History books that don't suck? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 41 Old 08-11-2010, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm looking for historical books for my almost-7yo (not textbooks). I'm having trouble finding ones that are truthful and don't just regurgitate myths about historical figures (ie people thought the world was flat before Columbus sailed to America; or, Washington chopped down a cherry tree and learned about honesty). I also don't think making one proud to be an American should be a primary goal of a history curriculum (at the expense of telling What Actually Happened).

Is this too much to ask for this age group?

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#2 of 41 Old 08-11-2010, 08:54 PM
 
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Jean Fritz! They're clever and have great illustrations and the history is very good. They were my very favorite books when I was a kid.

For a read-aloud, I love the Genevieve Foster books. They are really, really good... with the exception that they are also very old. Some of the language is very outdated. Though they present different cultures evenly and respectfully, they also use words like "Negro" and every once and a while mention a stereotype that you might wish not to pass along. I've read them out loud, though, and have found it very easy to edit the offending bits out. I would just read a chapter ahead and see if there's anything you'd like to avoid. For the most part, there isn't... but if you'd rather not be caught off guard explaining what a "Red Indian" is then forewarned is forearmed.

For books for him to explore, the "If You Lived..." series is very good, too. I think they may mostly concentrate on US history, though.

And there's always Magic Treehouse. But they suck in their own, special way I'm also dubious about their historical accuracy, though I have to admit that I haven't actually read them so that's just my own bias. I've heard that the study guides are really good. I do approve of the Magic Treehouse series for building reading fluency, if that's something you'd like to work on. They're great for that.

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#3 of 41 Old 08-11-2010, 09:03 PM
 
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The Genevieve Foster books are good. Also World Landmark books, some of which are being reprinted by Sterling. Check at Beautiful Feet Books http://www.bfbooks.com/ for both of these and more.

Cheryl Harness http://www.cherylharness.com/ - What I've flipped through looked pretty good.

The Childhood of Famous Americans series is one of those that is really heavy on the fictionalization of people and telling silly stories so we pretty much stay clear of them.
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#4 of 41 Old 08-11-2010, 09:52 PM
 
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Instead of history books that suck - you need books that are horrible! Horrible History books are tons of fun and packed full of great info. Some of the American history books have a different author and aren't as good, but otherwise they are great. They are published in the UK, but you can sometimes get them through scholastic. I either find them used on ebay or order from Horrible Ray (great guy) at www.horriblebooks.com
They also have biographies - Dead Famous series and Horrible Science books.

Hope this helps!
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#5 of 41 Old 08-11-2010, 09:57 PM
 
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I second the Jean Fritz and Horrible Histories books. My kids *love* the Horrible Histories books and I found them on amazon.

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#6 of 41 Old 08-11-2010, 10:04 PM
 
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What about books that aren't meant to teach history but end up doing so anyway? We're really enjoying little house on the prairie books now and they seem to teach a lot about that time period. For a girl the american girl series books could be good but may not be as accurate as something written at that time.
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#7 of 41 Old 08-11-2010, 11:56 PM
 
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What about books that aren't meant to teach history but end up doing so anyway? We're really enjoying little house on the prairie books now and they seem to teach a lot about that time period. For a girl the american girl series books could be good but may not be as accurate as something written at that time.
The American Girls series is actually very well researched and historically accurate. The nonfiction bits at the end pack more history into a few pages than most US kids learn in school in a year. And while they're kids books and have age appropriate plots and happy endings, they're also not afraid to pull any punches. The Samantha books, for example, deal with issues of class and race in, IMO, a very sophisticated way: in the first book she learns about segregation (in a wealthy, northern town), in the second one the depiction of child factory labor is pretty frank and honest.

While the Little House books are some of my favorite books and I reread them frequently, I'm not sure I would read them for history. They are fictionalized accounts of Laura's childhood, written by Laura and her very politically active daughter through the lens of the 1930s. While obviously there are many details about the specifics of a pioneer family's life that are fascinating and historically accurate, it is not exactly a historically accurate portrayal of the time or the people overall.

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#8 of 41 Old 08-12-2010, 02:40 AM
 
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For books for him to explore, the "If You Lived..." series is very good, too. I think they may mostly concentrate on US history, though.
I was going to suggest the same thing. My 9yo ds loves these books, and the few that we've read I found to be pretty good.
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#9 of 41 Old 08-12-2010, 11:28 AM
 
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My 8 yo DS loved the "You wouldn't want to be......." series. Warning it is a little gruesome and graphic (doesn't gloss over the facts) for some sensitive kids.

