Book Review: Bethany Hamilton - Follow Your Dreams by Michael Sandler

Posted by Big Universe on Sep 24, 2012 1:58:48 AM

We are in the midst of helping our fifth grader work through her big Language Arts assignment for the year: nonfiction biography (transitioning to autobiography). She'll be reading the book and writing the requisite book report, but she's also going to be creating a timeline of the person's life, as well as an over-sized personalized 3-D book cover. [I love the creativity of that idea!]

My daughter has chosen a biography of Michael Phelps. She's a swimmer with big dreams ... and so was he. It taps into her personal passion and also is a "recognizable" individual with great kid appeal. In the process of trying to find that "perfect" book (read: the one that the Kiddo would stick with!) I went to my well of biographies that we'd read together previously. Here's one that I remembered JUST by looking at the cover!

Bethany Hamilton - Follow Your Dreams
Defining Moments Series
by Michael Sandler
Bearport Publishing, 2007

This is a photo-illustrated biography about a teenager overcoming severe trauma.

Whenever she could, Bethany Hamilton went to the beach to surf. Her parents, also surfers, had moved the family to Hawaii because they loved surfing so much. On Halloween morning 2003, Bethany and her friends went out to catch a perfect wave. Instead, a shark caught her and she lost her arm. That hasn't deterred her and within a few months she was back in the water.

  • The cover originally put off my daughter, but after I started reading the story she moved in closer to see and hear everything. She was very impressed by Bethany's story.
  • This is a book to read with your kids at least the first time through. It might not bother a fifth grader, but third graders probably need that shoulder nearby.
  • This is an incredibly well written, well presented story for transitional readers. The photography is incredible. The glossary is filled with words that are probably familiar to kids who play sports but they offer tried-and-true definitions that will help them.
  • The story will likely give kids pause to think about their life and, hopefully, inspire them to do more.

You can read our full review, with recommendations on ways to use the book for education, at The Reading Tub® .

Topics: Personal Experiences

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