Guest Hollow's High School American History Curriculum Books and Resources

Homeschool American history curriculum

Please read through these notes before looking at the book/resource list.

NOTE: If you purchase this curriculum, you will have access to a printable book list with a shopping/planning checklist.

WARNING Preview all materials!!

I recommend you preview all items to see if they are appropriate for your students. I have NOT marked every incidence of potentially objectionable material. Some of the books for this course were written with an adult audience in mind. They may contain incidences of cursing or a few references of adult themes / content. I personally feel that high schoolers should be mature enough to handle any/most of the adult references contained in these books, but every family is different in what they find offensive! History does include some topics that may be uncomfortable to some such as rape, sexual slavery, etc. I believe these are excellent topics to discuss with high schoolers in the context of your family's beliefs. High school is the time, in my opinion, to tackle some of the uglier aspects of history and should be the time for some great family discussions (when little ears are not present). Additional notes about some of the books are in the descriptions below to help you make decisions about which books/materials may be OK for your family or not. I have NOT, however, remarked about every possible offense.

How to keep the cost of this curriculum down:

  • Borrow books and videos from the library. I always purchased books that were used over a long period of time and tried to get many of the rest from the library. Sometimes I'd purchase a few books my library didn't have, that I really wanted to use.

    When I could afford it, and when I was working on building a home library for the kids, I would go ahead and buy a big box of books. It was like Christmas in August as the kids delved into those boxes. It got them excited about what they were getting ready to learn. I certainly understand being constrained to a budget, though! Don't be afraid to substitute books you already have on hand or inexpensive titles you might pick up at a yard sale, or similar venue.

A few additional notes:

Note: The resources below do not contain most of the free YouTube videos or the Amazon streaming videos (which usually cost about 1.99 per video or are free with Amazon Prime) that are linked in the schedule.

Quotes below are from the official book descriptions.

You will notice that I've scheduled in quite a few graphic novels. I've found them to be engaging, memorable, and an easy way to absorb history. I believe students will enjoy these selections, but also retain what they are learning. I loved reading through them while choosing books for the curriculum!

Do you have a middle schooler who wants to learn American history with an older sibling (or independently)? You can easily adapt this program to work with a younger student. Instructions on how to do that are included with the curriculum guide. Look for the middle school substitutes for some of the books in the list(s) below.

Are you on a tight budget? You'll notice a lot of the books are FREE through various sources. Just look for the purple text that says FREE. I was once a homeschooler myself and always appreciated a good deal, so I try to take care of my Guest Hollow customers with the same eye towards saving money (without sacrificing quality)! You will need to get a free account for the Open Library to access some of the books in a digital format. The Open Library books are available via checkout, so they aren't always available and you may have to be on a wait list. If a book you want isn't available via the page I linked, search for it (in the Open Library search box). Sometimes there are multiple copies and versions of a book available for checkout. If you check a book out, please make sure to return it as soon as your student is finished, so other families can take advantage of these free books, too! Open Library books are available in a variety of formats - some of which you can download onto a tablet.

Also, many of the books below are available in the Kindle format. The ebook format is often less expensive than physical copies. I LOVE my Kindle and used one in my homeschool (as it saved me a lot of $$ when buying books). Kindles have parent controls for those of you who are concerned about unmonitored Internet access.

If you purchase books new (including ebooks & audiobooks), please consider clicking through our links to Amazon. We get a small commission from your purchases which helps our business!

Scheduled Books & Other Resources
Scroll down past this section to see scheduled videos. The printable schedule lists when books are used (via a printable book list) for your planning and shopping purposes. The list also tells how long each book is used for, so you can plan whether to borrow or purchase a book.


Middle school substitutions are also listed for various titles. The printable schedule will give more details about why I believe specific titles are not appropriate for that age.

A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to America's Age of Entitlement, Revised Edition

Available as an audiobook
Available as an audio CD
Available in Kindle format

NOTE: Other versions of this book may not be exactly the same as the one I've linked to via Amazon. Some of the earlier editions of this book are missing some material in the last chapter(s). If you want your book to line up exactly with the schedule, you will want to get the one revised and updated in 2014. Check the publisher info on Amazon to see if you are getting the correct book.
If you only have access to the free (or other) versions of the book, they should still be very similar, so you can still do this course, but you may miss out on some material at the end of
Year 2.

A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to America's Age of Entitlement, Revised Edition

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This is the spine text. It will be used for both year 1 and year 2 of our American history curriculum. I researched a plethora of history texts. This is the best one I found that presents history from a conservative and patriotic viewpoint.

This book can be borrowed for FREE from archive.org:
https://archive.org/details/patriotshistoryo00larr_0

The audio book version is also available for FREE on Hoopla (which many libraries have a subscription to): https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/11667981 . Be warned though, the Hoopla version does not have chapter breaks. Chapter one starts at the time stamp of 25:36. Use the bookmark tool to mark where you stop each day based on the chapter subheading titles (listed in the weekly schedule).

I REALLY like the audio version. You may want to consider it for students who get easily overwhelmed by a lot of reading. If you use the audio version, you can purchase an adult coloring book or allow some other quiet activity during the scheduled portions (knitting, paper models, etc.). If you are using this program with a middle schooler, I highly recommend the audio version as it will probably capture a younger students attention better than the text (and more difficult vocabulary will be read out-loud).

Warning! This book contains: cursing in the context of historic quotes, mention(s) of rape (no graphic details), some sexual references (example: In Chapter 6 - The Rise of the Common Man, Peggy Eaton was called a "whore" by the cabinet wives), and violence.

"For the past three decades, many history professors have allowed their biases to distort the way America’s past is taught. These intellectuals have searched for instances of racism, sexism, and bigotry in our history while downplaying the greatness of America’s patriots and the achievements of “dead white men.”

As a result, more emphasis is placed on Harriet Tubman than on George Washington; more about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II than about D-Day or Iwo Jima; more on the dangers we faced from Joseph McCarthy than those we faced from Josef Stalin.

A Patriot’s History of the United States corrects those doctrinaire biases. In this ground-breaking book, America’s discovery, founding, and development are reexamined with an appreciation for the elements of public virtue, personal liberty, and private property that make this nation uniquely successful. This book offers a long-overdue acknowledgment of America’s true and proud history."

Cartoon History of the United States

The Cartoon History of the United States

I schedule in this book as an easy, visual review of the concepts covered in the main text. Students will enjoy the humorous presentation of history in a cartoon format!

Warning! This book contains: minor cursing (the word hell)

Map Trek US Edition

Historical outline maps

Map Trek - US Edition

I believe maps are an integral part to understanding historical events. I've scheduled in many of the high quality maps and the accompanying lessons from the Map Trek U.S. Edition atlas. You can order the ebook or CD version and print out maps as needed. Each map has 3 levels of assignments associated with it depending on the grade. This collection of maps will also be used in American History Year 2.

 

American History curriculum workbook for homeschool

Guest Hollow's American History Workbook / Study Guide - FREE download with your purchase

Some of the books below have this statement in their description:

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Those books are referenced in the FREE PDF workbook that is included with your American History Year 1 curriculum purchase.

The workbook / study guide pages were created for those of you who wish to assess your student’s reading assignments and to help train students to look through a text for information. They are also designed to help students retain what they’ve read and include some maps and other activities. There is an answer key provided at the back of the workbook.

Please don't skip books just because they are NOT referenced in the study guide! They are just as important to the curriculum!

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World

985-1602
Non-fiction

 

A Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World

I have created a parent's guide for this book. Note (PLEASE READ): This is a book that students seem to either love or hate. If it's not a match for your student (have your student look at the Amazon free sample) get one of the middle school options instead (listed at the end of this description) and skip it.

There are also a LOT of pages scheduled per day, so that students can finish this book in a reasonable amount of time. If the book is a match, but your student is a slow reader (or could be overwhelmed by the reading pace), you may want to use this as one of the "unscheduled" books to allow your student to read it at his/her own pace (or assign it before the school year starts). Make sure your student is NOT overwhelmed by this book or by this book's reading pace. Many families have remarked at how they've enjoyed this book and talked about the topics long after finishing it, but others have dropped it or skipped it entirely. Do what works for your student(s)!

