Friday, January 30, 2015

Too Much of a Good Thing - It's All Too Much

I follow Ambleside Online loosely.  I deviate a bit so I can keep us all together as we work through the timeline of history and substitute occasionally with books I have on hand.  We ended last year with the Roman Empire and Life of Christ, so this year we started with the Early church and the fall of the Roman empire. There were so many good "spine books" for the time period. I didn't want to miss anything and I didn't know which would be best so I decided to try all that I had on hand.  We're reading The story of Mankind - this year we covered the first half of the third book. I also purchased The Story of Europe because I like another book we'd used by H.E. Marshall and her books are highly recommended.  I already had A Child's History of England (I love anything by Charles Dickens), and we've been reading through a copy of The Church in History that I've had for years.  We also read the first part of Trial and Triumph and Great Astronomers. My two junior high aged students were reading Birth of Britain but both found it difficult reading.  I'd hoped to include some historical novels as well, but the schedule was pretty full....  With more than half the year behind us, I'm finding that we are too heavy on the overview books, but I've been reluctant to let any of them go as each has its own appeal.  Finally, yesterday I decided that I will cut out all but The Story of Mankind, Great Astronomers and Trial and Triumph.  We've learned a lot from The Church in History and I love Dickens' stories, H.E.Marshall's narratives are also excellent, but it's all too much.  So even though I haven't heard anyone else talk about the books, The Story of Mankind: A Picturesque Tale of Progress, by Olive Beaupre' Miller, it turns out that this is my favorite series.  I inherited this four-book set when my Dad cleaned off his bookshelves. There are pictures and maps on pretty much every page, though that isn't what draws me.  I like her storytelling.  The chapters are quite long, but there are breaks with headings if you want to use shorter readings.  I also like the fact that I can cover the whole span of history using one author.  We just finished book 3, part 1 of the series (each book is divided into two parts).  The thing I like about Trial and Triumph is that each chapter is a biographical sketch of a man of faith.  Some of the overview books we were using covered so many people in each chapter that your were left trying to remember names and dates.  For this reason I'm excited about reading some historical fiction where you actually feel like you get to know the people and settings in detail.  I'm hoping to get through the following and more if possible, we've actually started three of these already. My list includes:
  •  The Door in the Wall, Marguerite DeAngelli
  •  The Namesake, The Story of King Alfred, C. Walter Hodges
  •  Messiah! A New Look at the Composer, the Music and the Message! N.A. Woychuk (of Scripture Memory Fellowship)
  •  Son of Charlemagne, Barbara Willard (Bethlehem Books)
  •  Adam of the Road,Elizabeth Gray Vining
  •  Wulf the Saxon: A Story of the Norman Conquest by G.A.Henty
My students also have other biographies of this time-period they are reading individually.

I'd be interested if you have recommendations for other biographies or historical novels from this time-period?


  1. I really like reading 1 author for history studies, Albert Marrin is one of my all time favorites! Loved reading your post, I can relate. Visited through CMBC. Looking forward to visiting here again😀. I blog at ~Deanna