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Transcontinental railroad living history book review

Best Book to Learn about the Transcontinental Railroad {Echoes of Hammers and Spikes Review}

Do you remember learning about the Transcontinental Railroad in school as a kid?

I do. I remember being fascinated by the race between the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific.

I remember thinking it wasn’t fair that the Central Pacific didn’t have to go nearly as far … until I learned they had to blast their way through the Sierra Nevadas.

And I actually remember being super excited as a kid that they met at Promontory Point in Utah to drive the final golden spike -- because I lived in Utah! 

But, I ALSO remember my textbook being really boring -- with black and white pictures and dry text.

Which is why I’m so excited to share this new book called Echoes of Hammers and Spikes.

It’s EVERYTHING that I want in a living history book to teach the Transcontinental Railroad to my kids.

Engaging text written by professional storytellers.

Brand new, commissioned songs to go along with each chapter.

Enhanced audio version of the book -- including background music and engaging narrators.

Lesson plans and study guide questions are available to download as well.

Seriously -- whether you’re teaching Utah history or American history, this book is AMAZING!

Want to keep reading instead of watch? Scroll to read a transcript of the video.

NOTE: I was compensated to write this review, but my opinion is completely my own and I only recommend things that I absolutely love!

CLICK HERE to check it out for your homeschool.

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Hello ToriAnn Perkey here and from my homeschool to your homeschool, today I want to talk about a new resource that's just come out that is amazing at teaching the history -- American history at the time of the transcontinental railroad. It's called Echoes of Hammer and Spikes. And this is unlike anything I've ever seen. You guys, I am so excited to talk to you about this today.

Okay, so this book was put out by a man named Clive Romney, along with Sam and Susan Payne. I want to make sure I said all their names right. And their goal was to teach the history of the transcontinental railroad in a new and different kind of way.

And so I'm going to go through all of the different pieces that are included in this book. And I'm going to tell you, if you're looking to teach this time period of history, if you're looking to teach American history this year, if you're looking to really involve different kinds of learning styles, different kinds of interests, this is going to rock your homeschool.

I can't even tell you how excited I am about this. I rarely get a new resource and every time I turn a page or find one more piece of it, my mind just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. I thought I'd seen it all. This one blows it out of the water.

Okay, so to start with this book, it has 20 chapters, so it covers each piece of the transcontinental railroad in a chapter. And I love that this book does a really good job, because it is so new, it does a good job of covering all the different facets of the history. So each chapter is kind of from a different perspective. So there's a chapter on the Chinese immigrants that worked on the railroad. There's a chapter on the big bosses. There's a chapter on Abraham Lincoln. There's a chapter on the Mormons. And every single chapter covers a different focus.

So first of all, here you go, clear, beautiful design pages. Lovely, lovely text. The first thing I would do is I would just be sitting down and reading this with my kids. I want to make sure you guys get a good idea of what this looks like. The really, really strong graphics. The text is easy to read. It's conversational. Clive Romney and Sam Payne are both storytellers, so they know how to tell a good story.

Now, if this is where this book stopped, then it would just be another history book, but it doesn't. The second thing that they have done is that every single chapter has a song that's attached to it -- a brand new commissioned song by a professional artist. And I fell in love with these songs. Oh my goodness. Different styles. Many of them have kind of a folk song feel because that's the time period.

These boxes in the book go through and talk a little bit about why the artist chose-- who the artist is that chose to write the song. They chose to write the song -- mostly what the artist's inspiration was -- kind of what their creative process was. And then also the lyrics to the song. The book comes with a CD that you can download but you -- that you can put and listen to. Or you can go to the website once you've purchased the book and you can actually download all of the songs and put them on your phone or an mp3 player or whatever.

And these songs are good enough that if you just wanted to put them in the car and play the songs, it would be an engaging soundtrack to listen to for this time period of history. So there's songs that go with each chapter by different artists and then there's the book, but we're not done yet.

They've also put out a series of discussion questions that you can ask your kids that go with every single chapter. So you have a little bit of that educational support after you've read the chapter. If you want to have some questions-- you want to have your kid just look at the questions and then answer them, either writing them-- or you know what I mean? Like if you want to turn it into assignment, they have that piece.

And they also are in the process-- and they haven't quite finished this yet but by the time you're watching this video, they might have -- they're in the process of creating an enhanced audio version of every single chapter where the chapters are not only read but it's also got music in the background, and it's got the song attached to it, and it's all kind of blended together. And I listened to some of the early releases of those, and again, I was blown away by the quality, the intensity, the beautiful package that this book is.

So if you want to explore this chapter of American history, you want to explore this chapter of Utah history, or you're just looking for a really great way to make history come alive in your homeschool, this is going to be a product that you want to get. I promise you, you won't be disappointed.

I'm going to leave a link to access, you know how this works, up above or down below-- you know, wherever you're watching this video. I'm telling you this is one you want on your shelves. It's going to be something you look at over and over again.

I'm ToriAnn Perkey, and from my homeschool to your homeschool, I make these videos every week so that you can be a successful and confident homeschool mom.

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About the Author ToriAnn Perkey

I'm ToriAnn Perkey. I've been homeschooling since 2004, when my oldest daughter was 3 1/2. I'm a mother, mentor, teacher, presenter, and musician. One of my favorite pastimes is learning about ... anything! Read more here.