Warning! This book is often scheduled as a summer reading assignment for Advanced Placement U.S. history students and is also often assigned in college history classes. In my opinion it's the best (and most interesting/memorable) book I've found on the topic of early American discovery in North America, but there is some objectionable content in the book such as references to casual alcohol consumption, violence, sexual content, bad language (usually in the context of the author quoting someone), etc. I have created a brief parent discussion guide to use with this book due to the content. The guide contains some ideas to spark conversations with your student about some topics such as:

✦ sexual purity
✦ What is rape? How to say "NO!" How to respect a "NO!" (after reading a diary entry from explorer Michele de Cuneo about the rape of an Indian woman)
✦ STD's (when learning about how syphilis was spread from the native Tainos to the Europeans)
✦ avoiding pornography (after reading about a reference to a "cod flap sized for a porn star" in the chapter about conquistadors)
✦ the importance of clean language in a foul-mouthed world
✦How Christians view sex vs. how the world views sex (after reading the author's quote, "...lest I imagine pagan orgies in honor of the sex goddess Freya, the exhibit reported that most of the Vinland settlers were recent converts to Christianity.")
✦Your family's beliefs about alcohol consumption
✦Etc.

The parent guide will also give you a heads-up about the location of potentially offensive content.

I think the material in this book provides excellent opportunities to talk about some things your student will be facing in the near future (if not already). This is a book I HIGHLY recommend you read with (or at least before) your student. You may want to consider doing it as a read-aloud for a less mature high schooler (or make use of a black marker to cover any bad language or sections YOU don't feel comfortable with depending on your student's maturity level). I skip chapter 4 in the schedule due to content issues.

A quote from a AP history teacher on why this book was chosen for his students:

"The AP US History course has a large course curriculum load that can often feel overwhelming. Tony Horwitz’s A Voyage Long and Strange deals with a number of the important themes within the College Board’s Curriculum including Identity; Peopling; Politics and Power; Environment and Geography; and Ideas, Beliefs, and Culture through his examination of the early contact period. However, the book is told in the form of a travel narrative with a sense of humor with an eye for dispelling historical myths that the author admits to believing, despite having been a history major at Columbia University. This goal of the assignment is to get students into the mindset of the course by reading a text that challenges established historical belief systems, which is an essential skill in this course."

I agree with this teacher and the many others who schedule this book for their students. I just want you to be warned before you hand it to yours! ;-)

Click here for an video interview with the author where he discusses the research and writing process for the book.

Book description:

"What happened in North America between Columbus's sail in 1492 and the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620?

On a visit to Plymouth Rock, Tony Horwitz realizes he doesn't have a clue, nor do most Americans. So he sets off across the continent to rediscover the wild era when Europeans first roamed the New World in quest of gold, glory, converts, and eternal youth. Horwitz tells the story of these brave and often crazed explorers while retracing their steps on his own epic trek--an odyssey that takes him inside an Indian sweat lodge in subarctic Canada, down the Mississippi in a canoe, on a road trip fueled by buffalo meat, and into sixty pounds of armor as a conquistador reenactor in Florida.

A Voyage Long and Strange is a rich mix of scholarship and modern-day adventure that brings the forgotten first chapter of America's history vividly to life."

Substitution for a middle schooler: Exploring the Americas (Chester the Crab's Comics with Content Series) or Exploration and Conquest: The Americas After Columbus: 1500-1620

America As Seen By Its First Explorers

America As Seen by Its First Explorers

You can use this book instead of the book above (A Voyage Long and Strange). It is UNSCHEDULED.

This book is available for FREE at openlibrary.org!

If you use this book as a substitute, you will need to skip some of the chapters due to time constraints. (It's a long book.)

"This unique and unusual book brings to life for you the sights, sounds, and smells of America in its unspoiled state. Every region in the country is presented as it appeared to the first Europeans who settled or explored it. You visit a Manhattan fragrant with wildflowers and covered with forests; a Boston still teeming with beavers; a Chicago trodden by countless herds of buffalo. Your eyes feast on miles of virgin canebrake, the wild turkeys in the magnolias, and the many gorgeous birds soon to be wiped out by greedy hunters.
Citing scores of original journals, diaries and letters, as well as authentic Indian narratives, Mr. Bakeless reconstructs the reciprocal impact of civilized Europeans and the untamed new land. He shows you what it was really like to taste the rich new fruit and game; to hunt squirrels with the backwoodsmen; to survive prairie fires and Indian onslaughts. You join the great explorers on their epoch-making treks: Coronado, viewing the first buffalo stampede seen by white men; Cartier, tasting tobacco 50 years before Raleigh was to introduce it to Europe; Radisson, enduring torture in an Indian village. But not only the great names are included here; there are also the farmers and the trappers; the simple soldiers who first caught sight of San Francisco Bay; and the man who crossed the wilds of Kentucky 100 years before Daniel Boone"

The Mayflower and the Pilgrims' New World

1600's (1607- 1678)
Non-fiction

 

The Mayflower and the Pilgrims' New World

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

"Adapted from the New York Times bestseller Mayflower! After a dangerous journey across the Atlantic, the Mayflower's passengers were saved from certain destruction with the help of the Natives of the Plymouth region. For fifty years a fragile peace was maintained as Pilgrims and Native Americans learned to work together. But when that trust was broken by the next generation of leaders, a conflict erupted that nearly wiped out Pilgrims and Natives alike. Adapted from the New York Times bestseller Mayflower specifically for younger readers, this edition includes additional maps, artwork, and archival photos."

Honors/extra credit book choice: Mayflower
The first book (The Mayflower and the Pilgrim's New World) is adapted from Nathaniel Philbrick's book Mayflower. I've read both and chose The Mayflower and the Pilgrims' New World for this course as it's a quicker and less dense read designed for students vs. adults. However, if you have a highly motivated student, you can assign Mayflower, instead. If you do, it is UNSCHEDULED.

Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter
1642-1649
Graphic novel (manga)

Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter

I had, at first, considered scheduling in the original classic but decided to replace it with this instead to keep the reading assignments more manageable (and enjoyable, lol). I love this manga rendition of The Scarlet Letter that is faithful to the original classic! Don't be surprised if your students want to read the rest of the Manga Classic series!

Warning! This story is about a woman who has a baby out of wedlock.

"A powerful tale of forbidden love, shame, and revenge comes to life in Manga Classics: The Scarlet Letter. Faithfully adapted by Crystal Chan from the original novel, this new edition features stunning artwork by SunNeko Lee (Manga Classics: Les Miserables) which will give old and new readers alike a fresh insight into the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tragic saga of Puritan America."

Minecraft for Homeschool

Game for an optional assignment

Minecraft (Optional)

There is an optional assignment in the schedule to recreate a colony, town, or settlement (such as Roanoke, St. Augustine, Jamestown, Plymouth, Philadelphia, Boston, etc.) in Minecraft. Students will have to research their chosen location and search for maps, diagrams, and other resources to help them create their replica.

 

Colonial Living

1600's-1700's
Non-fiction

Colonial Living

This book is available to borrow for FREE at Openlibrary.org.

Edwin Tunis brings history to life via his detailed illustrations. I've scheduled in two Tunis books to help students better visualize what it meant to live in early America.

"Edwin Tunis has brought the significant past to life with consummate skill. Rich in enjoyment, rich in information, with more than 200 drawings, his book is a warm, lively, and authentic panorama of a lost way of life."

The Captive: The True Story Of The Captivity Of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson Among The Indians

1675 - during King Philip's War
Non-fiction narrative

The Captive: The True Story of The Captivity Of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson Among the Indians

This TRUE story is available FREE online in a variety of formats: Click here.
Warning! This book contains: graphic violence (real events of an Indian capture) - Preview for sensitive readers.

"Although little known today, this story was once widely regarded as a classic of American literature. First published in 1682, it has seen over forty editions in the past three centuries, and it marked the beginning of a very popular and uniquely American form of literature, the so-called captivity narrative, which was the predecessor of the American western novel. This book also holds a prominent place in women's literature since it is the first full length prose work published in America written by a woman."

Substitution for a middle schooler: Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison or Where the Broken Heart Still Beats: The Story of Cynthia Ann Parker

The World of William Penn

1682
Non-fiction

The World of William Penn

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This book is also available to borrow for FREE at openlibrary.org.

Warning! This book mentions a king's adultery (no details).

I used so many Genevieve Foster books in my own homeschool. I like how they present history in an easy-to-understand manner along with memorable illustrations. This book was written for a younger audience, so it is a quick and easy read (and yet it contains good information for any age!) This book contains some world history as well as American history.

