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314 of 326 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent.... for its intended purpose
We used this book last year and are now half way through the second volume. I think both books do a phenomenal job of meeting their stated purpose: to INTRODUCE world history in an engaging fashion to early elementary aged students. I think it's very important to purchase the activity book along with the book, as the activity book not only has tons of really fun and...
Published on March 28, 2011 by homewith4

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204 of 216 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, but some serious flaws
Having read and enjoyed Susan Wise Bauer's larger volume of history for adults, I was excited to use this book set with my children. Halfway through it I have decided to continue my search for a foundation for my history class.

My classroom experience using this text has been good in many ways. The story format is engaging, as history should be for a young...
Published on March 6, 2011 by larin


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314 of 326 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent.... for its intended purpose, March 28, 2011
This review is from: The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition (Paperback)
We used this book last year and are now half way through the second volume. I think both books do a phenomenal job of meeting their stated purpose: to INTRODUCE world history in an engaging fashion to early elementary aged students. I think it's very important to purchase the activity book along with the book, as the activity book not only has tons of really fun and reasonably simple activities that help bring history alive, but also contains stellar recommendations for further reading. The fact that many of those recommendations flat out contradict the viewpoints presented by the author in this book is an indication of Bauer's academic integrity, in my opinion.

Many of the critiques of this series hinge on the fact that the book is loaded with inaccuracies and mythology. It is. But even stick-to-the-facts-and-only-the-facts history text books (which are BORING) are full of inaccuracies. At least this is interesting. Also, an understanding of the intended purpose of the book is important. It's designed as a read-aloud, NOT to be read independently by the child. It's also designed to serve as an INTRODUCTION to historical topics and parents are encouraged to supplement the stories by doing further investigation. I'd like to see the book that could adequately present all of the complexities and varying historical arguments about a topic in two pages in a child-friendly format.

I think there is a Christian bias throughout the book, but as a non-Christian I haven't found that to be particularly problematic. For example, the story of the Exodus is presented in a much more factual format than many of the other mythologies in the book. There are plenty of people who believe in the absolute historical accuracy of that story, so for them that's just fine. If you don't, it's not like it's exactly difficult to point out to your child how extremely similar that story is to so many other religious mythologies of the time period (which are also included in the book). Again, that's why it's designed as a read-aloud, rather than a story to be read independently, so that the stories can inspire a discussion between the parent and the child. In areas that don't touch on sensitive topics for Christians, I've found the stories to be fairly balanced and there's plenty of places where Bauer points out the limitations of historical "knowledge."

For us, the books have served their purpose exactly. My 7 year old son thinks history is interesting and fun. He's also able to ask some pretty interesting questions and draw connections. The viewpoints he's acquiring through studying history in this format are thoughtful and he's not inclined to take everything he reads as verbatim truth. A few of his historical observations:
1- reacting to a story on the news about suicide bombers "That's not such a good idea. The Egyptians would have thought that the devourer would eat your heart if you carry around so much hatred in it."
2- reacting to another story about the conflict between modern day Iran and the US. "Why doesn't the Iranian government read their own history? If they'd treat people the way Cyrus the Great did they wouldn't have so many problems."
3- reaction to the story of David and Goliath- "Why was David so sure God would be on his side? Didn't the Jews teach that God created all people? So doesn't that mean that God created Goliath too? Then why is David so sure God will choose him?"
4- after reading about Confucious- "Oh, his teachings were a whole lot like the Buddha's teachings. Maybe they learned from the same place."
5- after reading about the Chinese invasion of Korea and the Frankish King Clovis' forced conversion to Christianity of his people- "These kings didn't pay very much attention to their own religions. How can the Chinese kings claim to be Buddhists and then attack Korea? And I don't know if the French people would really be Christians if they were forced to be but obviously Clovis wasn't a very good Christian. Christ never said you could cut somebody's head off if they didn't believe in Christ!"

Now, I contrast that to my own historical perspectives when I was his age and learning history (which was naturally confined to American history) in a 2nd grade public classroom: The pilgrims and the Indians were great friends, as indicated by the story of Thanksgiving. President Lincoln was always completely honest and he loved black people so he freed the slaves. Talk about bias. All in all, I'm not in the least concerned about the inaccuracies in Story of the World.
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204 of 216 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, but some serious flaws, March 6, 2011
This review is from: The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition (Paperback)
Having read and enjoyed Susan Wise Bauer's larger volume of history for adults, I was excited to use this book set with my children. Halfway through it I have decided to continue my search for a foundation for my history class.

