I am a conservative Christian looking for the right history book to homeschool my kids. I read this DK Children's Encyclopedia from beginning to end, and I find it acceptable over all in content presentation. Another reviewer here says the book is too liberal, but I disagree; I think Mr. King clearly strives to present an unbiased view of American History. Now everybody has his own view of history, and a history book is bound to reveal somewhat of the author's bias. However, it is obvious that Mr. King kept his own opinions well under control, making this book excellent read for people of every view point.
For example, in presenting the Reagan administration, Mr. King mentioned the tax cuts, shrinking government, and the prosperity ensued. He mentioned that "The number of homeless people grew at an alarming rate" (p.239) without saying what that rate is, but over all, he did say that Reagan was so popular that even some Democrats voted for him (Reagan Democrats), and many middle class Americans consider the Reagan era the best of times.
In contrast, in describing President Clinton, Mr. King said most of his proposals didn't make it through the legislature, but Clinton remained popular because of the economic boom. Then he described Clinton's scandals in detail, leaving me the impression Clinton didn't do much else. A liberal might consider this presentation not giving Clinton enough credit.
In selecting a children's history book, one must consider what is available out there, and this one is the most balanced I find so far. If you want to see something really liberal, check out The Making Of America by Robert D Johnston. It is published by the National Geographic Society, with a forward by first lady Laura Bush; sounds good, doesn't it? It states that "Columbus, along with many settlers over the three centuries that followed his arrival, committed genocide." (p.14)
I stopped breathing when I read that sentence. I can honestly say that Mr. King never made me stop breathing.
I am a fan of DK; it seems that they strive at excellence in every book they publish, and this history book is no exception. The pictures are exquisite, the explanation concise and to the point, and the overall layout is a work of art. I do have one complaint, though: I disagree with the approach of slapping text right on top of pictures. Consider, for example, pages 74 and 75, where they have the words sitting on top of round white cotton puffs in a dark background. It makes my eyes water trying to read it. The editor actually took the trouble to justify this approach, saying that "The images don't play a bit part to the text's starring role in this book, ... the words and images have been considered together to bring this wealth to the page - and to the eye of the reader." (p.11)
I think this approach is commendable but for the eye's difficulty in discerning text from the image underneath. But overall, I highly recommend this book for grade school history studies. I don't think there is a better one anywhere.