Five History Series to Supplement The Mystery of HistoryApril Elstrom
Everyone who enters my home comments on the nine overflowing bookshelves that fill our living room and dining room. Although I rely heavily on textbooks for our curriculum, I love to expand on those resources with additional books to engage our minds and enrich our education. Having a variety of books on a subject makes it more likely that all of my children will find something that interests them, maybe even learning something they missed in the textbook.
I have discovered several different history series (both fiction and nonfiction) that I use to supplement our history studies from The Mystery of History. When I’ve chosen well, the additional books I’ve borrowed from the library disappear into bedrooms to be read and then traded. Children seek out their dad and me to tell us something interesting that they discovered. They trade facts with each other, and suddenly our history lessons hold more significance.
Let me introduce you to some of our favorite supplemental history series. Links to the books on Amazon are affiliate links.
1. You Wouldn’t Want To Be Series
The You Wouldn’t Want To Be series takes a different approach to history. It focuses on the strange, gross, or otherwise unusual facts from history. The titles always start with You Wouldn’t Want To, though the authors may vary. The books have colorful cartoon illustrations that my children adore!
- You Wouldn’t Want To Be a Pyramid Builder!
- You Wouldn’t Want To Live in Pompeii!
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be an American Colonist!
- You Wouldn’t Want to Work on a Medieval Cathedral!
When I check them out for my upper elementary and junior high students, my high school students read them, too. This series is especially useful for reluctant readers who require high-interest books. We’ve been able to borrow most of these titles from libraries within our state through interlibrary loan.
2. Newspaper Histories by Paul Dowswell and Fergus Fleming
We started out finding a few of the Newspaper Histories in our library system, but over time, I’ve bought most of them for our home library. These books are designed to look like a newspaper from the time period. News articles highlight major events while advertisements demonstrate cultural details.
The books are humorous and informative, with more reading and less illustration than the You Wouldn’t Want To Be series, so they are more appropriate for junior high students and those who enjoy reading.
3. The Magic Tree House Series
Many people have already heard about The Magic Tree House books, but not everyone considers them a valid supplement to a history study. These historical fiction books may not be the most factual of books, but they do help children understand the time period and the culture. We don’t read all of the books, but if I can find one that fits our history studies, I do bring them home.
They work wonderfully for reading aloud to younger children or as first chapter books for newly independent readers. They’re easy to find in libraries and local bookstores, though they aren’t as universally-approved by my children as the first two non-fiction series I mentioned.
4. Dear America and My Name Is America Series
I love the Dear America books, however, I will admit that my sons are not fond of these books. Dear America books are always from the point of view of a girl, and the My Name Is America books are written from that of a boy. Even when presented with a My Name Is America book, my sons didn’t find them to be high-interest enough. I also have a daughter who fell into the reluctant reader category who didn’t appreciate these diary-style historical fiction books. However, if you have a student who enjoys reading historical fiction, and isn’t a reluctant reader, these are excellent books. I do have two students who have loved them!
- My Name is America: The Journal of Ben Uchida: Citizen 13559 Mirror Lake Internment Camp
- My Name Is America: The Journal Of Sean Sullivan, A Transcontinental Railroad Worker
- Dear America: The Winter of Red Snow
- Dear America: Voyage On The Great Titanic
5. American Girl Series
The American Girl books are last on my list because while they are historical fiction, they are mostly for girls in the early reading stage. These are the first chapter books most of my girls have read, and each of my daughters have loved getting to know one girl from a time period through six books. They aren’t as informative as the Dear America books or the nonfiction books, although each series also has a nonfiction book that covers a broad range of information regarding that time period and its customs. The Welcome to ____’s World books are written for a much broader age range and are full of information and illustrations.
- Meet Felicity
- Meet Josefina
- Welcome to Molly’s World, 1944: Growing Up in World War Two America
- Welcome to Addy’s World, 1864: Growing Up During America’s Civil War
The great thing about finding a series that your children love is that you know no matter what period of history you are studying, there’s an option for extra reading they will be excited to delve into. I don’t want to overwhelm my children with hours of required reading, but I do want to spark their interest!