History Series My Children Love

My children have learned more history from their own free reading time than anything we have done together.  The memory pegs my kids have from Classical Conversations helps them to get even more out of reading these books.

I want to share a number of our favorite series for history in the elementary years.  In no particular order:

 You Wouldn’t Want to Be books.

The You Wouldn’t Want to Be series has a quirky way to catching my kids’ attention with their silly subtitles (like You Wouldn’t Want to Be Mary Queen of Scots:  A Ruler Who Really Lost Her Head).  These are amazing, covering topics from Ancient times to U.S. history. I wrote about them a few years ago here where you can see Foundations Cycle match-ups.  My kids have re-read these many times over the years.  These are the shortest and easiest reading level of books on this list.  When we get these at the library, even the librarians comment on the fun titles of the books.

Interactive History Adventures.

The Interactive History Adventures also cover many time periods.  We love to get these at the library also.  They are choose-your-path type books except with historical themes.  The U.S. history ones are my favorites, but we really enjoy most of them.  I included Foundations match ups here.  (The one on The Underground Railroad has a path where you pretend to be slave catchers, and we just couldn’t even read that path in the book.)

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales

These graphic novels are always about dangerous and challenging bits of history.  The first in the series, One Dead Spy, is about Nathan Hale’s namesake.  The World War 1 book, Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood, gives an amazing overview to World War I.  My kids are already anticipating the fall release of one about World War II (Raid of No Return).

Ken Jenning’s Junior Genius Guides

The Junior Genius Guides include other topics than history, but we love the U.S. Presidents and Maps and Geography for studying history.  These books are packed with information but told in a way that grabs kids’ attention.  These books are set up like a “school day” with class periods instead of chapters.  (The non-history ones we are love are: The Human Body, Outer Space, and Greek Mythology.)  If you decide to buy any of these books, this 3-book set is a far better deal than the 3 books individually.

The Complete Middle School Study Guide series

These “Big Fat Notebook” books have packed with wonderful overviews of American History and World History.  Any piece of CC memory work can be found in these as well as lots of other history tidbits.  I actually think the U.S. History one is going to be an excellent resource for me as a Challenge 1 Director next year.  After each section, there are “Check Your Knowledge” quizzes complete with “Check Your Answers” so you don’t have to wonder if they are right.  My kids don’t really get the “Everything you need to Ace” each class title for the books in this series since we homeschool and don’t teach to a test, but these are a wonderful resource.  (Other books in the series include non-history topics:  English Language Arts, Math, and Science.  The English one does include topics not covered in the CC Essentials program – like theme, plot, etc.)

Note:  These books are secular so they include evolutionary human origins.  They are also very current in their publication dates so the U.S. one include the Supreme Court ruling on marriage (in a very matter-of-fact way).

As I made this list, I’m sure I forgot some of my kids’ favorites.  What history series do your kids enjoy?

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The Big Book of History: A Timeline Book We Love

We really love history in this house.  My kids are endlessly telling me cool facts they discover in library books.  One book, The Big Book of History, from our own bookshelves is packed with unusual facts as well as lots of memory pegs we already have learned.  (Here is a link to the book on Amazon.)

Getting out The Big Book of History is like deciding to have a review day.  As the kids read through this marvelous book, they get a chance to reference and review our Classical Conversations timeline, history sentences from all three cycles, and even the occasional science fact.  Not only that, but they also learn about inventions, church history, and composers.  It has been a while since I pulled it off the shelves, but today the kids spent more than an hour with it.

This book can be looked at as a normal book:

Big Book of History as a book

or can be folded out into a 15-foot timeline.  This picture only shows about half of the book.

Book used as a timeline

It’s nice that one child can sit and read it or that everyone can pour over it at once.

Features we love about The Big Book of History:

  • numerous references to memory work pegs (I counted at least 16 of the cycle 3 history sentences in a quick perusal.  Much of the timeline and other year’s sentences are also included.)
  • written from a young earth, Biblical perspective
  • pictures that capture my non-reader’s attention
  • Four categories included:  Biblical/Christianity, World Events, Inventions/Technology, and Civilizations/Empires
  • free study guide download (including activities to do and an “historic hide and seek” where kids can look for the answers while studying the book)

Things to note:

  • The book can be purchased as just panels to hang on the wall instead of attached to the book like we have if you are interested.
  • There is a teacher’s guide available, but I have never had the opportunity to look at it.
  • This is book is not a “to-scale” timeline so the increments change throughout the book.  (This would be my least favorite thing of the whole book, but I understand how differently it would look if it was evenly spaced.)