"Continuing her unique approach to "horizontal history", Genevieve Foster explores the wide world of William Penn - a world reaching across the courtyards of the Sun King to the Great Wall of China. Penn's contemporaries included such colorful figures as Louis XIV, Peter the Great, Edmund Halley, Sir Issac Newton, Shah Jahan ( who built the Taj Mahal), and the great explorers Marquette, Jolliet, and La Salle. Penn's life spans a fascinating age of exploration and discovery. Penn's Quaker beliefs under girded his relationships with the Pennsylvanian tribes and established the longest standing peace treaty between American Indians and European settlers."

The Crucible

1692 - Salem Witch Trials
Literature

The Crucible
This book is also available for FREE in a variety of formats at: https://archive.org/details/TheCrucibleFullText.

Warning! This book contains: references of adultery (no graphic details), hangings

"The place is Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, an enclave of rigid piety huddled on the edge of a wilderness. Its inhabitants believe unquestioningly in their own sanctity. But in Arthur Miller's edgy masterpiece, that very belief will have poisonous consequences when a vengeful teenager accuses a rival of witchcraft—and then when those accusations multiply to consume the entire village.

First produced in 1953, at a time when America was convulsed by a new epidemic of witch-hunting, The Crucible brilliantly explores the threshold between individual guilt and mass hysteria, personal spite and collective evil. It is a play that is not only relentlessly suspenseful and vastly moving but that compels readers to fathom their hearts and consciences in ways that only the greatest theater ever can."

Substitution for a middle schooler: A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, or any non-fiction book about the Salem Witch Trials

Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording Clean Version

1700's
Audio (Musical)

Hamilton Original Broadway Cast Recording Clean Version

Click here for lyrics and explanations of the songs.
Genius.com has more in depth explanations of the lyrics.

Warning! These songs have a lot of kids/teens/adults on fire to learn more American history. I LOVE that, but there may be some potential concerns for some families.

This censored (clean) version (which I have linked to above) bleeps out some of the worst offensive words (f-bomb and s**t), but leaves in some of the milder ones (d*mn, whore, bastard, a$$, etc.). There is also some "suggestive" sexual material and adult topics in a couple of songs. I recommend you preview it. You may also want to read the reviews on Amazon for more detailed descriptions of potential concerns and see if this musical is a fit for your family or not. You may wish to skip the racier song about Hamilton's affair (Say No to This) if you have young listeners around or if you find it objectionable. You can read through the lyrics by clicking here.

There is a mix of music styles - many of them are quite catchy, but there is also a lot of rap (although it's not "gutter" style rap - my term, lol). You can listen to samples on Amazon.

Although there are potential concerns for some families, some of the songs are brilliant, and there is so much history that is covered in a way that is memorable and in such a way that it is inspiring teens to learn more. I hesitantly recommend it for mature listeners.

Note: The entire soundtrack is available for FREE on YouTube (provided by Warner Music Group). The online soundtrack is NOT the clean version.

This resource is UNSCHEDULED. Listen to it while studying the Revolution.

The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton's World

1700's
Non-fiction and recipe book

The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton's World

"What was it like to eat with Alexander Hamilton, the Revolutionary War hero, husband, lover, and family man? In The Hamilton Cookbook, you’ll discover what he ate, what his favorite foods were, and how his food was served to him. With recipes and tips on ingredients, you’ll be able to recreate a meal Hamilton might have eaten after a Revolutionary War battle or as he composed the Federalist Papers.

From his humble beginnings in the West Indies to his elegant life in New York City after the American Revolution, Alexander Hamilton’s life fascinated his contemporaries. In many books and now in the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, many have chronicled his exploits, triumphs, and foibles. 

Now, in The Hamilton Cookbook, you can experience first-hand what it would be like to eat with Alexander Hamilton, his family and his contemporaries, featuring such dishes as cauliflower florets two ways, fried sausages and apples, gingerbread cake, and, of course, apple pie."

Ice Cream Maker

Optional (for the Hamilton Cookbook)

Ice Cream Maker

One of the projects in the Hamilton Cookbook is to make vanilla ice cream based on a handwritten recipe from Thomas Jefferson's notes. You will need an ice cream maker or you can make it the ziplock baggie way to save money!

Frontier Living

1725- late 1800's
Non-fiction

Frontier Living

Edwin Tunis brings history to life via his detailed illustrations. I've scheduled in two Tunis books to help students better visualize what it meant to live in early America.

This book is available to borrow for FREE at Openlibrary.org.

"Frontier Living brings to light every significant aspect of daily life on the American frontier, with vivid text and more than 200 wonderful drawings. Immerse yourself in the character and culture of the men and women who stood at the harsh cutting-edge of our civilization: their dwellings, clothing, food, furniture, household articles; their hunting, farming, schooling, transportation, government; their amusements, superstitions, and religion. In Frontier Living the reader finds the forest frontiersman in his log cabin, the ranchero in his casa, the sodbuster in his prairie sod house. Here is the keel-boatman, the cotton farmer, the fur trader, the mountain man, the forty-niner, the cowhand - each helping to shape a new and distinctive way from untamed country. The flintlock gun, the Kentucky rifle, the freight and Conestoga wagons, the stagecoach, the Ohio flatboat, the first steamboat and steam railroad, are all reconstructed here in exact detail."

Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence

1765-1783
Non-fiction

Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence

This book is so popular that I had to purchase it vs. wait months for it to be available via my local library. There's a reason for that! It's terrific!

Warning! This book contains: violence, adult content/references such as: Washington's possible sterility,George III is faithful to his wife (unlike his father), a mention of prostitutes in Boston (chapter 3), a mention of General William Howe's affair, etc.

"The breathtaking latest installment in Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s mega-bestselling Killing series transports readers to the most important era in our nation’s history, the Revolutionary War. Told through the eyes of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Great Britain’s King George III, Killing England chronicles the path to independence in gripping detail, taking the reader from the battlefields of America to the royal courts of Europe. What started as protest and unrest in the colonies soon escalated to a world war with devastating casualties. O’Reilly and Dugard recreate the war’s landmark battles, including Bunker Hill, Long Island, Saratoga, and Yorktown, revealing the savagery of hand-to-hand combat and the often brutal conditions under which these brave American soldiers lived and fought. Also here is the reckless treachery of Benedict Arnold and the daring guerilla tactics of the “Swamp Fox” Frances Marion. A must read, Killing England reminds one and all how the course of history can be changed through the courage and determination of those intent on doing the impossible."

Substitution for a middle schooler: Guts & Glory: The American Revolution or King George: What Was His Problem? Everything Your Schoolbooks Didn’t Tell You About the American Revolution

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy

1770-1776
Graphic novel

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #1)

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

I've scheduled in every book in this series that fits into the time period we're studying, because I LOVE these books. Once your teen gets his/her hands on them, you'll know why. ;-) I love how these books make history visual and memorable while sprinkling in a bit of humor on top!

Warning! This book contains: Minor cursing

"Nathan Hale, the author’s historical namesake, was America’s first spy, a Revolutionary War hero who famously said “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country” before being hanged by the British. In the Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series, author Nathan Hale channels his namesake to present history’s roughest, toughest, and craziest stories in the graphic novel format.

One Dead Spy tackles the story of Hale himself, who was an officer and spy for the American rebels during the Revolutionary War. Author Hale highlights the unusual, gruesome, and just plain unbelievable truth of historical Nathan Hale—from his early unlucky days at Yale to his later unlucky days as an officer—and America during the Revolutionary War."

Rebels: A Well-Regulated Militia

1750-1802
Graphic novel (mostly set during the Revolution about 1775)

Rebels: A Well-Regulated Militia

Warning! This book contains: violence, cursing (which you can easily color over with black marker), page 32 shows a husband and wife in an embrace under covers with bare shoulders (no nudity), p. 43 - very distant cartoon drawing of 2 nude backsides as a husband and wife jump into a pool of water to bathe

This graphic novel features the viewpoints of common people caught up in the French & Indian and Revolutionary War. Click here to read a review of one of the stories contained in Rebels.

"This is 1775. With the War for Independence playing out across the colonies, Seth and Mercy Abbott find their new marriage tested at every turn as the demands of the frontlines and the home front collide. Rebels details the epic story of the colonists who, in a few short, turbulent years, created the nation of America."

Substitution for a middle schooler: War for Independence (Chester the Crab's Comics with Content Series)

To Be a Slave

Various time periods
Nonfiction

To Be a Slave

This book is available to borrow for FREE at Openlibrary.org.

