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Living Books for Ancient & World History: Classical Conversations Cycle 1

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Our list for Living Books for Ancient & World History: Classical Conversations Cycle 1 is below! I am so happy to share these with you!  

We are on the threshold for a new school year. With a new fifth volume, Classical Conversations has updated their guides and CDs. I am very pleased with the history sentences and songs (with some exceptions) and corresponding geography.

We will be doing Classical Conversations from home this year. For a number of reasons, but most importantly, so we can slow. down.  We will focus on history, geography, and the math only, but I do appreciate community and hope to do it again some time.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

All of the books I suggest below could hopefully be found in your local library. I’d suggest searching from home and holding lots of items and going in to pick them up sans children.  This is my trick for when I am in the library, so we don’t come home with twaddle.

There are many books that I can recommend for an overview of the time period covered in Cycle 1 for Classical Conversations. We personally work with our literature using the narration method is — that is, simply, that a child tells back what they just read. What parts they remember, what parts are important. This is oral until fourth grade when we will begin written narrations which will lend itself to composition in the future. You can find more about narration at Simply Charlotte Mason for a free narration guide or Karen Glass’ Know and Tell: The Art of Narration, which I highly recommend and currently cannot put down.  She has the entire scope and sequence all laid out, with many examples in this well researched book.

To start, Beautiful Feet Books has a beautiful Ancient History Intermediate Pack that I highly recommend.  Their guides are exquisite, and the literature choices cannot be beat!  I have scoured many of theses books and cannot wait to get them into my children’s hands when they are developmentally ready for the material.

You may want to pick up A Child’s History of the World by Haarer. This is a beautiful living history book, narratively written for any child. Written in 1924, it is not influenced by modern culture and is a classic in Charlotte Mason circles. You’ll need to skip the first couple of chapters, but beyond this there is nothing questionable for a Christian reader.

There are two Story of the World series. I will begin with the older version, The Story of the World series, by M. B. Synge. The first in the series is On the Shores of the Great Sea which focuses on the civilizations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea from the time of Abraham to the birth of Christ. Histories of the Ancient Israelites, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Scythians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans are all expounded upon. This living text shares stories of many historical figures and we plan to tackle these later in our homeschool journey. The next books are: The Discovery of New Worlds, The Awakening of Europe, The Struggle of Sea Power, The Growth of the British Empire. Ages 9 to adult.

Next is the Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer — a wonderful read aloud for the whole family. This four-book lively account of world history is one we listen to each year on the wonderful “liquid gold” audio with the voice of Jim Weiss. I highly recommend going to your local library to see if they have these if you decide you cannot purchase. We invested in these and play them in the car, which has worked well for long or short car rides as it consists of many short stories of common people and larger historical figures who lived during the time.   There are Volume 1: Ancient Times Book and CD, Volume 2: The Middle Ages Book and CD, Volume 3: Early Modern Times Book and CD, Volume 4: The Modern Age Book and CD.  Activity books are also available. Ages 6 – 14.

John H. Haaren’s Famous Men series has been redone by Memoria Press. Memorial Press has a beautiful student guide (and teacher guide) if you prefer a question and answer run down after each chapter. Famous Men of Greece, Famous Men of Rome, Famous Men of the Middle Ages, and Famous Men of Modern Times.

If you have older readers (fifth grade and up), you may be interested in Dorothy Mills accounts, which are also excellently written: The Book of the Ancient World, The Book of Ancient Greeks, The Book of the Ancient Romans, The Middles Ages.

And of course, no living book list would be complete for the ancient world without a significant mention of Plutarch. Charlotte Mason emphasized beginning readings of Plutarch’s Lives starting in fourth grade (Form II). You can listen to the “why” and “what” of the Plutarch question to discover if these lives would be beneficial for further reading. His introduction to each life within their own historical context are exceptional.

