Living Books as Curriculum
This post has been a long time in the works, friend. When I began our homeschool journey many years ago, we dabbled in all manner of curricula but I NEVER used a boxed curriculum. I’ve always pieced together different texts and programs. I guess in some ways I’ve always been a rebel 😉
Then as I dove deeper and deeper into Charlotte Mason’s methods and her beautiful philosophy, I began to feel much more confident in creating our own curriculum. Now I get so incredibly excited to plan out each term that I often have to take a few days to check myself and reel it in because I want to include so much! I’m sure you understand.
Living Books are a beautiful way to engage your children in learning and keep them interested. A living book will bring to life even the subjects your children find dull. It will not necessarily create a passion in them for that subject, but it makes the study of that subject more tolerable and engaging. Living books always beat out dry, tedious texts that lecture and drone.
A note on our home library collection – I have been building our home library since I was a teen. I was always an avid library user as well as a curator of books of my own. As my children came along and the culture continued to change in ways that are contrary to our family values, I continued to add more to our home library and visit the local libraries less. We no longer utilize the local library at all. We have our home collection, we use Scribd and Audible, and we purchase most books used. This is what works for our family. Please don’t feel that you need to run out and purchase all these titles. Many can still be found within library systems or borrowed from friends.
Living Books as History Curriculum – Using The Landmark Series as a Spine
As promised, I’m sharing our world history plan for the next 2 years. It could very well carry over into 3 years, but that’s fine, too. And I do mean full years, not school years. We enjoy learning together as a family and in order to get through this cycle and still have time for all the military histories my oldest wants to complete in high school it just makes sense to keep the reading and discussions going. Without further ado – Let’s dive in!
First, let me explain that our family studies the Bible chapter by chapter and we are beginning in Genesis and reading straight through for our Bible study time as we go through this history cycle. I have not included the Bible in this list of books we are using because it’s a constant in our home. But I encourage you to consider a full cover-to-cover read-through at least once while your children are at home in addition to your regular studies!
The Landmark Series is a wonderful series of American and World History books that Random House published between 1950 and 1974. It includes Landmarks, World Landmarks, and Landmark Giant books. We are using the Landmark series books that we own as our spine. They were originally geared for ages 10 – 15 so they are perfect for a middle/early upper grades history overview. My history lover (13 and a half – he says the half is important- and he’s already read many of the Landmark books at least once) will fly through them (as usual) and my reluctant history reader (11) will be able to complete the readings without stress. We are also adding biographies, documentaries, and other titles that I have curated for our family.
For our other resources and references, I relied heavily on the IEW Timeline of Classics (which includes several Landmark Books) and my own research to put together this history program. The IEW Timeline of Classics is truly an invaluable resource if you, like me, enjoy building your own curriculum.
I am reading the first few books now to get a head start and refresher on the topics covered. We have reached the amazing stage of education where we are able to read (together or independently) and then come together to discuss events, people, ideas, and what biblical truths we can see playing out in the things we are learning. I LOVE this tween/teen stage! It’s truly a joy to see these incredible connections being made by my children. Be encouraged, mama. All this work and love you’re pouring in does matter and it will bear fruit!
We will be reading, discussing, and I am requiring one entry each into the boys’ History Notebooks and Book Journals weekly. The book journal entry (also called a commonplace book) may be from any reading as they also have literature and free reads throughout the year. My goal is to read 1-2 books from our history selections per week. Several of the biographies are doing double duty as civics/character study and many of the novels and movies are doing double duty as literature.
We have a family movie night a few times a month when my husband is able to join us. I have acquired many of the mentioned movies and documentaries for us to watch during those times as he also enjoys history and having discussions around what they are learning with the boys. Building those conversation channels between our children and ourselves is incredibly important! Make learning a family adventure whenever possible.
