A movement toward teaching children chronological world history has led many to revisit older texts. Christine Miller (author of All Through the Ages) has revised and expanded a series of history texts written by Helene A. Guerber in the late 19th century as a contribution to the growing number of reprints available. Each book is written in a lively style that presents historical facts as interesting elements of a bigger story, not just useless data to be memorized.
How Do These Work?
These don't "work" in the typical sense. There are no tests, workbooks, or teacher guides. Each text covers a certain era or region in history, telling an engaging storywithout condescending. Chapters are short, so reading one or two a day won't be a chore. These could even make good read-alouds for very young kids.
In the back of each book is an extensive timeline, a recommended reading list, and a detailed index. The timeline helps put events and figures in perspective, while the reading list offers ideas for further study. Each volume includes lots of black and white illustrations and maps.
These are not Guerber's original texts. Christine Miller has revised, expanded and re-named them. Guerber's writing style has been preserved, but there is significantly more information. Guerber and Miller share a strong Christian worldview, and the material reflects this. The first volume, The Story of the Ancient World, contains a fair amount of Old Testament history, all assumed to be factual.The Christian view is unobtrusive, but if you're looking for religion-neutral texts you'll want to look elsewhere.
The series covers world history from Creation to the beginning of the 20th century. European and U.S. history is emphasized, though consideration is given to other cultures and regions. This is a survey; children get a brief rundown on key people and events and are rushed on to the next exhibit. While many high schoolers (and even adults) could benefit from the cohesive narrative arc in which the flow of history is presented, you'll probably have best success with kids grades 4-8. They'll be able to handle the digestible chapters on their own, and it's good for them to get an overview before more specific study. Since there are no study questions, getting them to repeat the content of each chapter in their own words might be a good idea to ensure comprehension and retention.
Our Honest Opinion:
Too many kids are turned off by history at a young age because their textbooks offer a dry or sterile presentation. Because this series is engaging and informative, students will likely find themselves enthralled by the story of history. Don't let these be the last world history your child gets, however; an excellent option after you finish the series (it should take two or three years) would be to compile your own reading list from Christine Miller's All Through the Ages. Chances are your children would even be able to appreciate an actual history textbook after the Guerber series. If so, you might try the Streams of Civilization books from CLP or BJU's World History.
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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