We will start with Plutarch’s Lives for Boys and Girls by W. H. Weston, though there are many choices. Selected lives from Plutarch retold in this volume include six Greeks (Aristides, Themistocles, Pelopidas, Timoleon, Alexander, Philopoemen) and six Romans (Coriolanus, Tiberius Gracchus, Caius Gracchus, Caius Marius, Julius Caesar, and Brutus).

While F. J. Gould wrote two volumes for younger children, The Children’s Plutarch: Tales of the Greeks and Tales of the Romans separately, Weston’s prose is much richer and for a maturer audience. So the Gould version may be beneficial to pick up for the younger child ages 8 and up.

And another mention of of Jim Weiss is in order, we purchased a few other CDs that he has created for Peacehill Press. We are so impressed with his storytelling skills and the kids listen to these when going to bed. The following would work well for Cycle 1:

We also have many Usborne reference books that we adore!  My children love scouring these books, and they are wonderful even for the ones that are not yet confident readers, as the illustrations are very engaging and they can learn history on their own just from looking at the pictures!

Timelines of World History: This book is an absolute gem and I recommend it to anyone!  I did a comparison and most timeline events are covered!

Time Traveler: This books goes back in time into Egyptian, Roman (and Medieval and Vikings) civilizations.

Encyclopedia of World History has four sections covering the Ancient World, Medieval World, Prehistoric World, and The Last 500 Years. It is a wonderful overview of many of the civilizations studied (the prehistoric section does mention evolution) in the Classical Conversations timeline.

Ancient World:  This wonderfully illustrated books takes the reader through all the civilizations he has learned about — we love looking and the pictures and reading the small chunks of information.  There is also a Medieval World.

Classical Conversations: Cycle 1

Weeks 1 & 2: Ten Commandments

Of course the best book to read is directly from The Living Book, the Holy Bible, whichever version you prefer, to read Exodus 20 together. We wrote these on a “scroll” together last year and will take that out again this year.

Genesis: Finding Our Roots by Ruth Beechick is a wonderful book that tells the account of many civilizations during the Bible’s record of creation and on. China, Mesopotamia, and more are written within the Bible’s perspective, with footnotes and references. Ages 7 yrs to adult.

Week 3: Greek and Roman gods

D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths by Ingri & Edgar Parin D’Aulaire is the most wonderful book to introduce your child to Greek Mythology. All of the D’Aulaire volumes are gorgeously illustrated and written.

A Wonder Book for Girls and Boys by Nathaniel Hawthorne includes Greek myths in this living book for ages 9-12: The Gorgon’s Head, The Golden Touch, The Paradise of Children, The Three Golden Apples, The Miraculous Pitcher, and The Chimæra.

Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne is the follow-up to A Wonder Book and includes the myths of: Theseus and the Minotaur, Antaeus and the Pygmies, Dragon’s Teeth, Circe’s Palace, Proserpina, Ceres, Pluto, and the Pomegranate Seed, and Jason and the Golden Fleece.

Greek Myths & Legends is an illustrated reference guide detailing about Greek gods, heroes, and monsters.

Book of Greek Myths is an illustrated treasury of many of the Greek gods and goddesses stories with lovely illustrations!

Illustrated Stories from the Greek Myths is for the younger child, with beautiful artwork — this volume makes the stories of Medusa and Hercules accessible!

Week 4: Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Mary Hoffman: This lovely living book shares the journey of one small boy and his trip around the Ancient World. This is the book I have chosen to purchase as it is a living text with lovely illustrations rather than dry images and/or text. This is the Amazon synopsis: In this exciting tour of the ancient world, Callimachus, Royal Librarian of Alexandria, is researching a new book and decides to take his young apprentice Philip on his Mediterranean journey. As Philip marvels at the most breathtaking and beautiful buildings, gardens, and statues ever built — at Giza, Babylon, Olympia, Ephesus, Halicarnassus, and Rhodes, he knows that he will remember this trip for the rest of his life. But when they sail home to Alexandria, there is one more surprise waiting. Mary Hoffman’s storytelling, based on the latest research, blends with M.P. Robertson’s creative reconstructions in this inspiring introduction to the ancient wonders.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Peter Clayton and Martin Price: This book is very in depth and is more for reference than a living book to read with children; it does share black and white illustrations and lays out each Wonder in its context.