My classroom experience using this text has been good in many ways. The story format is engaging, as history should be for a young person (in this case second and third graders). Including stories and myths from those times is not a bad thing, and it is up to the teacher to be able to help the student differentiate between the two. Remember that many of the people of these time periods did believe these things and based their cultures on them. That doesn't mean we have to take the stories as the truth, but knowing them gives us insight into other aspects of these cultures and how they developed further. Students should learn factual information, but I think many approaches to history are so factual that they end up becoming dry, dull drudgery for students, causing them to lose any enjoyment they may have had of the subject.

On that topic, I have greatly enjoyed working through some of the supplemental activities with my students. More importantly the students have loved the activities and have told their parents that history is their favorite subject. I do not do every activity, but choose the ones that give the students a stronger sense of what it would be like to live during this time period. Some of the suggestions in the activity guide have given me ideas for my own projects that the students have really enjoyed, as well. I have the first version of the activity guide and would not recommend it. I also teach art and would endorse very few of the drawings in the book; why expose your young people to such bad art? Buy a Dover or Bellerophon coloring book instead. I have seen some of the drawings in the newer books and they frequently strike me as being drawn in a fierce comic book style, which I'm not sure I like either. One of the benefits of the hands-on activities is that students remember them, which improves retention of the other information. The resources listed for each section are immensely helpful (although my library really needs to have more of them!).

With an engaging storyline approach, some interesting activities, helpful resources and students who are enjoying and remembering the history, what's not to like? There are three things that consistently bother me about this text: over-simplification of information, factual errors and poor writing that comes across as patronizing.

Many historical events can be complex and need simplification, but not to this level. There are several places where the history is condensed and simplified to the point that some events are represented inaccurately. The retelling of the Peloponnesian War should be an embarrassment to the author and the editors. To only mention Pericles' name in one sentence is disgraceful, given his importance during this time period. Unfortunately some of this simplification isn't even necessary, as in sections of the story of Cyrus. Even younger children can understand some of the events that are omitted.

The extreme simplification exacerbates, and at times creates, another problem: factual errors. This is part of the problem with the Peloponnesian War chapter; the story of Alcibiades contains many untrue statements. I am not even planning to use this chapter with my students. Instead we will be reading the story of Alcibiades from "Famous Men of Greece." It frustrates me to know that many people using this book will never catch these errors since they are not well-versed with history themselves. An example of this problem in the activity book is the picture of the Spartan boy hiding the fox: he is wearing Roman armor. Ironically this is one of the better drawings in the book, but I hope it has been removed in the revised version. Like some other users I have reordered some of the chapters to make better sense.

The last complaint I have about this book is the writing and word choice. Children are not simpletons. If we want them to grow up and not be simpletons in adulthood we need to challenge them and teach them, raising them up, not stooping down. Simple things such as word choice have frustrated me, which were not issues in her book for adults. One of the few banned words in my classroom is "got" because it is such a weak verb in most applications, yet it is used repeatedly throughout the text (I eventually began crossing it out in my book and replacing it with something stronger). Children develop an ear for and an understanding of language by encountering it, whether listening to it or reading it themselves, so we should expose them to well-written works. I am disappointed in the quality of the writing in this book.

Overall, I would chose this book over some other history programs I have seen, simply because it does engage students. I would rather see a child develop a love of subjects and learning in general during these younger years and have some of their factual information corrected later (some of which won't be remembered anyway; I also teach middle school and see how much is not retained unless the student really loved the subject). However, I have heavily supplemented in places to provide the information that has been left out (supplementing should happen in most programs, but not for this reason). For anyone looking for a history book with more meat, you might try the Famous Men series. Unfortunately it does not cover all time periods or cultures.

