Saturday, August 10, 2013

Book Review: Ideas that Changed the World

As an adult reading this book, I might not give this 5 stars. My 5-star rating is for this book used as part of a history curriculum for a middle schooler. We have lots and lots of the DK books on history topics, but this one is unique on our shelves as an overview of ideas rather than physical objects that helped change the world. An example of this is where as the DK ancient history things may show paintings or pottery shards, this Ideas book opens with the evidence of cannibalism in very early humans and what that might indicate for those people above and beyond a simple need for food. Aside from the Donner Party of course in American history texts, many books would shy away from that topic. And my middle school child, of course, was fascinated by the idea and evidence of it. Book is a hit 2 pages into it, right?! As it continues talking about the "Mind of the Hunter" (earliest people), it continues to talk about symbols and the usual things but also about evidence of how early people may have thought about magic, a "universal force" or other more cerebral ideas.

I love that this book focuses on overreaching concepts rather than details for each era (predestination, chivalry, civil disobedience, etc) but in a brief enough scope that the student can understand it for the era but not be overwhelmed and stuck on that topic alone. If the interest is great enough, of course, the student can then find other books to go further in depth.

I assign this book throughout our history studies as an adjunct to our traditional books, finding it covers a niche the others do not.  I assign generally just a few pages a week as we progress through our history cycle.

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