The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Diana Bentley: This encyclopedia type reference books is interesting with various illustration and text and will entertain your reader about the Seven Wonders.

The Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt

Pyramid by David Macaulay: An exquisite look at life in ancient Egypt through Macaulay’s black and white illustrations of the architecture of the day. Ages 7 – adult.

The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw is a historical fiction novel is about an orphan in ancient Egypt. A story of suspense and action showing poverty and wealth in Egyptian life.

The Cat of Bubastes, A Tale of Ancient Egypt by G. A. Henty
Young Amuba, an Egyptian slave, finds friendship in the house of an Egyptian high priest, where a cat is accidentally killed. Engaging story details life in Ancient Egypt and the different between the God of Judaism and Egyptians’ polytheism.

The Longest Night by Laurel Snyder and Catia Chien: This dramatic story, set in Egypt, about a Hebrew family that pursues its freedom and endures hardships will help young children make sense of Passover traditions.

Beyond the Desert Gate by Mary Ray: This sequel to The Ides of April tells of the volatile and dangerous times in Palestine during AD 70. The book brings to life the time period of the Jews revolting against Roman authority while the Greek cities get caught in the middle.

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason: Story of a poor archaeologist and English university professor finding a cuneiform about life in Babylon. Financial and life advice for the reader. Ages 9 yrs – adult.

I may add books about further wonders in the future:
the Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Greece.
the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus.
the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
the Colossus of Rhodes.
the Lighthouse at Alexandria, Egypt.

Week 5: Roman History (27 BC to AD 467)

City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction by David Macaulay: A story of how the Romans planned a city in the middle of the country! Architectural details on how buildings were constructed. Ages 7 – adult.

Pompeii…Buried Alive by Edith Kunhardt: The story of the explosion of Mt. Vesuvius as well as the recent discovery of the buried city and what is there today. Large print. Ages 5 – 9 yrs.

Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster: Foster has an incredible way of weaving a story through historical events in her living books. She delights her audience in learning stories of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, and Marc Antony, as well as historian Livy and how Virgil came to write the Aeneid. Foster takes readers all over the world to learn what was happening at this same time in China, Persia, India as well. Ages 10-18

The Children’s Plutarch: Tales of the Romans by F. J. Gould: Collection of stories of ancient Romans adapted from Plutarch’s Lives, and the characters of the historical figures chosen. Excellent as an introduction to the biographies of Plutarch. Includes three black and white illustrations as well. Ages 8 – 10

Romans is a wonderful reference book that takes a reader through maps, pictures, and diagrams to explore life in Roman times.

Caesar’s Gallic War by Olivia Coolidge: This powerful living text records the Gallic War from 58 to 51 B.C., and is narrated by a fictitious soldier in Caesar’s army. This is based on the important historical record left by the Romans, Julius Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War.

Galen and the Gateway to Medicine by Jeanne Bendick: Readers meet Galen, medical researcher born in 129 A.D., whose work and writings would be revered by Christian and Muslim worlds alike. for the next 1300 years. The foundation of Galen’s work, a respect for the unity of the human person in body and spirit is center to his work. Excellent writing makes this historical account readable with lively text and illustrations. Ages 7 – 14.

The Forgotten Daughter by Caroline Dale Snedeker: A 1934 Newbery Honor book, this is the story of a slave whose father is a Roman citizen. A wonderful comparison of Greek and Roman culture, this is a heartwarming tale of loss and forgiveness.

Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles: The story of Marcus as he grows in the Roman Republic. The reader discovers much about life and customs in ancient Rome. Lessons in school, the Senate, farming, and the Romany army are all subjects. Ages 8-10

Our Little Carthaginian Cousin of Long Ago by Clara Vostrovsky Winlow: Through the story of Hanno, a boy of Carthage, we gain insight into the Carthaginians, a nation of sea-farers and traders, who accumulated wealth and power as Rome’s arch enemy. Ages 8-10

Twice Freed by Patricia St. John: Story of a Roman slave, Onesimus, who longs for freedom as well as being in love with Eirene, his master’s daughter. He wants nothing to do with Jesus Christ, who His master, Philemon, follows. This book will captivate children and themes of forgiveness and perseverance make it a great read-aloud. Ages 7 – 11.

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth Speare: A Newbery Award winner, set in Galilee in the time of Jesus, this is the dramatic story of a young Jewish rebel boy who is gradually won over by the gentle teachings of Jesus. Beautifully written and captivating, this story of redemption will strengthen your faith as well as your knowledge of the Roman oppression on Israel. Ages 10 and up.

For parents:
The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers is the best account I’ve read personally about Biblical Roman times. Watch out, because this trilogy cannot be put down until you are through. While fictional, it encounters Paul and John, however it should be read with caution as many realities are expounded upon: the depravity of sex, the horrors of pagan worship, temple prostitution, disease, gladiators, slavery, mysticism and much more; this is all written upon in a loving, non-explicit way by Rivers amazing prose, but it is realistic. The story of Hadassah, a Hebrew slave, will not be forgotten in your heart, as she encounters cruelty and injustice — along the way, Scripture is referenced throughout. After reading this, I finally feel as if I know some of what persecuted Christians faced in the early years of the church. Unbelievable. You will be changed after finishing this well-written series; I cannot recommend it more highly.

Week 6: Ancient Greeks (Homer, Pythagoras, Socrates, Archimedes)

The Trojan Horse by Emily Little: A lovely step into reading book that your child can read to you.  A lively account, yet shortened sentences and vocabulary makes it accessible to a younger reader.

The Spartan Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins: A simple, wholesome story, with wonderful writing, of twin siblings that live in ancient Greece. Greek mythology is referenced. Ages 9 and under.

The Trojan War by Olivia E. Coolidge: An exciting and readable version of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, a thrilling saga of heroism and magical adventure.

The Children’s Homer by Padraic Colum: This classic Homer rendition of The Iliad and The Odyssey is appropriate for 10 and up, or with discretion, for younger children. Does have some nudity, but is a lovely narrative of the classic stories.

Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick: This biography of Archimedes in Ancient Greece, shows his work in physics, astronomy, and mathematics. This book shows how exciting Archimedes found truth and ideas, and in exploring those ideas, allows the reader to experience some of the excitement for himself. Also includes information on daily life in Greece and anecdotal stories about Archimedes. A fun and interesting book.

The Children’s Plutarch: Tales of the Greeks by F. J. Gould: Twenty-one stories of the ancient Greeks adapted for the younger reader from the biographies of Plutarch. Great introduction to the characters that figured prominently in the history of ancient Greece. Includes black and white illustrations by Walter Crane. Ages 9 and up.

Our Little Spartan Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles: Engaging account of the life of children in ancient Sparta — where young boys train to be Spartan soldiers through rigorous physical and mental exercises. In addition to wrestling, running, and throwing the discus, we watch them foraging for their food, gathering reeds for their bedding, singing patriotic songs, and eating at mess with their elders. Emphasis is on the true nobility and rugged simplicity of the Spartan character. Ages 8 – 10.

Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago by Julia Darrow Cowles: Portrayal of the civic and home life of children in Athens, when the art and architecture of ancient Greece were at their height. Through the eyes of Duris, son of the architect Phorion, and Hiero, son of the sculptor Hermippos, we experience the Greek culture of the times as we accompany them on their journey from home to market-place, wonder at the Acropolis, visit schools and studios, observe festivals, and participate in the Olympic games. Ages 8 – 10.

