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The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last…

November 1st, 2010

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Book Overview:

This first book in the four-volume narrative history series for elementary students will transform your study of history. The Story of the World has won awards from numerous homeschooling magazines and readers' polls—over 150,000 copies of the series in print! What terrible secret was buried in Shi Huangdi's tomb? Did nomads like lizard stew? What happened to Anansi the Spider in the Village of the Plantains? And how did a six-year-old become the last emperor of Rome? Told in a straightforward, engaging style that has become Susan Wise Bauer's trademark, The Story of the World series covers the sweep of human history from ancient times until the present. Africa, China, Europe, the Americas—find out what happened all around the world in long-ago times. This first revised volume begins with the earliest nomads and ends with the last Roman emperor. Newly revised and updated, The Story of the World, Volume 1 includes maps, a new timeline, more illustrations, and additional parental aids. This read-aloud series is designed for parents to share with elementary-school children. Enjoy it together and introduce your child to the marvelous story of the world's civilizations. Each Story of the World volume provides a full year of history study when combined with the Activity Book, Audiobook, and Tests—each available separately to accompany each volume of The Story of the World Text Book. Volume 1 Grade Recommendation: Grades 1-5. Illustrated throughout with black-and-white drawings and maps

Book Review

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out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12796 user reviews
History Books This first book in the four-volume narrative history series for elementary students will transform your study of history. The Story of the World has won awards from numerous homeschooling magazines and readers' polls—over 150,000 copies of the series in print! What terrible secret was buried in Shi Huangdi's tomb? Did nomads like lizard stew? What happened to Anansi the Spider in the Village of the Plantains? And how did a six-year-old become the last emperor of Rome? Told in a straightforward, engaging style that has become Susan Wise Bauer's trademark, The Story of the World series covers the sweep of human history from ancient times until the present. Africa, China, Europe, the Americas—find out what happened all around the world in long-ago times. This first revised volume begins with the earliest nomads and ends with the last Roman emperor. Newly revised and updated, The Story of the World, Volume 1 includes maps, a new timeline, more illustrations, and additional parental aids. This read-aloud series is designed for parents to share with elementary-school children. Enjoy it together and introduce your child to the marvelous story of the world's civilizations. Each Story of the World volume provides a full year of history study when combined with the Activity Book, Audiobook, and Tests—each available separately to accompany each volume of The Story of the World Text Book. Volume 1 Grade Recommendation: Grades 1-5. Illustrated throughout with black-and-white drawings and maps

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  1. diabla
    November 3rd, 2010 at 01:33 | #1


    Susan Wise Bauer’s WELL-TRAINED MIND (abbreviated WTM) is my primary reference as an “eclectic” homeschooler. It is a clear & detailed guide to Ms. Bauer’s classical schooling regimen. We immediately purchased THE STORY OF THE WORLD (abbreviated SOTW), and its companion activity guide, when they were released so that we could follow Ms. Bauer’s history outline.

    SOTW is the best compilation of ancient history in one text for primary grade children I have seen. Information is presented simply & succinctly. The chapters are written in narrative form & sometimes take a child’s perspective, making them more engaging for youngsters. Ms. Bauer has accomplished the difficult task of creating material young children can comprehend without being condescending.

    That said, I must point out some drawbacks in this text. Many reviews comment that SOTW contains spelling errors & seems as if it were rushed to print. I must agree – some chapters seem thoughtfully written while others are superficial or imcomplete. If you cross reference WTM with SOTW, some of the key historical figures in the history outline of WTM are not covered in SOTW (Socrates, Laotse, etc.)!!! Most frustrating, the index of SOTW contains many errors & omissions (example: Hannibal is listed on page 235, but appears on 229 – confusing if you’re looking for references). Fortunately, proofreading errors are easily remedied in future editions. And hopefully, Ms. Bauer will flesh out some sections.

    Even with its faults, The Story of the World is a helpful & compelling text. SOTW provides a much needed overview of ancient world history for young children. It provides an excellent framework for parents designing a history curriculum.

  2. A reader
    November 4th, 2010 at 21:58 | #2


    First thing my 7 and 8 year olds did this morning was put on this CD which they started listening to yesterday. They have been listening to it for about 2 hours today, and show no indication of ever turning it off.

