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Story of the World, Vol. 1: History for the Classical Child: Ancient Times (Revised Second Edition) (Vol. 1) (Story of the World) Hardcover – September 17, 2006
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Bible stories are altered and presented as historical fact, while other religious beliefs are presented as stories. For example, she bases her account of Abraham on Judeo-Christian beliefs, but adds a discussion between God and Abraham where God gives the Christian interpretation of himself. Neither the Muslim nor the historical version are given any credence. She teaches as historical fact that God fights against Abraham's enemies, and has given the land of Israel to Abraham's only son Isaac. She will use this to argue against Muslim occupation of the land and support the Christian crusades.
After teaching that polytheists are not favored by God (as evidenced by the story of Moses again presented as historical), she attacks Hinduism. She avoids core Hindu beliefs, like non-violence, honesty, meditation etc, and focuses exclusively on the caste system, which is rejected by many Hindus and seen as cultural rather than religious. For Christianity, she presents the positive teachings of love and teaches as historical fact that Jesus rose from the dead.
The second volume is more of the same. She misrepresents Islam to make it look violent and aggressive and changed Christian history to make it seem benevolent. She does present Buddhism positively, but presents it as a philosophy rather than a religion, making it seem Christianity has done nothing wrong and is the only religion that teaches good values. It is certainly not a secular book as the author claims.
I would not recommend this book for anyone. Even for Christians, I think you can have faith without feeling the need to modify history or villanize other faiths. Christ taught we should love our enemies and speak well of them and that the truth will set you free. I believe you can see the good in other people without feeling threatened by them. I will try to teach that to my kids, but it won't be with this book.
If you are a secular homeschooler or even a non fundamentalist christian, be warned that this "world" history book begins 7000 years ago with the "earliest people/first nomads". It imply's that farming and agriculture began some unspecified time later. Archeologists believe that agriculure began about 12,000 years ago, making all previous (and some concurrent) people hunter gatherers.
This is our first year homeschooling our 4th grade daughter and we met and grilled many of the homeschool mothers in our area on their system of teaching. One of them recommended the Wise/Bauer book "The Well-Trained Mind" which seemed to be a very good fit for both my teaching style and our daughter's learning style. "The Well-Trained Mind" recommends, of course, this series of books for teaching history. But what a lot of people are missing, I think, is that Volume 1 is meant for 1st grade, Volume 2 for 2nd grade, etc. These 4 volumes are also meant to be the first of 3 levels of teaching history as the child goes through his/her 12 years of education. In other words, these four volumes are laying the groundwork for what's to come. It's not a be-all end-all history course.
The reason my approach is different is because I'm using this series of books to catch my daughter up to where a well-educated child should be by the 4th grade. Up through to the end of 3rd grade in the public school system, the only exposure she'd had to history is to the timespan just before and just after the American revolutionary war. So we had a lot of ground to cover. But I didn't want it to turn into a grind for her, so I took the authors' intentions to heart and I'm using this series to form a groundwork for a basic understanding of history.
So what I'm doing is covering all four volumes in 1 year. That works out to a little over 2 months per volume or 4 chapters (for Volume 1) per week. I skipped the activity book but did buy the workbook with the quizzes. We've read to our daughter since she was a baby and she still loves to be read to, so for the 1-hour class (which I hold twice a week) I read 2 chapters to her, discussing what we're reading as I go along. She loves it and the book is easy to read from. Before class starts, I give her 2 quizzes from the 2 chapters read in the previous class. She gets about as many questions right as I would and it's just to help reinforce what I've read to her.
So all the complaints about inaccuracies in the book and the author's religious slant (which I didn't find and I was looking for), they don't matter. What really matters is that my daughter enjoys learning about history (it's her favorite class) and she's building a foundation that can be built on in later years.
In addition to this series and its workbooks, I also picked up "The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia." Once a week I give her homework to read assigned pages from this book to reinforce or, perhaps, to give a different point of view on what she's just learned.
All history books will turn up people who will disagree with the content, will find inaccuracies in the material, or won't agree with the author's point of view. But, guess what? It doesn't matter. Your child is still young and you are filling in a background in history that his/her public school peers will never have.
Each chapter/track is 8-10 minutes so far, the narrator is interesting and we really enjoy history!