History has been my favorite subject for as long as I can remember. I used to fall asleep every night watching History Channel documentaries when I was in high school, and I still read biographies just for the fun of it. Maybe it’s just because I’m nosy, but I can never get enough history. Fortunately there’s never a lack of it to devour!
Imagine my delight when my homeschooled kiddo showed the same interest and enjoyment in history. He couldn’t get enough, and I quickly found that the homeschool history textbooks available were not only insufficient to satiate his thirst for knowledge. They were also sadly, wildly, and infuriatingly inaccurate.
This need for accurate history is what led us to BookShark Reading with History.
1. Learning History through Living Books
BookShark’s history program is packed—truly, packed—with living books from the historical time period you’re learning about.
Living books can be historical fiction or non-fiction. But they aren't textbooks. Living books give the reader insight into the period, taking the reader on an emotional journey. Instead of simply listing dates and names, the living books from BookShark’s carefully curated reading list transport the reader to the culture, the foods, the beliefs, and personal accounts of time periods.
From reading these books together, my son and I have met wonderful characters and made deep and lasting connections in our understanding of history.
Another great thing about living books is that, unlike textbooks, they don't always explicitly state a conclusion the author wants you to reach. You, as the reader, have to suss out that meaning. This process require critical thinking. And it also leaves the door open to multiple facets of interpretation.
2. Learning History from Multiple Sources
To grasp history, it's vital to gain insight from multiple sources. Getting information from a single source can doom a student to biased and inaccurate information.
By reading differing accounts of time periods and events, we’re able to get a more fully-formed and multi-faceted education. If we rely on a textbook only, we get the perspective only of that editor or writer. If the textbooks glosses over battles or leaves out key figures, our education is hampered.
BookShark provides a rich buffet or sources, so we get a beefed up history rather than a watered down one.
3. Learning History through Conversation
While learning of people who have contributed to society throughout time, my history-loving boy and I have excellent conversations that further help us consider perspectives other than our own. It’s easy to view the early colonists as heroes when we live in present-day America. But reading the perspective of a Native American boy in The Sign of the Beaver (in Intro to American History,Year 1 of 2) led to questions we otherwise would not have thought to ask.
During our times of discussion, the curriculum sparks creative and compassionate thought when I ask
- How would you feel in this situation?
- What would it be like to live in this time period?
- What would you do to survive in this setting?
Rather than just taking historical facts as they’re presented, we’re able to digest the conditions and various factors that affected or caused specific moments. A personal connection is forged, and now we understand history, not just memorize it.
Studying history with BookShark curriculum has been tremendously impactful and beneficial. We’ve met characters to relate to, characters we despise, and learned of people who are traditionally left out of stale old textbooks. Instead of viewing history in the context of a timeline, we are now able to appreciate the moments in time that have led to where we are now.
History is alive and dynamic and wonderfully layered, and by diving into the giant box of books we’ve given ourselves the gift of a more accurate and thorough understanding of history.
About the Author
Jennifer Vail proudly lives in the great state of Texas with her very handsome husband and three very funny children. All three kids are educated in three very different ways according to their very different needs, which is exhausting but fulfilling. Jen's hobbies include naps, 90's pop culture, Netflix binges, buying books with the best of intentions to read them all, photography, and extroverting. She holds a degree in counseling but has found her calling by writing for and spending time with families of differently-wired, outlier kids—the square pegs of the round world.
She stays up way too late and drinks way too much caffeine, but has no intention of changing either. She is the community manager and contributing author at Raising Lifelong Learners where she writes about homeschooling gifted, anxious, and otherwise different kiddos, but also rambles at This Undeserved Life from time to time. She feels compelled to mention that she still very much loves the Backstreet Boys and rarely folds her laundry.