    Reading through the reviews, I realize there are some people that will not want to buy this CD.

    1) If you are a fundamentalist Christian who believes that only what is in the Bible should be taught as history, this is not for you.

    2) If you are a fundamentalist secularist who believes anything in the Bible, or from Buddhism, Hinduism, or other religions should be omitted from history, this is not for you.

    3) If you are looking for a college textbook, this is not for you.

    If, on the other hand, you are looking to introduce your younger children to the story of the world, complete with legends and religious beliefs, starting with the nomads of ancient time, HERE IT IS!! It is engaging for children, it is chronological, it brings up great discussion questions, and it gives children a historical outline so when they grow older they will have a historical perspective as they learn more about various cultures. It is quality education that children love- at least mine do.

  3. Robert Griffin
    November 5th, 2010 at 07:08 | #3


    We used this book for 1st grade history this year. As we approach the end of the school year, I find I have mixed feelings about the book. On the one hand, it definitely has kid appeal. It *is* a book of stories, and employs a conversational style. My daughter always enjoyed it. There is some non-Western history (India, China, and to a chapter each on ancient Africa and the Americas), which is important for a more well-rounded study of the period. And perhaps, the biggest factor in its favor, there aren’t many books out there like it, yet. I was a classics major in college, and have studied this period, its languages, literature, history and culture in moderate detail. I have often found myself correcting the book or pointing out what is established fact and what is simply a story. This has resulted in a lot of interesting discussions, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable with my daughter reading this book independently, as it would easily engender a fragmentary understanding at best or foster strange misconceptions at worst.

    Despite my background, please don’t think that I expect more from this book (or my student!) than is reasonable. This is after all, first grade, and the aim is simply to introduce the student to the period in a logical, engaging fashion. Unfortunately, the book only succeeds in the latter department.

    The book would have done well to better define history as a study. While a certain amount of legendary material is necessary for the period under consideration, it’s important for the student to know the difference between legends about real people and things we know for certain about those people. In addition, there is mythological material which is more appropriate in a literary or religious context. There are a few Bible stories, Siddhartha (Buddha), Jesus and several Greek myths are presented. While these stories and figures have bearing on history and are culturally significant, I think their handling is ultimately confusing to the student since they are not presented in a strict historical context. Jesus’ resurrection is related in the same matter of fact tone as the rest of the book. Nowhere does the author state whether or not he really came back to life. His death is attributed to the fears of the Romans (“If the Jewish people had a king of their own, they wouldn’t want to obey Augustus Caesar any more.”) This nonsensical statement makes it sound like a competition between the two great figures, when in fact Augustus had already been dead for 19 years, and the then current emperor Tiberius couldn’t have cared less about what happened in a troublesome backwater province, so long as the tax levies flowed back to Rome. The book often shifts between historical and legendary points of view without alerting the reader to the change. This is a serious defect in a book whose audience members are just starting to be able to effectively differentiate between fantasy and reality. I’m not saying these figures and beliefs should not be presented, but facts and legends must be teased apart by the parent for the student, lest misconceptions take root. If you are not well acquainted with history, you may fall prey to a few misconceptions yourself!

    The book does not employ the chronological approach recommended in Bauer’s other book, “The Well-Trained Mind.” The text jumps back and forth across centuries, even millennia. The late Babylonian empire is followed by the Minoan civilization of Crete, a backward jump of 1500 years. This happens a lot. The chapters can be read out of sequence with some difficulty (what we did), but it would have been better if the information were presented in a more logical sequence.

    The book omits important details and peoples. There is nothing about the Celts, except in passing in one section on the Gallic Wars and another on the British rebellion during the early Roman empire. Pretty short shrift for a people who ranged across most of Europe for a millenium or two and whose culture has had such a deep and lasting influence. In the chapter on Alexander, Aristotle’s tutelage of Alexander is not mentioned, nor is the burning of Persepolis. A previous chapter devotes space to this royal Persian city, why not follow through and connect the dots?

