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Story Of The World #1 Ancient Times Revised [Paperback]

Susan Wise Bauer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 11 2006 Story of the World: History for the Classical Child (Book 1)
What terrible secret was buried in Shi Huangdi's tomb? Did nomads like lizard stew? What happened to Anansi the Spider in the Village of the Plantains? And how did a six-year-old become the last emperor of Rome? Told in a straightforward, engaging style that has become Susan Wise Bauer's trademark, The Story of the World series covers the sweep of human history from ancient times until the present. Africa, China, Europe, the Americas find out what happened all around the world in long-ago times. This first revised volume begins with the earliest nomads and ends with the last Roman emperor. Newly revised and updated, The Story of the World, Volume 1 includes maps, a new timeline, more illustrations, and additional parental aids. This read-aloud series is designed for parents to share with elementary-school children. Enjoy it together and introduce your child to the marvelous story of the world's civilizations. Each Story of the World volume provides a full year of history study when combined with the Activity Book, Audiobook, and Tests each available separately to accompany each volume of The Story of the World Text Book. Volume 1 Grade Recommendation: Grades 1-5.

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Review

This works wonderfully as a family read-aloud... There's plenty of dialogue and enough detail to keep adults interested. --Cafi Cohen, author of Homeschooling The Teen Years

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Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Series April 14 2009
Format:Audio CD
This is a marvelous series that is engaging and informative. As most public school systems teach very little history these can give a child or an adult a wonderful overview of the world. By using engaging stories about individual characters the tone is never pendantic and keeps the listener wanting more. My children listen to these repeatedly and I am thrilled with the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done Dec 24 2013
By Nancy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
We are using this for homeschool. I find that it, in combination with the activity book, makes for a wonderfully engaging ancient history course. Even I look forward to it every week -- history not being my strong point, I am learning from it too. It's a fun and accessible way for kids to learn about history. I would recommend it for those just wanting to cover the topic with their kids outside of school as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful June 27 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Susan Wise Bauer did an excellent job of telling the history of the world. The book is divided into short chapters (usually around 5 pages) that flow well and engage the reader. The language is very accessible for kids, making it easy for them to get interested in the story. As a teacher and parent, I definitely recommend this book to other teachers, homeschoolers, parents, and anyone who would enjoy learning more about the world. I plan on buying the other three books along with the workbooks.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  230 reviews
266 of 276 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent.... for its intended purpose March 28 2011
By homewith4 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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.
164 of 175 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, but some serious flaws March 6 2011
By larin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: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! ;-) )
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to an important subject. June 26 2010
By Busy Reader: Get To The Point - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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.
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best History for young elementary students. My 6yo LOVES this set. Dec 6 2007
By busymom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
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.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NOT BORING AT ALL! WE LOVE IT!! Dec 15 2007
By K. Nelson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
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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