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134 of 138 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good history survey for young children.
Our children (ages 7 & 9) are very much enjoying their study of the Middle Ages using Volume 2 of Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World: History for the Classical Child.
Because it is written very simply and aimed at children from 1st through 4th grade, I had been supplementing this book with Greenleaf's Guide to Famous Men of the Middle Ages. However, if we...
Published on August 5, 2003 by Kathleen F

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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There's good news and there's bad news
So, on the one hand, this book fills a niche that is echoingly empty: the reasonably engaging history spine.

The bad news: If you read modern history research, you'll find yourself frequently arguing with this book. I get a real sense that Bauer's not one to stray from the hide-bound school of history. Yes, she's clearly done a lot of research - but only in the...
Published on September 14, 2010 by wackyseester


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134 of 138 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good history survey for young children., August 5, 2003
By 
Kathleen F (Austin, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
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Our children (ages 7 & 9) are very much enjoying their study of the Middle Ages using Volume 2 of Susan Wise Bauer's Story of the World: History for the Classical Child.
Because it is written very simply and aimed at children from 1st through 4th grade, I had been supplementing this book with Greenleaf's Guide to Famous Men of the Middle Ages. However, if we study each of the "Famous Men" (which is confined to Europe and surrounding areas) in addition to all the topics in Story of the World, Volume 2 (which includes history from Asia, Africa, the Americas and Australia)-- well, we'd NEVER finish! For that reason, we decided to lay aside the Greenleaf Guides until their middle school years.
Susan Wise Bauer writes in a very engaging manner for young students. She writes as though she were speaking directly to them. My children just love the stories in this book! My son would read it all up in a day or two if I would allow him to.
This is the main book we use as our history spine. We supplement it with many library books that correspond to the chapter of SOTW that we are studying. I would not recommend using this book as your ONLY source of history. It is not intended to be used as such, and it simply cannot meet all your history needs.
To be honest, I am somewhat disappointed in the many spelling errors I have found in this book. Perhaps it was rushed to press because so many homeschoolers were eagerly awaiting the sequel to Volume 1. My son delights in finding the errors, and together we correct them in the text.
All in all, if you are looking for an easy way to introduce world history to your child, I recommend using this book as your entry point. When you reach a chapter that particularly interests your child, find LOTS of library books about that topic.
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66 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars European history--but MUCH more, September 17, 2003
By A Customer
I bought this book as a follow up to Ancient Times, the first volume in the series. That book was great--but this one is better. It covers a very complicated time of history in a simple, straightforward way that helps students makes connections between events all over the world--not just in Europe, but in the Americas before colonialism, in Africa, in Asia, in Australia. The author also talks about great works of literature and even retells some of them to give readers a little more insight into the times. We loved the story of Beowulf told in rhyming couplets! For the first time I have a good grasp of the order of events leading from the MIddle Ages into the Renaissance and Reformation--and my children are EXCITED about the study of history. Highly recommended. Can't wait for Volume Three.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great history book for young children, February 19, 2004
By 
Henry Cate III (CA. United States) - See all my reviews
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Susan Wise Bauer has done it again. This book is a quick read for adults, but it is packed with information. The target audience is young children, after all it is "The Story of the World" and it doesn't bore young children. Our children often would rather hear the next chapter than go play. And sometimes I'll catch my oldest reading it on her own.
The book does a good job of providing a balanced look at the major events during the Middle Ages. The book will focus on one area of the world, going over the major events, who was in charge, and who accomplished some of the important things, like discovering America. Then the book will move on to another part of the world for a couple chapters.
Susan Wise Bauer did an excellent job of weaving in various parts of history. For example in talking about a culture the book might go into a major myth or story of the group. The variety in pacing flows nicely from history, to what it might have been like to live at the time in a given culture, to some of these myths, and then back again. This helps keep the children interested.
The book is just right for young children. When they are young they don't need another 1000 pages of details most of us forget anyways. This book is written in such away that young children really want to listen, they want to know what happened, and then what will happen next. They can develop a love for history such that they'll go back and read in more detail about the parts of history they found interesting.
If you are looking for a good book for young children covering the major events of world history during the Middle Ages, this is the best I've found.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT!, March 25, 2005
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While this book is designed for younger elementary children, I believe it is more concisely thorough than most high school students will ever retain. I am using it for late elementary and middle school students who are captivated by the stories which springboard their interest into deeper reading. We are, of course, supplementing every few sections with an appropriate grade level novel. I love that "whole world" approach which skips back and forth between the major cultures at each time frame. Most sources overfocus on European World History and eliminate the co-existing and critically, historically important Islamic and Eastern cultures. I would venture to say that most adults do not have the unified historical threads keenly integrated. My "kids" are learning the basic flow of history with a high degree of retention using this curriculum with historical literature supplementation.

