Homeschool Review Crew
We love to read here and historical fiction is a favorite. We’ve loved reading Bessie’s Pillow by Linda Bress Silbert. Strong Learning, Inc. sent out a physical copy of this book for us to review. Also provided are amazing study guide materials available online for us to use. This book is based on a true story so it could also be classified as a biography as well.
I would recommend this book to be an independent read for middle school and high school students. The materials found on the Bessie’s America page are more geared towards this age range as well. However, they can be tweaked to work with elementary students as well.
About the Book
The book , Bessie’s Pillow, is set in the early 1900’s. Bessie travels by herself from her home country of Lithuania to the United States. She’s an immigrant. She’s also a Jew. Her reason for immigration is to escape the persecution the Jews are already under in her home country.
As a country formed of all immigrants, we as a people tend to love to read about immigration stories. We trace our history and heritage to find out where we came from and who our “people” are. There are websites devoted to ancestry and helping people reconnect with family they may have lost along the way. This book is a chronicle of one families history.
Linda Bress Silbert is the granddaughter of Bessie. She and her husband are the owners of Strong Learning, Inc. and the voice behind this book. Fun fact behind the making of the book is that the narration is taken from interviews that were recorded of Bessie talking with her daughter, Linda’s mom. I would love to have something like that of me talking with my grandmother. Such a treasure!
I used this book mostly as a read aloud with my children. Well, there was actually a progression of reading this book. I read it to myself, just free reading. It’s captivating to me, but then again I really love history and this era for the Jews is chock full of information. Next, my oldest daughter age 12 read it on her own. Lastly, I read it aloud to all of the kids ages 3-12. We then worked on some of the pages within the study guide. There is a wealth of additional information within the study guide pages on the internet.
Primarily I would recommend that kids under age 7-8 not do any formal material with this book. Some of the concepts are harder for them to reverbalize in my opinion. That being said they did listen and participate in our study, but I don’t believe they took away as much from it as the older children. I will definitely be rereading and redoing the study with them when they’re a bit older.
My kids loved the book. I loved the book. It really brought a new perspective to us of someone who went through a period of history that we can only read about. We celebrate Jewish holidays in our home and often study the history of Jews plus major time periods and the history of the holidays. This brought a much more personal feel to our Jewish studies. This book is getting a permanent place on our shelf.
Definitely check out the page titled Bessie’s America which allows you to delve deeper into the time period in this book. It’s an amazing period in our history as a country. Plus, you’ve got the beginnings of a vast movement throughout Europe that will forever change history as well. This book and the material provided to us through this page can fully be made into a unit study. I feel that given a bit of time to plan I could easily make an entire semesters worth of information and a unit study focusing on the book and it’s history.
Learn what other reviewers thought of Bessie’s Pillow over on the Main Crew Review blog where all the reviews are linked up. You’re sure to find a schooling approach and view that will give you the information you would like to know. Bessie’s Pillow and Strong Learning, Inc. can also be found on facebook and twitter.