Guest Hollow’s High School Whirlwind World History Curriculum Book and Resource List

Note: This page is currently being created and is a ROUGH DRAFT. We will remove this rough draft notice when it’s finished.

Welcome to the Guest Hollow’s High School Whirlwind World History Curriculum Book and Resource List! This list is to give you an idea of what will be needed if you are using Guest Hollow’s Whirlwind World History Curriculum along with some helpful tips and other information. For details about the curriculum itself, please click here.

Literature-based history that’s engaging and fun!

In order to use Guest Hollow’s Whirlwind World History Curriculum, you will need to obtain the scheduled books and other items separately. You may be able to borrow many for FREE from your local library! Check out the F.A.Q. below for tips on how to save money when using a literature-based curriculum.

Every purchase comes with a printable book list!

Every purchase of Guest Hollow’s High School Whirlwind World History Curriculum comes with a FREE printable book list to help you with your planning and shopping.

The printable version of the book list features:

  • The ISBN number and author’s name
    You can make sure your copy of the book matches the one in the schedule.
  • Notification of when each book or item is used
    You can plan ahead when to check out books from the library. Books used throughout the year are marked “multiple weeks,” so you can decide whether you want to purchase them vs. borrow them.
  • Checklists for planning
    A handy checklist helps you plan if you are going to buy or borrow a book. It can also help you choose the format of your books (physical copy, e-book, or audiobook).
  • Books are ranked in order of importance
  • Books are ranked in order of importance to help you choose which books you need the most and which can potentially be skipped.
  • Consumables are marked
    You’ll get advance notice of which items are consumable, so you’ll know what you may need to purchase and how many copies you may want to get if you are using the curriculum with multiple students.

Here’s an example of the printable book list:

Keep scrolling to see the full online book list (below the F.A.Q. on this page).


We’ve scheduled in lots of colorful, fact-filled, interesting and engaging books for this year’s world history study! Before taking a look, We’ve addressed some common questions:

Book and Resource F.A.Q.

No. We’ve ranked items in the book list at the beginning of the printable schedule to help you plan your purchases. If you are on a strict budget, don’t have a good library system, or need to limit your student’s amount of reading, the ranking system will help you prioritize items.

Items we feel shouldn’t be dropped or substituted are marked with a #1.
Other items are ranked as follows:
#2: This item is not absolutely necessary, but highly recommended.
#3: This item is optional but recommended.
#4: This item is optional and less important than the others

Some customers only use books ranked 1 and 2 as well as books that are featured in the workbook.

You can also use substitutes from your own home or local library. For example: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX If you can’t obtain that book, you can substitute XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. Keep in mind that the scheduled books were all hand-picked for their content, presentation, and reading pace.

Some books are marked “unscheduled.” These books are optional and are not featured in the curriculum schedule. They are intended to potentially enhance your studies, and you can fit them in whenever you have the time for them (or ignore them completely, if you wish). You can also use them as substitutions for students who don’t enjoy graphic novels.

We were once homeschoolers, and we know what it’s like living on a budget. We wrote a blog post to help you SAVE MONEY when using a literature-based curriculum. In the post you’ll find handy tips on where to get books, what subscriptions can help out, what some libraries offer for free, where our customers go for used books, and how to find books our customers are selling when they are done. Take a look:

How to Save Money When Using a Literature-Based Curriculum

Our customers frequently resell their used Guest Hollow homeschool curriculum books on our Facebook Groups. Here’s a list of groups you can join and post in! We encourage you to try and recoup some of your investment in books when you are done by posting them for sale in our groups.

You may NOT resell, share, or distribute any of Guest Hollow’s digital products (or printed out copies of our digital products) which includes but is not limited to schedules, workbooks, printables, and other materials.

We’ve scheduled in lots of engaging graphic novels, which should be much easier (and fun) for students to read. Reluctant readers will also appreciate that many of the videos we schedule cover the topics from the main text and other books (to help build comprehension and retention).

Every student’s reading ability and interest differs. If you have a reluctant reader or a student whose reading skills are not fully developed, you can do some of the following things:

  • Read books out loud
    You can read some or all of the books to or with your student. This is a terrific way to participate in what s/he is learning, too! Our children loved read-alouds, even in high school.
  • Use audiobooks
    Audiobooks can be obtained from or a variety of other places. There are some benefits to using audiobooks. They can be listened to in the car, during lunch, while doing chores, while keeping hands occupied (knitting, coloring, etc.), and other times when print books don’t work as well.
  • Don’t overwhelm
    It may not be the best choice to do more than one literature-based program at a time with a student who doesn’t like reading. Don’t be surprised if this reluctant attitude toward reading changes during the course of the program, though. Many of our customers have told us their reluctant readers learned to love reading using our curriculum!

You’ll have to check with your local educational authorities or in some other way determine if Guest Hollow meets requirements since states and colleges have different expectations.

When we were teaching our kids, we usually had what we thought of as a “core” curriculum (science, geography, or history). Because these programs were so literature-rich, we didn’t do a separate literature course. This enhanced our children’s retention and enjoyment of the material they were learning, since their reading assignments complimented their studies. Of course our kids also did plenty of reading in their free time as well!

Guest Hollow’s Whirlwind World History Curriculum covers a lot of different types of information. We think the BEST curriculums are those that are multidisciplinary. We believe subjects don’t exist in a vacuum, so we like to tie different subjects together, when possible, to expand students’ understanding of specific topics or things they encounter in various scheduled books and/or videos.

Additional credits could possibly be earned for literature.

Don’t forget to research your local requirements and consult the local experts in your area! We are in NO way advising what credits you should assign. You are ultimately responsible for researching this topic and deciding what will work for you and your family based on your local requirements, future plans, college requirements, and other considerations.

Using just the *spine book, the scheduled videos, and the linked activities covers quite a bit of history. The scheduled books are “frosting on the cake” that help bring topics alive in a way that is engaging and memorable.

*A spine book is the “backbone” of a study.

We do schedule in quite a few graphic novels and some easier fare (amidst some more difficult titles written for adults), but my goal is to get students to not only learn history, but to RETAIN it and LOVE it. We do this using a mix of materials that even adults could learn from. Information is information. It doesn’t have to by dry and difficult to get through in order to be valuable (in my opinion).

When we were homeschooling, we always used what we believed to be the BEST vehicles for teaching information, no matter what the “level” of those materials. The feedback we’ve received about our programs has been amazing. Students who used to think history was dry and boring have remarked how much they love it after using Guest Hollow’s history curriculums!

You can take a look at the unscheduled list of books and choose some from there to substitute. The unscheduled books are listed on this page in the book list below.

The graphic novels were chosen to break up the amount of reading and to convey information in a quick-to-digest way while giving a break in the reading load. Also, in this increasingly visual world, I felt it was important for students to be able to read and digest a variety of materials. They aren’t a match for every student, though. In that case, the unscheduled books make good substitutes.

The curriculum is still very rich and full, even if you skip some of the graphic novels!

Most high schoolers should be able to handle the reading. There is plenty of “easier fare” to balance things out.

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 below or consult the printable curriculum schedule.

Warning! Preview all materials! I strongly recommend you preview all items to see if they are appropriate for your student. Every family is different in what they find offensive! Additional notes about some of the books are in the descriptions below.

Additional notes about some of the books and movies are under the images. Please note that we have not marked every possible objectionable item.

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

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook.

Those books are referenced in the FREE PDF workbook that is included with your world history curriculum purchase.

Note: This page is currently being created and is a ROUGH DRAFT. We will remove this rough draft notice when it’s finished. We may remove or add books and videos to this list before the curriculum is released.

Books and Items

Guest Hollow’s Whirlwind World History FREE Online Textbook
This is the “*spine book” for Whirlwind World History. It has lots of embedded videos, maps, and illustrations to help history make sense and stick!

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook.

*A spine book is the “backbone” of a study.
The History Book: Big Ideas Simply ExplainedThe History Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

*Scheduled, optional reference book

“Travel thousands of years into our past and discover the significant events that shaped the world as we know it.

This book includes short, descriptive explanations of key ideas, themes, and events of world history that are easy to understand. Explore topics such as the founding of Baghdad, the colonization of the Americas, and the inception of Buddhism without complicated jargon.”
History of the World Map by Map
Note: The beginning of this book has a section on “human origins.” I don’t schedule in those pages.
History of the World Map by Map

*Scheduled, optional reference book

I LOVE how this book illustrates history with maps and timelines. It helps you visualize what was going on where and when.