Week 7: Hinduism (1500 BC) and Buddhism (6th century BC) in India

Gandhi by Demi: Demi is able to poignantly tell the story of the peace-minded leader of the Indian people.  Choosing non-violence and peaceful dissent, Gandhi led the Indian people into the cause for independence from Britain.

Mother Teresa by Demi: Another gem from the amazing Demi, this time telling the story of the gentle young girl turned saint who devoted her life to helping the smallest among us, the most downtrodden, the untouchables.

The Wheel of King Asoka by Ashok Davar: Telling the story of the emperor whose wheel is on today’s flag of India.  Once a conquering king, he was touched by the negative effects of violence and ruled his empire in peace the latter part of his life.  We found this one at our library!!

Buddha by Demi: The author is Buddhist herself, so it is written factually, though you may like to read with caution. It gives and accurate portrayal of what Buddhists believe using glorious illustrations and simple prose.

Dalai Lama by Demi: This beautifully illustrated biography has a forward by the Dalai Lama himself and explores Tibet and its struggle for freedom through peace and Tibetan Buddhism.

Daughter of the Mountains by Louise S. Rankin: Momo, a young Tibetan girl, chases the man who stole her Lhasa terrier–from high in the Himalayas to the Bengal plains and the city of Calcutta. Stunning introduction to landscapes, peoples and customs of which most of us are wholly unaware. Exciting and thought-provoking!

Week 8: Age of Imperialism and British rule over India (1858) and Gandhi

Mimosa, A True Story by Amy Carmichael: A beautifully written memoir of the amazing missionary, written by my namesake ( <3 ).

Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems by Janet and Geoff Benge: life was one of simple, determined obedience to God, regardless of the consequences. Her service in India is a vivid example of the impact one person who will fear God and nothing else can have. Driven by love, sustained by faith and determination, this young woman from Northern Ireland defied the cruel barriers of India’s caste system.

Teresa of Calcutta: Serving the Poorest of the Poor by D. Jeanene Watson: The inspiring and challenging story of Mother Teresa who, for more than 40 years sought to be “the arms of Christ” to the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta.  An unlikely hero who went against the grain of our me-first culture.

Gandhi by Demi: The story of Mahmoud Gandhi comes to life with Demi’s exquisite illustrations and simple prose.  The perfect introduction to the man who helped India gain their independence.

Week 9: Lao-Tzu and Confucius in China (6th century BC)

Confucius by Demi: Demi is the author to visit when looking for a vivid and explorative book on Eastern culture.  She does it again, at times over-emphasizing Confucius character, but delightful nonetheless.

The Legend of Lao-Tzu and the Tao Te Ching by Demi: Another charming, gorgeously illustrated book by Demi.  Find these at your library and enjoy together.

Confucius: The Golden Rule by Russell Freedman: Freedman has written a more in-depth look at Confucius in his illustrated version.

Anno’s China by Anno:  This brilliant, wordless book, was republished by Beautiful Feet Books. 

Genghis Khan by Demi: Khan’s story fascinates me and Demi does him and his conquer of the Eastern world justice.

Kubla Khan by Kathleen Krull: My children and I learned so much about Kubla Khan from this book and we highly recommend it.

The Great Wall of China by Leonard Everett Fisher: The illustrations and hidden Chinese lettering in this book is breathtaking and the perfect book to introduce your child to the complicated history of the Wall of China.

Marco Polo by Demi: Marco Polo did, indeed, have one of the most exciting adventures of all time.  Written by Demi in her signature style, this book will explore his long journey to China, all the way from his home in Italy.

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Foreman Lewis: An award winning story of a young boy who lived in China during the perilous 1920s.  Marvelous introduction to Chinese culture and thought.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin: Young Minli lives in the Valley of Fruitless Mountain, where she and her parents spend their days working hard in the fields. One day, Minli embarks on a quest to find wisdom outside of the village and help her struggling family. This tale of Chinese folklore mixed with fantasy tells of adventure, friendship and courage.  Several gorgeous color illustrations. A Newbery Honor Book. Sequels include Starry River of the Sky and When the Sea Turns to Silver.









