The Greenleaf history series is based on classic children's history texts by John H. Haaren and A. B. Poland. The original texts were revised and updated by Robert and Cyndi Shearer, who also composed accompanying student guides. This is similar to the Memoria Press history series (both publishers use the same texts as their basis), with a much more Protestant bias. In fact, whereas Memoria Press used a Haaren-Poland text for their Modern Times segment, Robert Shearer wrote his own volume to better address the Protestant Reformers. There are also two introductory texts that cover the Old Testament and Egypt, but these are significantly different in style and approach from the rest of the series.
How Do These Work?
The Greenleaf Guide to Ancient Egypt is a unit study guide and informal introduction to the study of history. Ten lessons cover the Two Kingdoms to Rameses II. A variety of texts are suggested for study, though you can choose your own. If you choose your own you'll need to make sure they cover the information in the guide, as the exercises and study questions are specific for each lesson. This is a guide to direct your study rather than a stand-alone text.
The Greenleaf Guide to the Old Testament is less unit study-oriented than the ancient Egypt text. The only supplementary book you need is the Old Testament. There are three texts the authors highly recommend, but none of the exercises or reading assignments reference them.Study questions teach and illuminate, and by the end students will be intimately acquainted with the figures and events of the Old Testament. This is neither a doctrinal study nor a technically historical study, but rather a survey of the story of Israel and the nations around it. Ethical and moral conclusions are drawn in some of the lessons, but these are general to Christianity and not specific to a certain theological or denominational background.
The next three texts are more uniform. There are two elements for each—the student text (by Haaren and Poland, with revisions), and the non-consumable guide including study questions, vocabulary, and suggestions for further study. Laminated, fold-up timecharts are also available. The student books are illustrated with famous paintings in black and white, and the text is clear and readable. The guides aren't really teacher editions as there isn't much support material; they are mainly intended to reinforce material found in the primary text.
The titles and order of these texts are Famous Men of Greece, Famous Men of Rome, and Famous Men of the Middle Ages. Each is divided into manageable chapters that correspond to the lessons in the guide. The chapters are all devoted to famous figures in Greek, Roman and European history, but they aren't just biographies—important events and trends are also discussed. Students will not gain a comprehensive view of any period of history from these texts, but when they go on to more serious study they will be familiar with much of the material.
Famous Men of the Reformation and Renaissance follows the same format as the other volumes, but the student text was written by Robert Shearer. As mentioned above, this text deals more (and more sympathetically) with Protestants than the corresponding Modern Times text from Memoria Press. Shearer writes in a similar style to Haaren and Poland, so students won't be shocked by a radically different voice (though some students complain it's less enjoyable).
This series is intended for younger students. Don't use this with high schoolers—not only are they prepared for more information, they will be uncomfortable with the style which was intended for elementary students. Students (grades 3-8, ideally) will be introduced to history's prominent points, and be prepared to tackle each topic more thoroughly in high school.
Our Honest Opinion:
For introductory history this is a good choice. Young students won't be put off by an overpowering textbooky approach. The course isn't overly rigorous, but is as thorough as it needs to be. Many parents appreciate the distinctly Christian tone without preachy or moralistic overtones. Though it is more textbooky and dry, a good place to go from here might be the Streams of Civilization books from Christian Liberty Press. If your student likes history, you might also simply have him read books about important periods and people, or history topics he's particularly interested in.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviewshere.
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