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We live in pioneer country; this list is a result of a question posed to me by a friend.  “What books would you load into a handcart and push to Missouri if need be?”  While the list is a bit long for that actual event, it does represent the items without which I would feel lost as I teach.  This list contains my thoughts on why each item is on the list, and how I use them.  Remember each resource is a favorite because it lends itself to being used in different ways for different learners. This list focuses on history and various ways to expand your studies.  (If you are unfamiliar with the learning levels, please refer to my blogs dated 2/26-28/2013.)

All levels

  • A timeline- timelines allow for review each time they are used.  They organize  human history into an intelligible series of causes and effects, and allow for connections to be made.   There are some massive pre-printed timelines available for purchase (and they can be very helpful).  I recommend creating one as you study.  Whether it is on your wall or in a binder, building a timeline as you learn about people and places takes on the feeling of putting a great puzzle together.  Take apart old books, and encyclopedias which have boring texts, and use the maps, pictures, and documents to add interest to your timeline.
  • Biographies- learn about the heroes who made great decisions and, consequently, changes for the better throughout history.  Read about their less-than-stellar decisions and the resulting effects.  We need to have an understanding of the principles of this life, not just a knowledge of celebrities.
  • Well-written history books- textbooks are a dry, uninteresting way to learn history.  Look for books with great narratives, engaging photographs, and accurate information.  Read primary source materials, and draw your own conclusions.

Discovery level

  • Books by Genevieve Foster- I have never found one of her books that was not worth reading.  Foster’s writing style is easy-going, and informative.  Definitely a favorite among my family members!
  • The Story of Mankind series by Olive Beaupre Miller- currently out-of-print.  I have found copies of the series at used book sellers and on the internet.  Another good narrative.
  • America is My Country  by Brown, Guadagnolo-  found this at a used book clearing house.  Great information on American symbols and patriotic themes.
  • Books from the Childhood of Famous American series- written for middle grades, but my teenagers loved reading them “just for fun”.  Focuses on the early years of men and women who accomplished great things for America.  Some have been republished; many are out of print.
  • Books from the If You Had Lived….. series- published by Scholastic.  This series asks and answers questions about various time periods, and events in history (What did they eat aboard the Mayflower?  Did the pioneers have fun? Etc.)  Informative, and engaging.
  • Dover history coloring books- Dover Publishing produces lots of coloring books in various subjects, but my favorites are those relating to history.  I use them in conjunction with historical read-alouds.  Photo-copy a picture from the book (I only use the books as a master) and the kids can color while I read.  Great for visual, and kinesthetic learners!

Analysis level

  • 1828 Webster’s Dictionary- the first dictionary published for American English.  When you are reading original, founding documents and speeches it is invaluable.  The definitions of words change over time, and having a source that references how those who helped create our nation understood things makes all the difference in the world.  It is also very helpful when reading scriptures.
  • The Story of Mankind series by Olive Beaupre Miller- (see note in “all levels”)  These books cover early human life through the explorers.  I like the narrative style in these books.  I use the portions that apply to what we are currently working on; I do not read them straight through as read-alouds.  They do require something like the Eyewitness Books from DK publishing for visuals.  There are few illustrations to accompany the text.
  • Books from the American and World Landmark history series- written for late elementary and junior high school-aged youth.  These books are interesting, well-researched, and much-loved.  They cover both historical events, and individuals in history.  Some are back in print currently.   I have found many of them through second-hand sources.
  • DK World History Encyclopedia– Great overview for world history.  Does contain some evolutionary information (we simply start further on in the text).  Use the two page spreads for outlining basic information, and supplement with biographies, maps, and other sources for in-depth study.
  • Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard J. Maybury- Love this book!  If you have ever wanted to understand the basics of economics, this book covers it in a simple, easy-to-understand format.  Ten year-olds can understand the information, but Maybury’s writing style is interesting enough for adults to enjoy the books (see below) as well.  A MUST READ!
  • Whatever Happened to Justice? by Richard J. Maybury- Same style as above.  This book explains the genesis for common law, and how our legal system has evolved including the difference between scientific, and common law.  Fascinating!  *NOTE*  Richard Maybury has written numerous other books.  I enjoyed the first four in the Uncle Eric series.  The later ones are interesting reads, and thought-provoking, but not as highly recommended (at least, not by me). Maybury has decided views on history and I disagree with many political, and social stands he takes, i.e. we should have stayed out of WWII, etc.
  • Sunday Editorial page (newspaper)- Read with your youth to help them as they become more aware of current issues.  Discuss the views expressed, and help your young people develop the ability to express a well-worded opinion.

Application level

  • A Basic History of the United States  by Clarence Carson- currently out-of-print.  I have found it on Amazon, and Ebay.  Carson’s history is clear, politically incorrect, and well-written.  There is a teacher’s guide available which I found helpful for discussion. (Often I don’t bother with teacher’s guides.)   While I do not endorse everything this author has written, I found this set to be helpful and easy-to-use.
  • Are You Liberal? Conservative? or Confused? by Richard Maybury- Not sure what all the labels in our political system mean?  This book explains the labels, and the philosophies of past, and present parties, and potential effects for businesses and the economy.
  • Evaluating Books: What Would Thomas Jefferson Think About This? by Richard Maybury- Learning to be a discerning reader is vital for everyone.  This book deals with the various philosophical slants of different writers, and gives suggestions of things against which to guard as you choose books for yourself and your family.
  • The Making of America and Study Guide number one, published through the National Center for Constitutional Studies.  The book is divided into halves.  The first half discusses the Founding Fathers; the second half discusses The Constitution.  If you are interested in what the writers of The Constitution thought, wrote, and said, this book is for you.
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