Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Heritage History TOS Review

PhotobucketHeritage History Ancient Greece CD
A CD collection of 46 classic stories about Greece, mythology, and life in Ancient Greece. These books are categorized as Comprehensive History, Military History,Biography, Mythology and Hero Stories, Adapted Literature, and Historical Fiction.

The mission of Heritage History is to promote a traditional narrative history curriculum for homeschools. To achieve this they provide numerous complete, with text and illustrations, classic books covering a wide range of historical eras and locales. These books are available in e-reader formats as well as CD.

Both on the CD and the Heritage History website, book titles are color coded for approximate age and interest appropriateness. The purpose behind this it to make it easier to find books for students at different levels.

Study Guide
The CD also features a comprehensive study guide with tips and ideas to use the story resources, timelines of Greek History, maps, and reading records. These can all be printed and assembled into a companion guide for a student to use while reading these books independently.

The Heritage History store also offers CD collections of Roman, British, European, Norse, Asian, African, Christian, Moslem, Hispanic, and American books in addition to this Greek history CD. They also have a special collection deigned just for young readers. Each CD sells for $24.99.

Individual book titles may also be purchased from Heritage History.

The study guide is included on the CD's but it is also available in printed format ($ 24.99) or an individual download($12.99) for selected courses.

My Thoughts
Quite honestly, I have mixed feelings about this book collection. I was hoping for books which would supplement and flush out the stories and information in our primary history text. I had hoped to supplement my existing history curriculum with additional 'meatier' sources for my 11 year old. This was very hard to do as so much of these books are not of actual historical events, but are mainly literary resources, not studies of events. The events and incidents in the stories do not correspond to the history in our textbook. Thus I was not able to assign to assign her a specific book to read that would enrich what was already being studied.

I asked my 11 year old to read one of the books to herself following the advice in the study guide. She attempted this on several occasions. She read them, but was not overly enthusiastic. My 8 year old showed some interest in the stories when they were read aloud.

What I did do was to read from several of the books out loud to my children. This way they learned about some of the characters and events in Greek mythology. It also gave the opportunity for discussion which added to the experience. We also enjoyed several of the historical fiction titles. They were especially thrilled to hear The Spartan Twins by Lucy Perkins. We have read some of her other works and greatly enjoy them.

When using the CD on the computer it is very easy to navigate to the books and read them. They are in an e-pub format which opens and functions just like a web page.

The CD also contains a lot of user information, notes, and recommendations. In fact I found so much information it was overwhelming. I had difficulty remembering where I found specific notes when I wanted to go back to it. I would recommend printing these pages at the very beginning of organizing the course so they are handy.

The overwhelming majority of these books tend to be trade books, not particularly scholarly works, thus I probably would not use them as the basis of a history program much past junior high level. I do find this to be an excellent collection of Greek literature to complement Greek history, these are great stories which are a part of the Ancient Greek culture, but not history per se.

As to approximate level for various books the color coding maybe helpful, but I could not find information with concrete grade/ age recommendations. However, after reading through many of the texts, I have to question how many of the books were leveled.  It seems to me that Heritage History may haven taken the original target audience of many of these books and rearranged them for today's students. For example, labeling those which were intended for or used in upper elementary or middle school classes when they were written as current high school level books today. This can be misleading. Back in the time when the majority of these books were written most formal education did not continue past the 8th grade, thus these books would not have been used in high school. The upper limit on them would have been 8th grade. Thus the idea of many of the resources being appropriate for high school is not accurate.

I also found the classifications on the website to be very scattered. I don't think there is much of a pattern for placing books in a particular collection over against another collection. It was also difficult to determine what collection may contain a particular book as well.

Other members of the TOS Crew had the opportunity to use other volumes from the Heritage History collection. Read what they had to say at the Crew Blog.


 Disclaimer: I received a gratis copy of this CD to enable me to write this review. I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice review. I appreciated your thoughts and opinions on this. We enjoyed the different perspectives of the authors about a certain event or person.