Review: All Through The Ages, A Guide to Learning History Through Literature
I received a copy of the book All Through The Ages by Christine Miller from Nothing New Press for review. All Through The Ages is a guide to over 7000 books–quality “living books” that can be used for teaching history through literature. I’m wondering if this may possibly be the most glowing review I’ll ever write, because this resource just became my new best friend. I’d sleep with it under my pillow if it wasn’t so thick.
I’ll preface this review by saying that I’m becoming a bit of a history nut now that I’m a homeschooler. I barely remember anything from my history classes in school, except complaining that I couldn’t remember dates and names very well. Fast forward 15 years and for our first summer homeschooling I chose a unit study on the Revolutionary War from Homeschool Share. I found myself fascinated as we read books together. History was a great story! From then on I was hooked on learning history through good literature (with me learning right along with my children), then following up with narration (through notebooking or minibooks) and hands-on activities to cement those fascinating stories.
What is it?
All Through The Ages was written to fill a need that the author recognized: a one-stop resource for teaching history through literature. It contains books from over 20 respected sources: companies such as Beautiful Feet and Sonlight, books such as Honey for a Child’s Heart, award lists such as Newbery & Pulitzer (visit the website for a list of sources). Before finding this book I would check several book lists when planning our history studies, trying to sort out which books would be appropriate for my children’s ages for both reading aloud and as independent reading. I felt disorganized and had a hard time keeping track of which lists I had checked, and realized I would have to repeat the process when we studied these time periods again.
Right now we are studying the early 1800′s using a Time Traveler’s unit from Homeschool in the Woods. I love the written work and activities but wanted more than the lesson text for reading aloud. I was immediately able to try out All Through The Ages. I read the introduction, which is a great overview of the book and how it’s arranged, the author’s thoughts on studying history chronologically and using “living” books, and several examples of sequences for study. After that I went right to the time period we are studying.
What works for us:
In one place were recommended books on all the topics we’ll be studying! It’s not just the titles and author, but also a short note for each: the specific event or dates, for biographies a quick reminder of what that person did, and extra information like that the book is beautifully illustrated or contains authentic journal excerpts. The books are also divided into age groups (Grades 1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10-12) and types (Resources for all Ages, Overview of the Era, Specific Events, Biography, Historical Fiction, Literature, Culture).
The book lists alone would make this a recommended resource, but I’m not done listing the wonders of this book yet. There is also a short write-up at the beginning of each section and a timeline of the era at the end–helpful for reminders and ideas of events to cover. In addition to sections on historical eras from Creation to modern times, there are sections covering the history of geographical regions, and also the history of science and math, visual arts and music. I can only imagine how often I’ll be using this book!
What doesn’t work for us:
For our homeschool this is an incredibly helpful resource without a single drawback. I do want to note that this is a Christian, Creation-based history resource. The author summarizes it this way:
I have chosen to use biblical chronology and the historical records of the ancient world, rather than, as most modern history references do, dates harmonized with current evolutionary theory.
Books from Answers in Genesis are included, and the ancient history timelines were aligned with James Ussher’s The Annals of the World (originally published in 1658).
The bottom line:
If you use a living books approach to studying history this is an invaluable reference book. It is well-organized, easy to use, and saves time. We love hands-on activities, lapbooking and notebooking so we use other resources as well, but with this book and a library card you could have a complete history program for a student’s entire homeschool career.
Check it out for yourself:
Nothing New Press has sample pages and the table of contents for you to view on their website, and you can purchase the book in print or as an ebook directly from them. The print book is also available from Rainbow Resources.