Home educating parents usually like books. Sometimes the right to choose all of our children’s reading material is one of the reasons we choose to educate from home. In the study of America’s history, the options are more than plentiful; they are overwhelming. Here are a few our home has enjoyed over the past two months.
The American Story Series by Betsy Maestro and Giulio Maestro has proved informative and engaging. We loved Struggle for a Continent, which covered the French and Indian Wars, a slice of America’s history that was largely unknown to me. With detailed illustrations and maps, along with considerable text on each page, the book was perfectly suited for reading aloud: plenty to keep the young listener’s attention on the page while the adult reads the text. The series includes books on the colonial period, the constitution, immigration, and more.
The Declaration of Independence, illustrated by Sam Fink put flesh on the bones of the Declaration. Using the complete text of our nation’s famous document, the author breaks it into short phrases, one per page, with a stylized illustration to help make sense of the old language. This was a great way to explore the document with an elementary-aged student, but would be equally helpful for middle schoolers or even high schoolers who benefit from visual aids.
My American GeoJourney and the Dover United States Coloring Book have both been helpful in our weekly study of America’s states. Without being too detailed, they offer good reinforcement of the content we learn about the states. Fun and low-key resources for elementary students.
David McCullough and Nathaniel Philbrick are titans of contemporary history nonfiction for adult readers. If you – or your high school children – are interested in learning more about our nation’s history, these two books may be the ticket. Mayflower by Philbrick tells the story of the Pilgrims, from their beginnings in England and Holland, to the decades following the famous first Thanksgiving and the deterioration of good relationships with the Native Americans. A fascinating read. Similarly, The Pioneers by McCullough tells the story of a few trailblazing Americans who pierced into the continent at a time when doing so was fraught with risk.
As Christian home educators, we would be remiss were our studies at home to forget our spiritual history. Long Story Short is an easy to follow Bible reading guide through the Old Testament. (The author has a companion book, Old Story New, which studies the New Testament.) Using short daily readings, Long Story Short works through the sometimes-tedious Old Testament stories at a good clip. Alongside this storytelling approach to Biblical instruction, a book like The New City Catechism provides children with the foundations of basic theology. So far we’ve memorized answers to questions like “What is God?” and “How can we glorify God?”