Title: Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times
Author: Susan Wise Bauer
Series: Story of the World, book 1
Major Themes: World History, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome
Synopsis: The history of the world, from the beginnings of Egyptian civilization through the fall of Rome, is told in an interesting way for children.
I have just finished reading Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times aloud for the second time. As on my first time through, a few years ago, I enjoyed the way Susan Wise Bauer tells the history of the world as a story. My children think it’s boring, because it’s not quite written like a novel, but for a history book I think it’s pretty good. Certainly much better than the history curriculum we used when I was a child!
Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times begins with the story of Ancient Egypt, and continues on with the story of Sumeria, the Jewish people, Hammurabi and the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and India, China and Africa. We also read about the Phoenicians and then spent several chapters in ancient Greece and Rome, while taking short side trips to the Americans, India, and China again. This volume ends with the fall of the Roman Empire.
As a spine for a study of world history, The Story of the World is wonderful. I like to read from it, then read other books to fill in and round out the picture of what happened and how people lived. Just keep in mind that the author is not writing from a Creationist/Christian worldview. The first few chapters reflect the prevailing view, which I believe is incorrect, that the first people were wandering hunter/gatherers and cavemen. Yes, some people did live that way immediately after the dispersion from the Tower of Babel, but early people were not stupid and ignorant. They were very intelligent. Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now—other than that problem, which you’ll want to discuss with your children as you read those chapters, this book is great.
There is an activity book to go along with this volume. For each lesson, there are comprehension questions, a narrative exercise, map work, and a coloring page. There is also a long list (in most cases) of additional history reading and corresponding literature suggestions, and 3-4 craft/cooking/game suggestions. I have not used this book, although I’ve looked at it fairly thoroughly. It just doesn’t fit our family, but I’m sure most families would benefit from it.
WARNING: See second-last paragraph of the review.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15