It’s a hefty, big, beautiful book that gives you a good overview of world history. There are 140 colorful maps combined with timelines for main world events from prehistory through modern times. There is also a 75 page timeline in the back illustrated with photos, paintings, and items. Even if your student doesn’t read every word, the maps alone are worth buying this book to have on your homeschool shelf as a reference.

History of the World in 1000 Objects
*Note: There is nudity via statues (Greek art), etc.
History of the World in 1000 Objects

*Scheduled, optional reference book

Students don’t need to read all the text in this book. It’s scheduled so that they can browse the pictures and associate the various objects with the different cultures. This book is a visual treat! There is also a bonus timeline in the back.

“Objects speak volumes about a civilization, telling us how our ancestors lived – as well as what they believed in and valued. A bronze cat mummy shows us how highly the ancient Egyptians valued their feline companions, while a mechanical tiger toy tells the story of rising tensions between an Indian sultan and European colonizers. With stunning, exclusive photography, History of the World in 1000 Objects shows you the objects that our ancestors treasured – from the jewelry worn by the Mesopotamians to the prized ritual vessels used by the people of the Shang Dynasty – and gives you insight into what gave each culture its own identity.

From astrolabes and airplanes to vacuum cleaners and X-rays, DK uses its hallmark visual style to weave the extraordinary legacy of our creativity into a unique view of world history that will change the way you see the objects all around us.”
Remarkable Diaries: The World's Greatest Diaries, Journals, Notebooks, & Letters
Note: There is mention that Samuel Pepys wrote about his sex life in his diary, but no details are given. Anne Lister’s diary discusses her same sex attraction (no sexual details). The Goncourt Journal mentions prostitutes (no details). Page 242 mentions how the movie director Derek Jarman made movies that celebrated gay culture.
Remarkable Diaries: The World’s Greatest Diaries, Journals, Notebooks, & Letters

*Scheduled, optional reference book

“Travel back in time and witness both everyday life and great moments in history in this fascinating compilation of diaries through the ages.

Arranged chronologically, Remarkable Diaries takes you into the pages of the world’s greatest diaries, notebooks, and letters, including those of Samuel Pepys, Henry-David Thoreau, the Goncourt brothers, Virginia Woolf, and Anne Frank. Stunning reproductions of the original notebooks and manuscripts are complemented by extracts and quotations, and illustrated features set the diaries in their cultural and historical context.”
Art That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired Them
Note: There is nudity in some of the paintings. On page 268 there is a very small sepia photograph showing the nude backside of a woman. On p. 361 (in the pop art section) There is a scantily clad woman.
Art That Changed the World: Transformative Art Movements and the Paintings That Inspired Them

*Scheduled, optional reference book

I don’t expect students to read every word in this book (if you choose to use it). It’s scheduled in so that they can get art exposure, clothing, styles, etc. from various time periods throughout history. Artworks are presented in a timeline format.

“This beautiful book brings you the very best of world art from cave paintings to Neoexpressionism. Enjoy iconic must-see works, such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper and Monet’s Waterlilies and discover less familiar artists and genres from all parts of the globe. Art That Changed the World covers the full sweep of world art, including the Ming era in China, and Japanese, Hindu, and Indigenous Australian art.”
Battles that Changed History
Battles that Changed History

*Scheduled, optional reference book

“Discover the stories behind more than 90 of the world’s most significant battles in this lavishly illustrated history book.

The most important battles ever to take place are brought to life in the most spectacular way. From the brutal battle of Gettysburg to the epic air-sea battle of Midway, find out how fateful decisions led to glorious victories and crushing defeats.

Journey through the battlefields of history and follow the key developments of World War I, World War II, the Cold War and more in unprecedented visual detail. Using maps, paintings, artifacts and photographs, Battles That Changed History is a guided tour of every major conflict in history.

Explore the stories behind more than 90 important battles and discover how pivotal moments and tactical decisions have altered the course of history. From medieval clashes and great naval conflicts to the era of high-tech air battles, key campaigns are illustrated and analyzed in detail. Learn incredible facts about the weapons, armor, soldiers and military strategies behind some of the greatest battles ever. 

This reference book includes profiles of famous military leaders like Alexander the Great, Napoleon and Rommel. See how kingdoms and empires have been won and lost on the battlefield. Go into the thick of combat at the Great Siege of Malta, the Battle of Stalingrad and the icy waters of Dunkirk. It is the ultimate guide to the history of military conflict.”
The Mode in Costume: A Historical Survey with 202 Plates (Dover Fashion and Costumes)The Mode in Costume: A Historical Survey with 202 Plates (Dover Fashion and Costumes)

*Scheduled, optional reference book

This book can checked out for free from the Internet Archive. Click here.

If your student likes this book, there are others in the series like The Mode in Hats and Headdress and The Mode in Footwear.

“The pursuit of style has prompted centuries of dramatic change in fashion—and author R. Turner Wilcox researched and documented it all in this completely comprehensive volume. From the togas of ancient Rome to the gorgeous gowns of Dior, this lavishly illustrated, thoroughly researched treasury examines men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing — plus accessories — from 3000 B.C. to 1958.”
Milk!: A 10,000-Year Food Fracas
Multiple time periods and locations, nonfiction

Note: This book mentions breastfeeding.
Milk!: A 10,000-Year Food Fracas

Students will NOT read this entire book. We only schedule in the first four chapters.

“Profoundly intertwined with human civilization, milk has a compelling and a surprisingly global story to tell, and historian Mark Kurlansky is the perfect person to tell it. Tracing the liquid’s diverse history from antiquity to the present, he details its curious and crucial role in cultural evolution, religion, nutrition, politics, and economics.”
Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative
Ancient Mesopotamian mythology (Sumerian poems) written during the late 2nd millennium BCE.

Note: A prostitute is mentioned. There is a line about a man putting his hands on the breasts of a goddess.
Gilgamesh: A Verse Narrative

A digital copy of this book can be checked out for free at the Open Library.

Gilgamesh is an epic poem written in ancient Mesopotamia and is known as the earliest surviving notable literature. It was composed sometime around 2100-1200 BCE). Some of the best copies were discovered in the library ruins of the 7th-century BCE Assyrian king Ashurbanipal.

This is a fantastic translation of Gilgamesh!

“National Book Award Finalist: The most widely read and enduring interpretation of this ancient Babylonian epic.
One of the oldest and most universal stories known in literature, the epic of Gilgamesh presents the grand, timeless themes of love and death, loss and reparations, within the stirring tale of a hero-king and his doomed friend.
A National Book Award finalist, Herbert Mason’s retelling is at once a triumph of scholarship, a masterpiece of style, and a labor of love that grew out of the poet’s long affinity with the original.”
Ralph Masiello's Ancient Egypt Drawing Book
Ancient Egypt, drawing book with history tidbits
Ralph Masiello’s Ancient Egypt Drawing Book

“Emerging on the fertile banks of the Nile River over five thousand years ago, ancient Egypt was a place of mummies and pharaohs, pyramids and temples–a place that sparks the imagination. Young artists can dive into the underworld with Anubis, jackal god of the dead; creep past a sentinel sphinx with the body of a lion and the head of a falcon; bow down to the beautiful Queen Nefertiti; or give praise to the murdered god Osiris, all while learning to draw the symbols of the mysterious and ancient civilization of Egypt.

Step-by-step instructions help young artists create their own representations of this incredible culture, and annotations throughout the book provide a glimpse into the history and mythology of ancient Egypt. Bonus steps provide ways to customize drawings with historically accurate symbols and other details.”

13th century BCE, Trojan War, fiction

Note: There are some non-graphic sexual references. Patroclus is noted as being Achilles’ lover (quote: “Patroculs, Achilles’s friend and sometime lover himself, liked and admired the young princess and did what he could to comfort and console her.”). Rape is mentioned (no details).
A quote about Zeus: “In order to have his way with beautiful girls, boys, nymphs, and sprites of one kind or another, the King of the Gods had transformed himself in many extraordinary ways…”
There is violence and a few instances of cursing.
Nudity is shown in classical art that illustrate the text.
Troy: The Greek Myths Reimagined (Stephen Fry’s Greek Myths Book 3)

“Legendary author and actor Stephen Fry retells the tale of the Trojan War.