Week 10: Japan’s Heian Period (794)

Japanese children’s favorite stories by Sakade, Florence.

Peach Boy And Other Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories by Florence Sakade: Nine stories of Japanese folklore collected in this volume, all vibrantly illustrated and full of thrilling adventures, funny discoveries and important lessons, they’re sure to become story time favorites.   This book, as well as Little One-Inch, Urashiam Taro, and Kintaro’s Adventures, as delightful stories passed from generation to generation in Japanese culture.

Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say: Winner of the 1994 Caldecott Medal, Allen Say’s story of his beloved grandfather will evoke the emotions of all who have loved a country and then had to leave it. The longing for home when “home” is two different countries, half a world apart, is the theme of this lyrical, warm, and tender tale. The illustrations with their simple, yet deep beauty will prompt many discussions.

The Tale of the Mandarin Ducks by Katherine Patterson: A beautiful mandarin duck is captured and caged by a greedy lord who wants to show off the bird’s magnificent plumage.  Story of loyalty and compassion.

Crow Boy by Taro Yashima: This is a story of a shy Japanese boy, about the power of kindness and patience, and being willing to see with our hearts and not just our eyes. This book won the Caldecott Honor in 1956.

Kamishibai Man by Say, Allen: Using two very different yet remarkable styles of art, Allen Say tells a tale within a tale, transporting readers seamlessly to the Japan of his memories.

Tea with Milk by Say, Allen: The story of a boy and his mother; her journey as a young woman is heartfelt. Vividly portraying the graceful formality of Japan with beautiful illustration.

Erika San by Say, Allen: Caldecott Medalist Allen Say creates a beautiful story about an American girl who seeks adventure in Japan and discovers more than she could have imagined.

Week 11: Emperor Constantine and Byzantine Empire (AD 330 to 1453)

Anna of Byzantium by Tracey Barrett: A gripping, true story of the lost fortunes of the Byzantine heir to the throne, Anna Comnena, in the 1100’s. After suffering cruel betrayal and exile, she wrote an eleven-book epic about the life and rule of her father, the Emperor Alexius I, which is the major source of information about that period in history today. Ages 11 —17 yrs

The Miracle of Saint Nicholas by Gloria Whelan: This picture book paints a vivid picture of the Eastern Orthodox faith as it has been for centuries (and much as it was in Byzantine times). A truly beautiful story of the hopes of Russian villagers for their beloved church to open again after Communism. Ages 5 — 11 yrs

Week 12: Muslim Empire (founded in AD 622) and Ottoman Turks (1400s)

Tales of Persia: Missionary Stories from Islamic Iran by William McElwee Miller

Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta by James Rumford: The story of the great Muslim traveler, who, in Marco Polo’s time, traveled throughout the known world and came home to Morocco to tell of his journeys. Arabic calligraphy, paintings, and maps are included. Ages 6 — 13 yrs

Saladin: Noble Prince of Islam by Diane Stanley: Beautifully illustrated story by famed children’s biographer, Stanley, about the man who united Muslims to defeat the Crusaders.  Ages 7 — 14 yrs

The Bedouin’s Gazelle by Frances Temple: Adventure story set in Muslim culture in the 1100’s.  Romantic story about Atiyah and Halima, who must choose between the leadership of his tribe of Bedouin’s, and the life of a Muslim warrior, following his uncle Saladin. Halima, the beautiful girl, promised to Atiyah from her childhood, who, although forced by circumstances to agree to marriage to a cruel neighbouring sheikh, never stops believing that her beloved Atiyah will return, find her and rescue her. Ages 10 — 17 yrs

Week 13: Kush and Berbers (2000 BC to AD 350)

God King: A Story in the Days of King Hezekiah by Joanne Williamson:  An exciting story set in the days of Assyria’s power.  Egypt is ruled by the Kushites. In Judea, the Assyrian Sennacherib promises an alliance with Egypt, while Hezekiah, the Jewish king offers terms. Taharka, a former prince of Egypt, flees for his life. Ages 10 — 17 yrs

Week 14: African Trade in Ghana, Mali nation and Timbuktu, Songhai Empire (700 to 1400s)

Beat the Story-Drum, Pum-Pum by Ashley Bryan: Five traditional Nigerian tales retold and beautifully illustrated with pen-and-ink drawings.

