Although the United States of America is over 225 years old, the phrase "the American Dream" wasn't coined until 1931 by James Truslow Adams. In his book The Epic of America, he defines it as "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement." That's an concept I want my Schnickelfritz to take to his heart so I was excited to review a book by a company named Inspiring the American Dream.
Abraham's Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream ($14.99). The 32 page, full color book also has definitions of key terms and brief character biographies in the back. The gist of the story is that young Abraham's parents have lost their jobs and won't be able to afford Christmas presents for the kids. While searching for a way to earn money and "save" Christmas, Abraham is taken on a journey through cyberspace to meet and be encouraged by men and women of the past and present who have realized the American Dream.
Here are a few high points from the story. When Abraham learns about the bleak Christmas he still has hope and the initiative to try and find something he can do. (I'm also please that his parents didn't choose to rack up debt on a credit card but that's not the focus of the story).
Not to spoil the ending, but after providing gifts for his family, Abraham donates blankets, books, and money to a local homeless shelter. One of the characters Abraham meets is Bill Gates, who shares "...there's more to the American dream than simply amassing wealth...We can offer others the education, tools, and resources they need to become self-reliant, taking personal responsibility for achieving their American dream."
On the other hand, I had a lot of problems with the story as well. You see, I watched my father begin his own company in our basement. As a kid, I stuffed the envelopes sending out sales fliers to potential customers. When he could finally afford to rent space for the company, it was in the basement of a music store. But he persevered and eventually earned a patent for his invention. Now he has his own building and employees to build his machines and sell them around the world. I saw him sacrifice in the beginning hoping for (and thankfully receiving) a payoff down the road.
Abraham never had that struggle..on his first stop he discovers a God given talent for painting. All right, I'll give him that one. But painters need to buy paint and brushes and canvases, they need practice to perfect their craft, they need to wear out some shoe leather trying to find someone to give them a chance with an art show. This book skips over all that--Abraham's imagination spontaneously generates these vivid paintings and "Just as suddenly, they were on display at an art show!" (At this point my son said "Why didn't he just imagine Christmas presents? He could've had an Xbox.) His struggle to sell a painting lasts only "several hours" before Mark Zuckerburg of Facebook fame offers the power of social media to publicize the paintings, one of which is bought by Bill and Melinda Gates--thus saving Christmas.
I realize this book is geared towards 7-12 year olds who may believe that all problems can be solved in a half-hour sitcom, but I really think this book is setting them up for disappointment and discouragement if they don't succeed quickly like Abraham. It might be more helpful to read in depth biographies of some of the folks Abraham meets (Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Amelia Earhart, etc) and see how they met adversity, persevered, and achieved the American Dream.
DISCLAIMER: 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 FTC Regulations.