Today while looking at the book, these just a few pieces of information the kids mentioned:

  • the biggest library in Alexandria (“It’s in National Treasure, Mom.”)
  • The invention of basketball
  • George Washington becoming president (“We know that date.”)
  • a long list of Edison’s inventions
  • Columbus
  • how early the yo-yo was invented
  • Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
  • Homer
  • The Turtle:  first military submarine (There’s an episode of Liberty’s Kids called “The Turtle” if you want to learn more.)

We have had this book for a few years and really enjoyed pulling it back out again today.  The biggest problem is finding enough floor space.  If you don’t have a timeline book (or don’t have one from a Biblical perspective), The Big Book of History might be a welcome addition to your book collection.


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Interactive History Adventures: Books To Experience History

I am always on the lookout for new series of books the kids will enjoy.  My son loves history, and it can be challenging to find good history books for boys.

It seems like there are a lot more choices of historical fiction series for girls:  American Girl books, Sisters in Time, and so on.

Interactive History AdventuresA few weeks ago, the topic of presentations at CC was to share a favorite book.  A boy in my daughter’s class shared Ancient Greece: An Interactive History Adventure.  Ruth came home and told Elijah that he would love this series of books.  She shared how the book let you make choices that led to different outcomes.  Since we are studying U.S. history this year, I put a few of the U.S. ones on hold at the library.  The first to come in was The Oregon Trail.

Elijah tore into the book while in line to check it out of the library.  He had so much fun trying out the different choices to see if he would survive or not.  Our second book just came in at the library today with very similar results.  I think we have found a hit.

When Elijah finished his first one, I wanted to chat with him about his thoughts on the book.  He explained to me that it was kind of like an interactive game about the Jamestown settlement we played the week before, but he said, “It is way better than the silly game because it’s a book.”  If I teach him nothing else in life, at least I have taught him to love books.

I went through all of the books I could find on Amazon and grouped them by Cycle for CC (or history topic for non-CC people).  We love to read books that aren’t even related to what we are studying.  This makes for a really great way to review our past memory pegs.  I know Elijah is going to want to read the whole series this year, and then we will read them again as topics come up in future years.  I will be coming back to this post again and again to look for more books to read.  At least 2 of the books were published in the last week so this series continues to grow.  Our library does not have them all yet, but I am hopeful that eventually they will.

Tips for finding these books at your local library:

I have had to search by each title, “Interactive History Adventure”, “You Choose History”, or the author to find these books at our library.  For some reason, our county library system is not always consistent with how books are entered into the computers.

To make my list not quite as cumbersome, I left off the various sub-titles that Amazon has given the books.  If you click on the link, the sub-titles are there.


Cycle 1 (Ancient Civilizations):

Ancient Egypt
Ancient Greece
Ancient Rome
Life as a Gladiator
Ancient China
The Aztec Empire

Life as a Samurai

Life as a Ninja

Cycle 2 (The Middle Ages, World War I and World War II):

The Middle Ages
Life as a Knight

Exploring the New World
 (This book includes explorers from Cycle 2 and Columbus from Cycle 3.  I love built-in review.)
The Sinking of the Lusitania (World War I and II are covered in both Cycle 2 and 3 so I listed the books under both.)
World War I
World War II
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
World War II Spies
World War II Pilots
World War II Naval Forces
The Vietnam War

Cycle 3  (U.S. History):

Exploring the New World  (This is the same book I listed in Cycle 2.)
Colonial America
The Revolutionary War
The Boston Massacre
The Battle of Bunker Hill
Westward Expansion

The Battle of the Alamo

The California Gold Rush

The Oregon Trail

The Underground Railroad

The Civil War
The Battle of Bull Run
The Wild West
Ellis Island
Orphan Trains
The Child Labor Reform Movement
The Titanic
The Great Depression
The Dust Bowl
The Sinking of the Lusitania  (The World War I and II books are listed on both Cycle 2 and 3.  We studied them more in Cycle 2, but I listed them under both.)
World War I
World War II
The Attack on Pearl Harbor
World War II Spies
World War II Pilots
World War II Naval Forces
The Japanese American Internment
The Civil Rights Movement
The Race to the Moon

I hope your children enjoy these books as much as I think we will.  I’m going to keep an eye out for new books being added to this series.  It’s great to have history books that my son loves.  Interactive History Adventures are definitely a hit!

