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A Child's History of the World

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,435 ratings  ·  93 reviews
A Child's History of the World is a classic. Written shortly after World War I by Calvert School's first Head Master, Virgil Hillyer, this history storybook combines charm with facts to stimulate young minds and leave them yearning for more information. This volume of A Child's History of the World contains 79 stories that start at the beginning of time and reach to the pr ...more
Hardcover, 508 pages
Published December 1st 1992 by Buccaneer Books (first published 1924)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  2,435 ratings  ·  93 reviews

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Sep 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I have a nice, leather bound edition of this book that has survived being handled by four homeschooled kids. Even though it is written at about a fourth grade level, I'll always keep it on my history bookshelf because Hillyer has a wonderful grasp of the big picture of world history and is able to streamline the telling in clear, understandable language. He uses some child friendly analogies and writes in a conversational tone. I still reach for the book when I want to grasp the main idea of a p ...more
Jul 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Update 11/09/08

I finished this book some time ago and I still love it, though I'll need to re-read it so I can remember things. As with any overview, the book decribes many events, and moves rather quickly, so by the time you finish one section, you're already 500 years later. I recommend taking notes while reading along, and I think it would make a great read aloud for homeschoolers .

I bought the first version of this book (I think 1911) on line and I LOVE IT. It is a great read. I wanted to ha
Cindy Rollins
May 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What can I say? One of my oldest homeschooling friends! Finished it today for the umpteenth time.
Oct 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: children and their birth givers
Shelves: favorites
A beautiful history book for young children, and just the thing for parents to use. They still have it on the curriculum at Calvert School in Baltimore I believe...
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
I've heard some say they think this book "talks down" to children. I respectfully disagree! I found the tone gentle and "grandfatherly" and I LOVED this book!! Absolutely brings history to life!! ...more
Carla Corinne
This was a pretty easy and pleasant read, but dang was it long! After a month of coming back to it bit by bit I finally finished it. I ADORE this book. This would make an awesome bed time read aloud to elementary school kids who like history (or just a good and witty story!). As an adult, I enjoyed getting the broad history of the entire world from beginning to finish in relaxed, unassuming, whimsical writing. What a fun read it was. Will read again someday and would use with children/students i ...more
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the tone of the author thru-out. It felt easy to relay to very young listeners and covered enough factual information without over burdening their attention spans. However, this is marketed to be more in line with conservative view points and it starts off with the first three chapters being written with a decidedly progressive theology. Then it continues from there with factual errors thru-out. My husband and I are history buffs and this was very disturbing to see from a highly recomm ...more
Melyssa Williams
Sep 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
We have the 1924 version, and it's the same one I read as a kid and am now reading aloud to my daughters. It holds their interest and they actually remember what we've read afterwards. My husband is one of those people who remembers every bit of random knowledge or trivia he's ever heard and is very adept at history, but even he was learning things from hearing me read aloud from this book. Make's history fun and charming and very basic. ...more
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love the idea of this book. It is a simple, sweeping narrative of the main points of history (and prehistory) up until about the time of Vietnam. As the author says in the preface, his purpose is not to go into detail about events and people; often famous people, places, or events are simply mentioned, with a sentence or two to tell why they are important, and then the narrative sweeps on. This is wonderful, because it helps to place all these people and places and events in their proper place ...more
Laura (Book Scrounger)
It was nice to read these short chapters over two years of school (1st and 2nd grade for us, but it could be used for older kids). While it's a lot of information, I found it was mostly kept at a child's level, and didn't go into too many details about war and killing. I learned a few things myself about different Greek figures and other civilizations of the past that don't get as much attention as the Greeks. As with any historical account that aims to be conversational, the opinions of the aut ...more
Wendy Jones
Aug 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We spent the last 18 months going through this book in little bites during our Morning Time and I absolutely loved it. It opened up great conversation and it helped my boys become a little more interested in history.
We used this for the ancient world and are still using it for the middle ages. The stories are short and well-written. Much more engaging than The Story of the World. However, the author does have a 'chatty' manner in some of the chapters that really bugs. Some people list that as one of the benefits; I hate it.

We don't read this straight through. I use those chapters pertaining to a certain geographical area (we study history by continent).

I think this is a great read-aloud for the elementary
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My kids and I have really enjoyed this history book. It takes you from the creation to modern history. This book creates the perfect forum for parents to discuss world history with their kids. Each chapter is short, and it always grabs their attention from the get-go. It takes the tone of a friendly grandpa telling a story to a kid on his knee. My kids aged 6 to 11 all equally enjoy it. They beg me for "Just one more chapter! PLEEEEASE!"

