Next year I’m thinking of doing an Around the World theme for our homeschooling. 7 continents. (Although I’m thinking of doing Near East and Far East to bring it to 8.) I may have us watch the Brief World History course from the Great Courses people.
What should we read? Here’s what I’d prefer: nothing too long, something that touches a key aspect of that continent’s historic or cultural themes, rollicking good reads.
For North America, for instance, I have “To Kill a Mockingbird” in my brainstorm list.
For Europe, “Oliver Twist”, “All Quiet on the Western Front”, and “Three Musketeers” are options.
For Antarctica I’m wondering if a book about Shakleton’s incredible journey might not be memorable and enjoyable.
For Africa: “Mara, daughter of the Nile” and “Cry the Beloved Country”.
I’m also looking for movie recommendations.
11 thoughts on “Around the World, between the covers”
You could do almost the whole lot in Graham Greene novels. “The Quiet American” for Vietnam, and “A Burnt Out Case” for Africa. These novels touch on lots of issues about the countries in which they are set (e.g. the Vietnam war and leprosy, respectively), but also touch on many other issues about humanity… in fact they are amazing stories. Recommended!
For Antarctica, I would recommend this book if you can find it: http://www.amazon.com/Ice-Bound-Jerri-Nielsen/dp/1423338421 It is a story of a physician who has to battle breast cancer while stationed at the US Science Base down there. It shows a really great picture of day to day life while living in Antarctica as well as the very unique challenges one faces when in a medical crisis so far from civilization. I also know a scientist who has been there and I’ll bet she would love to answer any questions you have about being there–I could connect you.
Have to put in my plug for Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing for Antarctica. This book was a life-changer for me. (As was Cry the Beloved Country.)
For Africa, you could also do the classic Things Fall Apart, by the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe.
One more thought! For (south) Asia, I highly recommend Mitali Perkins’ Rickshaw Girl. It’s a book for kids. I loved it. So wonderful. She’s also written about child soldiers in Burma.
I agree with the recommendation of Endurance, by Alfred Lansing…amazing story and also a classic.
I Dreamed of Africa has been one of my favourite movies since I was a teen. I don’t know how historical it may be, but I think it did show a slice of Africa, and would give some points to talk about. Also I would like to vote for Island of the Blue dolphins http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_of_the_Blue_Dolphins. I suppose it would count for North America. The main character is a young girl of a native tribe who lived on an island off California, and how she handles the challenges surviving on her own left a big impact on me.
A few years back I put this together for my son. You might find suggestions here that you like: http://hopewellmomschoolreborn.blogspot.com/2010/07/grade-10-world-geography.html
“Things Fall Apart” for the African continent or Buchi Emecheta’s wonderful books on African women (can’t pick a “favorite”–too many great books.) “Master Harold and the Boys” for South Africa in addition to “Cry”
We read The power of One for book club. I think it has a movie , really powerful but pretty large book . Really good feel of Parts of Africa
‘Where the Mountain Meets the Moon’ is a must for Asia! Wonderful book, and a story-within-a-story.
Some other interesting books might be West with the Night by Beryl Markham – because so much of modern African history has been the result of European interference there, but also Flame Trees of Thika, Out of Africa (the book, not the movie, even though I like the movie). For a modern take on humor I’d look at some of Bill Bryson’s I’m a Stranger here Myself about US living. Brave Companions is a collection of essays by David Mccullough about various people in US history. OH, and watch the BBC/A&E production of Bleak House – really well done I thought.