G.A. Henty is well known for his enthusiastic and interesting historical fiction books. What better way to enjoy these than in audio book format! I had the pleasure of receiving for review a Henty audio book by Jim Hodges Productions. We have been listening to Wulf the Saxon and also utilizing the Study Guide provided by Jim Hodges.
If you aren’t familiar with the Henty books, and have any interest in history or in teaching it to your children, you should definitely check these out! Most of the books themselves are available for free online, but their language is a little difficult and often the digital versions are just hard to see. When these were published, it was in a different day and age, and the typeface itself is just sort of strange. These are most definitely of the great choices for including an audio book in your homeschooling!
At my house, history is a favorite subject, and we’ve always used a largely literature approach. My kids enjoy sitting together on the couches and around the living room and reading good books together. I expected these audio books to be no different. What’s more, having one student recently diagnosed as dyslexic, I’ve been looking to include more of this type of learning in our school. What a joy for our first experience in audio books to be a Jim Hodges reading!
Wulf is a young Saxon, employed by an Earl of the kingdom of England. In this time – approximately 1066 AD (according to the Hodges site) – many Normans have come to live in England. It’s not really a comfortable thing for the English, to have so many foreigners there, but it is what it is. Well, for a time that is true. You see, this is the story of a young boy and his character during the time of the Norman Conquest.
Jim Hodges is an excellent reader, keeping students engaged with voice inflections and voice differences in dialogue, and more. In this particular book, the chapters are pretty long, about a half hour in length. For my middle students, that was a little long of a sitting. That is due to the original Henty book itself, though, and not to the Hodges audio book. The website states that this audio book and most of the others (especially the Henty books) are best geared to a mature or interested middle school student or to those in high school. I agree.
The study guide is an excellent resource. At first, I tried to give the guide pages to the boys after they’d heard the chapter read. That. Did not. Work. These guides are pretty difficult, but I must say that they are an excellent and fairly short length considering the length of the chapters.
First in each chapter is a list of vocabulary words, listed in order that they are heard in the chapter and not alphabetically. I am SO thankful for that tidbit, because after it dawned on me to give the kids the sheet while we listened, it mean that as the chapter was read the kids can jot down their guess – just a synonym or couple of words – for the definition of each word.
Next on the guide are a few questions from the chapter. A few of these would be directly found in the chapter, a few are conclusions or examination of the language, and a few are character. This particular guide is exceedingly focused on character. I’m not sure if that’s true of all the guide, but because of the nature of this book, I expect that it’s this one in particular. There is a printable list at the end of the guide which contains character traits and their definitions. For each chapter, character traits – good and bad – are portrayed and discussed. What an excellent training tool!
I believe that the guides could be used with not just the audio book but also (or instead) with the text versions. If you’re a die-hard reader and don’t have much interest in the audio book format, let me encourage you to check out the study guides anyway! An excellent resource, in my opinion, and allows the Henty books to be used as a full curriculum!
Last, for each chapter, are listed some activities. Keeping in mind that these study guides are mostly for the older crowd, I think these activities are where you can make some exception. Some of the activities are definitely of a high school level. Others, though, are more middle school based (or possibly even upper elementary). Many activities include links to sites where kids can play games, or find recipes, or instructions for crafts. I think that using the activities and skipping the vocab and questions would be a great method for including middle and upper elementary school students and making listening to the audio book a family event!
We received the physical CD of Wulf the Saxon and it sells on the site for $25. You can also purchase it as a digital download for just $18, and the study guide is a PDF available for $12. You can connect with Jim Hodges on Facebook. Be sure to read the other Crew reviews, as we each received a different book! Also check out the site; on the left side there is a “scope & sequence” list which directs to a PDF document that is a timeline of all Henty audio books and highlights those available in audio format through Jim Hodges Productions.