October 13 – Columbus Day

Happy Columbus Day!

Opinions about Christopher Columbus have changed dramatically over the last hundred years. Young readers today have much more information and can study the different points of view in the context of public opinion then and now. Here are some current picture books which provide accurate information, clarify misconceptions, and are written in way that older picture book readers can understand.

 17706968Christopher Columbus and the Age of Exploration for Kids written by Ronald A. Reis (2013)

Within the 145 pages of this picture book there are 8 chapters, websites, notes, a glossary, and 21 activities for kids. In the introduction, Ronald Reis writes, “Christopher Columbus is possibly the most researched and written-about individual in history. That is not surprising. No matter what one may think of Columbus – hero, or heal, or both – the significance of what he did, however interpreted, is monumental. Christopher Columbus changed the world. For that, Columbus, given the title the Admiral of the Ocean Sea, deserves to be known and his legacy explored.”

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When Did Columbus Arrive in the Americas?: And Other Questions about Columbus’s Voyages written by Kathy Allen (2012)

Kathy Allen answers questions about Christopher Columbus in a historically honest way. She helps young readers to understand the complexities of the age by examining each question with primary and secondary resources. When addressing the question of when and how Columbus became famous, she says “Columbus joined the two worlds together, for good or bad. His legacy is debated, but most people agree that his voyages to the Americas changed the world forever.”

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Columbus Day written by Christina Mia Gardeski (2000)

This is the most simplistic view of Christopher Columbus of the three books reviewed here. It is written for a much younger audience. The focus here is more on the celebration of Columbus Day than on the biography of the man. Mia Gardeski opens her book by asking the reader, “Are you and explorer?” and showing a child climbing over a tree trunk to see what is on the other side. She goes on to define ‘explorer’ as “Explorers travel to new places. They meet new people and find new things.” She then briefly discusses Columbus’s goals and what he found. She ends by telling the reader, “Columbus Day reminds us that exploring is important. You never know what you might find!”

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