In Troy, Stephen Fry takes the reader into the heart of a story both mythical and grounded in history. It is Zeus, king of the gods, who triggers war when he asks the Trojan prince Paris to judge the fairest goddess of them all. Aphrodite bribes Paris with the hand of Helen, wife of King Menelaus of the Greeks.
A terrible, brutal war ensues, and the stage is set for the oldest and greatest story ever told.

Illustrated throughout with classical art inspired by the myths, this gorgeous volume invites you to explore a captivating world with a brilliant storyteller as your guide.”
The Celts and All That
Multiple time periods, Celts, nonfiction
The Celts and All That

“Myths, facts, and fascinating history about this legendary ancient culture, in a fun, illustrated volume for students.”

24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the Life of the People Who Lived There
137 CE, Rome, fiction with nonfiction quotes (primary source material)

Note: Some sexual content (nothing too graphic) – The chapter “The Prostitute Finds a Client” is not scheduled.
24 Hours in Ancient Rome: A Day in the Life of the People Who Lived There

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook.

This books is entertaining as well as informative. The part I like the best: the book’s characters are based on real quotes, speeches, correspondence, and more from the people who actually lived in Rome at the time.

“Walk a day in a Roman’s sandals.
What was it like to live in one of the ancient world’s most powerful and bustling cities – one that was eight times more densely populated than modern day New York?

In this entertaining and enlightening guide, bestselling historian Philip Matyszak introduces us to the people who lived and worked there. In each hour of the day we meet a new character – from emperor to slave girl, gladiator to astrologer, medicine woman to water-clock maker – and discover the fascinating details of their daily lives.”
Sometime around 50-400 CE, Europe, fiction


“From author Rosemary Sutcliff, author of the classic tale The Eagle of the Ninth, comes Outcast, the tale of an orphan boy in the ancient world.

When a Roman ship is wrecked off the coast of Britain, an infant, Beric, is the only survivor, saved by members of a British tribe. They name him Beric and bring him up among them, until the time comes when they can ignore his ancestry no longer. Then Beric is cast out from the only home he has ever known and forced to find his one place in a treacherous world.”
Augustus Caesar's World
44 BCE – 14 CE, Various parts of the world, fiction based on true events

Note: I skip the few religious references in this book such as the sections on Jesus, Zoroaster, Buddha, etc. (they are not scheduled in). I am a Christian, but don’t like some of the inaccuracies in how things are quoted and/or presented. The other religions are covered more accurately via other portions of the curriculum. I focus on the secular history portions of the book only. I do not consider this a religious or Christian book.
Augustus Caesar’s World

“In Augustus Caesar’s World, Foster traces the seven major civilizations of Rome, Greece, Israel, Egypt, China, India, and Persia from 4500 B.C. to the time of Augustus Caesar in 44 B.C. and culminating in 14 A.D. Within this timeframe readers will learn not only the stories of Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, and Marc Antony, but also the historian Livy and how Virgil came to write the Aeneid. Foster will then take her readers all over the world to learn what was happening at this same time in China, Persia, India and so on.

Foster’s detailed pen and ink drawings are fresh and appealing, and her illustrated timelines give a clear sense of chronology, enriching the engaging text”
Choose one of the following:
Note: You can read them both! The Viking Hondbók is a very easy and quick, illustrated read, so it shouldn’t be too overwhelming to do both.
Option 1:
This is a great book, but not recommended for immature teens or teens sensitive to violence.
The Last Kingdom
9th century England, Saxons & Danes, fiction

The Last Kingdom (Saxon Tales Book 1)

Note: This book contains descriptive violence, some cursing (not too frequent), and references to sex as well as rape (the sexual content is not graphic or descriptive in my opinion). I do NOT recommend the video series as a replacement for the book because of the nudity and sex. It’s toned down in the book compared to the video series.

“This is the exciting—yet little known—story of the making of England in the 9th and 10th centuries, the years in which King Alfred the Great, his son and grandson defeated the Danish Vikings who had invaded and occupied three of England’s four kingdoms.
The story is seen through the eyes of Uhtred, a dispossessed nobleman, who is captured as a child by the Danes and then raised by them so that, by the time the Northmen begin their assault on Wessex (Alfred’s kingdom and the last territory in English hands) Uhtred almost thinks of himself as a Dane. He certainly has no love for Alfred, whom he considers a pious weakling and no match for Viking savagery, yet when Alfred unexpectedly defeats the Danes and the Danes themselves turn on Uhtred, he is finally forced to choose sides. By now he is a young man, in love, trained to fight and ready to take his place in the dreaded shield wall. Above all, though, he wishes to recover his father’s land, the enchanting fort of Bebbanburg by the wild northern sea.
This thrilling adventure—based on existing records of Bernard Cornwell’s ancestors—depicts a time when law and order were ripped violently apart by a pagan assault on Christian England, an assault that came very close to destroying England.”
Option 2:
This is an easier, faster read that has some great illustrations. It’s more appropriate for younger or sensitive students than option 1.
The Viking Hondbók: Eat, Dress, and Fight Like a Warrior
9th century , Vikings, nonfiction

The Viking Hondbók: Eat, Dress, and Fight Like a Warrior

“Learn what it was like to live as a Norseman in this fun and fascinating look at Vikings and the Viking Age.

Vikings, those ancient Norse seafarers, have inspired plenty of pop culture phenomena, from the A&E hit show Vikings to Thor: Ragnarök, to the ever-expanding world of Viking LARP. Known for being skilled craftspeople, accomplished merchants, hardworking farmers, and masters of the sea, the Vikings were a complex and captivating people.

Inspired by the legendary legacy of the Vikings, author Kjersti Egerdahl presents a compelling and entertaining guide exploring who the Vikings were and how they lived, from ancient Norse daily life to battles and adventuring. You’ll learn how Vikings ate, dressed, and fought, and even how they weaved the perfect beard braid and built warships and weapons. Interspersed throughout are revealing historical anecdotes about Viking conquests, famous warriors, mythology and afterlife, and much more.”
Old English epic poem, unknown composure date, manuscript found dating to around 975, graphic novel

Note: Violence is portrayed in a graphic novel format.

Beowulf is an Anglo-Saxon poem written around 700-1000 CE in the tradition of Germanic heroic legend.

I really like this graphic novel adaptation of Beowulf. It captures the spirit of the original and uses text from the Francis Gummere translation.

If your student wants to read Beowulf as a longer book (or listen to a free audio version) instead, see the unscheduled books list.
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune
1100’s, Japan, nonfiction/biography

Note: There is violence in this book (a mention of seppuku – ritual suicide, battles, etc.) and a couple very mild PG sexual references.
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune

“Minamoto Yoshitsune should not have been a samurai. But his story is legend in this real-life saga.

This epic warrior tale reads like a novel, but this is the true story of the greatest samurai in Japanese history.

When Yoshitsune was just a baby, his father went to war with a rival samurai family—and lost. His father was killed, his mother captured, and his surviving half-brother banished. Yoshitsune was sent away to live in a monastery. Skinny, small, and unskilled in the warrior arts, he nevertheless escaped and learned the ways of the samurai. When the time came for the Minamoto clan to rise up against their enemies, Yoshitsune answered the call. His daring feats and impossible bravery earned him immortality.”
The Tudors, A Very Peculiar History
1485-1600’s, England, nonfiction

Note: This book mentions beheadings and executions (especially in chapter 3 under the section “Off with Their Heads”) and the accusation of adultery (no graphic details).
The Tudors, A Very Peculiar History

This is an easy-to-read, quick overview of the Tudors that is stuffed with interesting tidbits.

“The Tudors were an odd bunch, more odd than their subjects, perhaps. When they weren’t beheading wives and enemies they were threatening to, or going around earning themselves nicknames like ‘Bloody Mary’ and ‘The 9 Day Queen’. The Tudors: A Very Peculiar History tells the story of the Tudor monarchs, their castles, their lives and their subjects in a time when it was fashionable to slash up your clothes for that “fresh from battle” look. “
1493 for Young People: From Columbus's Voyage to Globalization
Various time periods and locations, nonfiction

Note: Older students (and fast readers) may want to try reading the adult version of this book: 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created. It is unscheduled. You can plug it in when the young people’s version is scheduled.
1493 for Young People: From Columbus’s Voyage to Globalization

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook.