The "If you lived in the............." series is good too.
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#10 of 41 Old 08-12-2010, 11:44 AM
 
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The series "Journey Through History" is very good but out of print. It included the following titles:

Prehistory to Egypt by Maria Rius, Gloria Verges, Oriol Verges

The Greek and Roman Eras by Maria Rius, Gloria Verges, Oriol Verges, Carme Peris

The Middle Ages by Maria Rius

The Renaissance by Maria Rius, Gloria Verges, Oriol Verges, Carme Peris

Modern Times by Maria Rius, Gloria Verges, Oriol Verges

The Contemporary Age by Maria Rius, Gloria Verges, Oriol Verges, Carme Peris
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#11 of 41 Old 08-12-2010, 01:38 PM
 
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I read the history section from What Your First Grader needs to know to my dd and I thought it was okay. There were some things in there that were inaccurate but I used them as talking points and explained that some people used to think that and may still. It was mostly accurate though it didn't go too in depth. I only wanted to give her a general idea about American history. We also use the American Girl series and I read the history section at the back of each one to her. She is at the point where she can start reading them to herself now but she isn't that into chapter books yet. I also let her pick up history books from the library and learn about different places. She loves Egypt and she read all about the history of writing.
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#12 of 41 Old 08-12-2010, 02:56 PM
 
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The You Wouldn't Want to... series is fantastic. My 9yo ds and 6yo dd read them.

The Time Warp Trio books are loosely based on history and are fun for kids to read.

We own a lot of the American Girl books. I really like that there are non-fiction books you can get that go along with them, like the cookbooks.

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#13 of 41 Old 08-12-2010, 03:21 PM
 
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Subbing.

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#14 of 41 Old 08-13-2010, 05:30 AM
 
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The You Wouldn't Want to... series is fantastic. My 9yo ds and 6yo dd read them.

The Time Warp Trio books are loosely based on history and are fun for kids to read..
YES these! We just had 'You wouldn't want to be a Viking raider' I think the name of it is, out from the library and the boys LOVED IT! Once it informed them that the meaning of the main characters name translated to 'Hairy Trousers' they were hooked. I think they read that whole thing through at least 6 times.

Horrible Histories rock as well! We're into the Smashing Saxons... lots of interesting facts and funny cartoons to keep the kids interested

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#15 of 41 Old 08-13-2010, 12:16 PM
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If you search for Howard Zinn on amazon, the "kid" versions of his histories will come up-- I'm not sure how young they are really for, though-- but THEN you will find links to lots of other truthful histories, like the true story of Columbus, etc, aimed at kids.

For me, I plan to get his books (prob the youth ones to be useful sooner down the line) just so *I* can get a grip on what's real and what's not, and I expect that to help me navigate and explain what we read, with DD. It's so terrible that I can't trust what I learned in school. I would have never known except I read Lies My Teacher Told Me for a curriculum I was working on with another teacher, who used the book, for teaching 1984 .
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#16 of 41 Old 08-13-2010, 01:52 PM
 
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We are following the Ambleside Online curriculum, which is Charlotte Mason based.

For history in first grade, they use Fifty Famous Stories Retold and Our Island Story (which is British History). Later on, they use This Country of Ours for American History. And for World History they use A Child's History of the World by Virgil Hillyer and / or The Discovery of New Worlds by MB Synge.

I don't know if any of these would work for you, but they are all selected for being living books, per Charlotte Mason's philosophy, meaning they are not textbooks, but stories told like stories that are engaging and interesting. Many of them are available online for free.

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#17 of 41 Old 08-15-2010, 09:48 AM
 
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For US history, we really enjoy A History of US by Joy Hakim. We enjoy her style of writing, it's similar to reading a novel than a textbook.
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#18 of 41 Old 08-15-2010, 07:25 PM
 
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Does anyone have thoughts on why there are so many negative reviews on Joy Hakim's books, on Amazon? Specifically you can see them under the boxed set 1-10. I always look at amazon reviews and was surprised to see such negativity. I also just did a search here and noticed that Lillian J highly recommends them, so in my head, her opinions cancels out about 99% of the negative reviews on Amazon. Still, I'm curious if others who've read it can comment on why this might be the case?

Here's a link to the one sold with 10 solid negative reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/History-US-10-...1910745&sr=8-1
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#19 of 41 Old 08-15-2010, 07:34 PM
 
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Because they were used by California public schools and written with a lot of political agenda. It is replete with ridiculous agendized inaccuracies. It skips over a lot of history and beginnings of this country and other religious things unless it shows all Christians or all Americans or all white people in a negative light basically. But then it raves about how the Muslims were so much better than the rest of us and the Christians have done nothing but negative and the Muslims are the only ones who have truely contributed positively to the world and they are just victims of the rest of the world. Oh, and a lot of dates and orders of events are wrong too.

