There's much that is good about Story of the World, but I also take issue with it in some ways. On the positive side, I love that we can listen to it in the car, that my daughter finds it interesting, and that she's getting a good overview of historical events, people, and places in the ancient world.
However, it's definitely history from the conqueror's perspective - as usual - and patriarchal and even racist at times.
"Now ______ (insert name of latest conquering emperor) was the richest and most powerful man in the world!" is a common refrain, said in such a way as to convey that this was a positive thing. Add to this talk of "barbarians" and how they were inferior to the "civilized" Romans or Chinese.... And then add on the fact that the ancient civilizations of minority cultures are covered very little if at all. Most of it is the history of the mediterranean region: the Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians.... There is decent coverage of ancient Chinese history. There is very little mention of ancient African or Native American cultures.
So all that to say, I wish that Howard Zinn had an ancient history book, and I've beens searching for ways to explore ancient history that goes beyond "so and so conquered so and so and was now the richest and most powerful man in the world". In all fairness, Story of the World does cover other major historical events, such as the development of language and paper or the blue dye of the Phoenicians. But really, what made this blue dye more important than other ancient arts? Only the fact that it gave the aristocracy a means to differentiate themselves from the common folks by their clothing... nice! Yet another example of history being written by those in power!
I'd still recommend Story of the World. Why? Because it's probably impossible to find an unbiased view of history and the clear biases in Story of the World provide a great jumping off point for discussions of historical biases and issues of social justice! And, to me, any discussion of history is incomplete without these!
I've been looking for books that broaden the limited perspective Story of the World provides, and here are some we're exploring.
If anyone has recommendations for ancient history of other cultures (African, Native American etc), please let me know! I'm looking for mostly BCE.
I love that this is about both a girl, a child, and a slave. We haven't read it yet, but it's top on our list.
This one might be for an older audience than 10, will update later...
We also have Hera from this series. They're graphic novels which Helena loves!!
This one is a picture book. Cleopatra was covered in Story of the World, but it will be fun to learn more.
This book provides a lot more detail on the ancient Greco/Roman empires than Story of the World. Plus there are pictures of ruins, money, homes, and more.
Helena and I both enjoy this series! With the exception of Who Was George Washington all the ones we've read have been very concise yet interesting. We also read What Was the Great Wall of China, which inspired a whole Great Wall world in Minecraft.
This book is hilarious! Apparently not only were the Roman baths a place for congregating and socializing, but so were the toilets all in a row. And being so "civilized" the Romans would use a sponge on a stick to wipe their bums, rinse it, and put it back for re-use. I think I'd prefer to be "Barbarian," go alone in the woods, and use a leaf to wipe!
This book begins earlier than Story of the World with the evolutionary pre-history of humans. It covers many of the same civilizations and events, but provides more accurate dates. It seems Story of the World dates events according to how they'd fit into a creationist and Biblical timeline.
I found these two timelines in the thrift store for about $.50 total. They're temporarily hanging in our bathroom due to lack of wall space in our small cottage. But again... note how few women are even pictured on the timeline and how all of the important events are about men. This is not the idea of history I want to give my daughter! Do we even realize how subtly brainwashed we are when "history" is 99% about men?