Profiles from History, Volumes 1 and 2 differ from most other collections of brief biographies in that they are visually interesting and include extended activities for each story. They are best used as supplements for students in grades 3 through 6. They work especially well with the first two Trail Guide to Learning courses (Geomatters), correlating fairly well with their lesson content. Nevertheless, they can be used alongside other history resources, selecting stories that fit the time period under study.
Characters profiled are a diverse group of statesmen, explorers, inventors, artists, composers, authors, and scientists. In Volume 1, subtitled Stories of Those Who Are Worthy of Remembrance, the selection tilts towards supporting a study of U.S. History with John Smith, Pocahontas, William Bradford, Squanto, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, Sacagawea, Zebulon Pike, and Jesse Applegate—half of the stories. Others drawn from world history are Marco Polo, Johannes Gutenberg, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, William Shakespeare, Galileo, George Frideric Handel, James Cook, Mozart, and Francois Millet.
Volume 2, Heroes of America's Growth and Freedom narrows to only U.S. History with stories from the revolution through the early twentieth century. In this volume we meet Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Thomas Paine, Nathan Hale, Mary Ludwig, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Dolley Madison, Daniel Webster, Tecumseh, Harriet Tubman, Thomas Jackson, Clara Barton, Joshua Chamberlain, Booker T. Washington, Samuel Clemens, Annie Oakley, John Philip Sousa, Juliette Low, and Will Rogers.
Each story is two to three pages in length—great for either reading aloud or for independent reading. Each story features a drawing of the person and a full-page map showing where they lived or traveled. In addition, each story is followed by extended activities that include a few discussion questions, timeline activity, a few suggested activities (e.g., further research, cooking, drawing, planting seeds), a word scramble, fill-in-the-blanks and/or true/false questions, a word search, and a crossword puzzle. The extended activities certainly enhance the lessons in terms of comprehension, and they often direct students to learning beyond what is presented in each story. Timeline pages and figures are included at the back of each book along with an answer key.
These books are very attractive with quality art work and visually interesting page layout. The large font size keeps the amount of content to an appropriate level so that students do not feel overwhelmed. The stories allow rare glimpses of the author's Christian viewpoint, but not enough to put off a secular audience.