I hope this information is helpful in deciding if this book is right for you. I borrowed a copy from the library first and perused it, but didn't read deeply enough to see the flaws. It still has been very useful for me, but I would recommend you find one and examine it to decide for yourself whether or not the problems can be overcome. It's easy for me to do because I already know this section of history, but if you don't, I would recommend you make sure to use adequate supplemental materials. (But it's never too late for you to learn it too! ;-) )
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to an important subject., June 26, 2010
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I searched out this book after listening to Ms. Bauer's audiobook, "The History of the Medieval World," which is well worth an adult's time to digest. I am reading "The Story of the World" to my six-year-old son, and he loves it. I wasn't sure he would take to a long book without many pictures, so I'm pleasantly surprised.

Perhaps you should know my purpose and background, in order to evaluate this review. I am not an expert on history, as many reviewers here claim to be. If Ms. Bauer makes a historical mistake, it'll need to be glaring for me to catch it. My son attends a public school, so I'm not using this as a textbook at home. I want my son to know history because that's the best way to know what to expect from people. In our opinion, this book is excellent for its purpose. I'm sure we'll want more detailed, mature treatments of the subject later on. Right now, the beginning exposure is what's most important.

I read the negative reviews with interest. Most seem disappointed on religious grounds; either Ms. Bauer's story is too Christian or not Christian enough. I'm an atheist, and I think her treatment of myths and religious history is appropriate and manageable. I'm not expecting her to deliver enlightenment on that front. I encourage anyone interested to read the sample pages offered on the Amazon site. I think the gaps in this series can only be remedied by further reading, not an attempt to find one perfect textbook. Good luck to all you parents.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best children's narratives on the market, August 17, 2007
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This review is from: The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition (Paperback)
In my mind, S. Wise Bauer has attempted and succeeded: She has made history fun again. The children reading (or listening to) the books will not be writing a dissertation based upon what she has written-- but they will be inclined to pick up another history book, and another... Her writing will get them thinking and talking about history beyond dates.

That's why I like this series. I believe some of the negative reviewers have lost site of the purpose: To engage readers on an elementary level. If readers are following the classical model, they will see more detailed information about the events again (probably twice). This first go round just provides a point of reference for later study.

Examining historical events does not begin and end with one book or source. A true historian will pull together many resources in order to form a composite.

In defense of Bauer's writing, I think that some reviewers are expecting a grammar stage history "holy grail" of some sort. I have yet to find one. Every history book has it's pros and cons. In my mind, this one has more pros than cons.

Bauer does not claim to be the final resource or authority for grammar stage world history. As a matter of fact, she provides extensive lists of additional resources in her other books, like the Well Trained Mind and in the companion workbook. This is the main reason I give this book 4 stars. I wish I could give 4.5. Perhaps an abbreviated version of the resource lists should be included in each volume as an appendix if it is going to stand alone.

Overall, I think it's great for what it aims to do: spark discussion and develop life long learners.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best History for young elementary students. My 6yo LOVES this set., December 6, 2007
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I remember history as a series of dates and people that were to memorized. I was so nervous about including history in our school day. I ordered the SOTW and braced myself for the rolling eyes and groans. Needless to say, I have been pleasantly surprised. This morning at breakfast, my daughter asked if we were going to have history today because it is her favorite part of school.

The book reads like a story and is packed with information that is easy for young elementary students to understand. My four year old participates in every aspect of our lessons. She shocked her grandparents when she explained to them that Pharaoh Menes was also known as King Narmer and that he unified Egypt. I don't remember ever hearing his name!

