’re reading so many other books along with A History of Us. For me, the jury is still out. We may look around for something different for the next books we’re scheduled for.


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