Early Modern history

What we’ve done already


Early modern history topics/people to consider studying

This list is not at all exhaustive! This are just ideas to help you (or me!) think about what to include in a year of study. It also provides ideas to look for when browsing books at the local library, book stores, etc.

Just living early modern history book ideas

I’ve sorted these into broad maturity categories (elementary, middle/high school, upper high school/parent), but I encourage you to gauge whether an excellent book might be suitable to read aloud with many children. Truly living books often have interest well beyond their “intended” audience age level, especially if read aloud. Some of these are non-fiction history spines or support texts; others are literature from the era. I aim to have a mix of all of these in our year!

Elementary level books

  • History “spines”
    • Story of the World, vol. 3 by Susan Wise Bauer — This is the series we’ve been using as a history spine for world history the first time we go through the sequence. The books are not perfect. They tackle large swaths of history, and as a result the books can feel like they jump all over the place. But the ideas are current with contemporary thoughts about ancient peoples, and they provide children with the concepts and names to start contextualizing how historical events and people “fit together.” The quality of the text is good — not excellent, but definitely good. At times, we’ve also listened to these in the car rather than reading them aloud — they are available as audio books read by Jim Weiss.
  • History “support” texts
  • Literature from the era
    • .

Middle/high school level books

  • History “spines”
    • The Way People Live series by Lucent Books — There are many options to choose from in this series, including many about ancient history (Life Among the Pirates, Life During the American Revolution, Life During the French Revolution, Life in a California Mission, and more). The books are each written by a single author and have a clear narrative flow that is usually very engaging, with a focus on daily life and people in the context of big historical events. The stated goal of the series is to discover “the humanity in us all” and to replace stereotypes with accurate information about pockets of human culture. To use these as “spines,” I would schedule one or two per term (so three to six for the year) and pair them with a history timeline to contextualize how the pieces fit together.
  • History “support” texts
  • Literature from the era
    • See items in elementary book list. I would likely make any of these options a read aloud for all of us to share together and would choose an edition that seems appropriate for all of us.

“Upper high school/parent” level books