Is it a book? Is it a unit study? Is it a Bible lesson? Is it a geography course? Is it a fun family activity? I found that Ireland By the Way from the By the Way Book Series was all of this and more! This is the first time I had read any books from By the Way and I was really impressed. It felt like so much more than a story book but yet it was still a fun read aloud for the whole family.
We started reading this book under very normal circumstances as a family read aloud and we were really enjoying it. When we were about half way through the book a major hurricane hit our town and caused a lot of stress and power outages for multiple days. We would sit in our living room at night and read pages from this book by lantern light. The children loved hearing it and it was a welcome break from the stresses that were going on around us.
While I sometimes find things that try to include too many subjects become confusing or seem disjointed, in this book the author did a wonderful job of including them in a very natural flow that did not make us feel like she was jumping around from topic to topic. We used this book as a family read aloud and discussion starter. However, it could honestly easily be turned into a unit study because it includes so many different topics woven into the story but maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
I should first tell you that this is the story of two children and their mother on a trip to Ireland to meet extended family members and see all the sites of that beautiful country. We journey with them from Wicklow Mountains (and the wonderful wildlife) to a 5th Century Lighthouse and then on to a castle. They continued their tour through Ireland visiting other castles, cottages, cliffs, and even doing one our families hobbies, geocaching. My twelve year old son even said, “she wrote it so that I felt like I was traveling with them and with the pictures I felt like I could really see the places.”
Along the way we learned about a variety of subjects. At the lighthouse we learned not only about the lighthouse but about the whales and dolphins that live in the waters there. Then at the cliffs we learned about the birds and other animals that are common in that area. In another place we learned more about the history of the Titanic and even legends of fairies and leprechauns. Intertwined into the story were many Biblical lessons such as the power of the tongue when they saw the Blarney Stone to the wonder of God’s creation as they visited the Cliffs of Moher. As we went through the book there were many great discussion topics. We enjoyed a good conversation about how we can use our tongue for good and needing to be careful not to use it to cause harm.
There were fun facts about the animals, rivers, and other places they were visiting in sidebars along the various pages. These easily could have been used to expand the learning and be the jumping off point for a larger lesson. For example, when we learned about Puffins the children thought they were very interesting and so we may go back and study them further. They also enjoyed learning that Ireland has dolphins which were already a favorite of theirs because we have them here in North Carolina as well.
Ireland By the Way is part of the By the Way Book Series and each one is set in a different geographical location and includes information to help teach a Christian worldview. I hope to continue reading these with my children for fun family read alouds that spark great discussions. To check out some of the other great titles in this series or see how others used the book make sure to check out the other Review Crew reviews! I would love to hear in the comments which of the locations you would like to read.
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