History: Our Favorite Story

Andrew Jackson

I've often said that history is one of the main reasons I am homeschooling. With each passing year I become even more convinced that the history we study here surpasses the history I studied in school. My personal experience with the subject consisted of fragmented American history with a concentration on the state I lived in and the famous people who also called it home. Being from Tennessee, I knew the three presidents from here (Jackson, Johnson, and Polk) and the state bird (mockingbird) but I really had no concept of how fascinating world history really is. 

The first time I encountered history outside of this fragmented approach was my first semester of college. I took a Western Civ course taught by a gifted storyteller. She would lean against the front of her desk with arms folded and a binder of notes she would occasionally check for accuracy. She told stories of Europe that I had never heard before. My ignorance appalled me but I wasn't worried about that for long. For the first time in a very long time I was genuinely curious about something! I never missed a class. I would take a legal pad in and begin to write. An hour and twenty minutes later I would leave with pages of notes that I couldn't recall writing and a head full of history. 

Yesterday we completed our history book for the year. This is the third year we've used Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. I really enjoy this series and will be using book four next year. The selections read like a bedtime story. I see my children listening to these stories with the same interest I had in my Western Civ class. My children particularly loved history this year because the third book, which ends at 1850, is starting to form the globe into a world they recognize. They saw the United States gain its familiar contiguous shape through the war with Mexico. My son threw up his hands in disgust when the all too familiar story of a power hungry ruler who treated his subjects poorly began to unfold yet again. He wondered aloud why these people didn't see what was coming as clearly as he does. I just smile. My kids have no idea how happy it makes me to see them so interested and passionate about history.


  1. What a timely post--this book just arrived at our house yesterday!

    Is it just a coincidence that I share(d) many of the experiences you describe, and that they pushed me towards home schooling? :)

    1. Coincidence? I think not! :) I hope you all enjoy them as much as we do. I am constantly telling the kids that I am learning almost as much as they are!

    2. That was part of the reason for buying it after The Missus read the reviews she thought it was a book we'd like to read as well.

      How old were your kids when you started with these? Our oldest (5) LOVES stories and chapter books, so that's how we'd planned approaching it this year; not so formal in the beginning.

      We've been discussing lately the trade offs of learning history linearly or jumping around through time. Your thoughts? I have it in my head that jumping around could be more interesting...sort of like watching LOST.

    3. My kids were older and younger: 9, 6, and 2 when we started, they are now 11, almost 9, and 4. From the start, they have loved these books. Our first year we just read it aloud to them and had them draw up a page on ANYTHING they liked from the reading. They had a great collection at the end that I bound for them to keep. The next two years, I purchased the workbooks and think the corresponding map work is great. Even the 4yo does the maps with the help of her siblings.

      I personally like linear history. One of my pet peeves about my schooling was that I never had a "big picture" of the world. Jumping around does remind me of LOST, but as much as I enjoyed the series, I would have hated to have lived it.

      One more thought, my oldest really has a passion for history and will be attending a history camp later this summer. If we continue to homeschool through high school (and everything points to that) we may decide to jump around and let her really study events or periods in depth rather than linearly. She has expressed an interest in researching the accuracy of local legends. But that is many years away...