We began our new school year on January 4th. This year in history we will be covering the Middle Ages through the first few US presidents with Tapestry of Grace Year 2. My daughter is officially in the upper grammar level this year, and I have decided that it is time to start pre-reading (and taking notes) on the dialectic level books, both the core history selection and the literature selections I’ve chosen. I’m hoping that this will benefit me in two ways:
- I’ll have a better background about the historical time period without having to peek at the teacher’s notes.
- I’ll have some easy literature reading for myself and I’ll have pre-read the books that my daughter will read in 4 years (hence the need for notes).
We’re already in the third week of our studies, and so far I’ve been doing well.
The core history selection is H.E. Marshall’s The Story of Europe from the Fall of the Roman Empire to the Reformation. I find it a very engaging read with relatively short chapters and mostly fact-based, but at times her bias comes through strongly. Here is a quote from the chapter on the spread of Islam: “So with fanatic zeal and lust of blood and of gold burning in them, the dark-faced horde swept onward.” Still, it presents history in a narrative fashion that is very enjoyable.
If you only know the Disney story of Aladdin then you owe it to yourself to read the version of Aladdin found in Aladdin and Other Tales. For starters, there are two jinnies (spelling from the book): one of a ring and one of a lamp. Aladdin is not an orphan in this story and there is no pet monkey. I didn’t particularly admire this version of Aladdin as the character didn’t appear to me to be as resourceful, but the storyline is so different that I’m glad that I read it. There are also several other tales in this collection and all were highly entertaining reads.
Stories of Beowulf Told to Children is an adaptation by H.E. Marshall of the Anglo-Saxon epic that features the hero Beowulf in a series of adventures that showcase his courage, strength, and battle prowess. Although this is an adaptation it is certainly not dumbed down, and the language may be a bit of a challenge for children to read. Although the Amazon description says that this book is for those aged 8 and up, I think my daughter (aged 8) would have a difficult time getting though this book on her own. The dialogue is what proves to be tricky, as you can see from this selection taken from chapter 2:
Then Beowulf answered him, “We are folk of the Goths, thanes of King Hygelac. In friendly guise we come to seek thy lord, King Hrothgar, the mighty chieftain. We have a goodly message to the famed lord of the Danes. There is no cause to be secret. Thou knowest if it be true or no, but we indeed have heard that among ye Danes there is a great and wily foe, a loather of valor, who prowleth terribly in dark nights, making great slaughter and causing much woe. Therefore have I come, for perchance I may be of succor to the noble King Hrothgar in his need.”
Out of curiosity I analyzed this paragraph and received a Lexile score of 1140 – roughly a high school level reading score. While difficult, this classic story is so rich in vocabulary that I think it is worth wading through. This story is worth pre-reading…it’s often violent (battles usually are) and I’ve already mentioned that the dialogue can be difficult. I think that any student will benefit from discussing this book, and it would be as simple as starting with: “Should Beowulf have done (fill in the blank)?”