NOTE:  These books do sometimes have you (as the main character) die.  If the topic is about a war, sometimes a friend or family member might die as well.  At least one book (World War II) had people playing poker for chocolate bars.

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More Library Books About Christopher Columbus

Last week, I sat down at my computer to put a few books on hold at the library about Christopher Columbus.  While looking up the selections from my own book list about Columbus, I found a few others to try.  I also had noticed a Garfield book about Columbus on this post (in the 12th picture) that I knew Elijah would love.

Today, we went to the library to pick up our holds.  I’m glad I took a few minutes to look for a few more books since my children loved our new selections.  I thought I’d share what we found in case you have children who love to read history as much as mine do.

More books about Columbus

First was the Garfield book I saw last week called Garfield Discovers America.  I did not even tell Elijah about it until we picked it up from the library.  He started reading the book while we were checking out.  He laughed his way through the book, sharing interesting little bits with the rest of us.  Obviously, whoever reads this has to realize it wasn’t really a cat who discovered America, but Elijah knew that already.  The little historical reference to a famous Thomas at the end of the book was a nice touch and made my kids wonder if there were more books in the series.  (There aren’t any other books like this one that I can find.  If you know of any, we’d love to find them.)

Our second library find was Christopher Columbus: Famous Explorer (Graphic Biographies).  My kids love The Action Bible, so I thought they might be interested in this graphic biography.  Ruthie was excited to read about Columbus being married, because we had never read about that before.  The dialogue is a bit contrived in the comic book format, but it has lots of interesting facts.  The kids all loved the pictures and said it was so fun to read that they forgot it was a history book.  I enjoyed the “more about” pages in the back.  The internet sites section contained only invalid links, but all in all, we enjoyed this book.  In fact, my children noticed the list on the back of the book of others in the series and can’t wait for us to get them too.

The last new Columbus book was My First Biography: Christopher Columbus.  It is a very simple easy reader.  My beginner reader and I enjoyed reading together about Columbus being a dreamer.  I appreciated how the book repeated words like “dream” and “dreamer” or “again” so that we got extra reading practice for those newer words.  I actually think this book would be nice for one child to read to another or to read to a young child who doesn’t like to sit for long books.  For being a very easy book, the illustrations included lots of detailed drawings and simple maps.

I’m very thankful for a good library system and such a large variety of books we can find on the same person.  We’re reading Christopher Columbus: Across The Ocean Sea as a family, and I am looking forward to seeing what details we learn about Columbus that we haven’t heard yet.

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U.S. History Books: World Wars, Astronauts, and 9/11

I know.  I know.  That really seems like an odd grouping of books.  I’m finishing up my U.S. history book posts, and figuring out a title can something be tricky.

U.S. History books world wars, astronauts, and 911

Here are books for the World Wars, Astronauts, and 9/11.


World War I and II (weeks 17 and 18)

These wars are also covered during Cycle 2.  I already shared resources we found and loved for those topics here and here.

Astronauts and Walking on the Moon:  (week 21)

Neil, Buzz, and Mike Go to the Moon is a picture book.  My son really liked the side-bar information and the illustrations.  Walking on the moon really was an exciting moment for our country, and I think this book catches the emotion of the moment.  (This is a great event to ask grandparents about because many of them remember seeing it on television.  Interviewing grandparents about this could even turn into a good CC presentation.)

You Wouldn’t Want to Be on Apollo 13!: A Mission You’d Rather Not Go On is just the book for my history-loving son.  He’s read this before, but he reads the You Wouldn’t Want to Be books every year.

September 11th, 2001 (week 22)

I have not gotten these two books from our library yet (I have them on hold) but wanted to get all my book lists done before the new school year starts.  When they come in, I’ll come back and write more about them.  I think these will be books we read and discuss together.

America Is Under Attack: September 11, 2001: The Day the Towers Fell (Actual Times) is a picture book about 9/11.  From reviews, I can tell it doesn’t talk about who the attackers were, but our memory work does.  It seems to be a chronological telling of events from that day.

September 11, 2001 (Turning Points in U.S. History) is another picture book (maybe a little older based on Amazon’s age rating).  Again, from reviews, it may have some information incorrect.

Do you have any favorite children’s books for these events in U.S. history?


(By the way, if you are wondering where some of U.S. history went (like the Vietnam War or Reagan), these topics are covered in Cycle 2.  I didn’t include those books because we cover them in a different year.)


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