This volume is designed to be used in the first grade. It is thoroughly engaging for it's intended audience. I must admit that I also look forward to history "class". I am finally understanding how the story all fits together. Bauer does an excellent job of telling the history and including the geography so that it is easy to see how and why things happened as they did.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT BORING AT ALL! WE LOVE IT!!, December 15, 2007
I don't know why the same reviewer listed 2 reviews saying this was a boring series, but they couldn't be more wrong. This is the perfect way to explore history, from beginning to end. The narration is fun and interesting. My 8-year-old and 5-year-old love to listen to the stories and enjoy the workbook as well. Even my 2-year-old will listen to it. It is perfect for the car or when you are eating in the morning, etc... Each chapter is about 10-15 minutes and broken down into 5 minute segments so it can be easily interrupted and returned to. I highly recommend this to anyone who finds history to be an important part of their child's education.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, January 12, 2013
Story of the World Volume 1 Ancient Times "From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor" is authored by Susan Wise Bauer. She is a faculty member of the College of William and Mary, and co-author of "The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home."
Story of the World Volume 1 Ancient Times is the first volume of a four volume "Story of the World" book set. The book is divided into forty-two chapters which are comprised of the following:
Introduction: How Do We Know What Happened? What is History? What is Archaeology?
Ch. 1 The Earliest People: The First Nomads; The First Nomads Become Farmers
Ch. 2 Egyptians Lived on the Nile River: Two Kingdoms Become One; Gods of Ancient Egypt
Ch. 3 The First Writing
Ch. 4 The Old Kingdom of Egypt: Making Mummies; Egyptian Pyramids
Ch. 5 The First Sumerian Dictator
Ch. 6 The Jewish People: God Speaks to Abraham; Joseph Goes to Egypt
Ch. 7 Hammurabi and the Babylonians
Ch. 8 The Assyrians: Shamshi-Adad, King of the Whole World; The Story of Gilgamesh
Ch. 9 The First Cities of India: The River Road; The Mystery of Mohenjo-Daro
Ch. 10 The Fare East: Ancient China: Lei Zu and the Silkworm; The Pictograms of China;
Farming in Ancient China
Ch. 11 Ancient Africa: Ancient Peoples of West Africa;
Anansi the Turtle; Anansi and the Make-Believe Food
Ch. 12 The Middle Kingdom of Egypt: Egypt Invades Nubia; The Hyksos Invade Egypt
Ch. 13 The New Kingdom of Egypt: The General and the Woman Pharaoh; Amenhotep and King Tut
Ch. 14 The Israelites Leave Egypt: The Baby Moses; The Exodus from Egypt
Ch. 15 The Phoenicians: Phoenician Traders; The Founding of Carthage
Ch. 16 The Return of Assyria: Ashurbanipal's Attack; The Library on Ninevah
Ch. 17 Babylon Takes Over Again: Nebuchadnezzar's Madness; The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Ch. 18 Life in Early Crete: Bull-jumpers and Sailors; King Minos and the Minotaur;
The Mysterious End of the Minoans
Ch. 19 The Early Greeks: The Mycenaeans; The Greek Dark Ages
Ch. 20 Greece Gets Civilized Again: Greece Gets and Alphabet; The Stories of Homer;
The First Olympic Games
Ch. 21 The Medes and the Persians: A New Empire; Cyrus the Great
Ch. 22 Sparta and Athens: Life in Sparta; Life in Athens
Ch. 23 The Greek Gods
Ch. 24 The Wars of the Greeks: Greece's War with Persia; The Greeks Fight Each Other
Ch. 25 Alexander the Great; Philip and His Son; Alexander's Invasions; The Death of Alexander
Ch. 26 The People of the Americas: The Nazca Drawings; The Head of the Olmecs;
Rabbit Shoots the Olmecs
Ch. 27 The Rise of Rome: Romulus and Remus; The Power of Rome
Ch. 28 The Roman Empire: The Roman Gods; The Roman Builders; The Roman Gladiators;
The Gladiator School
Ch. 29 Rome's War with Carthage
Ch. 30 The Aryans of India: Life on the Ganges River; The Castes of Ancient India; Shiddhartha
Ch. 31 The Mauryan Empire of India: The Empire United; The Jakata Tales
Ch. 32 China-Writing and the Qin: Calligraphy in China; Warring States;
The First Emperor and the Great Wall; The First Emperor's Grave
Ch. 33 Confucius
Ch. 34 The Rise of Julius Caesar: Caesar Kidnapped; The Consuls of Rome; Caesar and the Senate
Ch. 35 Caesar the Hero: Caesar Fights the Celts; Caesar Crosses the Rubicon; Caesar and Cleopatra;
The Death of Caesar
Ch. 36 The First Roman Prince
Ch. 37 The Beginning of Christianity: The Birth of Jesus; Jesus Crucified and Resurrected
Ch. 38 The End of the Ancient Jewish Nation
Ch. 39 Rome and the Christians: Nero, the Evil Emperor; Christians in the Catacombs;
The Emperor is a Christian!
Ch. 40 Rome Begins to Weaken: The British Rebellion; Rome Divided in Two
Ch. 41 The Attacking Barbarians: Attila the Hun; Stilicho, Roman and Barbarian;
The Coming of the Visigoths
Ch. 42 The End of Rome: The Last Roman Emperor; The Gifts of Rome
To round out your history curriculum I would highly recommend purchasing the activity books and test packets which accompany each volume. These resources are available in either paperback or PDF-download.
