Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Review - Big Book of History

I recently received the Big Book of Historyto review from New Leaf Publishing Group.  I was very excited to look through this book (really, a 15 food fold-out time-line that folds up nicely into a book =) because I already own The Timechart History of the World (which is the same idea) and love it.  The Big Book of History, though is designed for elementary age children and is written from a decidedly Christian perspective, so I was excited to see what it would be like!

First, let me write just a bit about the book itself before going into my comments about it.  The book starts at Biblical creation (dating that at 4004B.C.) and goes to today (the book was written in 2011).  It has four different colored lines running through each of the pages, each one designating a different classification of history.  The four classifications are: Biblical/Christianity, World Events, Inventions/Technology, and Civilization/Empires.  For the Biblical years of the time-line, it is mostly just things from the Bible put into each of those classifications, with a few items from other parts of the world here and there.  As time goes on, they tell more of other parts of the world, focusing on America at the end of the time-line.

Before I start my critique, let me first say that I would definitely recommend this book to any family who has a elementary age child.  The focus on the Bible as truth is commendable and just putting events in order is always helpful =)  This book was obviously designed for elementary age kids who would rather look at pictures and read snippets of information than read any lengthy amount, so if that is your child (as I suspect most would be!), then this really, truly would be a great book for you!

Since this is supposed to be a review I would be remiss to not also voice my critiques.  To elaborate on my point above about pictures and snippets of information, honestly I found the book to be distracting for this reason.  I would expect a time-line to mostly be, well, a time-line, but this book is mostly large pictures with notes, lists, Biblical info, or interesting facts next to them.  While it was interesting, I found it very hard to focus on the actual flow of events found on the time-line.  Even within the time-line portion, there are swirls and arrows pointing off of it to one of the pictures, and while it's interesting to look at, I just don't think that our children need that to be able to learn from a book (or at least shouldn't need that!)

Also, this is a very streamlined capture of history, which there is nothing wrong with having in a book, but if you are a family who is learning history chronologically and is desiring to learn how all areas of the world (recorded in the Bible and not) fit together, you will not find that here in much detail.  I was hoping to see more breakdown of what was going on in different parts of the world, but really it's just 'Biblical' vs 'The Rest of the World' all in one clump.

I think this would be a nice book to have on hand and would be fun for your child to browse through to learn interesting facts about random things.  This could be used for your child to quickly run through Biblical history (so long as they can focus on the time-line and not get sidetracked by all the swirls and arrows pointing them away towards the pictures!) and to do a fly over review of post-Biblical history.  If you are looking for a great comprehensive teaching tool for your child to be able to refer back to over and over, finding something new to discover each time, sadly this is not the book you are looking for.  I really wanted to love this book, but honestly I just like it.  Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe it's just not my teaching style, I'm not sure, but it might be your style!  The information is solid, so if this sounds interesting to you and you don't mind my critiques of it, Big Book of History might be a great addition to your library!

Happy Reading!

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  1. Thanks for the review - helpful to hear your thoughts. Here from the Hop.

    1. Sennie, thanks so much for the comment! I'm glad you found the review helpful.

  2. Looks interesting--I enjoy timelines, and seeing those four next to each sounds intriguing! Thanks for sharing on Teach Me Tuesday!


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