    Vaguely inaccurate statements such as these are staples of the text: “Alexander’s army was the best in the world.” Well, really, Alexander’s army had a great general, a revolutionary strategist. The Persian army he defeated was arguably “greater,” but they were defeated by Alexander’s boldness and cunning. “Alexander was the greatest king of ancient times.” Well, he only ruled for 12 years, he was on campaign that entire time, and so didn’t do much in the way of administrating his new empire, writing law or other “kingly” work. He was arguably the greatest general of ancient times. I think a 7 year old can understand these distinctions. Thus it seems at times as if the text is unnecessarily simplified. Certainly the author could have subsituted “greatest general” for “greatest king” and described the army as the “smartest” or “fastest,” either of which would have been more accurate and more revealing.

    So while the book has been enjoyable, it’s also been very aggravating, and I’m frankly surprised by the lack of careful editing/fact-checking, given the author’s views on education.

  4. J. Boman
    November 5th, 2010 at 18:23 | #4


    My children (ages 7 and 9) and I just finished Story of the World Vol. 1 and so enjoyed it (we just started Vol.2, Middle Ages and also love it so far). The author did a wonderful job making world history interesting and understandable. This approach to history (chronologically, beginning with the ancients and moving progressively towards modern) creates a really nice, cohesive “big picture” of the flow of history that is sadly missing in our public school system (which for some reason teaches history in an out of order and out of context sort of way). Learning history progressively and in context helps it all to “make sense” (for children and us adults who missed out on a really good education in history ourselves!) and enables us to see connections and common threads between civilizations and time periods. History “unfolds,” rather than occurs in isolated pockets of time, so it would makes sense to me to learn about it in the same way. Susan Wise Bauer sprinkled stories, myths, and legends from each civilization throughout the book, which not only brings the ancient peoples “to life,” but also provides kids with something engaging and fun to remember the civilizations by. I would highly recommend this book (and the series) for parents who are homeschooling their elementary grade children, and also for parents who are wanting to supplement their publicly or privately schooled children’s history education.

  5. April Manier
    November 6th, 2010 at 00:13 | #5


    I have used this program twice:

    First, very loosely with my daughter in a self directed way. She loved it, but I only had her go 1/2 way through. She was able to do many of the projects herself and retained A LOT.

    Secondly, I have taught this with a co-op group. As a teacher there were several things I discovered:

    1. The use small area maps not in conjunction with a world map leaves the students unable to fathom spacail relationship and relativity. It would be great to have a world map on the corner of each page. I used Hold That Thought maps to provide this connection.

    2. The craft section was easy to follow. There were so many to choose from it was easy to find elaborate or simple ones. When teaching at home, you can do more than one with exercises spread out for great retention. Although we did a chapter a week in co-op with one craft, the kids retained huge amounts.

    3. It would be best to build a time line as you go so as to be able to lay out the figures in such a way to see how they overlap. I often wondered about the order in which she wrote. I do not have the NEW revised version and this may be remedied. Still a visual timeline would probably fix this.

    4. The kids are on the edge of their seat! They really look forward to hearing the next part.

    5. It is important to stress the differece between myths and historical figures. When quizzing kids with such things as “Is this story real?” there were mixed answers. I often had to clarify. Something to be sure to have a game plan for ahead of time.

    5. As a teacher this was expensive. The copyright does not give you a blackline master to use. Confusing and even expensive for parents with more than one child? I have to buy the activity sheets for every kid? AND there is no price break at 10? I can purchase a copyright for a year but still have to pay for printing?

    6. The book makes it EASY to teach. The prep is little. Maybe a movie or library pictoral books to drive it home. I always felt prepared at a mometns notice to teach.

    7. How about pronunciation? There could be some phonetics in parentheses to help those of us who don’t speak ancient dialects of all kinds! I guess that’s how they get you on the audios.

    I would like to state that this is an elementary program. Getting hung up on in depth historical facts at an early age is folly. Kids glaze over and do not retain. Therefore THIS program really works. Its enough of the intersting stuff to get them to delve deeper. As a homeschool teacher that is what I am hoping for! That THEY will take ownership of it and press on into who they are with their research.

    If you really just want biblical history do Greenleaf Press’ or Mystery of History. You will get more Bible than anything. I enjoyed the oppertunity to expose my kids to world faiths while discussing ours. It really caused my kids to know and research why and what we believe!!!

    If you want a springboard with no head ache and projects that don’t require 50 pounds of plaster of paris and chicken wire, this is your answer!

