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King Alfred's English Review by Kathy Gelzer

Laurie J. White
The Shorter Word Press
1345 Butler Bridge Road
Covington, GA 30016-4935

Described as "a guided tour of forces and events, conquerors and writers that have shaped, simplified, matured and expanded English," King Alfred's English is a study of history, English literature, linguistics, and the English Bible all rolled into one. Its broad scope covers various influences in the development of the English language from Caesar's invasion of Britannia to the birth of new English words and everything in between. Fifteen chapters are divided into six parts covering 55 BC to the present time. As such, this would make an interesting supplement to any period of history study.

The significance of various invasions of Britain, the Byzantine Empire, the English Bible, and the King James Bible are explained. Plenty of key historical figures (such as Caesar, Constantine, Augustine of Canterbury, William the Conqueror, Chaucer, John Wycliffe, Gutenberg, Martin Luther, Henry VIII, and Shakespeare) are also here. Finally, English language development is studied through grammar and the English dictionary, the far-reaching influences of the British Empire, and American English. The author even discusses email communication and the impact of the English language on the world.

King Alfred's English is written for grades 7-12 and "curious adults." As a read-aloud, I would recommend this engaging book for even younger students. Laurie White's informal writing style, like a warm arm around your shoulder, draws you into what might be considered a dry or daunting topic. However, it is anything but dry.

The front of the book contains a map and timeline. Applicable black-and-white photos and charts are interspersed in the text, and a list of book and Internet resources is found in the back. An index would also have been helpful. On her website, Laurie White has generously supplied chapter worksheets, tests, and research activities which serve to round out this curriculum, to validate it as a full-fledged course, and to ensure its teach-ability.

I used this as an individual study for myself, reading through the chapters and then doing the worksheets. I found it immensely enjoyable and informative, and I plan to read it to my children (ages 9 through 14) this summer just for fun. I will be adding it to my son's high school history coursework.

I highly recommend King Alfred's English for homeschool families! This is not your average book on the history of the English language, and it is just the sort of reason we homeschool: to provide our children (and ourselves!) with extraordinary, excellent sources for learning.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June 2010