Henry Ford for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities (For Kids series) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-05-05 
Review Score: 5 out of 5 star From 2 user ratings

" I gave this book as a gift! As soon as I hear from them what they thought I will post it here! " said.

" I sure wish I had this book when I was learning about auto's. We love, loved all the experiments included in this book. Children as young as two can do some of them with adult supervision, but if they have a superb memory, be careful. You may find them trying them on their own. That is why our book looks to be in the family for years. Many of the experiment are perfect for Scouts both Girl and Boy. Enjoy, learn, teach and treasure this book as we will for years to come.☺ " said.

"An excellent overview of a great American industrialist suited to kids. They won't even realize they are learning history! Henry Ford's accomplishments and stumbles are both shown to give a complete picture of his life and work.
Along the way you'll find activities that will help spark the minds of kids with science and mathematics. Suited for both the bookworm and the hands on kid in your household, this book is sure to become well worn after being read so often.
* I received a free advanced reader's copy from Goodreads giveaways *
" said.

"Henry Ford was a major influencer of our nation and through his inventive drive pushed the world into its future. Most kids know of Henry Ford as the inventor of the automobile, but there was so much more to the man than that. As with anyone, he had his opinion regarding social and economic issues of his day and some agreed with him and others did not.
The depth of information Ronald A. Reis gives regarding the man and the inventor is astounding so that children would understand the whole person. He used wonderful photos and organized his information for easy understanding. The activities he includes are great for interaction for the children to really absorb the life and times of Henry Ford. Highly recommended for teaching children about Henry Ford in a fun and fantastic way!
" said.

"Henry Ford was a fascinating character who truly “gave birth to a modern America.” While he did not invent the automobile, nor the assembly-line technique of mass production, he revolutionized transportation by combining the two in order to make cars affordable and put the country on wheels. He also instituted living wages in his factories - more than double what most mechanics could earn elsewhere; instituted reduced work week hours; hired the disabled; started a profit-sharing system (open only to those who had been on the job more than six months and who conducted themselves according to a set of “socially approved” behaviors); established a system of local dealerships so that potential drivers all over America could find and purchase cars; founded schools, hospitals, and an orphanage; sponsored a newspaper, and much more.

Unfortunately, the heading of “much more” would include Ford’s rabid anti-Semitic notions, which he had printed up regularly in his newspaper, “The Dearborn Independent.” The weekly essays were based on the idea that the Jews were “vile, lewd, nasty, erotic, and criminal,” and described the ways in which Ford believed they were responsible for most of the world’s problems. He even would not allow brass to be used in his Model T automobiles, because he was informed it was a “Jew metal.” (Engineers used it anyway but covered it up with black paint.)

Ford was also not the best father, regularly humiliating his son Edsel in front of executives and workers. He thought Edsel was weak, and found a substitute-son in Harry Bennett, a “tough guy” who became Ford’s “personal man,” and who developed a group of enforcers - 800-strong at one point - to roam through the main factor and apply pressure to employees to work faster and not socialize, or even smile. As Reis reports:

“Ford workers learned to communicate without moving their lips. They developed what became known as the ‘Ford whisper.’”

Ford created a museum collecting “Americana” which opened in 1929, with an adjoining "Greenfield Village" that featured many historical structures - some re-created, and others disassembled and then reassembled in Dearborn - including the Logan County Courthouse, where Lincoln argued cases as a young lawyer, Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Complex, the Wright Brothers Garden Shed, and even rides (of course). (You can look at a map here.)

In short, Henry Ford, as Reis writes, “was a man of monumental contradictions.” He had huge flaws, but at the same time, he “not only gave birth to a modern America, he was modern America.” He certainly deserves careful consideration in the history of the country.

Discussion: I love so many aspects of this series of books for kids from the Chicago Review Press. Most of all, they don’t shy away from giving a complete picture of the life of the person being profiled, warts and all. They demonstrate it is possible to applaud the accomplishments of acclaimed figures in history while at the same time admitting to more regrettable aspects of their lives. They understand that to eschew deification and expose inequality and injustice is not to question the entire American project, but to strengthen it by applying standards of fairness to which future citizens may aspire.

A second great feature of this series is the inclusion of activities that not only relate to the subject, but tie in different aspects of learning, from language arts to science to architecture, etc.

Some of the 21 activities in this book include instructions for the following:

construct a simple electric motor
design a hubcap (from a paper plate)
build a lemon-powered battery
build a bird feeder (Ford loved birds, and created a huge bird sanctuary of close to 1,500 acres providing a home to some 200 species)
learn the language of industrial drawing
make a moving assembly line
set up a recycling center (Ford anticipated the environmental movement by setting up recycling centers in his factories)
dance the waltz (Ford not only published a dance manual, but opened dancing schools for the boys and girls of Dearborn, which in time spread from Michigan to the East Coast)

This book also contains a time line, glossary, annotated list of internet resources, bibliography, and index.

Evaluation: This series of books from the Chicago Review Press for kids is outstanding. Each provides a comprehensive and accessible overview of the subject matter, adds fun and informative activities, and treats history as it should be treated: without misleading filters that glamorize and/or obfuscate the truth.
" said.

July 2018 New Book:

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