  6. Rachelle McGuire
    November 7th, 2010 at 11:04 | #6


    This book is by far the best read aloud history book I’ve come across. It takes you on a journey from Ancient Mesopotamia, through Egyptian dynasties,mighty Assyria and Babylonia, to the rise of the Greek culture and ends up with the glory of Ancient Rome. It even includes the history of civilizations such as Africa and Asia. Best of all, it is written in simple language with lots of ancient fairy tales and fictional accounts of what life might be like for a 6 – 8 year old child from that period.

    My son’s favorite part of the school day is when we curl up on our sofa and read Volume 2 of The History of the World. When we were still on Volume 1, he would beg me not to stop reading. Another thing I really like about this book is the fact that you can read a chapter, go to the library and explore more in depth on that time period. I have always thought history should be taught as a STORY, not mere facts and dates, and this book does just that. You can even read this book to your kids as a bedtime story, one chapter a night!If you decide to get the activity book(which you should if you are a home schooler)then you will have all the questions to ask your child after reading, maps to color, and suggested activities to reinforce the reading material. My only complaint is that the coloring pages (simple black line drawing for the kids to color) are not as high quality as they should be. My son didn’t care for them at all and I didn’t blame him. The illustrations in the reading book weren’t that great either.

    There is no theorizing about what came before humans and it is religously neutral, but still delves into the religous practices of ancient man with a matter of fact attitude;no judging or scoffing – just the facts. This was really important to me, since I have strong Christian beliefs but want my kids to be aware of other religions and their importnace to our history.

    If you have kids who think history is a bore, or even if they already love history, this is a book I highly recommend.

  7. L. Joyce
    November 7th, 2010 at 16:28 | #7


    As a history major, I have always prided myself on the fact that I could find fascinating a subject that left many bored. However, when we began my daughter’s first grade history lessons using the “Usbourne Book of World History” (using the lesson plan laid out in the excellent “Well Trained Mind” by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise), even I found the material a bit dry; it is, after all, an encyclopedia. Apparently, Susan Wise Bauer felt similarly about its limitations, as she went out and wrote her own history tome. “The Story of the World” is so fantastic, it takes my breath away! The read aloud text on ancient times presents history in small chunks, and is written in an engaging, story-like manner that delights my children, who are 4 and 6 years old. This delightful manner in no way means that the subject matter is “watered down”; Bauer still introduces children to the facts and terminology that are relevant to the subject. For instance, the chapter on “The First Writing” explains the origins and meanings of “hierolglyphics”, “Mesopatamia”, “cuneiform”, and “papyrus”.
    After listening in rapt pleasure to the text, children will delve into the accompanying curriculum guide and activity book. The guide provides thought provoking questions on the text, and offers an example of the type narration that the child should give (the child is expected to briefly narrate back to the parent what they just read about in the text). The guide book provides map work, coloring pages, puzzles, and review cards which can be copied from the book for use, and also includes wonderful craft ideas (most of which, as an inherently lazy person, I found very “do-able” without undue effort). This week, we carved a cuneiform monogram into clay, made a hieroglyphic scroll on paper, and left them outside to see which will prove to be more durable over time; this will illustrate to the children why the papyrus documents of Egypt did not survive the centuries, but the older cuneiform tablets of Sumer did. For our next project, we plan on mummifying a chicken from the grocery store using the directions from the guide.
    I love this history program, and history is now my daughter’s favorite subject. I can’t wait for Ms. Bauer to write the next volume (this volume covers earliest nomads to the fall of the Roman Empire). The only downside is that the cirriculum guide comes as a thick packet of pages, rather than being bound into a book. However, the pages have pre-cut holes and are easily stored a binder, and this makes it very easy to copy pages from the guide. … I feel that this course would be a bargain at twice the price.

