Benjamin Franklin, American Genius: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities


Benjamin Franklin was a 17-year-old runaway when he arrived in Philadelphia in 1723. Yet within days he’d found a job at a local print shop, met the woman he would eventually marry, and even attracted the attention of Pennsylvania’s governor. A decade later, he became a colonial celebrity with the publication of Poor Richard: An Almanack and would go on to become one of America’s most distinguished Founding Fathers. Franklin established the colonies’ first lending library, volunteer fire company, and postal ...

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Benjamin Franklin was a 17-year-old runaway when he arrived in Philadelphia in 1723. Yet within days he’d found a job at a local print shop, met the woman he would eventually marry, and even attracted the attention of Pennsylvania’s governor. A decade later, he became a colonial celebrity with the publication of Poor Richard: An Almanack and would go on to become one of America’s most distinguished Founding Fathers. Franklin established the colonies’ first lending library, volunteer fire company, and postal service, and was a leading expert in the study of electricity. He represented the Pennsylvania colony in London but returned to help draft the Declaration of Independence. The new nation then named him Minister to France, where he helped secure financial and military aide for the breakaway republic.Author Brandon Marie Miller captures the essence of this exceptional individual through both his original writings and hands-on activities from the era. Readers will design and print an almanac cover, play a simple glass armonica (a Franklin invention), experiment with static electricity, build a barometer, and more. The text also includes a time line, glossary, Web and travel resources, and reading list for further study.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This smart and delightful book captures the magic of Benjamin Franklin and shows why his life is so inspiring. Above all, it celebrates his creativity, which was the source of his genius."  —Walter Isaacson, author, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

"[A] creative and well written book."  —Through the Looking Glass

Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
The study of history is often boring for students. Even though the events, actions, hopes, and dreams of people living in the past should be fascinating, they often shrink into tedium as students are overwhelmed by an avalanche of facts. In this book, younger readers are given a close look at the life and times of one of America's most prominent statesmen. What is particularly interesting and commendable about this illustrated biography is that it includes an engaging assortment of hands-on activities that serve to amplify the book's impact. While Brandon Marie Miller does a fine job of detailing Franklin's rise from poverty to renown, she excels in bringing history to life via these activities. In due course, readers are provided with twenty-one projects that tie directly back to the events and times of Franklin's life. For example, readers are provided with a menu of choices, including static electricity experiments, making a printer's apron, creating candles, and making paper for an almanac. In addition to the well-researched and ably-written narrative and the aforementioned activities, Miller inserts particularly interesting human interest information into text boxes periodically scattered throughout the book. This combination of narrative artifices, combined with an ample supply of period illustrations, makes this a book that will capture readers' attention and allow them to see the practical genius Franklin applied to almost all aspects of his life. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Miller does an excellent job of presenting a synopsis of Franklin's life in a highly readable manner. She details his humble beginnings in Boston in 1706 through his slow, yet hardworking rise to gentleman status, and his eventual death at age 84 in 1790. His accomplishments as a printer, free-press advocate, inventor, scientific observer, and diplomat are also described. Imbedded in each chapter are asides that further elaborate on Franklin's life and times and activities that coordinate with the text or the historical facts presented. The directions are easy to follow and enhance the overall presentation, especially in terms of classroom connections. Illustrations accompany each project and reproductions of primary documents, renderings, and paintings provide added value.—G. Alyssa Parkinson, Highland Township Library, MI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556527579
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Series: For Kids Series
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 144
  • Sales rank: 962,458
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.40 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Brandon Marie Miller is the author of Declaring Independence, George Washington for Kids, Growing Up in Revolution and the New Nation, and Good Women of a Well-Blessed Land.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 21, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    useful tool for studying colonial America or the Revolutionary War

    Who do you think was one of the greatest men of colonial and early America? Several names might come to mind, such as George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, but someone that would likely be on everyone's list is Benjamin Franklin. Of course, Franklin knew and worked with Washington, Adams, and Jefferson. In fact, Franklin reviewed Washington's Continental troops in Cambridge, MA, at the beginning of the American Revolution. He was on the same committee with Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence. And he served together with Adams in Paris, France, as emissaries of the new United States government seeking help in the war. Yet, in addition to being an important statesman, Franklin was also a printer, a scientist, a philosopher, and an inventor.

    This well-illustrated book starts with Franklin's birth into poverty in 1706 at Boston, MA, through his running away from home to Philadelphia, PA, to his fame as an American Renaissance Man. To make his story more meaningful to youngsters in a hands-on way, there are 21 activities that relate to Franklin's life. His father was a chandler who made candles and soap, so there are soap and candle making exercises. Franklin became a printer, so students can learn how to make paper and the leather apron that printers wore. While he was not a perfect man but made his share of mistakes in life, Benjamin Franklin exhibited many qualities which can well be emulated. Author Brandon Marie Miller points out that near the end of his life, he wrote that he believed that God is the "Creator of the Universe. That he governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we render him is doing good to his other children."

    The use of original writings, illustrations, documents, and articles from the era, along with a time line, a glossary, a list of resources for further research, and an index all help to make this book a wonderful tool for learning more about the life of this great American historical figure. I believe that it would especially be useful for homeschool families doing a unit study on colonial America or the Revolutionary War. Previously, I had the privilege of reviewing another book in this series, Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities by Kerrie Logan Hollihan for Stories for Children Magazine. Other books in the series include Abraham Lincoln for Kids, George Washington for Kids, Franklin Delano Roosevelt for Kids, and The American Revolution for Kids.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

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