Welcome to my Build Your Own Homeschool Library series where I'm sharing with my readers some of my favorite books from my homeschool shelf. Please note that all the posts in this series contain my own opinions, and I have not been compensated by any publishing company for any of the content.
Written for grades 1 through 6, The Story of the World is a set of four well-written volumes covering the four major periods of history:
The text is truly a telling of the story of history rather than a listing of dry facts such as names and dates. Susan Wise Bauer has done an excellent job in communicating the major points and characters of each period of history. Furthermore, while each chapter could stand on its own most of the time, Bauer often relates the narratives from one civilization to what was happening at the same time in other parts of the world. My own children finished these books remembering more than just the names of historical figures; they felt like they knew many of them personally.
These books are excellent as read-alouds, although if necessary, an older elementary student could read them independently.
The organization of the books is intended to work with the Classical method of homeschooling which often follows a 4-year cycle of history, meaning that a child will study each period of history on a progressively deeper level three times in his school career. But, of course, you don't have to be a Classical homeschooler to use these books.
The Story of the World is a very easy way to introduce history to your children, especially for new homeschoolers. It's inexpensive and easy to plan, and the texts provide an excellent foundation for the study of history.
The books are also an efficient way to do a refresher course for older students, such as middle schoolers. It wouldn't take long for a middle school student to reread the books over the course of a summer as a way to do an overall review of history — to get the big picture.
How to use the books
We started reading these books (if I remember correctly) in our second year of homeschooling. I read the the first three books aloud and then had the older two read the last book on their own. We didn't use the accompanying activity books that can be purchased with the main texts; we used them simply as readers. Consequently, we finished the four books in two years, although many homeschoolers prefer to spread them over four years.
Audio CD's are also available for each of the texts. Many homeschoolers like to use these in the car or have their children listen on their own.
You can also expand the curriculum, adding the activity books and tests. The activity books contain map work, hands-on activities, discussion questions, and extra reading suggestions, so you could easily spread each volume over one year, reading other books along with the main texts and doing many of the related activities.
I would highly recommend that you try to find hardback copies of each of the books so they are more durable. I was able to purchase all my hardbacks for less than the cost of a new paperback by using the book comparison site AddAll.com. It's definitely worth the time to compare prices for these books online.
View a subject-by-subject list of all the posts in the Build Your Own Homeschool Library series here.
(This post is linked to Works for Me Wednesday.)