Warning! This book contains: potentially emotional topics about slavery, violence

"What was it like to be a slave?  Listen to the words and learn about the lives of countless slaves and ex-slaves, telling about their forced journey from Africa to the United States, their work in the fields and houses of their owners, and their passion for freedom.  You will never look at life the same way again."

Copper Sun

Early to Mid 1700's
Literature

Copper Sun

This book is available to borrow for FREE at Openlibrary.org.

Warning! This book contains: mentions of rape (without graphic details), sexual slavery (again, no graphic details), and there is also violence including the murder of a baby. Despite the tough subjects covered, this is an award-winning book about slavery. I link to discussion questions and a study guide for this book in the schedule, so this book not included in the Guest Hollow study guide.

"Copper Sun is the epic story of a young girl torn from her African village, sold into slavery, and stripped of everything she has ever known—except hope."

Substitution for a middle schooler: Slavery’s Storm (Chester the Crab’s Comics with Content Series)

Alexander Hamilton: The Graphic History of an American Founding Father

1757-1804
Graphic novel

Alexander Hamilton: The Graphic History of an American Founding Father

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book: mentions how Hamilton's mother had relations with men other than her husband (and was accused of "whoring" by her husband). See p. 26. It also mentions Hamilton's affair. See p. 130 for info about the affair and general sexual beliefs of the time (not graphic). The word pimp is used on p. 135.

"Alexander Hamilton was one of the most influential figures in United States history—he fought in the Revolutionary War, helped develop the Constitution, and as the first Secretary of the Treasury established landmark economic policy that we still use today. Cut down by a bullet from political rival Aaron Burr, Hamilton has since been immortalized alongside other Founding Fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson—his likeness even appears on the ten-dollar bill. In this fully-illustrated and impeccably researched graphic novel-style history, author Jonathan Hennessey and comic book illustrator Justin Greenwood bring Alexander Hamilton’s world to life, telling the story of this improbable hero who helped shape the United States of America."

Substitution for a middle schooler: Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist Era (Chester Comics)

The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation

1700's, 1787 up to 1992
Graphic novel

The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

"The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation uses the art of illustrated storytelling to breathe life into our nation's cornerstone principles. Simply put, it is the most enjoyable and groundbreaking way to read the governing document of the United States. Spirited and visually witty, it roves article by article, amendment by amendment, to get at the meaning, background, and enduring relevance of the law of the land."

Problems of a New Nation

1800-1830
Graphic novel

Problems of a New Nation

This is a fast-paced easy read that covers issues like Hamilton's Duel, the battle with the Tripoli pirates, the War of 1812, the Embargo Act, James Madison's presidency, Andrew Jackson, James Monroe and the Monroe Doctrine, John Quincy Adams, the South Carolina nullification controversy, Martin Van Buren, etc. Although it's a Hi-Lo book designed for reluctant readers, I've scheduled it as it will help students remember events and people described in the main text (A Patriot's History) thanks to the mix of text and visuals.

Click here for a free sample.

Lewis & Clark

1804-1809
Graphic Novel

Lewis & Clark

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: (p. 19) a bit of sexual innuendo which may go over some heads as it could be interpreted another way, (p. 21) the naked backside of an Indian child, very minor cursing, Meriwether's suicide (implied, not shown)

"Two of America's greatest explorers embark on the adventure that made their names―and sealed their fates.

In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark departed St. Louis, Missouri, for one of the greatest adventures this nation has ever known. Appointed and funded by President Jefferson himself, and led by a cadre of experts (including the famous Sacajawea), the expedition was considered a success almost before it had begun. From the start, the journey was plagued with illness, bad luck, unfriendly Indians, Lewis's chronic depression, and, to top it all, the shattering surprise of the towering Rocky Mountains and the continental divide. But despite crippling setbacks, overwhelming doubts, and the bare facts of geography itself, Lewis and Clark made it to the Pacific in 1806.

Nick Bertozzi brings the harrowing―and, at times, hilarious―journey to vivid life on the pages of this oversized black-and-white graphic novel. With his passion for history and his knack for characterization, Bertozzi has made an intimate tale of a great American epic."

Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801

1801
Non-fiction

Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801

This book is also available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This is a quick and easy read designed for younger students, but has info high school students will easily absorb and retain. I like how it gives the background details about the Louisiana Purchase and other things going on around 1801 that influenced the future of the U.S. (such as the development of the steam engine, etc.). This book contains some world history as well as American history.

"The Year of the Horseless Carriage: 1801, presents the dawn of the 19th century with all its brilliant advancements in transportation, communication, and technology. While the world of technology is progressing rapidly, human rights and liberty are variously being trampled or rising. The megalomaniac Napoleon is proclaiming "liberty, equality, and fraternity" to a war-weary Europe, Jefferson is contemplating the largest land purchase in the history of the world, and Toussaint L'Ouverture is fighting for liberty in Haiti. Robert Livingston, Robert Fulton, Richard Trevithick, Beethoven, Lewis and Clark, Sacajawea, and Dolley Madison are all playing their parts."

Rebels

1786-1812
Graphic novel

Rebels: These Free and Independent States

Warning! This book contains: some cursing, violence

I like how this book continues the story of the family featured in the first Rebels book (linked a bit above) and yet it covers a completely different subject. The War of 1812 comes alive in a visual format! Some of the comics in this book also cover parts of the Revolution (and are scheduled when students study that topic).

"In 1775, Seth Abbott fought to win his fellow Americans their independence. In 1794, his son, John Abbott, comes of age as their new nation faces multiple new threats: high seas terrorism, fresh aggression from Britain, and intense political division at home. When Congress authorizes building America's first navy--the famous "six frigates" that include the USS Constitution--John Abbott signs up."

Substitution for a middle schooler: The Story of the War of 1812

The Diary of a Forty-Niner

1850-1852
Literature

The Diary of a Forty-Niner

Warning! This book contains: a brief mention of a suicide in chapter XXV

This book is available for FREE from openlibrary.org. The Kindle version is 99 cents!

What a terrific, interesting book transcribed from a real diary!

"In August 1906, Chauncey Canfield committed to his publisher a found text: the diary, ostensibly verified, of one Alfred T. Jackson, a pioneer miner who joined the Gold Rush from his home in Norfolk, Connecticut, migrating to Rock Creek, Nevada County, California, where he cabined and worked. The Diary covers two years of Jackson's life, and provides us with one of the richest documents of a period of perhaps unequaled importance to the expansion of the United States."

Alamo All Stars

1820's-1845
Graphic novel

Alamo All Stars (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #6)

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

I've scheduled in every book in this series that fits into the time period we're studying, because I LOVE these books. Once your teen gets his/her hands on them, you'll know why. ;-) I love how these books make history visual and memorable while sprinkling in a bit of humor on top

Warning! This book contains: minor cursing

"From Nathan Hale, #1 New York Times bestselling author and Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List maker, comes the definitive graphic novel about the Alamo.
 
Hale relays the facts, politics, military actions, and prominent personalities that defined the Texas Revolution in factual yet humorous scenes that will capture the attention of reluctant readers and fans of history alike."

Donner Dinner Party

1846
Graphic novel

Donner Dinner Party (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #3)

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

I've scheduled in every book in this series that fits into the time period we're studying, because I LOVE these books. Once your teen gets his/her hands on them, you'll know why. ;-) I love how these books make history visual and memorable while sprinkling in a bit of humor on top

Warning! This book contains: minor cursing (hellhole, etc.), cannibalism, murder, etc.

"The Donner Party expedition is one of the most notorious stories in all of American history. It’s also a fascinating snapshot of the westward expansion of the United States, and the families and individuals who sacrificed so much to build new lives in a largely unknown landscape. From the preparation for the journey to each disastrous leg of the trip, this book shows the specific bad decisions that led to the party’s predicament in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The graphic novel focuses on the struggles of the Reed family to tell the true story of the catastrophic journey."

The Little House Cookbook

1800's
Non-fiction and recipe book

The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories

I can't resist scheduling in delicious and interesting recipes from the past! Cooking was always an important part of my homeschool and current Guest Hollow students love this culinary tradition! Bring the past alive, learn about historical methods of making & preserving foods, and hone some old-fashioned cooking skills to boot!

"With this cookbook, you can learn how to make classic frontier dishes like corn dodgers, mincemeat pie, cracklings, and pulled molasses candy. The book also includes excerpts from the Little House books, fascinating and thoroughly researched historical context, and details about the cooking methods that pioneers like Ma Ingalls used, as well as illustrations by beloved artist Garth Williams."

