Our list for Living Books for Medieval & Modern History: Classical Conversations Cycle 2 is below! I hope you enjoy!
Most of the books below could be found in your local library. I always suggest searching online, from home, and holding lots of books and going in to pick them up without children. This is helpful when you want to make a quick trip, and also don’t want to argue with children who want to bring home “books” that are simply just worthless twaddle.
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Narration is best. This is when 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!
To start, Beautiful Feet Books has a beautiful Ancient History Intermediate Pack that I highly recommend. Their guides are beautiful and well thought out, 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!
Recommendations that bring your child through all of Ancient, Medieval, to Early Modern History:
First, The Story of the World series, by M. B. Synge. Each book goes into depth about each topic, I wish there were an audio version available (though it may be on Librovox): On the Shores of the Great Sea, The Discovery of New Worlds, The Awakening of Europe, The Struggle of Sea Power, The Growth of the British Empire. Ages 9 to adult.
The Story of the World series by Susan Wise Bauer touches on all history from creation to about the present day, we listen to them in the car about once a year. I love listening to Jim Weiss and will never tire of them, I think. 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.
John H. Haaren’s Famous Men series has been redone by Memoria Press. Memorial Press has a beautiful student guide (and teacher guide), this is question/ answer, so I will not be using them, but this is helpful for you to have some of this information during lively narrations and discussions. 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 wonderfully written: The Book of the Ancient World, The Book of Ancient Greeks, The Book of the Ancient Romans, The Middles Ages.
Usborne Books for History
My children love to research using books from PaperPie, 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.
The 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.
Medieval World. This wonderfully illustrated book takes the reader through the medieval world, from the big battles to kings and warriors, from peasants to palaces; we love looking and the pictures and reading the small chunks of information. We also love Medieval Messenger, which is a parody newspaper written from the Middle Ages perspective!
Classical Conversations Cycle 2 Living Book Recommendations
Week 1: Charlemagne (800 AD)
Week 2: William the Conqueror (1054)
Week 3: Crusades (1095 – 1291)
Week 4: Magna Carta (1215)
Week 5: Hundred Years’ War (1337), Joan of Arc, Plague (1340s)
Week 6: Renaissance (da Vinci, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Copernicus) (1350 – 1600)
Week 7: Reformation, Martin Luther, John Calvin (1517)
Week 8: European Explorers (Dias, Vespucci, Balboa, Magellan, Coronado) (late 1400s – mid-1500s)
Week 9: Absolute Monarchs (Henry VIII, Louis XIV, Phillip II, Peter the Great, Frederick the Great) (1500s – 1800s)
Week 10: History of Russia: Vladimir I (900s), Czar Ivan the Terrible (1500s), Peter the Great & Catherine the Great (1700s)
Week 11: French Revolution (1789)
Week 12: Battle of Waterloo & Napoleon (1812)
Week 13: Industrial Revolution (Watt, Cartwright, Whitney) (1860s)
Week 14: World War I Leaders (1914 – 1918)
Week 15: World War I Countries (Allies and Axis)
The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy: This story explores life on the Hungarian plains during World War I.
Week 16: World War II (1939 – 1945)
The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum: This book is set during the trials of the Nazi occupation.
Week 17: World War II Leaders
Week 18: United Nations
Week 19: Korean War (1950)
Week 20: Vietnam War (1965)
Week 21: Cold War (1980s)
Week 22: Fall of Communism (1989)
Week 23: Gulf War (1990)
Week 24: End of Apartheid & South Africa (1994)
Living Books for Medieval History and Modern History
Reading is the most valuable thing we can do for our children. Snuggling up with a wonderful historical picture book or novel is going to benefit you and your child more than any memory drills or rote skills. Remember to slow down and enjoy this special time together!! If you have any suggestions to add, please let me know! I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of living books for medieval and modern history!
You can find a printable list here or to easily reference at the library!