If you’ve been part of a homeschooling group for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of Susan Wise Bauer’s history series entitled The Story Of The World. I heard about it first from the homeschooling playgroup we used to be a part of, back when we still lived in the ‘burbs of Dallas.
I heard good things about it, and decided to give it a try. It sounded like an easy way to teach social studies.
The series includes four volumes, and (against the instructions of the author), we’ve gone through all four at least once (the first three, twice; and the first two, three times). The first volume is intended for younger children, and begins with pre-historic times when everyone was a hunterer/gatherer. By the fourth volume, you are reading about the Berlin Wall coming down and the breaking apart of the U.S.S.R.
The good points of The Story Of The World
- It hits all the important events in world history, in order.
- Therefore, it is an easy way to give your child(ren) a broad overview of the subject.
- Each book includes an appendix that tells you how to pronounce the difficult names that came up.
- Because it is world history, it automatically includes a lot of world geography teachable moments.
- If your child is reading at or above grade level, by the time they are eleven or so they can probably read the books themselves.
- I learned from it. I didn’t take history beyond the American History course that was required in tenth grade, and whatever world history I learned before that was scant compared to the information in The Story Of The World.
- Purchasing this series is much cheaper than purchasing four years of a social studies curriculum from a curriculum publisher.
- It’s available on Kindle. 🙂
The not-so-good points
- Why did Bauer put the pronunciation of the names in the back of the books, instead of in parentheses the first time the names occur? I found this to be an annoying inconvenience.
- Wars, wars, and more wars. That got old. (I know, I know, history is full of wars, but it’s full of a lot of other non-violent events. I would like to see a more balanced view of how the world developed.)
- Seriously lacking in the details of American history. Since the author’s target market is homeschooling Americans, she might have pulled back on the ancient Asian wars and given more details about the founding and development of the United States. IMHO.
The bad point
Let me talk to Susan for a minute: Girlfriend, Jesus did NOT come to start a new religion! Read your Bible! He was against religion from the get-go! Jesus did not invent Christianity, people did. Jesus came to reconnect us to our Creator, and to reveal the kingdom of Heaven.
At least I don’t have any pet peeves. 😉
A-hem, in case you’re wondering, yes, Bauer states in one of the books that Jesus brought a new religion.
Long story short
The Story Of The World is a good foundational resource for world history. But Susan Bauer herself recommends that you don’t use the series as the be-all, end-all for your homeschooling social studies curriculum, only as a jumping-off point.
I, personally, have set it aside for the moment and am focusing on reading the American History sections from each of the Core Knowledge (What Your First/Second/Etc. Grader Needs To Know) books. I will probably get back to it eventually – maybe have B read a chapter a day once he gets to that point – but for the moment, we need something fresh.
And in case you’re wondering, the Core Knowledge books do cover the basics in world history, as well. And they are probably free at your local library. Just sayin’.