Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mt. Hope Academy Curricula ~ Literature: Part 1

Leif reading
“The other subject areas of the curriculum are linked to history studies. The student who is working on ancient history will read Greek and Roman mythology, the tales of the Iliad and Odyssey, early medieval writings, Chinese and Japanese fairy tales, and (for the older student) the classical texts of Plato, Herodutus, Virgil, Aristotle. She’ll read Beowulf, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare the following year, when she’s studying medieval and early Renaissance history. When the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are studied, she starts with Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) and ends with Dickens; finally, she reads modern literature as she is studying modern history.”

~ Susan Wise Bauer, What is Classical Education?


We have a multi-pronged approach to literature. Reading is a big deal at our house!


Our main focus is literature corresponding to our history studies.

This year we are studying ancient history. In addition to many picture books and collections of stories from various cultures, such as The Elephant's Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India and The Master Swordsman & the Magic Doorway: Two Legends from Ancient China, our line-up includes retellings of ancient epics, stories, histories, and myths:


Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War: An Epic Tale From Ancient Iraq (The world’s oldest written story.)


Gilgamesh the King (The Gilgamesh Trilogy) 

Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean


Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green 

Casting the Gods Adrift: A Tale of Ancient Egypt by Geraldine McCaughrean 


D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths (and other books about Greek myths) 

Tanglewood Tales: Greek Myths Retold for Children by Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrated by Edmond Dulac

Herodotus and the Road to History by Jeanne Bendick 

Famous Men of Greece by John H. Haaren (includes some myths) 


Aesop's Fables for Children illustrated by Milo Winter


The boys are listening to The Iliad translated by Robert Fagles, read by Sir Derek Jacobi while reading many retellings of Homer’s epics.

The Trojan War by Olivia Coolidge (a beautiful retelling of the Iliad!) 

The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tale of Troy by Padraic Colum 

The Trojan Horse by Albert Lorenz 


Iliad and the Odyssey retold and illustrated by Marcia Williams


Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of 'The Iliad' by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey by Rosemary Sutcliff 


Tales from the Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne 

And on to the Roman poet Virgil:


In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid retold by Penelope Lively 


Jason and the Golden Fleece (from Euripede's Medea and the Argonautika by Apollonius) retold by James Riordan


Heroes, Gods & Emperors from Roman Mythology by Kerry Usher 


Roman Myths by Geraldine McCaughrean

One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean 

Celtic Fairy Tales by Neil Philip


We also have a collection of Jim Weiss story CDs that fit in with ancient literature:

Egyptian Treasures: Mummies and Myths 
Heroes in Mythology: Theseus, Prometheus, Odin   
Greek Myths
She and He: Adventures in Mythology
Tales from Cultures Far and Near
A Storyteller's Version of... Arabian Nights
Celtic Treasures
Julius Caesar & the Story of Rome
Galileo and the Stargazers: Including Archimedes and the Golden Crown


The boys are reading many excellent historical fiction selections this year.

While the stories were not told or written during ancient times, they still contain a great amount of historical context and help the boys imagine what it might have been like to live during those times. They are also excellent stories in their own right.


Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace  Levi will be reading the original, but the boys love the radio theatre production and also the animated movie version with the voice of Charlton Heston.

The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain 

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare 

The Eagle of the Ninth (The Roman Britain Trilogy) by Rosemary Sutcliff 

Outcast by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Young Carthaginian by G.A. Henty, abridged and told by Jim Weiss

Julius Caesar (Shakespeare, the movie production) 

(This list is only a small selection.)



The boys also read not-quite-as-excellent historical fiction (just for fun).

The many books in the Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence (which I just discovered has been turned into a British movie series). Levi has already read all the books, but I think Luke might enjoy them this year.

Detectives in Togas and sequel by Henry Winterfeld 

And I simply can’t fail to mention…

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan (Egyptian mythology) 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan (Greek mythology)

Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan (Roman mythology)


Inspired by this list at Life in Grace,

I chose a few ancient-history related poetry selections for the boys to memorize:

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley (about the statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II)

The Destruction of Sennacherib by Lord Byron (about an Assyrian king)

The Invocation of the Muse by Homer in Book I of The Odyssey (Robert Fagles translation)

“Sing to me of the man, Muse,
the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course,
once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.”

Antony’s speech from Julius Caesar (Act III, ii, 76-109)


That is the bulk of our history-related literature studies.

At this point we just read and enjoy.

Next up: Literature: Part 2

(It’s a good thing my boys love to read!)


oldjove said...

Thank you for this wonderful book list. I love your blog!

Unsinkable Kristen said...

I have a question - when during your day do you do all of this reading? I would love to incorporate more into our day, but I'm struggling to find a good time to do it. My oldest (8) can read a lot on her own, but the rest (6,3,1) need me to read aloud. Do you sit and do it all at once or sprinkle throughout the day when the mood strikes.

Thanks a bunch- I love your blog!

Karen @ Simply said...

Wow! Thanks for posting about all the books! My first grader and high schooler are both studying ancient history right now so finding more books that we might be able to read together would be great! We're reading Tales from Ancient Egypt right now as a read aloud. I also have the same Aesop's Fables book and I've already read a number of those to my first grader. My high schooler is just starting The Iliad this week. Thanks again for sharing about all the books! :)

Unknown said...

Hi, I am using your books for Cycle as I have many of them. Do you have a match up for which books belong with which History sentence?

Mama Rachael said...

I got to this post from your history books for your second round through history. I'm so excited! My little man is 4, and we are devouring books at an unbelievable rate. I want to start, maybe this fall, a work through books in a sort of chronological order. Maybe even listen to some of Story of the World, not sure. I'm not sure he's ready to really be able to put that much together, but at least, I'm thinking, to create a time line (around the dining room?) where we can put little pictures or marks of where certain stories take place. He loves Magic Tree House so much (which I despise, really), but I don't think he has a good feel for the time travel aspect (he is only 4 :P )

Mostly just thinking through things. And thanks for the book list! (I love lists!)

--Mama Rachael