This book is an essential part of our homeschool curriculu
Aug 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, childrens
The conversational style of this book draws in children when you read it aloud; it covers world history from prehistory to the present. Written originally in 1924, the book has been revised several times, but keeps its old-time charm. I would not depend on this book for an inclusive history of the world, but it is an inviting introduction to the subject for children.
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
The original publish date was 1924. If you can get past this author's racism - this is a surprisingly entertaining book! He thoroughly and whimsically covers just that - the history of the world - at such a level that children of almost all ages can enjoy! I recommend it as a read-aloud for children 6-12 years old, or for an independent read for 10 and up. ...more
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I absolutely *loved* this book as a child, and read it over and over again. It's so well-written and would be a fascinating read-aloud. I think it came with the Sonlight curriculum, if I'm not mistaken. ...more
Oct 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: homeschooling
I read this book to my children over the course of a year. Hillyer gives a practical perspective on history. My children emerged with more understanding of the world and an abhorrence for war.
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Wondering if this could be any more biased. . . . can anyone recommend a GOOD comprehensive read-aloud-as-is book on world history geared to 8 years old and under? I'm having a hard time. ...more
Christel Devlin
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book over and over when I was a child. I can easily say this book taught me more than any other book I have ever read, and that I love this book the way a child loves a puppy.
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
A great narrative overview of history. I learned as much as my daughter as we were reading it for her history book in school.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"To give an American child only American history is as provincial as to teach a Texas child only Texas history. Patriotism is usually given as the reason for such history teaching; it only promotes a narrow-
mindedness and an absurd conceit based on utter ignorance of any other peoples and any other times, an intolerant egotism without foundation and fact. Since WWI it has become increasingly more and more important that American children should have a knowledge of other countries and other peop
Adam Calvert
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mostly good with a little bit of a mixed bag in the religion department. While many of the negative reviews on Amazon complain that it is a Christian perspective, Hillyer begins this history with the Big Bang Theory of origins followed by the biological theory of macro-evolution (I guess from a theistic-evolution standpoint?). Along with that, he mentioned nothing about the terrible things Mohammad, the founder of Islam, taught and did; but he only painted him in a positive, peace-making light.

Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: homeschool
We started reading this this past year as home schoolers. It sounds like the “conversational tone” of the book is one that people tend to love or hate, and we were more on the hate side. I thought it was quite annoying to read, and my first grader thought the book was so boring that he would literally groan upon seeing it (and this kid usually LOVES books). There also were some perspectives regarding the ways things were interpreted that I wasn’t a huge fan of. We petered out on reading this aft ...more
Yvonne Lacy
Sep 05, 2020 rated it liked it
To review this book is a complex matter. I read this as a child and was fascinated by it. Rereading it now, I continue to be impressed at the scope of what the author undertook back in1924, as well as amazed to think of all that has happened in 100 years or so which Hillyer could never have anticipated... and sad that in reading the book now one would have to disavow so many of his statements about races, nations, and religions. I couldn't give this book to a child in 2020 without having to sit ...more
Feb 01, 2021 rated it liked it
This was a fun book to take you through history. The chapters are short and easy to read. They are definitely written to catch the attention of children. It has a decent amount of detail, but I would only consider it to be a brief overview of certain history. It covers all areas of the world, but not all areas for all time. Essentially, it covers major events. Our children enjoyed reading this together and talking about different parts of the world throughout time. I learned many things that I d ...more
Amber Debenning
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This year we did an overview of world history, and this (along with Usborne Encyclopedia of World History was the main text for our 3rd and 5th graders. This book was originally published in 1924 so it doesn’t have much in it beyond the Vietnam War and the breakup of the USSR, but that can be filled in. (We have a more recently re-published version that has updated language.) This is my favorite world history text for mid-late elementary age! It is written in a way that is appealing and interest ...more
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Clearly and concisely written in an approachable conversational tone, this book was well-received by my early elementary kids and provides a good survey of world history. Certainly there is much expanding that can be done, and I loved the Sonlight curriculum and the supplemental texts we read to flesh out the history, but overall a great entry to history. Would recommend for elementary kids or even adults who want a fast overview to brush up on world history.
Devon Flaherty
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We didn’t end up using this much, but only because we had enough history to be getting along with, in The Story of the World. The few chapters that we read in A Child’s History of the World were great, though. I enjoyed it. My son liked it. I would recommend it, especially for younger children, perhaps before you get to The Story of the World, as it is not as thorough. It is out of print, and perhaps hard to procure. Recommend, for earlier.
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Virgil M. Hillyer was an educator and headmaster of Calvert School. A Child's History of the World was originally written in 1924 as an fun and easy to understand history book for elementary age children (has been re-published multiple times to fix outdated views). I remember reading this as a child and absolutely loving it. Many of the things I learned from reading it have also stuck with me. Definitely a textbook worth sharing with your kids. ...more
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-aloud
I really enjoyed each chapter. We would often chuckle at the slightly conversational remarks he made when discussing some period in history. Overall the chapters are the perfect length for reading aloud and coming away satisfied with some concrete knowledge of that portion of history.

Will read again in about four years.
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