I would skip the activity book due to philosophical concerns (which I have posted under the activity book listing) if it were not true that the maps and question review are very important.

We did add Sherri Payne's Around the World in 180 Days geography program to this. We hopscotched through the continental studies as we encountered them in SOTW, even breaking down the "Define" and "Term" sections into specific areas of SOTW study. When the year of history was done, 99% of the geography course was done, as well. It fit together well. I think the kids appreciated the variety of dividing the continent sections up a bit over the year, rather than an exhaustive study all in one length time frame.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There's good news and there's bad news, September 14, 2010
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So, on the one hand, this book fills a niche that is echoingly empty: the reasonably engaging history spine.

The bad news: If you read modern history research, you'll find yourself frequently arguing with this book. I get a real sense that Bauer's not one to stray from the hide-bound school of history. Yes, she's clearly done a lot of research - but only in the We've Thought This Way For Decades And We're Not Admitting We Could Be Wrong Now libraries. I also dislike that certain things are presented in such a way that younger children would take them as fact.

A minor example would be the "Ring around the rosy" bit - Bauer writes that "Many historians think that this nursery rhyme got its start in the days of the Black Death." That's BS - the theory is specious, but the information is presented as fact. A child, however, can't be expected to know this, much less catch the subtle CYA of "Many historians think..."

On the other hand, Bauer's work has these things going for it:

- It covers world history - not exhaustively, but enough to teach a child that the world is a big place that contains more than just Europe and America.
- It's a good reference work for teaching history - even if you just buy it for ideas on major points to cover with your kid and then never expose them to it, it's a friendlier way to approach history than an encyclopedia. And speaking of which...

We enjoyed the first volume of this series, but I'm personally having a lot of problems with the second. Unfortunately, there aren't many books that fall in this category. The van Loon The Story of Mankind, Original Edition (Yesterday's Classics) is enjoyable, but I don't feel it covers world history as well as this series has so far.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child Vol 2: The Middle Ages, March 16, 2006
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I purchased Volume 1 of the series (there are 4 Volumes)and my son loved it so we went ahead with Volume 2. I found the book appropriate for Grades 1 through 4 but my Fifth Grader enjoyed the book because many topics are covered concisely. For older students (Grades 5 to 8) I would also recommend using "Kingfisher History Encyclopedia" concurrently.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I learned as much as my kids!, November 19, 2003
By A Customer
This series is FANTASTIC. I can't wait for Volumes 3 and 4 to come out! For anyone who hated history in school (as I did), this is a welcome change. I know it sounds cliche, but history really comes alive in Susan Wise Bauer's writing. We got the spiral version of the book, and we also got the Activity Book for it (in looseleaf, to put in a 3-ring binder), and have been thrilled with them. Everyone I've been able to show the books to has been blown away. Thanks, Mrs. Bauer, for writing such a great resource!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great SUPPLEMENT to the book, October 17, 2007
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This review is from: The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, Volume 2 Audiobook: The Middle Ages: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of the Renaissance, Revised Edition (9 CDs) (Audio CD)
We really enjoy using the CDs with the books. Keep in mind, however, that the CDs don't include the illustrations that are in the books. These make a great supplement, but I wouldn't use them to REPLACE the books.
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79 of 102 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A lot is missing, June 3, 2009
By 
Unaware Buyer (Southern California) - See all my reviews
I'm trying to work with The Story of the World, Vol. 2: The Middle Ages. With respect, how does one write a history of the Middle Ages and leave out:

Cathedrals ("The medieval cathedrals of Europe--there are over a hundred of them--are the greatest accomplishments of humanity in the whole theatre of art." P. Johnson, Art: A New History [New York: HarperCollins, 2003]; p. 153): they were the center of both secular and religious life in the Middle Ages.

An explanation of how the monks in Ireland kept Western Civilization alive and re-introduced it to the continent.

The Rule of Benedict (a foundational document for Western civilization, right up there with the Magna Carta, that has influenced everything from constitutional government to corporate organization.)

Scholasticism & Humanism (yes, it began in the Middle Ages): Thomas Aquinas and his Summa Theologica, marrying Greek rationalism and Christian theology, which has made Western Civilization the unique creation it is, arguably the most successful and influential civilization the world has seen to date. Aquinas developed, among other things, the concept of natural law and God-given rights. The line from Aquinas to Jefferson is profoundly important.

Guilds (the valuing of labor, the attendant social mobility that came with guilds, including the beginnings of a middle class)

The founding of universities by the Church

The establishment of hospitals by the Church

The cessation of slavery in Western Europe because of Christianity

In sum, the book does not report the pre-eminent role and the great contributions of the Church in creating what we have come to know as Western Civilization. Consider what Kenneth Clark writes:

" ... [T]hree or four times in history man has made a leap forward that would have been unthinkable under ordinary evolutionary conditions. One such time was about the year 3000 BC, when quite suddenly civilization appeared, not only in Egypt and Mesopotamia but in the Indus valley; another was in the late sixth century BC, when there was not only the miracle of Ionia and Greece--philosophy, science, art, poetry, all reaching a point that wasn't reached again for 2000 years--but also in Indian spiritual enlightenment that has perhaps never been equaled. Another was around the year 1100. It seems to have affected the whole world; but its strongest and most dramatic effect was in Western Europe--where it was most needed. In every branch of life--action, philosophy, organization, technology--there was an extraordinary outpouring of energy, an intensification of existence. ... These changes imply a new social and intellectual background. They imply wealth, stability, technical skill and, above all, the confidence necessary to push through a long-term project. How had all this suddenly appeared in Western Europe? Of course there are many answers, but one is overwhelmingly more important than the others: the triumph of the Church. It could be argued that western civilization was basically the creation of the Church." (K. Clark, Civilisation [New York, 1969], pages 33-35)

That story is missing from Bauer's account of the Middle Ages.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Look at History, March 2, 2008
By 
I began with Story of the World Vol. 1 by recommendation of a friend. I think I've enjoyed this volume even more. The chapters are short and are written in a way that holds my son's attention well (he just turned eight). I highly recommend getting the activity book to accompany this. It contains maps, coloring pages, games, review cards, and many suggestions for crafts to illustrate each chapter. There are also comprehension questions, narration, and suggestions for further reading.

My daughter is almost six, and she is not as excited about this series. I think if we didn't have the activity book she would not enjoy history at all. That may simply be because it's not her interest, while my son likes anything non-fiction, but it is also written a bit above her comprehension level. I would wait to use this until at least age seven. My son at this point begs me to read just one more chapter every day.

As for those who've said this is historical inaccurate, I would say that I haven't found a huge margin of error. When I have come across something that contradicts what I've learned elsewhere, I consider it an opportunity to dialog with my kids about it. Or I skip it. I also believe that at this age my focus is to expose them to the idea of history and culture rather than to drill them on historical facts.
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