From troubled youth to American hero, Louis Zamperini pretty much experienced all that life had to offer. We thoroughly enjoyed reading Heroes of History – Louis Zamperini by YWAM Publishing. The Louis Zamperini book is part of the YWAM’s Christian Heroes: Then & Now Heroes of History series.

Heroes of History - Louis Zamperini


General Overview

We received the physical paperback book in the mail and also received a .zip file via email containing the Unit Study Guide.

  • Various formats available: paperback, e-book, Kindle, Nook, audio CD, audio MP3
  • Prices vary based on the media purchased, but paperback is $7.99 on the YWAM site
  • Downloadable curriculum guide is also available (must create an account which gathers all your billing information, although it does not ask for a credit card at the time of creating an account). I could see the price of the unit study guide only after I logged in. The price is $5.95 on the YWAM site.

How We Used This Program

I handed the book to my youngest, Lauren, who is just finishing 9th grade. The suggested age range for this book is 10+. With that being said, Lauren finished the book pretty quickly and absolutely loved it. We had recently seen the movie Unbroken (which is the story of Zamperini’s life) and she said there were parts in the book that were not included in the movie. Per Lauren, she enjoyed the book much more.

I also read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m amazed at the historical people that Zamperini met, roomed with, and he how struggled to move from a troubled youth to becoming an American hero during World War II. It’s amazing story of the power of redemption. I highly recommend Heroes of History – Louis Zamperini for all families. Whether you decide to read the book simply for fun, or as part of a broader topic on World War II, redemption, Olympic games, or even character building, your children will truly get much out of it and not want to stop.

If you decide to use the study guide, let me spend a few minutes on it. Since it arrives as a .zip file, you’ll need to first extract it. Once that’s done, there’s an internal link so that it opens up in a browser and from there you can click on several different areas. (Check out the image below so you can see the format).

The Louis Zamperini tab gives a short synopsis of his life, plus you can read about the authors, read reviews, use the bonus materials, discover more heroes, and of course there’s the unit study tab itself.

See the button for “homeschool” under the Guides section? It links to a .pdf that explains how to use the study/unit guide for your homeschool. There are many options on how to use the unit study, so I would suggest reading through that first before doing anything else.

Heroes of History - Louis Zamperini

The study guide is divided into two parts (as you can see in the image above). As with most unit studies, it guides you through various ways to incorporate history, geography, creative writing, etc. Plus, it contains questions and answers for each chapter. I really like the creative writing suggestions as it contains awesome ideas for digging deeper into the Olympics, creating poems about Louie’s life experiences (of which he had MANY), and so many other great ideas.

The second part of the study guide is shorter and contains maps, a timeline, and a fact sheet about Louis Zamperini.

If you have younger children, anywhere from late elementary up through middle school, the study guide would be a great benefit to really learn more about this time in America’s history. Lauren wrote a couple of journal entries from Louie’s point of view during his time in the Japanese concentration camp as one of the creative writing assignments. Here is one of the journal entries:

Dear Reader,

I am writing this so if I die here someone will find this pitiful thing I am calling a journal and know I, Louie Zamperini, was here.

Isn’t that a pleasant thought? I’m writing my own biography in this despicable place I am to call home for I don’t know how long. I, an Olympian, am living in a Japanese concentration camp. I will most likely die here, among fellow soldiers and friends.

When you find this, read it and know the conditions of what I lived through. Give this to someone who can make a difference for us soldiers.

We work from sun up to sun down. We are forced to walk through our own filth with our shoes on and then forced to lick our shoes clean. If we don’t, we are beaten within an inch of our lives. I have to clean up after the pigs with my bare hands. I wonder how many diseases I have, how many diseases I’ve exposed myself to. What I would give for some of my mother’s gnocchi.

This isn’t the worst of it. The leading man here, whom we all call the Bird, is seemingly fascinated by me and gives me the hardest time. When I first arrived and he discovered I was an Olympian, he forced me to run against his fastest man. I wasn’t even sure my legs knew how to run anymore, after being stranded on a boat for weeks. I ran, I beat his man, and I was beaten.

I write this down with a stub of charcoal. I am writing fast, because sentries walk our barracks every few minutes. I must go, here comes one now.


Final Thoughts

There are many, many books in the Heroes of History series from all phases of history. So, no matter what topic your family may be studying, check out the YWAM’s collection and see if there’s a way to add one in as a supplement to what you’re already doing. Your family will be blessed because of it!

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