Encounter :: Book Sharing Monday - Eva Varga

October 11, 20102

Today, many people in the United States recognize and celebrate Columbus Day.  We, however, do not.  I learned in college that Columbus was NOT what I was led to believe in elementary school.  I was shocked at what I learned and yet, as I came to discover, there were many things that I had been previously unaware (Japanese internment camps here in the United States during WWII,  the quiet resistance of the Norwegians against the Nazi regime, and so much more).   History is after all, a story … and all sides … all perspectives should be told.  This is one of the reasons I chose to homeschool.  To provide my children with an opportunity to explore all perspectives and to learn about the history of our nation … our world … by reading first person accounts.  

For the first time, current events have actually fallen into place with our history curriculum (we presently use Story of the World).  We had just read last week about the Portuguese explorer Henry the Navigator so I was delighted to read the consecutive chapters on the other explorers: Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, and Ferdinand Magellan.  We, however, will take a little extra time to explore other resources and to do some additional projects. 

One of the first books we have read is Encounter, by Jane Yolen.   It is the story of Columbus’ landing in the Americas, as told by a boy of the Taino people who already lived there. This book was written for the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage.  As Yolen sat down to write the story, she felt a Taino should write it. The book was the only one in that anniversary year to speak for the Taino people in a picture book edition.  It still is today.

After reading this book we also watched a couple of short videos on the web:  Reconsider Columbus and a BrainPop video Christopher Columbus. Additionally, we made a chart to list the pros and cons about Christopher Columbus.  As I stated previously, we will also read numerous other books about Columbus and the other explorers.

For older students, here is a great lesson plan I stumbled upon to integrate this book into your social studies / history curriculum.

P.S.  For those who don’t know, Book Sharing Monday is hosted by Alex at Canadian Home Learning.  You can join in as well as find others participating weekly.


  • Phyllis

    October 13, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Please forgive me if I sound rude, because I really don’t mean to, but you keep saying you want to teach your children all sides of the story of history and yet I only see that you have taught your kids one side of the story. True, it is the side that is less told, but still it is only one side of the story. Perhaps you left out all the books that tell the other side that you have shown them because you figure everyone has those? If not, what do you mean by all sides? Again, forgive me if I have overstepped. I just am confused.

  • Makita

    October 13, 2010 at 12:59 am

    Phyllis ~ No offense taken. I appreciate your thoughts & opinions. On Mondays, I typically share one book we’ve recently read. I try to also give a little background into why or how we came to select the book.

    “Encounter” was just one of several books we’ve read recently (and we’ve yet to read) about Columbus and the other explorers. I highlighted it here as it gives a little glimpse into the other perspective … that of the natives Columbus met or encountered.

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