Question from one of my Blog Readers:
Q. “What is Sonlight CHOW?”
Note: I will also include information about SOTW (Story of the World)
A. Sonlight is a homeschooling curriculum company with a Christian worldview. They provide a plan which lays out their program, all scheduled out with either a four day plan or a five day plan. There is an emphasis on the use of exciting, real books to teach history including historical fiction and biographies. They also use great fiction books for literature/pleasure reading. The actual books they use are not written by Sonlight. They are not textbooks either. They are real books published by other authors and other publishers; some books are older and some are newer; some are classics and some are not.
When you purchase the Sonlight program you can purchase just the teacher guides and find the books through other channels (the library, used books, Amazon, etc.), or you may purchase the full program of the teacher guide and all the individual books, it is your choice.
Some people enjoy looking at the books that Sonlight uses in their program, as if they are looking at a highly recommended book reading list.
Note that there is a lot of information on the Sonlight website about what their company is, scroll down from their home page to find lots of articles. They even have an article to help you decide if Sonlight is NOT for you. Sonlight also has discussion boards where you can post questions and read replies on the site, for free.
CHOW is an abbreviation for a book called “A Child’s History of the World” by Virgil M. Hillyer. Hillyer was the Headmaster of Calvert School (which is another homeschool curriculum provider). The book was written in the early 1900s and did contain what we would not consider politically incorrect racial slurs. There have been some revisions of the book to take out some of those terms as well as an expansion of the book to tell more of history since its original publication date. In your quest for this book you may find any number of different editions including the book in paperback and also in hardback.
Sonlight uses CHOW for some of their history curriculum.
CHOW is written in the narrative style, that is, the non-fiction facts and events are told in a story format. At one time CHOW was the one and only book for elementary school aged students to use to learn world history. CHOW is one book telling all of history, in a chronological arrangement. There are not many books on the market that cover all of world history and are written for children of this age and where the telling is a story format style (the narrative style), which lends itself to great reading aloud and which captures the attention of young children.
In 2001, “The Story of the World” (SOTW) series, by Susan Wise Bauer, with the intention to start teaching world history at the beginning of time, in first grade and moving forward in a chronological manner in a four year period. This history teaching method is further explained in Bauer's book "The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home".
Therefore, SOTW Volume One is written to be read aloud to a first grader and it covers Ancient History. SOTW Volume Two is written with a read aloud audience of a 2nd grader and it covers Medieval times. Volume Three covers 1650 to 1850 and Volume Four covers 1851 to Present. There are four books in total for use in Grades 1-4. Since SOTW is published in four volumes (not one) the page count is longer and therefore the book contains more detail. I also feel that the tone of each SOTW book increases in difficulty a bit as it is intended to be read aloud to different aged children.
I use SOTW with my children. I own CHOW but don’t like the tone of it (I find CHOW a bit dumbed down) and feel it is too superficial, that is, in an attempt to squeeze all of history into one book it skims over some things too quickly.
SOTW also has Activity Books to go with each Volume. These guides incorporate maps to teach the geography of that country at that time. They contain narration prompts and comprehension questions to ask your child (if you desire to do so). There are arts, crafts, recipes and some games to play. There are some coloring pages as well. There are many suggestions of suggested reading for supplemental reading of literature/fiction/fables/fairy tales and also a non-fiction category, that meshes with that exact chapter and that period of time/subject matter. Lastly they have supplemental readings by page number in other books such as the Usborne World History book to read to go along with that exact chapter that provides more information than SOTW covers. (SOTW cannot cover every single thing that a child could or should know of that time period!) I use the Activity Books with my children. I appreciate that all of that information is laid out for me to pick and choose what I want to do.
To contrast if I were to use CHOW I would have to find my own coloring pages for the kids to color in. I would have to find period appropriate maps to go along with the chapters. I’d not have supplemental readings to go along with the book. I would also have to do research on my own to find games, crafts, art projects and recipes to go along with that lesson if we wanted to do those things. Arranging all of that is not impossible but it just takes time and energy (and money, usually, to buy more books and resources).
So for me it is less work for me and much more convenient and also more comprehensive to use SOTW. So our CHOW sits on the shelf, unused.
If you wish to use both CHOW and SOTW (as some homeschoolers do) you may want to use this very handy, free index which is on Paula’s Archives site, that shows which chapter in CHOW matches with which chapter number in SOTW. That chart also has a column for using Vos’s Story of the Bible book. You may read that chart here.
Where to buy CHOW
Sonlight sells CHOW, here. Presently they are offering the 1997 hardback edition for $28 (new of course), see here.
I cannot find where on the Calvert site that CHOW can be purchased separately. It may be that at this time the book is ONLY available for purchase with their prepackaged curriculum by grade, I am not sure. They used to sell it separately, I believe.
You will be able to find the old, rare editions of CHOW at online auctions but be prepared, they may be expensive. I am not sure why you would opt for these older books over a new copy, if you are able to buy one new “a la carte” at Sonlight. You might try eBay.
Presently I do not see that Amazon is selling new copies of CHOW. I do see that third party sellers are selling it, with the lowest price today at $36.60 for a used book.
SOTW and the SOTW Activity Book can be purchased new from the publisher, Peace Hill Press, for full retail, here.
SOTW and the SOTW Activity Book can be purchased at a discount from Amazon. They are the lowest price I’ve found.
SOTW can also be found for sale, used, sometimes posted for sale from homeschoolers, at The Well Trained Mind Sale and Swap Board.
If you want to chat with others teaching history with SOTW (or discuss any classical education topic) you may want to chat at the discussion boards at the Well Trained Mind website.
I blogged about how our family homeschools history in one of my first blog entries on February 25, 2005, if you want to read it, go here.
I hope this answers your original question, and more! I bet you didn’t know there were that many options available to you to teach world history in a chronological manner to elementary grade homeschooled students!
And of course these books and materials could be used by parents of schooled children who want to fill gaps in their child’s elementary school education by teaching world history at home, (which some call “after schooling” or “afterschooling”).
SOTW Volume One, revised edition, the book
SOTW Activity Book One, 3rd edition
SOTW Volume Two, the book
SOTW Activity Book Two
SOTW Volume Three, the book
SOTW Activity Book Three
SOTW Volume Four, the book, ISBN 0972860339
SOTW Activity Book Four ISBN 0972860355
Note: There are audio books for the above SOTW volumes also. Volumes Three and Four are read by Jim Weiss, a wonderful storyteller.
Note: The books come in a variety of formats, some are available only through the publisher. For example some come in paperback, spiral bound paperback, and hardback.
Note: The Activity Books have consumable pages or the statement in the book states you may make one copy to use with one of your children. Additional “student pages” can be purchased through the publisher (Peace Hill Press). The publisher also now sells tests for each volume if you so desire them.
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