Friday, August 3, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: King Alfred's English



All the world's a stage, 
And all the men and women merely players; 
They have their exits and their entrances, 
And one man in his time plays many parts…  

From As You Like It
William Shakespeare 

Here's a pop quiz for you:

1)  Shakespeare spoke and wrote:
   a) Old English
   b) Medieval English
   c) Modern English

2)  King Arthur was:
   a) The King of the Britons
   b) A legendary figure
   c) A seeker of the Holy Grail whose mother was a hamster and whose father smelled of elderberries

3)  Druids were:
   a) Celtic Priests
   b) Warriors
   c) Scary guys in hoods

4)  St. Patrick's Day is all about:
   a) Celebrating your Irish roots
   b) Remembering the man who brought Christianity to pagan Ireland
   c) Beer and Irish Whiskey

The answers are:  1) c,
2) b - but of course the legend could have been based on facts,
3) well, probably all of the above, and
4) b.

Do your kids ask you questions like these?  What are Druids and who was King Arthur?  Did you know that we decorate with shamrocks because Irish tradition says that St. Patrick used them to illustrate the idea of the Trinity to the Irish people?  (Well, I explained that one, but then my kids wanted to know what the fourth person of God is on the four-leaf-clover and why is it lucky?  Sometimes these things backfire!)

My children and I have really enjoyed reading King Alfred's English by Laurie White.  The subtitle is "A History of the Language We Speak And Why We Should Be Glad We Do."  That is a good summary, but I found so much more interesting information in this book than I expected to from just the title.  It contains history about legends and traditions that we encounter in everyday life and of which we never knew the history.  I learned why we ain't supposed to use the word "ain't," why there are so many exceptions to the rules in our language, and why "you will never see Shakespeare’s name on a list of the 'top ten writers in English.'”  The story was entertaining and full of "aha" moments for my children.  It told us how we got the Bible in English.  This book showed how throughout its history, the English language has been tied to Christianity, or at least a Christian worldview.


In addition to the book itself, there is lots of supplemental information on the website at  There you will find "chapter by chapter links to online images, articles, videos, and relevant literature excerpts;" "chapter worksheets and tests."

I highly recommend King Alfred's English for anyone studying Medieval History; Romans, Celts, or the history of England; the English language; or just as an independent reading assignment.  At 144 pages, you can read it with your children in just a few days as a supplement to your English studies or as a break from them.

Here's the bottom line:

Product:  King Alfred's English, available in paperback or Kindle version
Ages:  12 through adult (my 9 and 10-year-olds are enjoying it as well)
Price:  Retail $16.95

While the book retails for $16.95, you can find it at several outlets, some at a discount:

CBD $14.89 paperback
Amazon  $16.95 paperback, Kindle version $5.95
Rainbow Resource Center $14.95 paperback

In even better news, the author has authorized us to give away several discount codes.  I can send up to 5 readers a discount code for 50% off the retail price for a paperback copy, or $8.47.  The code will only be good through September.  If you are interested, leave a comment below with your favorite fun-fact about Old English, your favorite Shakespeare play, or your favorite line from Monty Python's Holy Grail!  If more than 5 people leave comments, I will randomly choose 5!

To read what my fellow Crewmates thought of King Alfred's English, click on the banner below:


Disclaimer:  I received a free digital PDF version of King Alfred's English for the purpose of review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

1 comment:

  1. I love your quiz! How fun! We loved this book, too. (Not an entry.)