Reading The Story of the World

by Mr. Sheehy

I am completely fascinated with Susan Wise Bauer’s The Story of the World books. In my car I have the audio version of the third book in the series, covering the “Early Modern Times” (there are four volumes total), and despite my measly 10 minute commute, I have already worked through four of the CDs. Though they are targeted to children ages 5-12, I consider myself a fitting audience. Previously, I had no idea how Oliver Cromwell fit into the history of London; now I am as least passingly informed (with a few amusing stories to go with it).

I also have the first book checked out from the library and have been reading snippets from it to my girls every night after dinner. We have learned about Roman gladiators, the legend of Romulus, aqueducts, Julius Caesar, and Augustus Caesar. Did you know Julius Caesar was once captured by pirates and held for ransom? He was not yet a consul of Rome, but he was growing more powerful and popular. After his release he raised a small group of soldiers and set right back out to sea, where he engaged the pirates who captured him, arresting the leaders and killing many of the rest. The leader was then executed in Rome, and Caesar’s reputation with the people leaped in its growth.

Curiosity is an interesting force. Do I enjoy these books because I have a general knowledge of these figures and places but little knowledge of the wonderful details, enabling my brain to attend fully to the fascinating particulars? This was certainly the case with Cromwell, whom I’d heard of but knew nothing about.  Or are the stories themselves so wonderful and inviting that any listener is drawn in? I suspect it is a combination of the two. My hunch is that the stories draw me in, just like they suck in my three-year old and five-year old daughters, but then since I am already familiar with many of the names and places, for me the stories actually stick a bit better.

At least for now. If we keep reading these books, I have a feeling it will not be long before my daughters will know far more than me.

Thanks for reading.