1493 for Young People by Charles C. Mann tells the gripping story of globalization through travel, trade, colonization, and migration from its beginnings in the fifteenth century to the present. How did the lowly potato plant feed the poor across Europe and then cause the deaths of millions? How did the rubber plant enable industrialization? What is the connection between malaria, slavery, and the outcome of the American Revolution? How did the fabled silver mountain of sixteenth-century Bolivia fund economic development in the flood-prone plains of rural China and the wars of the Spanish Empire? Here is the story of how sometimes the greatest leaps also posed the greatest threats to human advancement.

Mann’s language is as plainspoken and clear as it is provocative, his research and erudition vast, his conclusions ones that will stimulate the critical thinking of young people. 1493 for Young People provides tools for wrestling with the most pressing issues of today, and will empower young people as they struggle with a changing world.”
Books about Chinese history
220-1912, China, graphic novels, nonfiction
Division to Unification in Imperial China: The Three Kingdoms to the Tang Dynasty (220-907)

Barbarians and the Birth of Chinese Identity: The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms to the Yuan Dynasty (907 – 1368)

The Making of Modern China: The Ming Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty (1368-1912)

(Understanding China Through Comics Books 2-4)

These books are referenced in the curriculum workbook.

I like this series of graphic novels. They make the history of China visual and easy-to-digest. The first book is scheduled in Guest Hollow’s Geography & Cultures Curriculum.

“These graphic novels cover all the great Chinese dynasties, upheavals, population movements, uprisings, invastions, and political alliances and rivalries that have produced the China we know today.”

The Language of Fire: Joan of Arc Reimagined
1400’s, Joan of Arc and France, the Hundred Years’ War, fiction (novel in verse)

Note: This book contains: violence and mild sexual references. Rape is mentioned as a possible threat (no details).
The Language of Fire: Joan of Arc Reimagined

The Language of Fire is a lyrical, dark, and moving look at the life of Joan of Arc, who as a teen girl in the fifteenth century commanded an army and helped crown a king of France.

This extraordinary verse novel from award-winning author Stephanie Hemphill dares to imagine how an ordinary girl became a great leader, and ultimately saved a nation.

Jehanne was an illiterate peasant, never quite at home among her siblings and peers. Until one day, she hears a voice call to her, telling her she is destined for important things. She begins to understand that she has been called by God, chosen for a higher purpose—to save France.
Through sheer determination and incredible courage, Jehanne becomes the unlikeliest of heroes. She runs away from home, dresses in men’s clothes, and convinces an army that she will lead France to victory.

As a girl in a man’s world, at a time when women truly had no power, Jehanne faced constant threats and violence from the men around her. Despite the impossible odds, Jehanne became a fearless warrior who has inspired generations.”
The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition
Stories compiled during the 1800’s, based on old folk stories (some of them going back 1000’s of years)

Note: There is violence and/or sexual innuendo in some of the stories.
The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Edition

*A free study guide for this book is linked in the schedule.

Students will read selections from this book when learning about Romanticism during the early 1800’s (they will not read the entire book -some may want to, though!). The Grimm brothers were the quintessential Romantic nationalists.  Many Romantics like them believed that nations had spirits, which were invested with the core identity of their “people.”  The point of the Grimm brothers’ work was reaching back into the remote past to grasp the “essence” of what it meant to be “German.”  At the time, there was no country called Germany, and yet romantic nationalists like the Grimms believed that there was a kind of German soul that lived in old folk songs, the German language, and German traditions.  They worked to preserve those things before they were further “corrupted” by the modern world.

“Zipes, who edited and translated the new collection, has done splendid work, first in arguing for the early tales’ significance. . . . Zipes’ most important achievement, though, is simply putting the complete, uncensored tales before readers to judge for themselves. . . . The Original Folk and Fairy Tales―beautifully illustrated by Andrea Dezsö, by the way―isn’t the Disneyfied version of the Brothers Grimm that we all grew up with. But for readers whose tastes lean more to, say, Tim Burton, wading into the collection might feel like stumbling into an agreeably dark and Gothic forest.”—Doug Childers, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Blades of Freedom (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #10): A Tale of Haiti, Napoleon, and the Louisiana Purchase
Haitian Revolution, 1791-1804, graphic novel

Note: Violence is portrayed in a graphic novel format.
Blades of Freedom (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #10): A Tale of Haiti, Napoleon, and the Louisiana Purchase

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook.

“Discover the story of the Haitian Revolution—the largest uprising of enslaved people in history—in this installment of the New York Times bestselling graphic novel series
Why would Napoleon Bonaparte sell the Louisiana Territory to the recently formed United States of America? It all comes back to the island nation of Haiti, which Napoleon had planned to use as a base for trade with North America. While Napoleon climbed the ranks of the French army and government, enslaved people were organizing in Haiti under the leadership of François Mackandal, Dutty Boukman, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and Touissant L’Ouverture, who in 1791 led the largest uprising of enslaved people in history—the Haitian Revolution.”
Pride and Prejudice
1795-1810, England, fiction
Pride and Prejudice

*A free teacher’s guide for this book is linked in the schedule.

Any version of the unabridged book will do. I used the cover for this version here, because I think it’s pretty, lol.

“Celebrated as one of the most famous and influential books of all time, “Pride and Prejudice” stands as a literary masterpiece that has touched millions’ hearts. 
This touching tale uses a delightful sense of humor and an honest look at the customs and rules of the 19th-century upper-class society to grapple with essential questions about marriage, economic inequality, reputation, and above all… true love.”*Free study and teacher’s guides for this book are linked in the schedule.*Free study and teacher’s guides for this book are linked in the schedule.
A Visitor's Guide to Jane Austen's England
1775-1820, England, nonfiction

Note: Prostitutes are mentioned (p. 112 – no details)
A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England

“Immerse yourself in the vanished world inhabited by Austen’s contemporaries. Packed with detail and anecdotes, this is an intimate exploration of how the middle and upper classes lived from 1775, the year of Austen’s birth, to the coronation of George IV in 1820. Sue Wilkes skillfully conjures up all aspects of daily life within the period, drawing on contemporary diaries, illustrations, letters, novels, travel literature, and archives. 
 Were all unmarried affluent men really “in want of a wife”?
Where would a young lady seek adventure?
Would “taking the waters” at Bath and other spas kill or cure you?
Was Lizzy Bennet bitten by bed-bugs while traveling?
What would you wear to a country ball or a dance at Almack’s?
Would Mr. Darcy have worn a corset?
What hidden horrors lurked in elegant Regency houses?
“A delight. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that paints such a vivid picture of daily life in late 18th and early 19th century England. It makes a perfect companion for Austen’s beloved novels.” —The Heritage Traveller
How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life
Mid to late 1800’s, England, nonfiction

Note: This book has some frank discussions about sex in chapter 15 (the last chapter) “Behind the Bedroom Door.” That chapter is NOT scheduled. There is also a sentence about how some sick adults were fed by a woman directly from her breast and that this was an old and accepted nursing technique (p. 274). Sanitary napkins are discussed at the end of chapter 1. Page 73 has a drawing of a nude female’s torso to show how a corset affected the waist.
How to Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life

Students will NOT read this entire book (it’s over 400 pages and fairly detailed). Instead, they are encouraged to browse and read the parts that interest them beyond what is scheduled.

“Lauded by critics, How to Be a Victorian is an enchanting manual for the insatiably curious, the “the cheapest time-travel machine you’ll find” (NPR). Readers have fallen in love with Ruth Goodman, an historian who believes in getting her hands dirty. Drawing on her own firsthand adventures living in re-created Victorian conditions, Goodman serves as our bustling guide to nineteenth-century life. Proceeding from daybreak to bedtime, this charming, illustrative work “imagines the Victorians as intrepid survivors” (New Republic) of the most perennially fascinating era of British history. From lacing into a corset after a round of calisthenics to slipping opium to the little ones, Goodman’s account of Victorian life “makes you feel as if you could pass as a native” (The New Yorker). 131 illustrations.”
Black Ships: Illustrated Japanese History--The Americans Arrive
1853-1854, Japan, manga, nonfiction

Note: There is violence in this book.
Black Ships: Illustrated Japanese History–The Americans Arrive

“On the 14th of July, 1853, the USS Plymouth, Mississippi, Saratoga, and Susquehanna sailed into Yokosuka, Japan. The mysterious “Black Ships” had arrived.