Week 15: Prince Henry of Portugal (1400s)

Week 16: Mesoamerican Civilizations: Olmecs, Mayans, Aztecs (1200 BC to AD 1500)



The Chocolate Tree: a Mayan Folktale by Linda Lowery: Story of Mayan king Kukulkan – the god-king who brought the chocolate tree. 

Rain Player Paperback by David Wisniewski: The tale of a boy who must defeat the rain god in a ball game to save his people from disaster. Mayan art and architecture were the inspiration for the spectacular cut-paper artwork.

The Corn Grows Ripe by Dorothy Rhoads: When Tigre’s father is badly injured in an accident, the family is thrown into turmoil. Can he shoulder the burden on his own, and take his father’s place?   “A book of special artistic distinction, with its well-told story rich in Mayan folkway and custom and its boldly appropriate drawings.”—The Horn Book


Week 17: Aztecs and defeat by Cortes of Spain (1519)

The Sad Night: The Story of an Aztec Victory and a Spanish Loss by Sally Schofer Mathews: The story of the last battle the Aztecs won against the Spaniards uses graceful text and stylized art – “combines myth with historical fact in a particularly successful manner. An engaging introduction to Mexican history.”—School Library Journal

Week 18: Mound Builders: Adena, Hopewell, Mississippians (1000 BC to AD 1450)

Week 19: Anasazi in United States (500 BC to AD 1200)

Week 20: Mexican Revolution: Villa and Zapata (1910)

Week 21: Exploration of Canada and Hudson’s Bay Company (1670)

Calico Bush by Rachel Field: This Newbery Honor Book tells the story of a young French girl who is left orphaned and alone after her family arrives in the New World.

Madeleine Takes Command by Ethel Brill: The story of a teenage girl, mounts a courageous defense of her Canadian fort when the Mohawk Indians attack. A story of a courageous girl in frontier Canada. A Bethlehem book. Ages 10 – 18 yrs

Mystery in the Frozen Lands – Martyn Godfrey
The search for the answer to the disappearance of Sir John Franklin and his expedition which had disappeared without trace 12 years earlier while trying to negotiate a possible North-West passage across the top of Canada. 14 year old Peter Griffin is with the crew searching for answers. A gripping true story. Ages 9 – 15 yrs

The Broken Blade by William Durbin: Thirteen year old Pierre enlists as a voyageur to paddle a canoe 2400 miles to have money for his family to survive the harsh Canadian winter. It is a tough trip, but one he must endure. Ages 10 – 16 yrs.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery: The classic about orphan Anne Shirley who travels to live with the Cuthbert on Prince Edward Island, Filled with personality and imagination!


Week 22: British North American Act of 1867 and Dominion of Canada (Independence in 1982)

Week 23: Liberation of South America (early 1800s)

Week 24: Portuguese Empire and Brazil’s Independence (1822)

I will continue to add to this list as I am able!  See here for a printable version of this list.  Thanks for visiting, and above all, I hope you read amazing literature to your children this year!


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  1. Amy, I have love, love, loved your cycle 1 book recommendations! Did you ever do a post beyond week 8? I can’t seem to find it if you did!

  2. Fantastic content! Thank you so much!

  3. Katherine says:

    Hi there! This is quite the compilation! I am just getting into the research stages of classical homeschooling. I am confused about why some of the study segments sometimes have such a wide spread across the timeline. For example, when looking at India there are places that study early/ancient Indian history but then jumps to Amy Carmichael. Can you help me understand the thinking behind this approach?

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