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Around the World with Historical Fiction and Folktales: Highly Recommended and Award-Winning Books, Grades K-8 Review by Anne Weiland

By: Beth Bartleson Zarian
The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Lanham, Maryland, 2004

It is a thrill to be able to put a book into the hand of a child, knowing that that book will bring to life a period of history we've been studying. The question is how to find that right book at the right time. Booklists and annotated bibliographies can be the homeschooler's best friends when trying to plan reading selections for children. Ms. Zarian's Around the World with Historical Fiction and Folktales is a resource for parents and educators which compiles and helpfully organizes a host of books from around the world and covering the span of history. This volume provides book recommendations useful in several disciplines.

The author, Beth Bartleson Zarian, is well qualified to compile this bibliography. She has a background in library reference and is currently on the curriculum committee of her local school district. She is also the mother of four sons and says, " I seek opportunities to ignite my children's educational passion with quality literature that allows them to approach the educational curriculum with heightened interest."

The book is divided into three parts, American History, World History, and Myths and Folktales. Roughly half the book is historical fiction and half is myths and folktales. Within the history sections, resources are listed in chronological order, making it easy to find a resource for the period of history you are studying. Within each time period, the books are grouped by grade level, K-2nd grade, 3rd-6th grade, and 7th and 8th grade. So, for example, if you were studying the American Civil War, you could turn to that historical period, and you'd find a book for your 1st grader, Abe Lincoln Remembers, a book for your 4th grader, Bull Run, and one for your 7th grader, In My Father's House. Or you might notice that Across Five Aprils is on both older lists and decide to read that one aloud to all your students. Many of the titles list a grade level up to 9th grade, so even though the book is aimed at students up to 8th grade, there is plenty here to interest a high school age student. And, parents, don't forget to find a book for yourself off the list!

Another use for this reference would be to supplement cross-cultural or foreign language study. You could find folktales that come from your extended family's countries of origin. We'll be taking up French this year, so I have here a list of eight different resources in the Myths and Folktales section under "French."

I appreciated the notations about each book, which help me decide if it is what I need. I also like the overall organization and ease of use. I'm happy to have it on my shelf before my next trip to the library or bookstore.

-- Product Review by Anne Weiland, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2005