The Underground Abductor

1850
Graphic novel

The Underground Abductor

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This is another terrific graphic novel by Nathan Hale! I've scheduled in every book in this series that fits into the time period we're studying, because I LOVE these books. Once your teen gets his/her hands on them, you'll know why. ;-) I love how these books make history visual and memorable while sprinkling in a bit of humor on top

"Araminta Ross was born a slave in Delaware in the early 19th century. Slavery meant that her family could be ripped apart at any time, and that she could be put to work in dangerous places and for abusive people. But north of the Mason-Dixon line, slavery was illegal. If she could run away and make it north without being caught or killed, she'd be free. Facing enormous danger, Araminta made it, and once free, she changed her name to Harriet Tubman. Tubman spent the rest of her life helping slaves run away like she did, every time taking her life in her hands. Nathan Hale tells her incredible true-life story with the humor and sensitivity he's shown in every one of the Hazardous Tales..."

Guts & Glory: The American Civil War

1861-1865
Non-fiction

Guts & Glory: The American Civil War

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

The Guts and Glory books were written for kids and reluctant readers but are meaty enough that even adults and history buffs have enjoyed and learned from them. I concur with the multitude of reviews - these are entertaining books that help students (and even adults) retain what they are reading. I've scheduled in the one for the Civil War to help students get through this difficult topic with a minimum of effort.

Warning! This book contains: violence (which is pretty hard to avoid when you are learning about the Civil War)

"History comes alive for kids like no textbook can in this epic account of the American Civil War that's perfect for history buffs and reluctant readers! Contains awesome illustrations!

History buff, Civil War reenactor, and popular blogger Ben Thompson uses his extensive knowledge and vivid storytelling style to bring the Civil War to life in this first book in a thrilling new series featuring incredible people, events, and civilizations. Get ready to learn just how awesome history can be!"

Ironclad

1861-1865
Graphic novel

Big Bad Ironclad

This is yet another terrific graphic novel by Nathan Hale! I've scheduled in every book in this series that fits into the time period we're studying, because I LOVE these books. Once your teen gets his/her hands on them, you'll know why. ;-) I love how these books make history visual and memorable while sprinkling in a bit of humor on top

"Each of the books in Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales has elements of the strange but true and is presented in an engaging, funny format, highlighting the larger-than-life characters that pop up in real history. Big Bad Ironclad! covers the history of the amazing ironclad steam warships used in the Civil War. From the ship's inventor, who had a history of blowing things up and only 100 days to complete his project, to the mischievous William Cushing, who pranked his way through the whole war, this book is filled with surprisingly true facts and funny, brave characters that modern readers will easily relate to."

Battle Lines - A Graphic History of the Civil War

1861-1877
Graphic novel

Battle Lines - A Graphic History of the Civil War

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This is such a memorable and powerful book. I even teared up when reading chapter 11. This is a must-have for your homeschool shelf!

Warning! This book contains: minor cursing, violence & death

"Featuring breathtaking panoramas and revelatory, unforgettable images, Battle Lines is an utterly original graphic history of the Civil War. A collaboration between the award-winning historian Ari Kelman and the acclaimed graphic novelist Jonathan Fetter-Vorm, Battle Lines showcases various objects from the conflict (a tattered American flag from Fort Sumter, a pair of opera glasses, a bullet, an inkwell, and more), along with a cast of soldiers, farmers, slaves, and well-known figures, to trace an ambitious narrative that extends from the early rumblings of secession to the dark years of Reconstruction. Employing a bold graphic form to illuminate the complex history of this period, Kelman and Fetter-Vorm take the reader from the barren farms of the home front all the way to the front lines of an infantry charge. A daring presentation of the war that nearly tore America apart, Battle Lines is a monumental achievement."

Substitution for a middle schooler: Civil War, Vol. 1 and Civil War, Vol. 2 (Chester Comics)

Gettysburg Address

1863
Graphic novel

The Gettysburg Address - A Graphic Adaptation

Warning! This book contains: minor cursing, violence

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

"A fully illustrated graphic adaptation that offers a new look at the Gettysburg Address, the bloody battle that prompted it, and the Civil War.

Most of us can recall "Four score and seven years ago," but much of what we know about this historic speech, and what it has to say about the Civil War itself, has been lost since we left grade school.

The Gettysburg Address offers a revolutionary way to experience Lincoln's masterwork. Striking at the underlying meaning of Lincoln's words, it uses the Address to tell the whole story of the Civil War. We see how bitter seeds sown by the Founding Fathers sprouted into a bloody war, and ultimately blossomed into the progress and justice of the Civil Rights era. The book depicts pivotal events that led to the upheaval of the secession crisis, the crucial Battle of Gettysburg, and the conflict's still-unfolding legacy with firsthand accounts from Americans from all walks of life: slaves, soldiers, citizens, and, of course, Abraham Lincoln himself—the most transformational president in U.S. history.

Writer Jonathan Hennessey and illustrator Aaron McConnell illuminate history with vibrant, detailed graphics and captions that will give you a fresh understanding of this vital speech, which defined America's most tragic war and marked a new path forward."

Carnegie's Maid: A Novel

1863-1867
Literature

Carnegie's Maid: A Novel

I like how this novel educates the reader about Andrew Carnegie, the beginnings of the Gilded Age, and the early immigrant experience. The book is categorized as containing romance, but it's very chaste and low-key. There are questions at the end of the book you may wish to discuss with your student(s), so this book is not featured in the study guide. Click here to preview the questions.

"From the author of The Other Einstein, the mesmerizing tale of what kind of woman could have inspired an American dynasty.

Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She's not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh's grandest households. She's a poor farmer's daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets. But the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home.

If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady's maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills he doesn't have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does have is a resolve as strong as the steel Pittsburgh is becoming famous for, coupled with an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can't let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future -- and her family's.

With captivating insight and heart, Carnegie's Maid tells the story of one brilliant woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie's transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world's first true philanthropist.."

News of the World

1870 Reconstruction Era Texas
Literature

News of the World

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: Some cursing (not much), violence (bad guys trying to get the good guys type), mention of a child prostitution ring (no details at all) - Quote: "Almay would run his chid prostitution ring no more..."

"In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people in this exquisitely rendered, morally complex, multilayered novel of historical fiction from the author of Enemy Women that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust."

The Children's Blizzard

1888
Non-fiction

The Children's Blizzard

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This is an amazing book about pioneers etching out a life on the frontier with a great deal of science thrown in (weather, hypothermia, frostbite).

Warning! Sensitive readers may be upset by this book. This book contains: descriptions of death and injuries from snow, the stages of hypothermia described in great detail, frostbite descriptions

"Thousands of impoverished Northern European immigrants were promised that the prairie offered "land, freedom, and hope." The disastrous blizzard of 1888 revealed that their free homestead was not a paradise but a hard, unforgiving place governed by natural forces they neither understood nor controlled, and America’s heartland would never be the same."

"Laskin shows how portions of Minnesota, Nebraska and the Dakotas, heavily promoted by railroads and speculators, represented "land, freedom, hope" for thousands of impoverished European immigrants—particularly Germans and Scandinavians—who instead found an unpredictable, sometimes brutal environment, a "land they loved but didn't really understand."

Substitution for a middle schooler: The Long Winter

Sears Catalog

1894
Non-fiction/ illustrated catalog
Sears Roebuck & Co. Consumer's Guide for 1894

This books is so much fun to browse!

"Hundreds of illustrations accompany the fascinating product descriptions and hard-to-fathom prices of over a century ago in this rerelease of the Sears, Roebuck and Co. Consumer’s Guide for 1894."

Scheduled Videos
Please note: There are many other videos in the schedule that aren't listed here. They are either short videos on YouTube or longer videos that are available on Amazon Streaming (some videos are free for Prime members and others are inexpensive streaming rentals) and iTunes. A list of unscheduled videos is below the list of unscheduled books (keep scrolling down).

The Crucible (video)

1692 - Salem Witch Trials
Movie

OPTIONAL: Watch AFTER reading the book or watch INSTEAD of reading the book.

The Crucible (movie)

Warning! The introductory scene features brief nudity (the backside and breasts of a single girl) as girls dance around a fire in the forest with the black slave Tituba. It's easy to fast forward through this part if you find it objectionable without missing much of the movie. Adultery is mentioned later on in the movie (as it is in the play).