Based on our experience with this series and the content of the curriculum, I would recommend it for Grades 5-8. Overall we have been pleased with Ms. Bauer's approach to world history and look forward to Story of the World Volume 2 The Middle Ages "From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance."
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42 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for all ages, June 21, 2008
This review is from: The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition (Paperback)
I homeschooled our older daughter for six years back in the Dark Ages (the mid 90's). We switched over to learning about history chronologically, a relatively "new" idea then,after being convinced at a curriculum fair presentation of its sensibleness. It was the best advice we ever had, and that daughter is graduating college next year as a history major, and as president of her history honorary fraternity. (We used GreenLeaf Press' "Famous Men..." series, BTW.)
Now 10 years later we are taking our younger daughter out and will begin homeschooling her in 2nd grade. Enough of the public school "Twaddle"!!
"Famous Men" is too high a reading comprehension level for her, so I have been researching the plethora of chrono-history books out there to find an alternative. I followed the guidelines by Susan Wise Bauer of "The Well-Trained Mind" to use "The Story of the World" series.
However, after thumbing through it and comparing it with others, I do not feel it will hold the interest of my wiggly 7 year-old. The reading level seems minimally for 4th-grade. I wouldn't want to turn her off right from the start.
For me the benchmark is Hillyers' "A Child's History of the World." The writing style is so personal, clever, and engaging. But if you want a curriculum that has an even stronger Christian bent, and that teaches from a Biblical chronology, look into Linda Hobar's "The Mystery of History". This author comes closest to Hillyer's wit and child-friendliness, and yet does not dumb it down. There are age-appropriate activities built right into the book (no second purchase required), plus instructions on making your own timeline and historical figures to add as you read. (a la a famous Unit Study series). Like "History of the World", it is a several-volume series. You will probably have to go outside Amazon to find it. ([...])
Another very Christian-based chrono-history curriculum is "Tapestry of Grace." Not as "warm and fuzzy" in my view, but lots of great multi-age teaching and activities that suppport a classical education. Appropriate through high school.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Improved revised edition, May 24, 2006
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This review is from: The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times: From the Earliest Nomads to the Last Roman Emperor, Revised Edition (Paperback)
Just a few comments about changes made in the revised edition. The overall chapter structure is identical to the original and so the revised edition is still compatible with the activity book. For the most part the text is unchanged, though there is for example an added section on the system dating BC/BCE and AD/CE (probably other minor change that I haven't yet noticed). The quality of the pictures is much improved. Also the appendices now include a guide to pronounciation and a chronology.
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91 of 115 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Just because a book is written FOR children, doesn't mean it should read as though it were written BY a child, July 10, 2009
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My kids and I are big Jim Weiss fans and discovered this series through a Greathall Productions brochure. My 8 and 10 year old are both history buffs, I'd been looking for good chldren's history books, and I thought I'd found it.

I can't speak to the content because the writing was so bad. I read the first chapter, skimmed a few more and now I'm returning the book. Just because the intended audience is kids, doesn't mean the book should read as though it were written by a child. I expect rich language, interesting words, complex sentences even in the books my children read. But more than the boring writing, I was put off by her disrespect for children. The tone is patronizing. If, like me, you cringed when adults spoke to your child in baby talk, this book is not for you.

I had my 8 year old start reading the book, too, to see if she had a different impression. She started out enthusiastic, reading aloud to me the parts she found interesting, but after the second chapter she had her review, "this is boring." Although she wanted to learn more about the Egypt, the simplistic writing style couldn't hold her attention.

Next up I'm going to try EH Gombrich's book A Little History of the World. According to Publisher's Weekly "Gombrich never talks down to (the children). Using vivid imagery, storytelling and sly humor, he brings history to life in a way that adults as well as children can appreciate". That sounds like what I'm looking for.
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