“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.)D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths (and other books about Greek myths)
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!) Iliad and the Odyssey retold and illustrated by Marcia Williams
And on to the Roman poet Virgil:Jason and the Golden Fleece (from Euripede's Medea and the Argonautika by Apollonius) retold by James Riordan 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
She and He: Adventures in Mythology
Tales from Cultures Far and Near
A Storyteller's Version of... Arabian Nights
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.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.
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!)