I'm in the process of replacing some books within Sonlight's Core 5, which is probably the hardest Core to secularize, due to the emphasis on missions and missionaries. I picked a good one to start with, it seems. But the subject matter (the Eastern Hemisphere) held the most appeal for my kids, and the non-missionary books all seem to be excellent titles, so away we go!
Here is what I've got so far:
To replace 100 Gateway Cities and the Unreached Peoples dvd, we're going to use Material World: a Global Family Portait, Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, Women in the Material World, Houses and Homes around the World, and possibly some of Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days, which is currently available through Netflix streaming.
To replace or supplement (I haven't decided which yet) Sonlight's Eastern Hemisphere Explorer, I'm looking at McDougal Littell's Eastern Hemisphere middle school text, the Enchantment of the World series, and/or the Trail Guide to World Geography. The 2003 version of the McDougal Littell student text is available chapter-by-chapter in a pdf version here.
Another book we'll be substituting that is central to this core is called Exploring Planet Earth. We already have the Usborne Explorers book, so we'll use that, but I'm planning to take a look at Around the World in A Hundred Years, Explorers Who Got Lost, and the NatGeo publication Exploration Experience, which uses primary source materials and reminds me of those 'ology books that were so popular a few years ago (though it's not listed in the children's section).
From what I can tell without the Instructor's Guide in front of me just yet, Torches of Joy is one of the first read-alouds, if not the very first. The book tells of the Dani people of Irian Jaya, who were a Stone Age tribe that first came into contact with "modern" people in 1960, from the perspective of a missionary couple who traveled there to convert the native people to Christianity. While there does seem to be one secular children's book about the Dani (The Fighting for Survival: the Dani of Irian, by Liz Thompson, 1998) , it is OOP and not available anywhere that I could find. I'm thinking there must be a National Geographic issue about the tribe from the 1960's, but my cd-rom drive is down so I can't check our Complete National Geographic (Every Issue Since 1888). So far I am planning to substitute with Indonesian folktales such as The Gift of the Crocodile (an Indonesian Cinderella story), The Adventures of Mouse Deer or Indonesian Children's Favorite Stories, and possibly parts of Child of the Jungle, a true account of the daughter of linguist parents who grew up among the Fayu tribe in western Papua New Guinea, and with websites like this one from PapuaTrekking.com and a DVD called Cosmos Global: Dani, which claims to be "global edu-tainment."
More at a later date. . .