***The titles included are in as chronological order as I could get them, so if something is a little out of order, thank you for your grace! I also decided partway through writing this post that I’m going to have to do a second post for the documentaries and movies, but you can see how we homeschool with documentaries here. **
Creation through John Paul Jones
Adam and His KinIn the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the WorldThe Adventures of UlyssesThe OdysseyBlack Ships Before TroyTanglewood TalesBen-Hur (1959)Julius CaesarJulius Caesar – Arkangel Audio ProductionQuo VadisKing Arthur and His KnightsWe Were There With Cortes And MontezumaWilliam the ConquerorWe Were There with Richard the Lionhearted in the CrusadesThe CrusadesGenghis Khan & the Mongol Horde
The Magna ChartaThe Adventures and Discoveries of Marco PoloJoan of ArcPersonal Recollections of Joan of ArcThe Story of Joan of ArcThe Fall of ConstantinopleLeonardo Da VinciHere I Stand: A Life of Martin LutherThe VikingsThe VikingsThe Long ShipsThe Voyages of Christopher ColumbusBalboa, Swordsman and ConquistadorWill Shakespeare and the Globe TheaterThe Story of Good Queen BessExploring the HimalayaThe Barbary PiratesThe Explorations of Pere MarquetteCaptain Cook explores the South SeasThe Story of the Thirteen Colonies
The Scarlet LetterThe Witch of Blackbird PondThe Witchcraft of Salem VillageThe Hudson’s Bay CompanyBen Franklin of Old PhiladelphiaCatherine the GreatCommon SensePAUL REVERE AND THE MINUTE MENEthan Allen and the Green Mountain BoysThe Slave Who Freed Haiti: The Story of Toussaint LouvertureAll Times, All Peoples: A World History of SlaveryJohn Paul Jones, Fighting Sailor
Rogers Rangers to The Story of Buffalo Bill
Rogers’ Rangers and the French and Indian WarEVANGELINE AND THE ACADIANSThe Marquis De Lafayette: Bright Sword for FreedomThe Swamp Fox of the RevolutionThe American RevolutionThe Winter at Valley ForgeOur Independence and the ConstitutionThe Scarlet PimpernelNapoleon and the Battle of WaterlooThe Count of Monte CristoThe Story of Scotland YardJohn James AudubonA Nest for CelesteOld Ironsides: The Fighting ConstitutionThe Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New OrleansA Boy Fighter with Andrew JacksonSoft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of TearsRobert Fulton and the SteamboatTall ships and great captainsDaniel Boone: The Opening of the Wilderness
The World’s Greatest ShowmanWar chief of the SeminolesDavy CrockettSAM HOUSTON TALLEST TEXANRemember the Alamo!The Texas RangersWild Bill Hickok Tames the WestWyatt Earp U.S. MarshalThe California Gold RushThe Pony ExpressGeronimo Wold of the WarpathThe Story of Geronimo
Master Detective Allen Pinkerton to the Battle of the Bulge
Allen Pinkerton: Master DetectiveBorn in the Year of CourageCommodore Perry and the Opening of JapanLee and Grant At AppomattoxGettysburgThe Monitor and the MerrimacLincoln and Douglas: The Years of DecisionClara BartonStonewall JacksonRobert E. Lee and the Road of HonorAbe Lincoln: Log Cabin to White HouseCuster’s Last StandShades of GrayHeart and Soul: The Story of Florence NightingaleThe French Foreign LegionThe Golden Age of Railroads
Andrew Carnegie and the Age of SteelThe First Transatlantic CableThe Building of the First Transcontinental RailroadTeddy Roosevelt and the Rough RidersGeorge Washington CarverThe Conquest of North and South PolesAmerica’s First World War: General Pershing and the YanksRoyal Canadian Mounted PoliceThe Story of Albert SchweitzerMedical Corps Heroes of World War IIThe Battle for the AtlanticThe Sinking of the Bismark
The Beacon Lights of History by John Lord – These exquisite history tomes are set aside here for my young historian to read in High School at his leisure. If you have a history lover, I cannot recommend these enough. Our set is the 1921 edition.
You can tell this is where our chronological shelving starts to get a little cattywampus.
The West Point StoryThe Story of the Naval AcademyThe F.B.I.The Story of the U.S. MarinesThe Story of the U.S. Air ForceThe Story of SubmarinesThe Story of Dwight D. EisenhowerThe Country Artist: A Story about Beatrix PotterBalboa, Discoverer of the PacificThe Red BaronThe Story of the ParatroopsThe Story of Amelia EarhartKing John and Magna CartaRonald Reagan: Young LeaderThe Story of Helen KellerCome on Seabiscuit!KON-TIKI: Across the Pacific by RaftThe Boyhood Diary of Charles Lindbergh, 1913-1916: Early Adventures of the Famous Aviator
The bottom shelf of this bookcase is a conglomeration of picture books like Henry’s Freedom Box and The Gunslingers, biographies like Blood and Guts and Explorers Who Got Lost, heart-warming heroism like Always Faithful and Down Cut Shin Creek, and so many more. These will be added in where we can and are always available for the boys when they want to dig into a topic more deeply.
So that’s our plan! Have you tried building your own curriculum? I’d love to hear what and how so drop a comment below!
Back to Homeschool Giveaway
Preparing for a new homeschool year is an exciting time, but it can also create feelings of overwhelm and stress! What curriculum should we use next year? What supplies do we need? And how are we going to pay for it all?
Many homeschoolers live on one income and have to stick to a strict budget that doesn’t always allow for much wiggle room. That’s why I’ve teamed up with a group of amazing homeschool bloggers to make getting ready for your new school year just a little bit easier and hopefully a little less stressful for you. Our hope is that we can bless a few homeschool families (although we wish we could bless many more) and ease a little of that financial burden and help you check some extra things off your homeschool wish list this year.
Three people will win a $250 gift card to either Rainbow Resource Center or Christianbook.com – two great places to shop for homeschool curriculum and resources, with the best prices around!!
To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Now I know this is quite a few entries, but each of these bloggers has generously chipped in their own money to make this giveaway possible, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries. And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are of winning!
Giveaway ends July 21, 2023 at 11:59pm ET. Must be at least 18 years of age. Must be a resident of U.S. or Canada to enter. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers (see the Terms & Conditions on the Rafflecopter form).