The War That Made America PBS

1754-1763
Documentary / Movie about the French and Indian War

The War that Made America (PBS) - 4 episodes on 2 discs

You can also find this series on YouTube.

Warning! This documentary contains violence.

"The French and Indian War pitted French forces for almost a decade against the British, yet few Americans realize its historic contribution to the revolutionary fervor which swept the continent in 1776. Actor Graham Greene, an Oneida Indian whose ancestors fought in the war, narrates this gripping four-part documentary series. Episodes include ""A Country Between,"" ""Unlikely Allies,"" ""Turning the Tide,"" and ""Unintended Consequences. "

1776 movie

1776
Musical

1776

This musical was a family favorite!

Warning! This movie contains: some bawdy humor

"You'll be seeing stars and stripes as the most fascinating leaders in American history come to life in 1776, a musical about the birth of a nation! With the Boston Harbor still stained from over-taxed British tea, a revolution is brewing in the colonies! And now England has thousands of troops headed for America's shores to squelch her subjects' freedom-loving spirit! It's up to John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to convince a stubborn congress of British colonists to unite as American patriots turn the inevitable war with England into a Declaration of Independence! "

John Adams (HBO)

1770-1826
HBO Miniseries

HBO's John Adams (Free with Amazon Prime Video)

Warning! This movie contains a few scenes which may be considered objectionable. See the IMDb parent's guide for more details. Here is another review from a Christian movie guide. We allowed our children to watch this series but fast forwarded through scenes we didn't think were appropriate. Episodes 2 and 4 were given a MA rating. The rest of the series was given a TV-14 rating.

"From HBO Films comes this Emmy(R)-winning, seven-part miniseries starring Paul Giamatti as John Adams, the Founding Father and 2nd President of the U.S who played a pivotal role in fostering the American Revolution and building a republic."

Amistad

1839
Movie

 

Amistad

Warning! This movie contains some scenes which may be considered objectionable including graphic violence and nudity (of slaves). There is one particular portion of the movie that is very difficult to watch (horrible treatment of slaves on a ship with nudity, death, flogging, etc.). Preview or be on hand to discuss while watching (or fast forward past any difficult/possibly objectionable parts for less mature students).

Click here for a Common Sense Media review.

"From director Steven Spielberg comes an epic journey of one man's fight for his life and his freedom. Brought to life by an acclaimed all-star cast, this story of courage and determination is presented by a director whose vision goes to the heart of the story and the soul of its characters."

12 Years a Slave

1841-1853
Movie

12 Years a Slave

This is a fantastic movie, but it's rated R and may be upsetting to sensitive viewers (or just plain objectionable to some families). I recommend you preview it.
Warning! This movie contains: nudity (slaves on the auction block, etc.), sexual content (without nudity), and a heavy dose of violence (slave being whipped, etc.)

You may want to check and see if 12 Years a Slave can be viewed via Vid Angel so you can filter out objectionable content. If not, you may wish to watch it with your student(s) and have the fast forward button ready to go. ;-)

"12 YEARS A SLAVE is based on an incredible true story of one man's fight for survival and freedom. In the pre-Civil War United States, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a free black man from upstate New York, is abducted and sold into slavery. Facing cruelty (personified by a malevolent slave owner, portrayed by Michael Fassbender) as well as unexpected kindnesses, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity. In the twelfth year of his unforgettable odyssey, Solomon's chance meeting with a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt) forever alters his life. "

Roots

1770's - post Civil War
2016 Miniseries

Another (highly recommended) option (instead of or in addition to the video above): Roots (This movie is unscheduled.)

Warning! This mini-series contains: violence, sexual violence (rape - no nudity)

Click here for the Common Sense Media review to see potential concerns.

"A four-night, eight-hour event series, "Roots" is a historical portrait of one family's journey through American slavery and their will to survive and preserve their legacy in the face of unimaginable hardship."

Glory

Civil War
Movie

Glory

Warning! This movie contains: violence, some cursing

Click here for a Common Sense Media review of this movie.

"Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington star in this inspiring story of the first Black regiment to fight for the North in the Civil War."

Free State of Jones movie

Civil War (and after)
Movie

Free State of Jones

You can watch this movie through Vid Angel to fliter out any objectionable parts.

This movie isn't just about a true story that happened during the Civil War, it's also a powerful picture of what happened during the first part of Reconstruction, and there is a bit of real history that happened in 1940's Mississippi. This movie is rated R and may be upsetting to sensitive viewers (or just plain objectionable to some families). I recommend you preview it or be on hand to fast forward through any parts you find objectionable.

Warning! This movie contains: violence, implied rape (but no details, visuals, or sounds) - You can miss a great deal of the worst of the graphic violence if you fast forward through the first battle scene (but there is still some during other parts of the movie, including a hanging).

Read the Common Sense Media review to see potential concerns.

"Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey stars in this epic, untold true story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy during the Civil War. Despite overwhelming odds, Knight banded together with other small farmers and local slaves and launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones. "

Unscheduled Books

These books are an important part of the curriculum. Your student will not read all of them.
Instructions on how to choose from the following books as well as how to schedule them are included in the printable schedule.

You may want to assign literature (English/Language Arts) credits for these books.

Warning: I have not fully previewed the books in italics due to time constraints. I have, however, researched them and skimmed through most of them. Although I have included warnings for some of the books, I have not included every possible objectionable item. Please preview with your own family’s values in mind.

Blood on the River

1607
Literature

Blood on the River: James Town, 1607

This book is available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

I had originally looked at the novel Tidewater for a good story about Jamestown, John Smith, Pocahontas, etc. Tidewater is pretty accurate historically (and well-written/engaging), but has several "racy" references that are descriptive enough to make it potentially inappropriate. I chose this book, instead, even though it's written for ages 10 & up (and is an easy read). It covers many of the real events and people of the Jamestown Colony.

"Twelve-year-old Samuel Collier is a lowly commoner on the streets of London. So when he becomes the page of Captain John Smith and boards the Susan Constant, bound for the New World, he can't believe his good fortune. He's heard that gold washes ashore with every tide. But beginning with the stormy journey and his first contact with the native people, he realizes that the New World is nothing like he imagined. The lush Virginia shore where they establish the colony of James Town is both beautiful and forbidding, and it's hard to know who's a friend or foe. As he learns the language of the Algonquian Indians and observes Captain Smith's wise diplomacy, Samuel begins to see that he can be whomever he wants to be in this new land."

The Scarlett Letter

1642-1649
Literature

The Scarlett Letter

The Kindle version of this book is FREE! It's also available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

This version is listed for students who want to read the original classic vs. the scheduled in manga version (or read it after reading the manga version to assist with understanding). There are also free audio readings on YouTube.

Note: Reluctant readers may have a difficult time with the older language.

Warning!: The entire book is about a woman who committed adultery.

"THE SCARLET LETTER is an 1850 work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and is considered to be his best work. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt."

Caleb's Crossing

1660-1715
Literature

Caleb's Crossing

This is a very well-researched book set on the island that is now known as Martha's Vineyard. The author brings to life the Puritan beliefs of the time, what it was like to be a 17th century young woman, and the prejudices of early America.

Warning! This book contains: death, an implication of sex outside of marraige (no graphic details), an abused Indian teen girl who has a miscarraige (no details of how she got pregnant, but it's clear it wasn't her fault), a kiss between a future husband and wife

"Bethia Mayfield is a restless and curious young woman growing up in Martha's vineyard in the 1660s amid a small band of pioneering English Puritans. At age twelve, she meets Caleb, the young son of a chieftain, and the two forge a secret bond that draws each into the alien world of the other. Bethia's father is a Calvinist minister who seeks to convert the native Wampanoag, and Caleb becomes a prize in the contest between old ways and new, eventually becoming the first Native American graduate of Harvard College. Inspired by a true story and narrated by the irresistible Bethia, Caleb’s Crossing brilliantly captures the triumphs and turmoil of two brave, openhearted spirits who risk everything in a search for knowledge at a time of superstition and ignorance."

The Last of the Mohicans

1757
Literature

The Last of the Mohicans

The Kindle version of this book is FREE! It's also available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

Warning! This book contains: violence

Note: Reluctant readers may have a difficult time with the older language.