  8. T. W. McKnight
    November 8th, 2010 at 22:59 | #8


    OK, folks, I was a little confused by the reviews and almost didn’t get the book, but I decided I would get it and decide for myself. Having now done so, I THINK IT’S JUST GREAT. Most of the facts, as I’ve perused the book, are in order. Undoubtedly there are some things I disagree with, but then that’s the nature of history. (Just for the record, my Bachelor’s Degree is in History). For example, Bauer teaches the standard line that the Hyksos invaded Egypt and took them over by force. So what? That’s pretty much the same thing every textbook says and, in my opinion, it’s completely false. You’ve got to discern the facts for yourself and teach them to your children, anyway, but this book gives a good general outline for you to build upon…correcting mistakes, of course, as you go. As for the Hyksos, when you bypass the textbooks and go straight to the sources themselves, what do they say? The ancient Egyptian historian Manetho said the Hyksos (who he and Bauer both refer to as the

  9. Homeschooling Single Mom
    November 10th, 2010 at 03:34 | #9


    This is a very good survey for World History for the elementary set. That, in itself, makes it problematic. I am very familiar with the sequence for history recommended in The Well Trained Mind and the idea that “history must start at the beginning.” This is all well and good when you’re an adult or an older child beginning a survey of world history. When you are six years old – the age at which this volume is aimed – this concept will be totally irrelevant, as is reading about 95% of the subjects found in this book.

    About 2 years ago, when starting first grade for my then 6 1/2 yo son, I bought SOTW 1 and the corresponding activity book. Yes, he liked some of the stories – as stories, fairytales, etc – and he enjoyed doing the activities often, though it was a bit of a cognitive leap to connect what he was doing with “this was important 5000 years ago and here’s why.”

    For the most part, however, the subject matter of this book is entirely without context for even the most sophisticated 6yo. All the parents I have talked to who started out on this program abandoned it halfway through for the same reasons. The kids might be persuaded to listen to its chapters as part of a curious ongoing story, but none of them could get into it as an actual history lesson. They didn’t care about Ur, didn’t have an interest in Sargon or ancient Mesopotamia or *whatever*, etc. If you were six, would you?

    Another caveat, which I feel is an important one: if your child has auditory processing delays of any kind (as is common with kids with ADHD, Asperger’s, etc.) or if she or he simply doesn’t enjoy being read to, then this curriculum will absolutely bomb, as it requires you read it all yourself to the child and ask him to regurgitate it and apply its minutiae to the activity. But unless your child is a very advanced reader and enjoys reading, it’s too difficult for 6/7yos to read themselves, and again, there is nothing that really makes it accessible to them as history. That the book starts out with a fake story about a fake little kid in the Stone Age is, I suppose, a good start (though not a very good foundation for a history book, since my son asked me if that child was a real person) but that’s quickly abandoned and within a dozen pages the child is being expected to remember the names and dates of barely pronounceable millenia-old emperors.

    My son is a very strong reader who also has auditory processing delays, and it took sometimes two or three readings or more of a text from me before he could answer the questions in the activity books. Even when he was making concerted efforts to “pay attention” it was difficult for him. I started letting him read the passages himself toward the end of our use of this program, and that certainly helped, but by then, he was totally dreading “doing history” and we ended up going with another curriculum halfway through the year.

    I do think the principles set forth in this book are admirable and I love the idea of giving a child a well-rounded history and social studies education that isn’t just about “our community helpers” and 6 years of American history before one year of World History. However, this year, we did do American History for the first semester (“Our American Heritage” from A Beka books) which not only taught my child a lot about the historical context for a lot of our cultural traditions, but also slowly introduced him to the idea that history is, indeed, relevant to one’s every day life.

    Now that this has happened, and now that my son and I have been to Renaissance fairs, which lead to a period where he really wanted to read all about knights and the Renaissance era, and we also spent the last year and a half reading about Greek and Roman myths, and he knows all about the Reformation and how it lead to the founding of the US, etc. – NOW I think we may give SOTW Volume 2 a crack, with him reading the text on his own. But he’s nearly 9 now – nearing the “logic” stage that Susan Wise Bauer talks about in WTM. Now he is starting to be able to put the things he memorizes into larger context. I can’t help but think that there is a real danger of totally inculcating a child against the thrills of history study, and that to the average first grader, doing ancient history as set out in this book would seem like much ado about nothing.

    I know that this will get me a ton of negative “not helpful” votes from all the WTM devotees. I’m not saying it doesn’t work for anyone, and I’m not saying that only bad parents (or whatever) would use this. It definitely is a good ancient history survey (though I agree with the reviewer that says that a bit more distinguishing fact from legend or allegory would’ve been helpful) and if this curriculum went really well for you and your kids, that’s great, but that wasn’t the case for us, and it hasn’t been the case for a lot of HSing families we know. Hopefully this review can serve as a helpful alternative view for some families, if not all.