In this stirring account of a pivotal moment in modern Japanese history, award-winning author and illustrator team Sean Michael Wilson and Akiko Shimojima tell the story of the four American “Black Ships” that arrived in Japan in 1853 under the command of Commodore Perry to force Japan to open up to trade. The book compellingly portrays the apprehension and confusion of the Japanese people witnessing the Black Ships steaming into view over the horizon; the anxious response of the samurai; the cat-and-mouse game that ensued; the protracted negotiations; and the eventual agreement signed on March 31st, 1854, as the Treaty of Kanagawa. Historically accurate and with an easy-to-read visual format, Black Ships conveys the personalities of the key figures in the drama: on one side, Commodore Perry and his captains, and on the other, Shogunate officials Abe Masahiro and Hayashi Akira. Wilson and Shimojima vividly capture the atmosphere of threat and change that pervaded Japan during Bakumatsu, the final years of the Edo period, as the feudal Tokugawa shogunate took its last breaths and gave way to the new Meiji government.”
Boxers and Saints graphic novel boxed set
Boxer Rebellion in China, 1899-1901, graphic novel set

Note: Violence is portrayed in a graphic novel format.
Boxers & Saints Boxed Set

*Free study and teacher’s guides for this book are linked in the schedule.

New York Times bestseller
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Literature

“In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grassroots rebellion is successful.

But in the second volume, Yang lays out the opposite side of the conflict. A girl whose village has no place for her is taken in by Christian missionaries and finds, for the first time, a home with them. As the Boxer Rebellion gains momentum, Vibiana must decide whether to abandon her Christian friends or to commit herself fully to Christianity.

Boxers & Saints is one of the most ambitious graphic novels First Second has ever published. It offers a penetrating insight into not only one of the most controversial episodes of modern Chinese history, but into the very core of our human nature.”
World War I: The Definitive Visual History
World War 1, nonfiction

Note: This book contains: violence

Middle school option: Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (A World War I Tale) which is scheduled in our Geography & Cultures curriculum
World War I: The Definitive Visual History

World War I: The Definitive Visual History takes you from the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to the Treaty of Versailles. Each chapter begins with a map and visual timeline to set the scene for the events to follow, highlighting when, where, and why things happened and changed history as they did.

This is an engaging and visually stunning guide for anyone interested in learning more about the First World War, offering a true understanding of a war that changed the course of history.”
Guts & Glory: World War II
World War 2, nonfiction

This book contains: violence
Guts & Glory: World War II

*A free educator’s guide for this book is linked in the schedule.

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 World War II to help students get through this difficult topic with a minimum of effort.

Choose one of the following:

Option 1 is a harrowing, yet profound book. This is my #1 recommendation of the 2 choices. The violence mentioned is much more graphic than option 2. It’s also a longer book. Out of the Holocaust books I’ve read for this age group, it’s one of the most detailed.

Option 2 is probably more appropriate if you are using this program with a middle schooler or sensitive student.
Option: 1
A Light in the Darkness: Janusz Korczak, His Orphans, and the Holocaust
A Light in the Darkness: Janusz Korczak, His Orphans, and the Holocaust

1920’s-1940’s, Poland and Germany, nonfiction

Note: This book mentions graphic violence and sensitive subjects.

From National Book Award Finalist Albert Marrin comes the moving story of Janusz Korczak, the heroic Polish Jewish doctor who devoted his life to children, perishing with them in the Holocaust.

This is not just a book about Korczak, it’s also about the Warsaw Ghetto, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Holocaust, Poland and the Polish during the war, the Nazis, Hitler, and more. I like how primary source poems and songs are woven into the narrative.
Option: 2
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow

1920’s-1940’s, Germany, nonfiction

Note: This book mentions violence and sensitive subjects.

“In this Newbery Honor and Sibert Honor award-winning book, Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores the riveting and often chilling story of Germany’s powerful Hitler Youth groups.

By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, 3.5 million children belonged to the Hitler Youth. It would become the largest youth group in history. Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores how Hitler gained the loyalty, trust, and passion of so many of Germany’s young people. Her research includes telling interviews with surviving Hitler Youth members.

“I begin with the young. We older ones are used up . . . But my magnificent youngsters! Look at these men and boys! What material! With them, I can create a new world.” — Adolf Hitler, Nuremberg 1933″
I wanted a book that covered less known WW2 topics, so I chose these.
Choose one of the following:
Option 1:
When My Name Was Keoko
World War II, Korea, fiction

When My Name Was Keoko

*A free study guide and a free teacher’s guide for this book are linked in the schedule.

“Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, live in Korea with their parents. Because Korea is under Japanese occupation, the children study Japanese and speak it at school. Their own language, their flag, the folktales Uncle tells them—even their names—are all part of the Korean culture that is now forbidden. When World War II comes to Korea, Sun-hee is surprised that the Japanese expect their Korean subjects to fight on their side. But the greatest shock of all comes when Tae-yul enlists in the Japanese army in an attempt to protect Uncle, who is suspected of aiding the Korean resistance. Sun-hee stays behind, entrusted with the life-and-death secrets of a family at war.”
Option 2:
Under the Broken Sky
World War II, rural Manchuria, novel-in-verse (fiction)

Under the Broken Sky

“A beautifully told, award-winning novel-in-verse about a Japanese orphan’s experience in occupied rural Manchuria during World War II.

Twelve-year-old Natsu and her family live a quiet farm life in Manchuria, near the border of the Soviet Union. But the life they’ve known begins to unravel when her father is recruited to the Japanese army, and Natsu and her little sister, Asa, are left orphaned and destitute.

Literary and historically insightful, this is one of the great untold stories of WWII.”
A Time of Fear: America in the Era of Red Scares and Cold War
Cold War, nonfiction

Note: There is cursing (via quotes of famous figures) and violence (including factual descriptions of torture and/or killing) in this book. Rape is mentioned, but not described. The persecution of homosexuals is mentioned in the chapter about McCarthyism.
A Time of Fear: America in the Era of Red Scares and Cold War

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook.

This is a book about American history, but quite a bit of Cold War world history is included for context.

“In twentieth century America, no power–and no threat–loomed larger than the communist superpower of the Soviet Union. America saw in the dreams of the Soviet Union the overthrow of the US government, and the end of democracy and freedom. Meanwhile, the Communist Party of the United States attempted to use deep economic and racial disparities in American culture to win over members and sympathizers.

From the miscarriage of justice in the Scotsboro Boys case, to the tragedy of the Rosenbergs to the theatrics of the Hollywood Ten to the menace of the Joseph McCarthy and his war hearings, Albert Marrin examines a unique time in American history…and explores both how some Americans were lured by the ideals of communism without understanding its reality and how fear of communist infiltration at times caused us to undermine our most deeply held values. The questions he raises ask: What is worth fighting for? And what are you willing to sacrifice to keep it?”
Fatherland: A Family History
1940’s – 1970’s, Balkans, graphic novel, biography

Note: This book features violence, a small bit of cursing, a mention of domestic violence, nudity of young male children on a page about Jasenovac (a system of detention and concentration camps), a boy hurting an animal.
Fatherland: A Family History

New York Times Bestseller
An NPR Best Book of the Year
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Selection
Winner of the Doug Wright Award for Best Book
Shortlisted for the PACA Literary Award

“A heartfelt and extremely absorbing examination of exile, reconciliation and destructive politics…as vividly immediate as any headline.” ―Rachel Cooke, Guardian

Standing alongside Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Joe Sacco’s Palestine, Nina Bunjevac’s Fatherland renders the searing history of the Balkans in the twentieth century through the experiences of the author and her family. Nina Bunjevac provides a sweeping account of the former Yugoslavia under Fascism and Communism, telling an unforgettable true story of how the scars of history are borne by family and nation alike.”
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers
1970’s, Cambodia, memoir

Note: This book contains: violence, infrequent cursing, an attempted rape that was not successful (p.180)
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

*A free teacher’s guide for this book is linked in the schedule.

