Authors: Robert and Kathleen Basmadjian
Price: US $14.99
This is a children’s book meant to remind young (7 to 12 year old American) readers about the American Dream.
What’s that got to do with us living thousands of miles away in another part of the world? Aside from a few relatives and friends who have made the United States their home and passport country, it shouldn’t really. But whenever we have them come home my children would ask me about the country those kinsmen and friends come from and why they lived there. My answer is that, for them, it’s all about the American Dream.
My daughter first read the book on her own, some parts aloud and some parts quietly. She thought it was generally a sad story and found the graphics a bit strange. The highlight of the story was the gift-giving but there were many parts she didn’t understand and this was why I wanted us to read the book in the first place.
I thought it was a gentle introduction to what the American Dream was. Using a few known historical and modern figures from American culture (such as Abraham Lincoln and Bill Gates) the authors were able to explain what I thought was a muted version of the American Dream. At my daughter’s age (she’s 6 going on 7) the discussion we had after reading the book was enough to give her an understanding of the American Dream. In that respect, the book succeeded.
On the other hand, I called the book’s description of the American Dream a “muted” version because the book seemed to reduce that dream to simply making money…and needing the right connections to succeed. I was looking for the role of faith, or religion, in the pursuit of that dream; a key ingredient when the American founding fathers declared their independence and which I thought were the roots of the so-called American Dream. I was also looking for values that are still important today like pursuing excellence in work, perseverance, sacrifice, love of country and fellow man; values or ideals that created the landscape to make the Dream possible. These seemed to be only hinted at in the book.
I seriously doubt that the American Dream is all about the pursuit of money and making the right connections in order to make (some or more) money. Even in the Internet age. Yet, those were the points that stuck with me from the book.
And while I agree with the book’s premise that talent and hard work can get you somewhere, what message does that send to the “rest of the children” who don’t have the “talent” the character has? How can they be inspired to pursue this version of the American Dream?
Having said that, the book offers fertile ground for discussing the American Dream, whether you’re an American or not. The American Dream exists in a different form in my part of the world, as I am sure it does elsewhere. As a Christian parent, I would take extra time to talk about the points I thought important, such as the role of faith in God underpinning the American Dream, to emphasize the importance of the values I mentioned and to explain further that anyone, whether they had “special” talents or not, can achieve their goals.
Overall, I would say it’s worth the read.
I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the United States Federal Trade Commission (US FTC) Regulations.