Books & Resources to Bring History Alive for Your Child

As a teen, I loved reading historical fiction. Novels and stories were my introduction to past eras, from Bible times to the World Wars and every age in between. In university, I pursed a history minor and deepened my love of history. While I hear many people complain that history is boring, I still find it fascinating. I also believe there’s much we can learn from the past. As I’ve begun homeschooling my daughters, therefore, I’ve searched for historical resources to help them appreciate and understand history too. Read on for my favourite books and resources to help bring history alive for your child.

Fun Books & Historical Resources to Bring History Alive for Your Child

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G. A. Henty Audiobooks

The Extraordinary Adventures of G. A. Henty bring bring history alive for your child by telling stories about some of the greatest heroes of times past. The first four audiobooks highlight the strong faith of William Wallace, Sir Francis Drake, King Arthur the Great, and General Robert E. Lee. Each story is fully dramatized with exciting sound effects and thrilling music. The audiobooks include a free study guide to help you dig deeper into the story and events surrounding it.

G.A. Henty Audiobooks

If your teen prefers reading to audiobooks, the original G.A. Henty novels are also available.

Magic Treehouse novels

The girls recently discovered the Magic Tree House novels. We’ve read them the paperbacks and and listened to the audiobooks (read aloud by the author). The novels are fairly short and easy to read (great for a new reader!). Each story is about a brother and sister, Jack and Annie, and their adventures in their Magic Treehouse, which takes them on adventures in various historical eras. Jack and Annie are usually on a quest for something, such as the secret of happiness or a secret of magic, and learn something along the way.

Magic Treehouse Novels by Mary Pope Osborne

DK Eyewitness Books

DK Eyewitness Books to Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome bring history alive for your child with beautiful pictures and illustrations. Even four-year-old Jade has enjoyed pouring through these encyclopedic-like books, asking questions about interesting artifacts. Sunshine and Lily have read the books cover to cover, while I’ve enjoyed browsing and reading various facts. These books also encourage further study with a list of resources at the end, and definitely awaken kids’ curiosity.

DK Eyewitness Books to Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece are great historical resources

Novels about Canadian History

I picked up a couple Dear Canada books in my teens. Recently, Sunshine has been devouring the series. Each book is written in epistolary style, as either a series of journal entries or letters, by a Canadian girl. The books cover specific Canadian events, such as the Halifax explosion, the World Wars, the Residential Schools, and more. Girls learn about these events by reading the stories of girls their age. The Dear Canada books would be a great supplement to a study of specific eras of Canadian history.

Dear Canada novels teach girls about Canadian history

Our Canadian Girl is another series of historical Canadian novels for girls. If your child doesn’t like the episolary style of Dear Canada, then they may find it easier to get into the regular storytelling of Our Canadian Girl. Several of the main characters are featured in two or three books, allowing readers to get more involved in their stories. Our Canadian Girl Treasury, Volume 1 tells the story of Rachel in Nova Scotia in 1783, Marie-Claire in Quebec in 1885, Emily in British Columbia in 1896, and Penelope in Nova Scotia 1917. The novel includes both a map and a timeline to help readers place the stories historically and geographically.

Our Canadian Girl novels, volume one

For more books about Canada, check out my list of 100 great novels for Canadian tween girls. It comes with a printable checklist and a book report sheet.

Harwood Mysteries

The Harwood Mysteries are a series of novels by Antony Barone Kolenc that follow Xan through everyday life in medieval England. In each novel, Xan finds a mystery to solve while also learning more about his Catholic faith. Readers will find it easy to identify with Xan as he searches for his own identity and purpose in life, makes friends and questions his faith. There are also curriculum companions available for the novels that offer literacy and faith studies, as well as book club guides.

Harwood Mysteries by Antony Barone Kolence, books 1-3.

Trailblazer Books

I loved reading the Trailblazer books as a child, and now my kids are reading them. Dave & Neta Jackson tell the stories of various heroes of past times through the eyes  of a child who gets to know that hero. For example, Listen for the Whippoorwill introduces kids to Harriet Tubman; The Bandit of Ashley Downs is about George Muller; and The Thieves of Tyburn Square tells Elizabeth Fry’s story.

Online Unit Studies

Bring history alive for your child with an online unit study from Techie Homeschool Mom. These unit studies include links to curated websites on the topic as well as projects and activity ideas for the kids to apply what they’re learning. We’ve done the Ancient Egypt unit study, and both Sunshine and Lily enjoyed working through the videos, readings, and activities and exploring the topic on their own.

Techie Homeschool Mom also has unit studies for specific historical people, such as Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, Vincent van Gogh, and Martin Luther King Jr.

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Connecting with History Program

Connecting with History is a literature-based, comprehensive, Catholic history program. Using carefully chosen literature and other resources, children learn about peoples and civilizations of the past, from creation to the current day. Salvation history is taught alongside world history, showing God’s work in His people’s lives since the beginning of time. The past is brought alive, becoming fun and interesting for kids (as it should be).

RC History Volume 2 syllabus and daily lesson plans

We’ve used this program for the past two years and are excited to start our third year. Connecting with History puts a variety of books and stories together into an overarching view of history. The girls love it because it’s fun (we’ve read a lot of cool books!) and I love it because it’s easy to use.

Historical Movies

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Darmaid MacCullochMovies can be another great way to bring history alive for your child, whether these are historical movies for kids or more factual movies that explore modern-day places and talk about the historic events that took place there.

A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch takes viewers on a journey through the early Christian churches. He discusses the early church councils and the politics that affected the spread of Christianity.

For younger kids, I recommend the CCC of America DVDs. These 30-minute animated movies tell the story of Ben-Hur, Ulysses, and various Catholic saints.

Local Museums & Historical Resources

Whenever we can, we enjoy visiting local museums and historic sites. Places have a magical way of bringing history alive, as we see the landscape where certain events happened, and the changes made there. You could even plan your next vacation around a historical place you want to learn more about!

Visiting landmarks can also be a great way to extend knowledge gained from books. For example, ever since reading a Dear Canada novel about Frank Slide, Sunshine has been asking us to revisit it.

Many museums and historic sites will offer discounts or free admission to homeschoolers or homeschool groups. You may have to contact them in advance to arrange a field trip, or ask your homeschool coordinator or local homeschool group for ideas.

Have you studies history at home? What historical resources would you recommend?


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