“From a childhood survivor of the Cambodian genocide under the regime of Pol Pot, this is a riveting narrative of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her family, and their triumph of spirit.
One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung’s family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed.
Harrowing yet hopeful, Loung’s powerful story is an unforgettable account of a family shaken and shattered, yet miraculously sustained by courage and love in the face of unspeakable brutality.”
Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes
1989, China, graphic novel based on a true event

Note: This book contains: violence.
Tiananmen 1989: Our Shattered Hopes

“Follow the story of China’s infamous June Fourth Incident—otherwise known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre—from the first-hand account of a young sociology teacher who witnessed it all. Over 30 years ago, on April 15th, 1989, the occupation of Tiananmen Square began. As tens of thousands of students and concerned Chinese citizens took to the streets demanding political reforms, the fate of China’s communist system was unknown. When reports of soldiers marching into Beijing to suppress the protests reverberated across Western airwaves, the world didn’t know what to expect. Lun Zhang was just a young sociology teacher then, in charge of management and safety service for the protests. Now, in this powerful graphic novel, Zhang pairs with French journalist and Asia specialist Adrien Gombeaud and artist Ameziane, to share his unvarnished memory of this crucial moment in world history for the first time. Providing comprehensive coverage of the 1989 protests that ended in bloodshed and drew global scrutiny, Zhang includes context for these explosive events, sympathetically depicting a world of discontented, idealistic, activist Chinese youth rarely portrayed in Western media. Many voices and viewpoints are on display, from Western journalists to Chinese administrators. Describing how the hope of a generation was shattered when authorities opened fire on protestors and bystanders, Tiananmen 1989 shows the way in which contemporary China shaped itself.”

Materials for Projects
Please refer to the list of projects in the supply section of the printable schedule to determine if you need any of the following. This list does NOT include all necessary supplies for projects. See the printable supply list that comes with the curriculum for additional supplies.

Popsicle sticks
Craft sticks

Square dowels
1/4 inch square dowels
India ink
Waterproof Indian ink
Tempera cakes
Tempera cakes (not the tempera paint in tubes)
Charcoal pencils
Charcoal pencils
Emmer flour
Emmer flour
Air Dry Clay
Air dry clay
Mosaic kit
Choose a mosaic kit that appeals to your student.
Drawing compass
Drawing compass
Choose one of the following kits to assemble: trebuchet, catapult, or siege tower.
Speedball Super Value Block Printing Starter Kit
Speedball Block Printing Starter Kit
Any of the Speedball block printing kits will work.

Scheduled Videos

China's Dragon Emperor
Documentary about Zin Shi Huang, founder of the Qin dynasty of China, 247-221 BCE
China’s Dragon Emperor

This documentary is also available via The Smithsonian Channel (online) if you have a cable TV subscription with this channel.

“The story of Qin Shi Huang is as epic in life as it is in death. Crowned as a boy king over 2,000 years ago, he grew to unify China for the first time, establishing a new form of government, uniform laws, and a single writing system that is still in use today. He also ordered the construction of a royal tomb that is larger than the Great Pyramid of Giza and is guarded by a massive army of terracotta warriors. Explore the transformative life and magnificent afterlife of China’s first emperor.”
China's Emperor of Evil
Documentary about Wu Zetian during the Wu Zhou dynasty of China, 624-705
China’s Emperor of Evil

This documentary is also available via The Smithsonian Channel (online) if you have a cable TV subscription with this channel.

“In China’s Valley of the Kings, there stands a tall, carved stone. It honors the resting place of a woman named Wu Zetian, who rose from concubine to become China’s only female emperor. For more than a millennia, history claimed she killed her own children, held power through a ruthless rule of terror, and brought China to the edge of ruin. But are any of these claims true? Join the investigation as we revisit old evidence and reveal new truths, using artifacts and forensic tools to tell the true story of China’s Emperor of Evil.”
Angkor: Land of the Gods
Documentary about Angkor Wat which was built in the early 12th century in Cambodia
Angkor: Land of the Gods

This documentary is also available via The Smithsonian Channel (online) if you have a cable TV subscription with this channel.

Buddhists, Hindus, and hundreds of thousands of travelers from around the globe flock to Cambodia every year to experience the grandeur of Angkor. Its famous temples were built over the span of five centuries by the rulers of the Khmer Empire, and endure today as one of Earth’s greatest archaeological wonders. Join us as we shed light on one of the most enigmatic, mesmerizing civilizations in the history of mankind. We peel away the myth and legend to uncover the hidden story behind the creation of this ancient city.
Victorian Slum HouseVictorian Slum House

“In this landmark living history series, a Victorian tenement in London’s East End has been painstakingly brought back to life. Host Michael Mosley joins a group of 21st century families as they move in and experience the tough living and working conditions of the Victorian poor, discovering the extraordinary story of how the Victorian East End changed Britain’s attitude to poverty forever.”
The Last Samurai
1870’s, Japan, movie based on parts of a true story

Click here for a Christian review of this movie that lists possible objections.
The Last Samurai

The Last Samurai is rated R – mostly for the violence. I would feel totally comfortable with a mature teen watching it (but that’s me), especially because there are no sex scenes. It’s loosely based on a true story and does a terrific job of showing aspects of Japanese samurai culture / bushidō. Bushidō continues to resonate in modern Japanese culture. This movie illustrates it beautifully.
PBS Victoria
1800’s, England, series based on a true story

Note for this series: There is an adulterous affair, there are two men who are attracted to each other and kiss, and 2 bare backsides are shown from a distance as males go skinny dipping in season 2. Click here to read parent reviews on for more details and possible objectionable material. Season 1 has the mildest content. It’s the only season I scheduled in.

In 1837, a diminutive, neglected teenager is crowned Queen Victoria, navigates the scandal, corruption, and political intrigues of the Court, and soon rises to become the most powerful woman in the world.

This series has 3 seasons. If you like the first season, you can watch the rest!
1893-1948 India, movie based on a true story

“A critical masterpiece, GANDHI is an intriguing story about activism, politics, religious tolerance and freedom.”
The Last Emperor
1908-1980’s (mostly earlier) China, movie based on a true story

Note: This movie contains: a woman nursing a baby and later a young child, mild sexual content (see the link below for details – PG-13 stuff), eunuchs, opium use, violence
Click here for a Common Sense Media review.
The Last Emperor

I watched this movie as a teen (and again as an adult). It’s a beautiful film that covers six decades of Chinese history.

“Bernardo Bertolucciâ’s The Last Emperor won nine Academy Awards, unexpectedly sweeping every category in which it was nominated – quite a feat for a challenging, multilayered epic directed by an Italian and starring an international cast.”
Choose one of the following:
I scheduled this movie in because the Sobibor escape is mentioned in Guts & Glory: World War II.
Escape From Sobibor (1987)Escape From Sobibor (1987)

World War 2 – movie based on a true story

Note: This movie contains non-sexual nudity (naked women and children lined up to enter a gas chamber) and violence (including murder). Click here for a parent’s guide.

The movie was made in the 80’s and it shows (it looks like a bad VHS transfer, lol – and the acting is not “modern”), but it’s still a good story.

“Nail-biting and true account of the largest successful escape from a Nazi concentration camp.”


World War 2 – movie based on a true story

Note: This version of Sobibor is much darker, very brutal, features nudity (naked women getting their haircut and then walking to and dying in a gas chamber), graphic violence, and sadism (not sexual). I am listing it as an option because some of you may see it and think it’s a possible alternative. It is – but only for very mature teens and with hesitation. I had a hard time watching it, but found it worthwhile. It’s much, MUCH more realistic than the Escape From Sobibor (1987) movie and beautifully filmed, but gut-wrenching. If you choose this one, have the fast forward button on hand in case your student needs it.

Click here for a parent’s guide.
Here’s a second parent’s guide.
The Pianist
World War II, movie based on a true story

Note: This movie contains graphic violence and some cursing.
Click here for a parent’s guide to this movie.
The Pianist

This movie may not be appropriate for younger teens, and some families may feel it’s not appropriate for teens at all. Use your discretion.

“A brilliant pianist in Warsaw witnesses the restrictions Nazis place on Jews in the Polish capital during the occupation in World War II. His family is rounded up, forced to live in a ghetto, then shipped off to Nazi labor camps.”
1986, Russia, TV series based on a real event

Note: This movie contains: male nudity in episode 3 where miners excavate a tunnel for a heat exchange under the plant (the tunnel is so hot that the miners must dig the tunnel in the nude), graphic depictions of the effects of radiation, a suicide is implied (but not shown) at the beginning of episode 1, cursing
Click here for the Common Sense Media review of the series.
This mini-series may not be appropriate for younger teens, and some families may feel it’s not appropriate for teens at all. Use your discretion.