  10. Lydia Joyce
    November 10th, 2010 at 18:54 | #10


    I really wanted to love this book. I was seeking an engaging survey of ancient history told in an accessible manner for young children. While it partially accomplished that goal, the book had a number of flaws.

    First, its format:

    This book consists of 42 chapters, starting in the Neolithic Age and ending with the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Each chapter is divided into one to three smaller sections. Some sections are straight-forward historical accounts. Others are retellings of Bible stories, fictionalizations of various events, or representations of myths or legends. The book attempts to cover the entire history of the world, but only a total of eight of the 42 chapter cover areas other than the Mediterranean world. Part of this is inevitable–many areas of the world were still in prehistoric ages during much of this book. However, some was by choice–SWB believes in the importance of emphasizing the Western tradition, and this comes through in the book. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, the book still does a better job of presenting nonWestern cultures than any of the alternative to this book that I’ve seen. There are a handful of illustrations and stock blackline maps. The book is self-published. There is an accompanying workbook with activities and questions. I did not buy the workbook.

    Its strengths:

    Overall, the objective is admirable: To create an accessible history of the ancient world that small children find interesting. I admire the goal quite a bit and am very sympathetic to it.

    Given her goals and her emphasis, SWB did an excellent job overall in selecting the topics for the sections. She deals with a lack of information–for example, about very early sub-Saharan Africa–quite well.

    The stories are quite accessible and are often interesting to young children. Few children will have a hard time understanding the stories.

    Now, on to the problems:

    First, the fact that the book is self-published shows in several typos, the frequent misuse of commas, and in a great fondness for exclamation marks. I know it sounds like a small thing…but it really is distracting.

    Second, the tone is meant to be conversational but is often simplistic to the point of being condescending. Much of the book isn’t as well-written as I would like, especially the retellings and fictionalizations. I’ve read excerpts from her later books, and she does get much better!

    Third, she does a poor job between distinguishing between a factual narrative, a retelling of a religious text, a fictionalization of an historical event, and a retelling of a myth or legend. This could cause a great deal of confusion for a young child.

    Fourth, there really is a need for a pronuciation guide for most parents! Not many will have heard “Ashurbanipal” before.

    Fifth, and this is the biggest issue for me, there’s a problem of accuracy throughout the text. Some errors are sheer sloppiness–she writes “flocks” when she means “herds”, “vitamins” when she means “nutrients”. Others are more troubling. She states that she’s going to tell the story of Abram from the Bible and then freely mixes in Midrashic (extrabiblical) sources and free interpretations. She decribes New Kingdom mummification practices in the section about the Old Kingdom and the pyramids. She declares that farmers fed their livestock on grain. She makes a big deal out of the fact that early “cave men”-type nomads didn’t bathe…and we would know this how? Heiroglyphs were mostly character- and syllabic-based, NOT “picture-writing,” as she claims. She regularly confuses what we call places and people in English with what the people of the time and culture refered to called them–for example, Pharoah (Egyptians NEVER called their king “Pharoah”) and Mesopotamia (which is Greek and not what the Babylonians or Assyrians called the area). She states that Pharoahs weren’t buried in mastaba tombs when they had been before the invention of the pyramid. She states that the pyramid capstones were plated with gold when they were plated with electrum, an alloy of silver and gold. She informs the reader that the Minoan civilization was destroyed by the eruption of Thera when it really flourished two centuries after that explosion. She implies that the modern Olympics have decended from the ancient Olympics in an unbroken line of tradition. She badly distorts several Bible stories in unecessary ways–I assume out of a desire for simplicity and brevity, but the distortions are unecessary.

    These are errors I remembered off the top of my head. I did no fact-checking–these are just mistakes I caught as I was reading to my son. Most errors are minor, but there are simply so MANY that I found myself correcting several errors per reading session.

    Sixth, SWB often fails to clearly present important concepts, like the mutually assistive relationship between archeology and history and many important technological innovations and their impacts, that would be acceptible for this level.

    I know that many people love The Well-Trained Mind, The Story of the World, and everything SWB has written. But I can only recommend it with a very strong caveat to most users.

