Are your children a fan of biographies?  Mine sure are!  We read them by the stack.  However, I think our favorite biographies come from YWAM Publishing.  Whether you are interested in the stories of Christian Missionaries or Historical Heros, they have you covered.  Are you not seeing the biography you want today? Check back in a few months because they are continually publishing new ones all of the time.  This time we had the chance to read. Heroes of History- Orville Wright which is one title in their Heroes of History line of books. We also received a Study Guide to use with our book.

We chose Orville Wright only because he is one of the few YWAM biographies we haven’t already read.  Seriously, people, I have stacks of these books in my home and a basket full of the audio versions too.  It was hard to find a title we haven’t already done.

The Book

The biography begins like most do, in the childhood years of Mr. Wright.  Even as a child Orville was rather inventive.  He filled his time with activities like building a printing press from wood scraps.  As Orville grew older, he and his brother Wilbur earned money and built a business building and repairing bicycles.  The two boys were always quite close.  Flying was always intriguing to the two of them, and brother Wilbur started tinkering with inventions that could make just that sort of thing happen.  At first, their flying contraptions failed, and they were forced to return to the bicycle business.  It is indeed the story of perseverance and “if you at first you don’t succeed try, try again.”  Eventually, as we all know, they did succeed and invented the first flying machine heavier than air.  With success brought fame and fortune.  Despite that Orville continued to live a simple life striving to be as generous as he could with what he had.  Orville died in 1948 at the age of 71 after a second heart attack.  However, his legacy lives on as no one can deny the impact the Wright Brother’s Flying Machine had on this world.

The Study Guide

YWAM doesn’t stop at producing great biographies; they also help you get the most out these books with great in-depth downloadable study guides.  These guides are extensive.  If you wanted to, you could use them and the YWAM biographies as your entire social studies/history curriculum.  In their overview guide, there is a suggested One-Year-Track or Two-Year-Track that includes many of their titles.  They have suggestions for how to use the guides with a parent-led approach or a student-self directed approach. There are even detailed notes about working with children of various ages and abilities or learning styles.

The Orville Wright biography has a separate study guide which used the book to help you integrate a variety of subjects including:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Essay writing
  • Creative writing
  • Reading comprehension
  • Public Speaking
  • Drama
  • Art

You can quickly pick and choose what activities or projects you’d like your student to do.  Each of these subjects are covered in a variety of ways.  Key quotes children can memorize or make creative displays for, display corner projects and ideas where children can collect/draw/display artifacts from Orville’s life, study questions, essay questions, creative writing topics, hands-on project ideas like making a model airplane, a bound book, or mini-telegraph machine. Audio/visual projects like creating a mini-documentary, and arts and crafts projects.

The fantastic thing about these guides is they can be used with multiple-ages.  Pick the projects that suit each of your kids best and adjust your expectations according to your children’s ages and abilities.

In our homeschool, we did a lot of the chapter questions orally as we finished a chapter.  Here are the chapter questions for chapter 4.

1. What does ingenious mean (page 42)? Use this word in
a sentence.
2. To whom did Wilbur write to get more information
about aviation?
3. How did Wilbur come up with an idea for solving the
wing control problem?
4. What were the four areas that Orville and Wilbur determined
they needed to examine in order to solve the
problem of human flight?
5. At the beginning of chapter 4, Wilbur read a quote by
Louis Mouillard about the obsessive nature of flight. “If
there be a domineering, tyrant thought, it is the conception
that the problem of flight may be solved by
man.”Orville and Wilbur illustrated this thought by devoting
nearly all their time to designing an airplane.
Why do you think that the problem of human flight was
so consuming?
6. In his letter to the Smithsonian, Wilbur stated, “I am [a
flight] enthusiast, but not a crank in the sense that I have
some pet theories as to the proper construction of a flying
machine. I wish to avail myself of all that is already
known and then if possible add my mite to help on the
future worker who will attain final success.”Put Wilbur’s
statement in your own words. How important do you
think Wilbur felt his own ideas were in the field of
human flight? What ideas do you think Wilbur had
about his own possibility of success?

I also had my older boys take a couple of stabs at some of the essay suggestions. Here are some samples of those:

1. Orville and Wilbur showed a great deal of respect for
their elders and for those with more experience in the
field of flying. Use the text to find and write about three
examples which illustrate this. Then, add three examples
from your own life that demonstrate how you show
respect for your elders or people with more experience
than you.

3. Orville and Wilbur worked and competed with a number
of other men, all trying to solve the problem of
human flight.Choose one of these men (Augustus Herring,
Octave Chanute, Samuel Pierpont Langley, Alberto
30 Student Explorations
Santos-Dumont, Alexander Graham Bell); research his
life; and write a biographical report about him.

6. Some argue that the Wright brothers were wrong to
work under such secrecy, against the spirit of shared exploration
and the free sharing of information that is the
practice of many inventors trying to solve a problem
common to humanity. Similar arguments exist today,
especially in the areas of technology and manufacturing,
where some companies freely share information
while others seek to keep their methods and products
under complete secrecy. Research some of the debates
going on in these industries today and write an essay discussing
the advantages and disadvantages of each

I thought my twelve-year-old would be excited to make a documentary as suggested, and he was… except he chose a different subject for his documentary.  He is going to create a movie based on another YWAM biography Heroes of History- George Washington. My son has a bit of an obsession with the Revolutionary War, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me when he switched subjects on me. Still, he enjoyed Oliver Wright and is asking me when our next YWAM Biography will arrive in the mail. Yes, we certainly love all of these books and the Study Guides make easy work of carrying these biographies well into a deeper level of study.

If you are passionate about missionary work you’ll absolutely LOVE any book in the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series of books from YWAM publishing.  So do check those out in addition to the Heroes of History books I talked about this review.  God always uses the Christian Heros books to grab me and remind me that he is in great control and always providing.  You don’t want to miss them.

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