"One of the most popular novels of early American literature, “The Last of the Mohicans” helped to establish James Fenimore Cooper as one of the first great and world-famous American authors. The second and best known novel in the “Leatherstocking Tales” series, “The Last of the Mohicans” is set in the British province of New York during the French and Indian War. It concerns the rescue and transport to safety, of two sisters, Alice and Cora, daughters of British commander Colonel Munro, who are kidnapped following a Huron massacre of Anglo-American soldiers. They are escorted by frontiersman Natty Bumppo, Major Duncan Heyward, and the Indians Chingachgook and Uncas, the titular sole surviving member of the Mohican tribe. A fantastic tale of adventure set during the middle of the 18th century, “The Last of the Mohicans” is a true American classic, which has captivated readers ever since its original publication"

Sophia's WAr

1776, 1780
Literature

Sophia's War

This book is available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

I chose this book because it has so many real people and events in it. It also features a storyline about Benedict Arnold. I liked how you really get a feel for the lives of the citizens of Boston during the English blockade.

"In 1776, young Sophia Calderwood witnesses the execution of Nathan Hale in New York City, which is newly occupied by the British army. Sophia is horrified by the event and resolves to do all she can to help the American cause. Recruited as a spy, she becomes a maid in the home of General Clinton, the supreme commander of the British forces in America. Through her work she becomes aware that someone in the American army might be switching sides, and she uncovers a plot that will grievously damage the Americans if it succeeds. But the identity of the would-be traitor is so shocking that no one believes her, and so Sophia decides to stop the treacherous plot herself, at great personal peril: She’s young, she’s a girl, and she’s running out of time. And if she fails, she’s facing an execution of her own.

Master storyteller Avi shows exactly how personal politics can be in this “nail-biting thriller” (Publishers Weekly) that is rich in historical detail and rife with action"

Lafayette

Revolutionary War
Graphic novel

Lafayette! (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #8): A Revolutionary War Tale

At the time I am creating this curriculum, this book is only available via pre-order (as it will be released Oct. 2018). I love the Nathan Hale graphic novels! Don't hesitate to get it. I'm sure it will be just as fun and informative as the others I've scheduled in!!

Woods Runner

1776
Literature

Woods Runner

This book is available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

I read this book to my son when he was studying American history. It's a "clean" book but contains violence.

"Samuel, 13, spends his days in the forest, hunting for food for his family. He has grown up on the frontier of a British colony, America. Far from any town, or news of the war against the King that American patriots have begun near Boston.

But the war comes to them. British soldiers and Iroquois attack. Samuel’s parents are taken away, prisoners. Samuel follows, hiding, moving silently, determined to find a way to rescue them. Each day he confronts the enemy, and the tragedy and horror of this war. But he also discovers allies, men and women working secretly for the patriot cause. And he learns that he must go deep into enemy territory to find his parents: all the way to the British headquarters, New York City."

Alex & Eliza

1777
Literature

Alex & Eliza

This is a sweet Y.A. book that will likely appeal to girls more than boys. It's not 100% historically accurate, but it does feature real events and persons of the Revolution and will likely prompt readers to search for and compare facts with what "really happened." It also really emphasizes that historical persons are REAL people with their own troubles and happiness, etc. Read a review of the book here: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/alex-and-eliza-a-love-story/

Warning! This book contains: an unwanted sexual advance (not successful)

There is a sequel, too: Love & War: An Alex & Eliza Story
I'm looking forward to reading the sequel when I have more time!

Jefferson's Daughters

Jefferson's Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America

I learned a lot about Jefferson and his family from this book! This review sums up the book very well (click here). I think girls will find it more interesting than most boys.

Warning! This book contains: sexual content (references to enslaved women being used sexually and references to Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemmings)

"Thomas Jefferson had three daughters: Martha and Maria by his wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson, and Harriet by his slave Sally Hemings. In Jefferson’s Daughters, Catherine Kerrison, a scholar of early American and women’s history, recounts the remarkable journey of these three women—and how their struggle to define themselves reflects both the possibilities and the limitations that resulted from the American Revolution.

Although the three women shared a father, the similarities end there. Martha and Maria received a fine convent school education while they lived with their father during his diplomatic posting in Paris—a hothouse of intellectual ferment whose celebrated salonnières are vividly brought to life in Kerrison’s narrative. Once they returned home, however, the sisters found their options limited by the laws and customs of early America. 
           
The eventful lives of Thomas Jefferson’s daughters provide a unique vantage point from which to examine the complicated patrimony of the American Revolution itself.  The richly interwoven story of these three strong women and their fight to shape their own destinies sheds new light on the ongoing movement toward human rights in America—and on the personal and political legacy of one of our most controversial Founding Fathers."

John Adams

1776-1831
Non-fiction

John Adams

I read this book out loud to my son when he was a high schooler. It's a long book, but he enjoyed it.

"In this powerful, epic biography, David McCullough unfolds the adventurous life journey of John Adams, the brilliant, fiercely independent, often irascible, always honest Yankee patriot who spared nothing in his zeal for the American Revolution; who rose to become the second president of the United States and saved the country from blundering into an unnecessary war; who was learned beyond all but a few and regarded by some as “out of his senses”; and whose marriage to the wise and valiant Abigail Adams is one of the moving love stories in American history."

Another David McCullough option: 1776

Jubilee

Antebellum period, Civil War, Reconstruction
Literature

 

Jubilee

This book is available for FREE via OpenLibrary.

Warning! This book contains: sexual content (but this is not a "bodice ripper"), violence, branding of a slave, whipping of a slave, a hanging, some cursing, the "N" word

This book is featured in many Advanced Placement U.S. history reading lists. It's a classic, well-loved, sweeping, and panoramic novel based on a true story about the author's great grandmother.

"Jubilee tells the true story of Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and his black mistress. Vyry bears witness to the South’s antebellum opulence and to its brutality, its wartime ruin, and the promises of Reconstruction. Weaving her own family’s oral history with thirty years of research, Margaret Walker’s novel brings the everyday experiences of slaves to light. Jubilee churns with the hunger, the hymns, the struggles, and the very breath of American history."

 

Gone with the Wind
Mid- to Late-1800's
Literature

 

Gone with the Wind

This book is available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

"Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years."

Uncle Tom's Cabin

mid 1800's
Literature

Uncle Tom's Cabin

The Kindle version of this book is FREE! It's also available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

Warning! This book contains: violence

"Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly, is an anti-slavery novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War", according to Will Kaufman. Stowe, a Connecticut-born teacher at the Hartford Female Seminary and an active abolitionist, featured the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave around whom the stories of other characters revolve. The sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings. Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s."

Roots

Multiple time periods
Literature

Roots: The Saga of an American Family

This book is available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

Another option: Watch the mini-series that was redone in 2016.

"Alex Haley unforgettably brings to life the monumental two-century drama of Kunta Kinte and the six generations who came after him: slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, lumber mill workmen and Pullman porters, lawyers and architects...and one author.A national and international phenomenon at the time of its original publication, Roots continues to enthrall readers with its masterful narrative drive and exceptional emotional power, speaking to us all with an undiminished resonance and relevance. "

Tom Sawyer

1840's
Literature

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Kindle version of this books is FREE. It's also FREE at openlibrary.org.

"On the banks of the Mississippi River, Tom Sawyer and his friends seek out adventure at every turn. Then one fateful night in the graveyard they witness a murder. The boys make a blood oath never to reveal the secret, and they run away to be pirates in search of hidden treasure. But when Tom gets trapped in a cave with scary Injun Joe, can he escape unharmed?"

The Age of Gold

1848 - late 1800's
Non-fiction

The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream

This is an entertaining and informative book. There are a few dry spots, but overall I found it quite interesting. It's one of the best books I've read about the gold rush! It is especially recommended for students living in California!

Warning! This book contains: violence, mentions of prostitution and a mention of Chinese women being used as sexual slaves (no explicit details - See p. 353.)

"In The Age of Gold, H. W. Brands explores the far-reaching implications of this pivotal point in U.S. history, weaving the politics of the times with the gripping stories of individuals that displays both the best and the worse of the American character. He discusses the national issues that exploded around the ratification of California's statehood, hastening the clouds that would lead to the Civil War. He tells the stories of the great fortunes made by such memorable figures as John and Jessie Fremont, Leland Stanford and George Hearst -- and of great fortunes lost by hundreds now forgotten by history. And he reveals the profound effect of the Gold Rush on the way Americans viewed their destinies, as the Puritan ethic of hard work and the gradual accumulation of worldly riches gave way to the notion of getting rich quickly."

