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Africa, A Land of Hope Review by Kathy Gelzer

Donna Ward
Northwoods Press
Box 74
26 Woodlily Lane
Ilderton ON N0M 2A0

In our homeschool, we are learning the names of the countries of Africa, so I've been scooping up all sorts of Africa learning resources. I was hoping this study guide and DVD combo, Africa, A Land of Hope, would help give the children and me a real picture of the places we were memorizing. It did not disappoint.

The study guide, a 60-page book with glossy pages, is divided into seven units and is lavishly illustrated with beautiful photos. There is an overview of the continent and then a section describing each area (North, West, Central, East, and Southern Africa). In the back is a collection of student resources.

As you read the study guide with your children, you are directed by icons to view one of the ten episodes on the accompanying DVD. The segments are of exceptional quality, complete with African background music and captions when the speaker is difficult to understand. The photography is beautiful. Best of all, you feel like you are right there in Africa. My children were riveted by the scenes, stories, and faces of Africa. They were also deeply moved by the poverty level shown and the widespread problem of AIDS that is discussed.

Other icons tell you to do additional research, check out a website, or do some notebooking. Specific suggestions are given for all three types of assignments. For the notebooking, you will find blank outline maps and templates in the resources section in the back of the book.

Each of the units covering a specific area of the continent has its own suggested resource page sorted by type: Internet, book, folktale, and video. There is a vast amount of information in the study guide covering geography, culture, history and politics, missionary work past and present, and animals. You can see how this curriculum would be a super unit study. The website says it is for ages eight and older, but I think many younger children would enjoy the book and DVD on some level of appreciation and understanding. We found it perfect for everyone in our family, from age 7 to 46.

Compassion International is an organization that facilitates the sponsorship of African children. Author Donna Ward has been involved with Compassion for 27 years. The organization is mentioned frequently in both the book and DVD. As you might guess, there is a Christian theme running throughout, with special emphasis on a Christian response to Africa's problems.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2008