Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Abraham's Journey -- A Celebration of the American Dream


I believe in America and I believe in the American Dream.  I truly do have HOPE and FAITH that our nation can make a difference in this world if we do not let sin get in our way.  I was a Political Science major in college (with emphasis on the American Presidency) and my minor was American Studies.  For our final grade in my last American Studies class, we had to write an essay on "anything America."  I chose to write on the American Dream as portrayed through the paintings of Norman Rockwell.  I greatly admire his work and enjoy a "feel good" attitude when I peruse his art.  In my opinion, Rockwell's art epitomizes the dream of America to live in freedom, to work hard to succeed, and to persevere through even the darkest of days.   He inspired me to continue to courageously push for noble things so this was an easy choice for my essay.

You can imagine my surprise then when I was called to the office of my professor because he wanted to "discuss" my essay.  I will never forget (and it's been 23 years) his sitting me down, holding my paper out to me in disbelief, and asking me if I REALLY believed the things that I had written.  I was flabbergasted.  Of course I believed them -- which may have flabbergasted him even more.  He told me that day that I look at the world through rose-colored glasses and that although my paper was well-written, it was a work of fiction.  I told him I appreciated his honesty but that I was holding on to the faith that he was wrong.  We parted ways that day but I must be honest and say that my heart ached for him and for our country.

As a result, I have made it my goal to instill great moral values and patriotism in the hearts of my children.  I want them to realize what great opportunity they have as citizens of American and I want them to set high goals and work hard to reach them.  Robert and Kathleen Basmadjian feel much the same way that I do and they have made it their mission to share these ideals with students across America and the world through their website Inspiring the American Dream.  Realizing that the DREAM that has so long been vital to WHO we are as a Nation is in danger of disappearing, the Basmadjian's are inspiring others to keep it alive.

PhotobucketAs proof of their mission, the Basmadjian's have published a book to further encourage and inspire students to live the American Dream.  A 36-page softcover book, Abraham's Journey:  A Celebration of the American Dream retails for $14.99.  It is a full color, easy to read story of a boy named Abraham who sets out to help his family in time of great need.  On his journey, Abraham meets several American icons who share with him their personal dreams and offer advice and encouragement in meeting his.  

My children and I are studying the birth of America this year so I was excited to add both the website and book to our lessons.   We have been learning about how America came to be -- beginning with early exploration and continuing to the year 1850 -- and how much work early pilgrims and pioneers had to commit to in order to birth a country.  Abraham's Journey has been perfect for us --and I think quite timely in view of what America looks like right now.  I, for one, am discussing the original intent of the Founding Fathers with my children and we are praying for our country.

Written for children ages 7 - 12, Abraham's Journey has been a beneficial read and great discussion starter for our entire family.  I first read the book myself before handing it off to the Princess and then the Boy Scout.  They each read it to themselves -- by themselves -- and then came to share their thoughts with me.  I always find it interesting to get both the male and female perspectives of books we read.  It never ceases to amaze me the different things that each understand and find interesting.

The Princes, age 11 shared this:  At first, I thought it was the story of Abraham Lincoln and I was confused.  Once I started reading it, I got what it was all about.  The main point of the book was learning to be kind and tender to one another.  It was sad because we get lots of presents each year for Christmas and little Abraham's family wasn't going to get any because his parents had both lost their jobs.  When Abraham went on his Journey into the phone, he met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Amelia Earhart, and Bill and Melinda Gates.  They were important people to meet because they each taught him a lesson.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. teaches Abraham to help others  and Bill and Melinda Gates teach him to keep trying and don't give up.

My favorite part was at the end of the book when Abraham gave gifts to the orphanage.  He had believed in himself and kept on trying and finally made some money to help his family.  Not a lot of people these days give to others.  People are selfish and want to keep everything they have.  This book taught me that we need to step up and start doing stuff for others.  We need to start giving instead of taking.

The American Dream is freedom and learning to follow your dreams.  Anybody can do anything they set their heart to do.

I was a little confused, though, about the fact that Abraham had a phone and they were so poor.  I didn't understand how they paid for the phone bill.  If we were so poor that we couldn't buy food or presents, I'd be getting rid of my phone although my phone is not a very good one.  I did like how Abraham never gave up.

Of course, you can't really go back in time and meet people that have died BUT you can learn from the stories of people in the past.  That's why history is important.  I liked this book.

The Boy Scout, age 13, shared this:  Abraham's Journey was inspiring.  It was a book about a kid named Abraham whose family was broke.  He had a "dream," and went into cyberspace,  I think, since many of the people that he met I believe to be dead.  He "met" Norman Rockwell, Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., some guy who worked in an office [Mark Zuckerberg] and Bill and Melinda Gates.  Each of these people were important to meet because they went through struggles in their lives.  Amelia Earhart was told she couldn't fly over the Pacific but she did.  Abraham Lincoln was just a country boy who became one of the Nation's greatest Presidents -- maybe even THE GREATEST President ever.  Dr. King was someone who people didn't like because he fought for what was right and he didn't let people's bad attitudes get in his was.  Mark Zuckerberg didn't create FaceBook in a day but kept on trying and now look at it.  Bill Gates worked hard hard to be successful.  Norman Rockwell was great because he believed in the boy Abraham and got him going in the first place.
I learned from this book that you can do anything if you set your mind to it.  The American Dream is about being free to worship how we want, free to speak our minds.  In America, you can make something of yourself even if you are poor.  You have opportunities (if you take them) to be successful.  In other countries, you are pretty much stuck where you are born.  Your job often is dictated by the  job of your parents.  Your social class doesn't change. 
My favorite part of the book was when Abraham was in cyberspace.  The pictures were cool.  I kind of wish that they hadn't mixed people from different time periods because it was confusing.  It would have made more sense to me if they had gone back to the 18th Century and met inspiring people and learned from them before they moved forward in time.  
I am always intrigued by the different perspectives that each of my children bring to a discussion.  Isn't it fun to "hear" what their take away is from a book or lesson?  I appreciated the definition of terms found at the end of the story to further ingrain in my children just what it is that makes America great.  Terms like charitycompassioncourage, faithfriendshipimagination and responsibility help keep us focused on who GOD would have us to be.  

The Character Biographies that were included for each of those that Abraham "met" on his journey worked to further bring history to life.  Although some of the icons introduced were not people that we had previously discussed, Abraham's Journey gave us great opportunity to learn more about them and talk about their roles in America.  It also opened up a discussion on the types of people we look up to and admire and the reasons we have for doing so.  I was pleased to talk with my children about the importance of selecting quality role models and mentors with like-minded morals and values and being careful to make wise choices in life.

The American Dream is STILL alive in my house and I certainly don't think that I am looking at the world through rose-colored glasses.  I believe in America and I believe in the American Dream because THIS DAY HAS GREAT POTENTIAL.  Make an effort to capture it for yourself, your family, and your children.  If not us, then who will?


~Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to read and review Abraham's Journey by Inspiring the American Dream as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  The opinions stated are mine and mine alone.  I was not paid to share my thoughts and feelings with you.  I received a copy book in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a 
positive review nor was I compensated in any way.  You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought as well.   I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.~ Pin It Now!

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