I hated history when I was in school. Thanks to homeschooling, some wonderful curriculum, and these 10 American history books for kids – great biographies and living books – history is now my favorite subject to learn alongside my children.
I began using Trail Guide to Learning with my younger two kids in January 2012 and we love it! I never thought I would enjoy an all-inclusive curriculum, but after just a few weeks with Trail Guide we realized it was the perfect homeschool curriculum for our family.
One of our favorite aspects of using the curriculum is the fabulous selection of readers. Each unit there is one read-aloud and one student reader. These usually consist of a biography and a historical fiction – our favorites! We’ve progressed through Paths of Settlement and we’re halfway through Paths of Progress. I thought I’d share some of the books that we’ve enjoyed the most so far.
Abigail Adams – This biography about John Adams’ wife was one of our favorites of the biographies we’ve read. She was such a strong woman. I’m not sure what impressed me more – the fact that she didn’t run screaming from the house when the Revolutionary War broke out in sight of her house or the fact that she let her young son travel for France with his father, knowing she wouldn’t see either of them for years.
Justin Morgan Had a Horse – I think this story of Justin Morgan and Lil’ Bub might be Megan’s favorite book ever. The fact that there is lots of history subtly woven into the story was, I think, mostly lost on Megan. She just loved the great story about the little horse. I might have been right there with her.
Guns for General Washington – I love that Trail Guide includes lots of good boy books. Guns? Battles? Treacherous treks through the wilderness? Yeah, this one appealed to my boy…but Megan and I still enjoyed it.
Janie’s Freedom – Janie’s Freedom has probably been my favorite of the books we’ve read so far and it was a close second for Megan. This captivating book tells the story of five children, born into slavery, who make their way North for a better life after gaining freedom at the end of the Civil War.
Theodore Roosevelt – We have all enjoyed both biographies that we’ve read in the Heroes of History series by Janet and Geoff Benge. They’re the kind of stories that the kids and I want to keep reading longer than called for on the lesson plans. Teddy Roosevelt was a fascinating man and this biography makes the details of his life leap off the page.
As an aside, he looks very much like Robin Williams in my mind. Thanks, Night at the Museum.
Ambush in the Wilderness – This story of a young boy who witnesses his fur-trader father’s death at the hands of a group of Indians is one of the few stories for kids (to my knowledge) about the French and Indian War.
Robert E. Lee – I think I learned more about the Civil War through this biography than I ever learned in high school. I’m so glad that Trail Guide explores history through biographies and great fiction books. My kids get so much more out of them than dry facts and memorized dates.
Samuel F. B. Morse – This biography is one of the more memorable ones to me because we made so many connections between the story of Morse’s life and other people and events that we’d read about before. It’s fun for us when we start realizing which historical figures living during the times of others and how their lives intertwined.
Michael Faraday – I had no idea who Michael Faraday was when we started his biography, but I cried at the end when we experienced his death through the pages of this well-written book. The kids tease me when that happens.
Thomas Edison – We’ll be finishing Thomas Edison today. This is another Heroes of History biography. I love when a book makes us all laugh and this one did. We have determined that Mr. Edison was ADHD before it had a name.
What are some of your favorite American History books?
Disclosure: I am the social media manager for Geography Matters, publishers of Trail Guide to Learning. However, I only recommend products that my family has used and enjoyed. The opinions expressed here are my personal, honest opinions. Your experience may vary. Please read my full disclosure policy for more details.