“Starring Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgard and Emily Watson, ‘Chernobyl’ tells the story of the 1986 nuclear accident in this HBO Miniseries.”
Netflix: First They Killed My Father
Note: This movie has some scenes of graphic violence (mostly toward the end). Extreme violence is kept to a minimum (except for the one part that is around the timestamp of an hour and 51 minutes to about 1 hour and 57 minutes).
Click here for a parent’s guide to this movie.
First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers

This is the movie based on the book I’ve scheduled in. I watched the movie after reading the book and have scheduled it in like that as well.

This movie may not be appropriate for younger teens, and some families may feel it’s not appropriate for teens at all. Use your discretion.

Optional, Unscheduled and/or Substitution Books

Instructions on how to choose from the following books as well as how to schedule them are included in the printable schedule. Even though these are unscheduled books, the schedule will have some linked resources (like free teacher’s guides, writing assignments, literary techniques, vocabulary, supporting activities, etc.) for some of the book choices, so you can incorporate them in your language arts studies, if desired.

National Geographic Concise History of the World: An Illustrated Time LineNational Geographic Concise History of the World: An Illustrated Time Line

I looked at tons of different timeline books. I like this one because it shows events from 4 different areas in a single spread: The Americas, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Asia and Oceania. It has separate columns for politics & power, geography & environment, culture & religion, science & technology, and people & society. I didn’t schedule it in, because it’s not really necessary for the curriculum, but it’s a nice resource for your reference shelf!

“From the dawn of humankind to today’s global complexities, this monumental volume presents world history from an original perspective that provides fresh insights with every colorful spread. For readers of all ages, world history is easily accessible, depicted as never before-so that events occurring simultaneously around the world can be viewed at-a-glance together. This remarkable resource also contains dozens of maps; scores of sidebars; hundreds of illustrations; and thousands of events, milestones, personalities, ideas, and inventions.”
Ancient Greek mythology, fiction

Note: There is a rape (not very graphic), violence, witchcraft (in a mythical sense), and some cursing in this book.

“A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess’s story,” this #1 New York Times bestseller is “both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right” (Alexandra Alter, The New York Times).
Choose one of the following versions of Beowulf.

Old English epic poem, unknown composure date, manuscript found dating to around 975
Option 1:
Beowulf: A New Translation
Beowulf: A New Translation

Note: This new translation of Beowulf is highly readable, but it has quite a few curse words (including the F-bomb multiple times) and some contemporary terminology and slang. Having said that, it made something that can seem dusty and dry into something more approachable and spirited – like you are sitting in a smoky hall with a bunch of rowdy vikings sloshing mead in their mugs and rattling their swords. It’s my first pick choice for the full Beowulf book with the caveat that I’m not a fan of the cursing AT ALL. Be warned – there is a LOT. If you aren’t comfortable with that, pick from the options 2-4 instead (or do it as a read-aloud and skip those words on the fly). 🙂

“Nearly twenty years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf―and fifty years after the translation that continues to torment high-school students around the world―there is a radical new verse translation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements that have never before been translated into English, recontextualizing the binary narrative of monsters and heroes into a tale in which the two categories often entwine, justice is rarely served, and dragons live among us.”
Option 2:
Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition
Beowulf: An Illustrated Edition

Note: Whatever you do, don’t get this version on Kindle. The formatting is horrible. The print version is nice though – with photos on every other page to illustrate various things in the poem (a nice and visual addition to your history study). It’s a coffee-table style book, and Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf is one of the more poetic versions.
Option 3: FREE version of Beowulf, translated by Francis Barton Gummere with a FREE audio reading to accompany the text and notes to explain some of the text.

You can listen to this version, download and print the PDF, or view it online without having to pay a penny.
Option 4:
ANY translation of Beowulf will work. 😉 You can use your favorite one, if one of our choices doesn’t work for you, or your student can just read the graphic novel version we’ve scheduled in (see the scheduled books listed above).
Ramayana: Divine Loophole (Hindu Mythology Books, Books on Hindu Gods and Goddesses, Indian Books for Kids)
An illustrated retelling of a Sanskrit epic of ancient India (originally written around 350-400 CE)
Ramayana: Divine Loophole

The Rāmāyana is one of two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India.

We scheduled this book in Guest Hollow’s Geography & Cultures curriculum, so we’re not scheduling it in for Whirlwind History. We’re including it in the unscheduled booklist, as the Ramayana is an important piece of historical Indian literature. This is a beautifully illustrated easy read.

“The Ramayana is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and one of the largest ancient epics in world literature! Ramayana was an important influence on Sanskrit poetry and Hindu life and culture. Ramayana is not just a story: it presents the teachings of ancient Hindu sages in narrative allegory, interspersing philosophical and ethical elements.”

National Geographic Kids Encyclopedia of American Indian History and Culture: Stories, Timelines, Maps, and More
Nonfiction reference
National Geographic Kids Encyclopedia of American Indian History and Culture: Stories, Timelines, Maps, and More

This is a beautiful reference book is a visual treat and is stuffed full of photos, illustrations, timelines, and maps. It’s the best (and most affordable) reference on Native Americans that I’ve found for any age! The book covers a multitude of tribes (over 160) across all the regions of the US. It’s a super resource that is worth the investment for your homeschool shelf.
The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno
Written in the 1300’s, narrative poem, pre-eminent work in Italian literature
The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno

As an option, I also link to a free audio version in the schedule.

“This vigorous translation of Inferno preserves Dante’s simple, natural style, and captures the swift movement of the original Italian verse. Mark Musa’s blank verse rendition of the poet’s journey through the circles of hell recreates for the modern reader the rich meanings that Dante’s poem had for his contemporaries. Musa’s introduction and commentaries on each of the cantos brilliantly illuminate the text.”

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1600’s, feudal Japan, fiction

Note: I read this book in early high school and loved it. I have NOT previewed it for this course due to a lack of time. I believe there is some adultery and a mention of prostitution in the book, but I have no recollection of the level of descriptiveness, etc. Proceed with caution.
Read a review written by a teen here.
Shōgun: The Epic Novel of Japan (The Asian Saga Book 1)
After Englishman John Blackthorne is lost at sea, he awakens in a place few Europeans know of and even fewer have seen—Nippon. Thrust into the closed society that is late sixteenth-century Japan, a land where the line between life and death is razor-thin, Blackthorne must negotiate not only a foreign people, with unknown customs and language, but also his own definitions of morality, truth, and freedom. As internal political strife and a clash of cultures lead to seemingly inevitable conflict, Blackthorne’s loyalty and strength of character are tested by both passion and loss, and he is torn between two worlds that will each be forever changed.
Powerful and engrossing, capturing both the rich pageantry and stark realities of life in feudal Japan, Shōgun is a critically acclaimed powerhouse of a book. Heart-stopping, edge-of-your-seat action melds seamlessly with intricate historical detail and raw human emotion. Endlessly compelling, this sweeping saga captivated the world to become not only one of the bestselling novels of all time but also one of the highest-rated television miniseries, as well as inspiring a nationwide surge of interest in the culture of Japan. Shakespearean in both scope and depth, Shōgun is, as the New York Times put it, “…not only something you read—you live it.” Provocative, absorbing, and endlessly fascinating, there is only one: Shōgun.
Don Quixote
Published in the 1600’s, Spain, a founding work of Western literature and often labeled the first modern novel
Don Quixote

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick
Edith Grossman’s definitive English translation of the Spanish masterpiece, in an expanded P.S. edition

Widely regarded as one of the funniest and most tragic books ever written, Don Quixote chronicles the adventures of the self-created knight-errant Don Quixote of La Mancha and his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, as they travel through sixteenth-century Spain. You haven’t experienced Don Quixote in English until you’ve read this masterful translation.
1750’s, French satire (novella)
Candide by Voltaire

