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.