  11. Amy, NY
    November 12th, 2010 at 16:57 | #11


    After reading the reviews that were not happy with SOTW, I’ll admit that if you’re wanting a very serious, detailed account of the ancient civilizations, SOTW won’t suit you. HOWEVER, if you are/were a history dunce like me, this was EXACTLY what you needed to get you and your kids rolling on the history buff train.

    Her book was designed to be an intro to history for young children, not an in-depth study. It was very easy to add detail and make distinctions as parents saw fit, which is the reasoning behind the “simplistic” and “vague” stories. She realizes that many parents prefer to put their own emphasis on various aspects of history and cultures, so she leaves the details up to the parents. A few minutes searching through her online discussion boards will bring up and clarify any questions you may have. Anyone who looks for a perfect history curriculum is fooling themselves: most history experts EXPECT to find errors somewhere in every history book [see reviews of other history books for examples of that fact or ask a local professor].

    That being said, we thoroughly enjoyed reading and playing with SOTW. The novel was fun, engaging, and easy to read. When my son picks up the book to read again for fun, i know we have a winner. The activity guide is well worth the money: the maps are clear and easy to use, the coloring sheets are OK, the activities and games are interesting, the reading suggestions are suitable for the age levels, and the discussion questions are well-thought out.

    If you are new to history, don’t know what to teach, or are trying to teach several ages at one time, this is a perfect unit study-type of spine. We added science and art as we studied each culture. It is not laid out with daily lesson plans, but is easy to adapt for once-a-week use or daily use.

  12. S. Wilson
    November 14th, 2010 at 02:28 | #12


    The Story of the World not only gives readers a wonderful story, it also provides vivid pieces of history through the characters. This book is a very readable narrative that tells the story of ancient times by balancing a massive amount of history with solid characterization. From page to page there is a genuine flavor of the period and of the people who made it what it was.

    The Curriculum Guide and Activity Book has many hands-on projects for children of all ages. These projects range from coloring pages, to maps, to crafts and games. Each lesson provides many activities to choose from. I highly recommend The Story of the World and its curriculum guide!

    Elementary School Teacher and
    Former Professor of Reading
    University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

  13. Anonymous
    November 14th, 2010 at 16:28 | #13


    I went through another very popular world history book for history last year, and I just wasn’t satisfied. I was about ready to write my own when this book came along. There was now no need for me to write my own book. The best book has already been written.

    It is readable, engaging, and stimulates your kids to want to know more. They will end up loving history, and YOU will learn it too!

    I especially like how she will tell a story about a hypothetical child in the culture of that time. My kids could really relate to it. She also tells fictional stories that were popular during this time like Anansi the Spider or Gilgamesh. This spurred us on to go to the library to find more literature on these stories.

    It went very nicely with the Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History. We would read Story of the World. Then, we would go to the corresponding pages in the Usborne book. SOTW was my “spine” that led to other books!

    Excellent in every way. It deserves more than 5 stars, and I can’t wait until Volume 2 comes out!

  14. coolmom
    November 15th, 2010 at 20:44 | #14


    this is a useful tool for the series. it tests the same level of understanding of each chapter as the questions suggested in the activity book does. neither requires the child to recall every single detail. it does not seem to be necessary, as the activity book covers the same level of question plus provides many additional activities), but when you homeschool if you like to incorporate written tests, then this makes it easy.

    on the other hand, if you are trying to encourage deeper understanding, i think the activity book goes farther, as the questions are open ended and the child has the opportunity to expand upon his answers, and the parent can expand his questioning appropriately to encourage recall. the tests do not do this.

  15. Renee
    November 16th, 2010 at 03:24 | #15


    I am using this book with the curriculum guide with my kids and the question is who likes it better. History is my kids’ favorite subject now and I can’t wait myself to read more and more and more. This book would be best for elementary school children, although the language and the stories are not super simple! The stories in this book are soooo interesting. It realy is his-STORY, a story about people, instead of boring facts from a time long gone. The curriculum guide to accompany this book is an absolute MUST since it will direct you to more history and literature about what you just read in this book. There are also coloring pages, maps and numerous projects (doing an archaeology dig, building a model of the Nile, making a mummified chicken to writing in cuneiform on clay). So don’t wait any longer, buy buy buy this book and the curr.guide!

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