Thursday, May 9, 2013

Story of the World - Book Recommendations

In my humble opinion the booklist alone in the Story of the World Activity Guide makes it a worth while investment.When I began recording our homeschool journey on this blog nearly a year ago I was including our favorite books from each week as we went. I'm not going to provide a complete list of books we've enjoyed, but for both my own future reference as well as any of our homeschool friends who look at this blog, I did want to include our favorites from the SOTW recommendations. The books I've chosen to share are those the kids enjoyed the most, did the best job of presenting or demonstrating a concept or culture, and were not books I would have likely come across on my own. I have provided this list in order of preference not subject matter.
If I had to recommend one book from this year above all others it would be Solomon and the Ant: And Other Jewish Folktales, by Sheldon Oberman (Boyds Mill Press, 2006). There are 43 short stories in this collection and each one is entertaining as well as teaching a lesson. It's hard to say if the kids or adults enjoyed these folktales more. This is a book we have purchased for our own home library and I've also purchased copies to give to family and friends. Everyone should check this book out (literally) today!

This version of Homer's Illiad is another must have; Black Ships Before Troy: The story of the Illiad, by Rosemary Sutcliff (Laurel Leaf, 2005). Reagan especially loved this book!  While it is a simplified version of the Illiad it is still a longer book. We enjoyed reading this as a family one story/chapter at a time during our nightly storytime before bed. It does a great job of introducing kids to the story of the Illiad, and all its' epic heros. Make sure to get the illustrated version when checking out or purchasing this book.

Another great book that Reagan especially enjoyed is a funny story by the name of Archimedes Takes a Bath, by Joan M. Lexau (Crowell, 1969). The story is about a young boy who is given the task of making sure the great, but absentminded, Archimedes eats and bathes on a semi-regular basis. It is during one of his baths the "Archimedes' principle" is discovered.

Hannibal and His 37 Elephants, by Marilyn Hirseh (Holiday House, 1977) is according to SOTW the only children's picture-book available related to the Punic-Wars. We had to work a little harder to get this book (first and only time I've used interlibrary loans where the book came from out-of-state), but it was well worth it. It was a so interesting reading about Hannibal's journey from Carthage to Rome across the Medditeranean Sea as well as the Alps. Can you imagine that journey with 37 elephants? Can you imagine being a Roman and watching a herd of war elephants descend upon ou in Italy? If this book weren't out of print it would be in our home library too!

The Monkey and the Crocodile: A Jataka Tale from India, by Paul Galdone (Clarion, 1987) would probably be Jackson's top pick and recommendation of the year. We've had to renew this book several times and it is a frequent bedtime favorite. The story is about a tricky crocodile and an even trickier little monkey!
Jabuti the Tortoise, by Gerald McDermott (Voyager, 2005) is a South American tale that focuses on how the tortoise's shell came to be cracked. It also discusses the colors and special features of several other animals. Both girls loved this book but this was probably Kennedy's favorite book of the year. Many of the books I've recommended were too long to use in our co-op class, this is one we could use and the other co-op kids requested it in subsequent weeks.

From our study of India I would recommend the book One Grain of Rice by Demi (Scholastic, 1997). The library description is good for this book "A reward of one grain of rice doubles day by day into millions of grains of rice when a selfish raja is outwitted by a clever village girl." Besides being a good story it's a great math story since it shows how quickly numbers multiply!

Roman Myths, by Geraldine McCaughrean, illus Emma Chichester Clark (Margaret K. McElderry, 2000) is a wonderful collection of the most well known Roman Myths. It is a great way to introduce and share Roman Mytholgy with children.

D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths, by Edgar Parin d'Aulaire (Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1962) is a wonderful collection of all the best loved Greek Myths. Much like the Roman Myth book, it is a great way to introduce Greek Mytholgy to children as well as share these incredible stories as a family.

The Lost Horse: A Chinese Folktale, by Ed Young (Silver Whistle, 1998). This is an interesting story showing how things we think are unlucky can infact be lucky and vice versa.

Anyone who has looked can tell you there are many books to choose from on Egyptian Gods and Goddesses. We found Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, by Henry Barker (Grossett & Dunlap, 1999) was a clear and concise book that kept the kids attention while still being informative.

"Julius Caesar," from Tales from Shakespeare, by Marcia Williams (Candlewick Press, 2004) is a nice way to begin exploring Shakespeare. The book is laid out in a comic book style. The story is told in modern English while the characters have bubbles above their heads using direct quotes from the play. The stories are also significantly condensed with each only being a few pages long. Like I said, I thought this was a really nice way to begin introducing kids to Shakespeare and his works.

There you have it, our list of favorite books from the year. We hope you enjoy sharing these books with your children and families! We would also be interested in hearing any book recommendations you might have for us. We are a family of readers and we're always looking for a great book to enjoy together!

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