A Novel idea: Bringing History to Life

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I had never heard of home schooling until August of 1996.  A friend of mine mentioned in passing that she home educated her children.  What?!  Why?  How?  So the seed was planted.

In April of 1998 I attended my first little home school curriculum fair.  The local home school group moms each brought her favorite curriculum to share.  One mom talked about Learning Language Arts through Literature and another mom mentioned something about a book based curriculum called Sonlight. 

It wouldn’t be until January 1999 that I really explored Sonlight.  I had looked at several other programs and I just wasn’t happy with them.  BORING textbooks and workbooks with silly things like “color the raincoat yellow because God made rain” (that’s science??!!!!).

I devoured the 1998 catalog and put in my request for the 1999 Catalog which was released in April.  In the meantime, I had baby number 4.   My oldest was about to turn 4 and I was ready to try some formal preschool/k stuff with her.

I fell in love with Sonlight.   I knew that I wanted to use a literature based approach to teaching history.  I wanted to read great books to my young daughters and introduce them to world around them.  I wanted them to think critically about they are learning.  I wanted to expose them to topics and ideas when they were ready and explore them to the depths of their interest.

Marcy, our fabulous TOS Crew Blog Cruise director, asks this week what are our favorite history resources.  My favorite history resource is the Sonlight Catalog.  So many great books to use to bring history alive.  Some are historical fiction, some are biographies.  

A few weeks ago the Blog Cruise asked what our favorite science resources are and I mentioned the library.  I know we’re talking about history this time but I can’t help but mention the library as a great FREE resource to find historical fiction and biographies to bring history alive.

History was NOT my favorite subject in school.  It was boring.  I had to memorize long lists of dates and try to keep a list of dead people’s names straight.  Then as a young adult I stumbled across a historical book.  It was about Katherine, the wife of Henry V, mother of Henry VI and grandmother of Henry VII.  (and yes I know Henry VII is Henry Tudor and he was NOT the son of Henry VI nor the grandson of Henry V.   Katherine married a Tudor after Henry V died but that is a topic for another blog post <grin>)

My whole family loves history. Why? Because we love to read and reading all those great books that Sonlght introduced us to caused us to realize that history is about real people.  It’s not just a list of dates and dead people.  They loved. They laughed.  They fought.  They lived.

I can’t imagine teaching history without using historical fiction.   What is your favorite history resource?

You can read about the favorite history resource of other crew mates when the link goes live April 3rd.  In the meantime you can read past Blog Cruise topics on the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.


  1. Great thoughts! The library is a wonderful homeschool resource.

  2. I'm not sure I've looked at the SL catalog recently. Perhaps I will soon :) And yes!! The library is excellent! (if it's a good library that is)

  3. Historical fiction and biographical fiction are great tools for appreciating history! My daughter and I both love historical fiction. My sons aren't as enthusiastic about it, but love a good story.

  4. Your own experiences with high school history and discovering living books sounds exactly like what I posted about. Great minds think alike!

  5. We haven't used Sonlight, but I've definitely gotten ideas from just looking at their catalog! Living books (many from the library) are our choice too. =0)


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