I prefer to use living books, not textbooks. Textbooks like Hakims books were often just whatever what was voted on by whatever legistature was in at the time in that state or whatever.
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#20 of 41 Old 08-15-2010, 07:42 PM
 
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Because they were used by California public schools and written with a lot of political agenda. It is replete with ridiculous agendized inaccuracies. It skips over a lot of history and beginnings of this country and other religious things unless it shows all Christians or all Americans or all white people in a negative light basically. But then it raves about how the Muslims were so much better than the rest of us and the Christians have done nothing but negative and the Muslims are the only ones who have truely contributed positively to the world and they are just victims of the rest of the world. Oh, and a lot of dates and orders of events are wrong too.

I prefer to use living books, not textbooks. Textbooks like Hakims books were often just whatever what was voted on by whatever legistature was in at the time in that state or whatever.
Yikes...obviously, we have not used these very long to discover these things. We have just really been enjoying her style, it has kept the kids interested. I'm really disappointed to hear this.
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#21 of 41 Old 08-15-2010, 07:47 PM
 
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Lisa - I appreciate you popping in with your feedback!
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#22 of 41 Old 08-15-2010, 10:50 PM
 
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Does anyone have thoughts on why there are so many negative reviews on Joy Hakim's books, on Amazon? Specifically you can see them under the boxed set 1-10. I always look at amazon reviews and was surprised to see such negativity. I also just did a search here and noticed that Lillian J highly recommends them, so in my head, her opinions cancels out about 99% of the negative reviews on Amazon. Still, I'm curious if others who've read it can comment on why this might be the case?

Here's a link to the one sold with 10 solid negative reviews:
http://www.amazon.com/History-US-10-...1910745&sr=8-1
They are very "warts and all" about US history, and that offends some people. Some people also don't think that they are "Christian" enough. I think a lot of negative reviews also came in when she wrote her history of science books, which doesn't approach the foundations of the universe from a creationist viewpoint.

I have used them with kids I've tutored and really like them. I think they are better for slightly older kids than a 7 year old, though. Obviously all kids are different, but I think that they're better for a 9-12 year old age range. Children younger than that will probably find them a bit dry and high level.

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#23 of 41 Old 08-17-2010, 05:40 AM
 
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my ds loves all of the "horrible" books. he's also really into the childhood of famous american series.

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#24 of 41 Old 08-17-2010, 01:53 PM
 
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Well, there's also Story of the World -- I'm not sure if anyone has mentioned those. They are written for the early grades. I also like Betsy Maestro, although her titles are limited to early American history: http://tinyurl.com/2ekfhk2

It's a lot of work, but I look at various literature based curricula and choose what I think best matches my needs. So I look at Sonlight, Winter Promise, Ambleside Online, Mater Amabilis, History Odyssey, Beautiful Feet, Tanglewood Education, etc.

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#25 of 41 Old 08-19-2010, 06:00 PM
 
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so far, our favorites have been the "dear america" series from scholastic, which is a series of fictionalized diaries from various time periods that really give a feel for what it was like to live back then. there are two companion series, "my america" which features stories of boys, and "royal diaries" which is a collection of fictionalized diaries of famous princesses from various cultures and time periods. my 8-year-old dd loves them, and my 6yo ds is getting into them as well.
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#26 of 41 Old 08-20-2010, 03:37 AM
 
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#27 of 41 Old 08-20-2010, 04:12 AM
 
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My DS 9 loves the 'you wouldnt want to be a' series. He actually takes a class every month at our local library that follows this book group.

http://www.amazon.com/David-Salariya..._athr_dp_pel_2

*ive found these books to be readily available at almost every library and if not on the self able to be ordered**

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#28 of 41 Old 08-20-2010, 04:34 AM
 
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Zebra, I forgot about those! We JUST had 'you wouldn't want to be a viking explorer' out from the library and it was great.

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#29 of 41 Old 08-20-2010, 11:58 PM
 
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We are currently using Story of the World, and adding extra books that we can get from the library. I would LOVE to have ther Horrible Histories books, but alas, they are not in our school budget at this time. We just got You Wouldn't Want to be a Slave in Ancient Greece from the library, and my son loves it.
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#30 of 41 Old 08-21-2010, 01:00 AM
 
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