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American History Stories by Mara Pratt Review by Stacey Rocha

Jim Hodges Audio Books
629 Admiral Drive
Annapolis, MD 21401
1 (405) 808-9758

I had never heard of Jim Hodges until I started looking for a recording of American History Stories by Mara Pratt. I was directed to Mr. Hodges's website by some fellow homeschooling moms and was pleasantly surprised by his recordings. Mr. Hodges is a homeschooling father, who, when asked by his wife what he would most enjoy doing to provide for his family, said he would enjoy recording books. Well, that got the ball rolling, and now he has many books recorded, including works by G.A. Henty, Yesterday's Classics, and Paidea Classics, all unabridged. He has also recorded some Old Time Radio Shows.

American History Stories is a four-volume work (published sometime in the nineteenth century) that has been recorded onto one MP3 CD. There are 200 chapters covering the earliest explorers to the time of the Civil War. It is a good overview of American history for children in the elementary grades. The style of the writing is a little old fashioned, but I believe overall children will understand the meaning. There is also the concern of the author's point of view when dealing with the Indians and slavery. The Indians were seen as heathens, and slaves were thought to be happy and content with their lives. This may or may not be a concern for some, so I would suggest listening to those chapters first before allowing your children to listen to them. This MP3 CD is over 200 minutes in length.

Stories of the Pilgrims is a charming tale of the Brewsters, who are from England. Because of religious conflict, they flee to Holland and then join others on the voyage of the Mayflower to America. The story mainly follows the Brewster children and other children, making it a great story for elementary age children.

When I first received these two MP3 CDs for review I really wished that they were available in CD format. I thought it would be a pain to have to first download them to my computer and then upload them to my MP3 player. It wouldn't be as simple as just putting it in a CD player and hitting play. Well, it really wasn't all that hard to put get it on my MP3 player. Mr. Hodges's website answers the question of why he decided to record onto MP3 CDs instead of music CD: it is much more cost effective. A long book like American History Stories would have taken many CDs and, therefore, in the end would have cost a lot more. As a homeschooling father, Mr. Hodges knows the financial burden homeschooling can be. So his decision to record on MP3 CDs was a very considerate one. You can also play the MP3 CDs on your computer or DVD player. So there are other ways of listening to them if you don't have a MP3 player.

Overall, I thought the recordings were amazing. They are professionally done, and Jim Hodges just has a wonderful way with words. My family has enjoyed listening to him tell them the stories of our American heritage

Product review by Stacy Rocha, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2010