When asked which program is their favorite, some Sonlight customers vote for almost every one of the Sonlight programs. But usually, Sonlight F gets more votes than the rest.
Unique in feel among all the Sonlight programs, Sonlight F studies non-Western cultures. Rather than studying history chronologically, as we do in our American and World History programs, F is a cultural study that focuses on several less-studied countries, regions, and continents.
One of our passions is the "10/40 Window," the band on a map that extends between 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator and stretches from West Africa in the west to Japan in the east. Incredibly, about two-thirds of the world's population live in this small band. This area lacks access to the gospel (many governments are hostile to the story of Jesus); many of the people live in extreme poverty; many live without access to medical care and access to education.
It is very difficult to pray for God to be at work when we know nothing about where we want God to be at work. It is, perhaps, difficult to feel called to "go" if you know nothing about the need to which you might be called. And how can we be anything but narrow-minded and focused on the West, when that is all we know?
My hope is that, through your studies, you will know more about those other inhabitants of the globe, and grow in compassion for them.
Overview of the History
The centerpiece of Sonlight F is Journey to the Eastern Hemisphere, a book (new for 2016!) that combines articles and photos about various countries and regions: China, Korea, Japan, Russia, Southeast Asia, Vietnam, India, the Middle East, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Africa, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Australia, and Antarctica.
F also includes guided exercises and activities to help make the reading meaningful. Make a timeline of Chinese history. Record three interesting things you learned in that day's reading. Research an endangered species and give a mini-report.
The History program adds powerful missionary biographies: Hudson Taylor in China, William Carey in India, Mary Slessor in Nigeria, and God at work in Iran. May these stories help us to inspire the people walking in darkness to see the great light.
Overview of the Literature
As in other Sonlight programs, the 18 Read-Alouds expand on the History. Unlike other Sonlight programs, though, there are not as many books available about any of these peoples and places. Compared to, say, the hundreds of books available about WWII, there are not many children's books about Vietnam or Saudi Arabia.
For many of the countries in F, the language is foreign, the religion is foreign, and the cultural heritage is foreign.
Please, consider each of these Read-Alouds a gift.
(Some years back, Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze went out of print. My daughter remembers me exclaiming, "I just don't know what to do! There isn't another Young Fu!" Even today, more than two decades after that temporary setback, with all the thousands of books I have read and tens of thousands that I have reviewed, I can say with confidence: There isn't another Young Fu.)
Shadow Spinner is an interesting twist on the story of Shahrazad. What would it be like for her, 989 days after starting to tell the Sultan stories? How desperate would she be for any new story? That's the beginning. This is a favorite for many customers.
When my children were little, John started reading Seven Daughters and Seven Sons. This is not a short book (it's scheduled for more than two weeks). But it so captivated my family that they finished in three sessions, reading on late into the night to find out what happens to Buran.
From an age-appropriate but still-intense introduction to Russia under Stalin (how could it be anything but intense?), to a true story set in Sudan; from the beautiful memoir of life in Vietnam before the war, to a gorgeously illustrated Chinese fairy tale, this is, as I said earlier, a collection of books, each of which is a gift.
The Readers, too, are gifts. Jules Verne's classic adventure yarn Around the World in 80 Days. A Saudi Arabian boy who trains a golden eagle to hunt. The story of an Arabian horse that became an ancestor of the modern Thoroughbred. A Palestinian girl in Jerusalem befriends a Jewish boy. Leningrad, besieged during WWII, slowly starves; how can they survive?
Twenty glorious books!
Did you see the infographic that came out a few years ago? It had a map of the world, with a circle around India, China, Korea, Japan, and Indonesia. And the map had the heading: "There are more people living inside this circle than outside it." True. But even more then that, there are more Muslims living inside the circle than out of it. (We think of the Middle East as the primary place for Islam, and, indeed, it began there. But the 25 million Muslims in Saudi Arabia are few compared to Indonesia's 200 million, or India's 175 million.) There are more Hindus living inside the circle than out of it. There are more Buddhists living inside the circle than out of it.
Not only that: The circle is mostly water, and includes Mongolia, the least populated country on earth.
Come learn about the countries in this circle, and near the circle. Come learn about two-thirds of the world's population. Discover the program many Sonlighters consider their favorite.
Estimated daily time for Eastern Hemisphere plus your other subjects: Student: 4-6 hrs | Parent: 2-3.5 hrs