Walk on Earth a Stranger

1849
Literature

There are 2 more books in this series:

Like a River Glorious

Into the Bright Unknown

Walk on Earth a Stranger

This Y.A. book mixes a small bit of fantasy/magic (a girl who can sense gold), Gold Rush history, and a harrowing wagon train journey to California.

Warning! This book contains: violence, a murder, death (from cholera, childbirth, etc.), an amputation, a veiled/brief reference to homosexuality in a very minor character (no sexual content), the word "hell" used as a curse

"Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it.

When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California - where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

The acclaimed Rae Carson begins a sweeping new trilogy set in Gold Rush-era America, about a young woman with a powerful and dangerous gift. "

The Killer Angels

Civil War
Literature

The Killer Angels

This book is available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

Warning! This book contains: violence

"In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny."

The Red Badge of Courage

Civil War
Literature

The Red Badge of Courage

The Kindle version of this book is FREE. It's also FREE at openlibrary.org.

Warning! This book contains: violence

"First published in 1895, this small masterpiece set the pattern for the treatment of war in modern fiction. The novel is told through the eyes of Henry Fleming, a young soldier caught up in an unnamed Civil War battle who is motivated not by the unselfish heroism of conventional war stories, but by fear, cowardice, and finally, egotism. However, in his struggle to find reality amid the nightmarish chaos of war, the young soldier also discovers courage, humility, and perhaps, wisdom. Although Crane had never been in battle before writing The Red Badge of Courage, the book was widely praised by experienced soldiers for its uncanny re-creation of the sights, sounds, and sense of actual combat. Its publication brought Crane immediate international fame and established him as a major American writer. Today, nearly a century later, the book ranks as an enduring landmark of American fiction."

True Grit

1875
Literature

True Grit: A Novel

This book is available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

Warning! This book contains: violence, cursing, the "N" word

"Charles Portis has long been acclaimed as one of America's foremost comic writers.

True Grit is his most famous novel--first published in 1968, and the basis for the movie of the same name starring John Wayne. It tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash money. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father's blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory.

True Grit is eccentric, cool, straight, and unflinching, like Mattie herself. From a writer of true cult status, this is an American classic through and through. "

The Long Winter

1888
Literature

The Long Winter

This book is available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

This books is mentioned in The Children's Blizzard. Laura recounts the same horrible winter in this 6th book of the Little House series. If your student hasn't read the other books in the series, you may want to encourage him/her to do so! Even my sons enjoyed these stories.

"The fledgling town of De Smet in the Dakota Territory is hit hard by the brutal winter of 1880-1881. Laura, Pa, Ma, Mary, Carrie, and little Grace face the winter as best they can, but soon, blizzards have covered the town in snow that piles up to the rooftops, cutting the town off from supplies and trade. Food stores begin to run dangerously low. To save the town from starvation, young Almanzo Wilder and a friend brave the conditions, set off across the prairie in search of wheat, and return victorious. The town is saved, and the townspeople share in an unusual, but joyful, Christmas celebration"

Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt

Gilded Age (late 1800's) through the 1930's (with the emphasis of the book set during the late 1800's)
Non-fiction

Fortune's Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt

This book is available for FREE at openlibrary.org.

What an amazing tour of the Gilded Age in the context of a rags-to-riches-to-rags story! This book is chock full of glittering balls, family drama, greed, ostentatious wealth, and flagrant waste that ended in ruin. It's such a perfect example of how money doesn't buy happiness.

Warning! This book contains: some sexual content and infrequent cursing - The sexual content is mostly factual references without too much detail (the Commodore pinching a maid's bottom, etc.), but you may wish to preview (especially chapter 9 - specifically a comment about the Prince of Wales as well as an accusation made about Gloria Vanderbilt during a nasty custody battle). There is also an implication of homosexuality.

"Vanderbilt: the very name signifies wealth. The family patriarch, "the Commodore," built up a fortune that made him the world's richest man by 1877. Yet, less than fifty years after the Commodore's death, one of his direct descendants died penniless, and no Vanderbilt was counted among the world's richest people. Fortune's Children tells the dramatic story of all the amazingly colorful spenders who dissipated such a vast inheritance."

Victorian Internet

Non-fiction

The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers

This is a quick, entertaining, and easy read that may appeal to kids who like technology (or inventors)! I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it (since this is not the usual type of book I like to read).

Warning! This book contains: a brief metion of a young woman who flirted with a married man via the telegraph (and her father threatened to "blow her brains out" when she met with the man.)

"The Victorian Internet tells the colorful story of the telegraph's creation and remarkable impact, and of the visionaries, oddballs, and eccentrics who pioneered it, from the eighteenth-century French scientist Jean-Antoine Nollet to Samuel F. B. Morse and Thomas Edison. The electric telegraph nullified distance and shrank the world quicker and further than ever before or since, and its story mirrors and predicts that of the Internet in numerous ways."

The Seasons of America Past

Non-fiction

The Seasons of America Past

This book is available for FREE from openlibrary.org.

You can also find this book at Dover Publications for a little less $$ than Amazon (if you want to purchase it). Click here.

I put this book on my coffee table, and visitors have browsed through it exclaiming about all of the interesting facts. It's a fun read with lots of great black-and-white illustrations that brings history to life!

"From flying kites in early spring to hunting and fishing during the glorious days of Indian summer, author Eric Sloane takes readers through a year's activities as he applies his reverent touch to yet another fascinating aspect of early American life. From "sugaring-time," spring plowing, and June weddings, to strawberry picking, weeding season, the fall harvest, and cider-making, his winning book recalls the rustic endeavors of not so long ago, when the time of year determined when a tree was to be chopped down, fences rebuilt, and tree stumps pulled out.
More than 70 of the author's own pen-and-ink drawings charmingly depict cider mills and presses, sleds, pumps and wells, axes, plows, and other elements of America's rural heritage. A section of old recipes and household hints adds additional color and practical value to this delightful book."

https://amzn.to/2QfCfm5

Late 1800's
Graphic novel

The Bridge: How the Roeblings Connected Brooklyn to New York

Warning! This book contains: cursing, gore, death, alcohol consumption

"More than 130 years after its completion, the Brooklyn Bridge remains one of the most extraordinary landmarks and symbols of Brooklyn and New York City—and the story behind this architectural marvel is just as extraordinary.

The Brooklyn Bridge was originally designed by John Augustus Roebling, but it was his son, Washington, and his daughter-in-law, Emily, who oversaw the bridge’s construction. As work on the bridge went on, Washington developed caisson disease, leaving him bedridden for the majority of the bridge’s 14-year construction. Washington’s wife, Emily Roebling, took his place running the work site, deftly assuming the role of chief engineer, supervising the project and overseeing the workers, contractors, a hostile press, and greedy city politicians—an unusual position for a woman to take on at the time.

In this inspiring graphic novel, author Peter J. Tomasi and illustrator Sara Duvall show the building of the Brooklyn Bridge as it has never been seen before, and the marriage of the Roeblings—based on intellectual equality and mutual support—that made the construction of this iconic structure possible.

  Do you have a favorite book you think should be added to this list? Please email us your suggestion!
Unscheduled Videos
These are extra video suggestions that are not scheduled. If you have some extra time, you may wish to watch them.

Liberty!

American Revolution
Documentary

Liberty! The American Revolution

Our kids watched this older series several times over the course of our homeschool. The series is very well done, but long. We didn't have cable, so we used to watch programs like this as our family entertainment. Our kids also loved the Liberty soundtrack (which we still have)! Highly recommended!

The West

1800's
Documentary

Ken Burns: The West

"Packed with vivid imagery and personalities, The West reveals the triumph and tragedy of America's drive to become a continental nation. "

 

Roots

1770's - post Civil War
2016 Miniseries

Roots (Highly recommended!)

Warning! This movie contains: violence, sexual violence (rape - no nudity)

Click here for the Common Sense Media review to see potential concerns.

"A four-night, eight-hour event series, "Roots" is a historical portrait of one family's journey through American slavery and their will to survive and preserve their legacy in the face of unimaginable hardship."

Civil War

Civil War
Documentary

The Civil War: A Film by Ken Burns

Our kids watched this older series several times over the course of our homeschool. The series is very well done, but long. We didn't have cable, so we used to watch programs like this as our family entertainment. Highly recommended!

"The original Emmy Award-winning nine-part series is now digitally restored to archive the highest definition for optimal picture quality."

The Men Who Built America

The Men Who Built America

This series covers Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and JP Morgan.

"See how five self-made men revolutionize modern society and become stitched into the fabric of America."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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