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On the Shores of the Great Sea Review by Nancy Casari Dayton

M. B. Synge
Yesterday's Classics
PO Box 3418
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

In preparing to present a chronological study of history to my children, I have been uncertain of the basic reading spine I should use. There are plenty of sources of timelines, maps, activities, big-program curriculum, all manner of crafts and activities, etc. But none of those resources is as important as the basic reading material. Certainly, there are plenty of options, but I am very particular. I want my children to be exposed to reading material that is narrative in style, does not speak down to them, is engaging, and . . . how can I say it? I like authors that use the English language well, so that it is beautiful to hear, offers challenging vocabulary, and avoids some common modern pitfalls. Ones that come to my mind are an overly-informal tone, an over-concern with political correctness, and overly-simple language (in regards to word choice and syntax).

That is why I am considering using The Story of the World series by M. B. Synge. On the Shores of the Great Sea is the first in the 5-book series, and it covers the time of Abraham to the birth of Christ. There are 54 short chapters in this book; each one is approximately 5 pages long. Chapter titles include "The Home of Abraham," "The Story of the Argonauts," "The Story of Romulus and Remus," and "The Death of Caesar." For our family, this series will provide an excellent spine in the younger years. Yesterday's Classic's recommends this book for ages nine and up, but I don't see any problem using it as a read-aloud in the very early elementary years. Of course, we will supplement with some of those other resources mentioned above, including a few well-chosen "fun" books along the way. At least I know that the primary reading material will be enriching to their minds in a way that will help them develop an excellent use of the English language.

You can look inside this book at The list price is $11.95. Yesterday's Classics has a plethora of wonderful titles that possess the qualities I have described here.

Product review by Nancy Casari Dayton, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2009