Any version of this novella will do. There are lots of free copies online. 🙂

“Candide is a French satirical novella first published in 1759 by Voltaire. Candide has enjoyed both great success and great scandal. Immediately after its secretive publication, the book was widely banned to the public because it contained religious blasphemy, political sedition, and intellectual hostility hidden under a thin veil of naïveté. However, with its sharp wit and insightful portrayal of the human condition, the novel has since inspired many later authors and artists to mimic and adapt it. Today, Candide is recognized as Voltaire’s magnum opus and is often listed as part of the Western canon. It is among the most frequently taught works of French literature. The British poet and literary critic Martin Seymour-Smith listed Candide as one of the 100 most influential books ever written.
Oliver Twist
Early 19th century, England, fiction
Oliver Twist (Penguin Classics)

Any version of this book will do. There are lots of free copies online. 🙂

A gripping portrayal of London’s dark criminal underbelly, published in Penguin Classics with an introduction by Philip Horne.The story of Oliver Twist – orphaned, and set upon by evil and adversity from his first breath – shocked readers when it was published. After running away from the workhouse and pompous beadle Mr Bumble, Oliver finds himself lured into a den of thieves peopled by vivid and memorable characters – the Artful Dodger, vicious burglar Bill Sikes, his dog Bull’s Eye, and prostitute Nancy, all watched over by cunning master-thief Fagin. Combining elements of Gothic Romance, the Newgate Novel and popular melodrama, Dickens created an entirely new kind of fiction, scathing in its indictment of a cruel society, and pervaded by an unforgettable sense of threat and mystery.
This Penguin Classics edition of Oliver Twist is the first critical edition to faithfully reproduce the text as its earliest readers would have encountered it from its serialisation in Bentley’s Miscellany, and includes an introduction by Philip Horne, a glossary of Victorian thieves’ slang, a chronology of Dickens’s life, a map of contemporary London and all of George Cruikshank’s original illustrations.
Romeo and Juliet (No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels)1300 or 1400’s Italy, graphic novel

Note: There are some minor sexual references, innuendo, and sexual jokes (as per the original play).
Romeo and Juliet (No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels)

Don’t want a graphic novel? Choose this instead.

No Fear Shakespeare Graphic Novels is a series based on the translated texts of the plays found in No Fear Shakespeare. The original No Fear series made Shakespeare’s plays much easier to read, but these dynamic visual adaptations are impossible to put down. Each of the titles is illustrated in its own unique style, but all are distinctively offbeat, slightly funky, and appealing to teen readers. Each book will feature:
★ Illustrated cast of characters
★ A helpful plot summary
★ Line-by-line translations of the original play
★ Illustrations that show the reader exactly what’s happening in each scene—making the plot and characters even clearer than in the original No Fear Shakespeare books
The Literature Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained
Literature through history
The Literature Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained

“Storytelling is as old as humanity itself. Part of the Big Ideas Simply Explained series, The Literature Book introduces you to ancient classics from the Epic of Gilgamesh written 4,000 years ago, as well as the works of Shakespeare, Voltaire, Tolstoy, and more, and 20th-century masterpieces, including Catch-22, Beloved, and On the Road. The perfect reference for your bookshelf, it answers myriad questions such as what is stream of consciousness, who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, and what links the poetry of Wordsworth with that of TS Eliot.”
Henry V (No Fear Shakespeare)
1590’s, England. play
Henry V (No Fear Shakespeare) 

This No Fear Shakespeare ebook gives you the complete text of Henry Vand an easy-to-understand translation.
Each No Fear Shakespeare contains
★ The complete text of the original play
★ A line-by-line translation that puts Shakespeare into everyday language
★ A complete list of characters with descriptions
Plenty of helpful commentary
Victoria: Portrait of a Queen
1800’s, biography, nonfiction
Victoria: Portrait of a Queen

“Catherine Reef brings history vividly to life in this sumptuously illustrated account of a confident, strong-minded, and influential woman.

Victoria woke one morning at the age of eighteen to discover that her uncle had died and she was now queen. She went on to rule for sixty-three years, with an influence so far-reaching that the decades of her reign now bear her name—the Victorian period. Victoria is filled with the exciting comings and goings of royal life: intrigue and innuendo, scheming advisors, and assassination attempts, not to mention plenty of passion and discord.”

World War II: The Definitive Visual History from Blitzkrieg to the Atom Bomb
World War 2, nonfiction
World War II: The Definitive Visual History from Blitzkrieg to the Atom Bomb

“Explosive photography, international maps, accessible text, and supporting timelines combine to show the most destructive event ever known in unprecedented depth and detail. Although the complexities of World War II can be hard to fathom, this standout reference is organized in a logical order and the supporting captions are concise and clear throughout to aid understanding.”

The Complete Maus
World War 2, Germany, award-winning graphic novel

Note: This book contains: cursing, cartoon nudity (on the mice that depict people), violence in the context of the holocaust (the ovens of the concentration camps are discussed, starvation, etc.)
Click here to see a Common Sense Media review which discusses potential objectionable items in this book.
The Complete Maus

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story.”
There are many teacher’s guides online for this book.
The Book Thief
World War II, Germany, fiction
The Book Thief

“Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.”
“Deserves a place on the same shelf with The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.” —USA Today
There are many teacher’s guides online for this book.
Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution
1966, China, Cultural Revolution, autobiography

Note: This book contains: violence (people are beaten), suicide (not graphic), minor cursing
Red Scarf Girl *Recommended!

“It’s 1966, and twelve-year-old Ji-li Jiang has everything a girl could want: brains, popularity, and a bright future in Communist China. But it’s also the year that China’s leader, Mao Ze-dong, launches the Cultural Revolution—and Ji-li’s world begins to fall apart.
Written in an accessible and engaging style, this page-turning, honest, and deeply personal autobiography will appeal to readers of all ages”.
There are many teacher’s guides online for this book. Click here for one.
Heart of a Samurai
1841, Japan, fiction (based on a true story)
Heart of a Samurai

“In 1841 a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.

Manjiro, a 14-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives there for some time and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the emperor to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.”

Unscheduled Videos

Anna and the King
Late 1800’s, Thailand, movie based on a true story
Anna and the King

“Based on the true story of Anna Leonowen’s an English school teacher, a window and mother who moves to Siam with her son, in the 1860s to teach the dozens of children of King Mongkut. An unexpected romance between Anna and the King, but cultural differences keep their love apart.”
Band of Brothers
World War 2, Mini-series based on a true story

Note: This video series contains: graphic violence, brief nudity, cursing, sexual content

See the Common Sense Review for specific warnings. 

Here’s an additional guide with more details: 
IMDb Parent’s Guide

Make sure to preview Episode 9: Why We Fight for a brief sex scene showing naked buttocks and breasts.
Band of Brothers (unscheduled)

This is one of the best (in my opinion) series on WW2. It is very realistic, though. We allowed our son to watch it as a teen, but were on hand to fast forward through objectionable content. This series may not be appropriate for younger teens, and some families may feel it’s not appropriate for teens at all. Use your discretion.

This landmark ten-part HBO miniseries recounts the remarkable achievements of an elite team of U.S. paratroopers in World War II.

Note: My husband and I also watched HBO series The Pacific. It has much more sexual content, though, so I don’t recommend it for teens.
Saving Private Ryan
World War 2, Movie

Note: This video series contains: graphic violence, cursing

Click here for the IMDb Parent’s Guide for content warnings.

Click here for the Common Sense Media warnings.
Saving Private Ryan

This movie is scheduled for the week when students learn about D-Day.

This is another excellent movie about WW2 that all of our teens watched with us.

This movie may not be appropriate for younger teens, and some families may feel it’s not appropriate for teens at all. Use your discretion.
Schindler's List
World War 2, movie based on a true story
Schindler’s List

This is a must-see (in my opinion), powerful, emotionally wrenching movie. All of our teens watched it.

You may want to be on hand to fast forward through the sex scene (where bare breasts are shown) and possibly the nudity in the concentration camp scene(s) (although it illustrates the humiliation the Jews suffered).

This movie may not be appropriate for younger teens, and some families may feel it’s not appropriate for teens at all. Use your discretion.

“Winner of 7 Oscars including Best Picture, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List follows the true story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who saved more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust.”
Rabbit-Proof Fence
Rabbit-Proof Fence

“At a time when it was Australian government policy to train aboriginal children as domestic workers and integrate them into white society, young Molly Craig decides to lead her little sister and cousin in a daring escape from their internment camp.”

Quote for Candide from:

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