Although this work is designed as a supplement to the Core Knowledge series (What Your Kindergartener Should Know
, etc.), it could serve as a useful, accessible annotated bibliography for both parents and teachers. Hirsch is the author of Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know
, which was the impetus for the Core Knowledge movement.
The arrangement is simple. There are seven main curricular areas: Language Arts, World History and Geography, American History and Geography, Visual Arts, Music, Science, and Math. Each of these areas is divided by grade levels (K^-6) and then by other topical subdivisions, under which are annotated 5 to 10 books and other media, such as software or recordings. The topics do not remain constant across all the grade levels, so it could not be used to find books at all grade levels on dinosaurs or Roman history. Each entry notes the publisher and date of publication. There is no indication of ISBN, binding, or whether the item is available in another format or medium. The reading level is not indicated for any of the titles. Items that the authors "admire most" are designated "CC," or Core Collection.
The book begins with an essay by Hirsch and Holdren that details their philosophy and rationale. Each of the seven main subject areas begins with an introduction that lays a curricular foundation and sketches the scope and sequence for the subject. These introductory essays also contain information about the philosophy of Core Knowledge schools that would be helpful to people who are interested in school reform and the elementary canon. The book has a single subject, title, author, and illustrator index. The addresses of some special vendors are included in appropriate annotations.
Like The New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children, this is a popular rather than a professional tool, but libraries that serve Core Knowledge communities or schools of education will find it useful.