Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: When Did Columbus Arrive in the Americas?

When Did Columbus Arrive in the Americas?
written by Kathy Allen
2012 (Lerner Books)
Source: Orange County Public Library

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Who was Christopher Columbus?
Why did Columbus move to Spain?
What did Columbus expect to find in China and the Far East?
How did Columbus navigate his route?
Where had Columbus landed?
When did Columbus become famous?
How do we know about the voyages of Columbus?

These are the questions addressed in When Did Columbus Arrive in the Americas?. I like the structure of these history books from Lerner. It makes it easy for students to find the information they are seeking. In the first section, I learned that Columbus nearly died in his early twenties when the fleet he was sailing with was attacked. He had to swim six miles back to land in order to survive. During his time in Portugal, Columbus surmised that if Portuguese sailors could sail far south to Africa, you could equally sail west and find the Far East. Explorers felt the world was small enough that this could be done. Rejection by the Portuguese king for funds to sail and the death of his wife drove Columbus to Spain. After being turned down twice by Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, they change their minds and agree to provide money for Columbus to sail west. A new piece of information to me was that the experts gathered by Ferdinand and Isabella were much more accurate in their estimation of the distance from Spain to China by sea than Columbus. Despite these differences, Columbus was provided the funding. Another interesting section discusses how Columbus did not find fame and fortune in his lifetime. His fame would come much later when American colonists were looking for a hero who was not British. Ferdinand, one of Columbus's sons, had written a biography of his father and this book provided the new nation with a hero. Section six of the book, A Changed World, also addresses the impact of Columbus's voyages. For many reasons, he has a mixed legacy in history.

The positive and negative aspects of Columbus's actions can be vigorously debated, but there is no doubt that he had a huge impact on world history. When Did Columbus Arrive in the Americas? is a good overview of his life and provides readers with easily accessed information about this famous explorer.


  1. Hi Jeff, This sounds like an interesting book about Columbus. This summer I was surprised to see the Monument of Christopher Columbus in Barcelona. Of course, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand figure prominently.

    My post today gives a shout-out to teachers, such as you! I hope you're off to a good start to the new school year with your 2nd grade Bears.

    1. Thank you, Jeanne! Spain would be a great place to visit. Thank you for your post.


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