History & Geography

Below are secular (non-religious) history books and videos, (or otherwise void of strong religious bias) that have been recommended by fellow secular Charlotte Mason homeschoolers.

First, let me share the WONDERFUL suggestion I received from another secular CM’r: start with creation stories from around the world and evolution. So with that in mind, here’s books on those topics…

Creation,  Evolution, & PreHistory Resources:

  • An Updated Booklist for Evolutionists
  • In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World, by Virginia Hamilton and Barry Moser
  • Evolution: The Story of How Life Developed on Earth, by Joanna Cole (illustrated by Aliki)
  • Born With a Bang, Book One, The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story, by Jennifer Morgan
  • From Lava to Life, Book Two, The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story, by Jennifer Morgan
  • Mammals Who Morph, Book Three, The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story, by Jennifer Morgan
  • Out of the Ark: Stories from the World’s Religions, by Anita Ganeri–there is a section with creation stories…cultures/countries covered: Australia, India (Hindu), Japan (Shinto), Christian, Polynesian Island of Nauru, Africa, Native American (Cheyenne), China, Incan
  • The Rainbow Bridge, by Audrey Wood and Robert Florczak–BEAUTIFUL picture book! Native American (Chumash) creation story
  • The Four Corners of the Sky: Creation Stories and COsmologies from Around the World, by Steve Zeitlin
  • Indian Creation Stories, by Julia M. Seton
  • The Greek News by Powell & Steele
  • Greek Myths for Young Children (Usborne)
  • Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfeld
  • The Usborne Time Traveler
  • Tut’s Mummy Lost & Found
  • The Great Wall of China by Leonard Everett Fisher
  • Aesop for Children by Milo Winter
  • Pompeii: Buried Alive by Kunhardt SL2 (Easy Reader)
  • The Trojan Horse by Little (Easy Reader)
  • “Life Story” by Virginia Lee Burton
  • “Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution” by Steve Jenkins; picture book
  • “The Story of Life on Earth” by Nicholas Harris; another picture book.
  • “The Story of Life on Earth” by Margaret Munro and Karen Reczuch; another picture book, a bit more advanced than the previous one, but still very good for very young scientists;
  • “The Kingfisher Book of Evolution” by Stephen Webster; more of a logic stage book, but filled with lots of pictures; with more advanced books, we generally look at the pictures and read the accompanying captions (instead of the text). I used it to help answer the kids’ questions.
  • “Our Family Tree: An Evolution Story” by Lisa Westburg Peters. Excellent, simple summary of evolutionary history, for the K-3rd grade set.
  • “Evolution, from the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science series
  • “The Evolution Book” by Sara Stein
  • “The Beginning: Voyages Through Time” by Peter Ackroyd; a DK book
  • “The Best Book of Early People” by Margaret Hynes
  • “One Small Blue Bead” by Byrd Baylor
  • “The First Dog” by Jan Brett
  • “Mik’s Mammoth” by Roy Gerrard
  • “The Cave Painter of Lascaux” by Roberta Angeletti
  • “Stanley” by Syd Hoff (An I Can Read book); not historically accurate but cute; ditto for “Cave Boy” by Cathy Dubowski
  • “The Dawn of Life”, “A Cartoon History of the Earth” by Jacqui Bailey and Matthew Lilly (Kids Can Press), which includes four volumes: “The Birth of the Earth”, “The Dawn of Life,” and “The Day of the Dinosaurs”, “The Stick and Stone Age”
  • “Right Here on this Spot” by Addy
  • “Ugh” by Yorunks
  • “Your Mother Was A Neanderthal” by Jon Scieszka
  • “Little Grunt and The Big Egg” by Tomie dePaola
  • “Sunset of the Sabertooth by Mary Pope Osborne (early chapter book, from the Magic Tree House series; some consider these twaddle…)
  • “Quennu and the Cave Bear” by Marie Day
  • “A is for Aarrgh!” by William J. Brooke
  • “First Painter” by Kathryn Lasky
  • “A First Book of Myths: Myths and legends for the very young from around the world” retold by Mary Hoffman
  • “How the World Began: Creation in Myths and Legends” by Gilly Cameron-Cooper
  • “Becoming Human” website
  • Darwin/Museum of Natural History
  • PBS “Evolution” and the educators’ resource section
  • Voyages Through Time: In the Beginning (Voyages Through Time) by Peter Ackroyd
  • any favorite dinosaur books you might find
  • books by John Malam

U.S. History:

  • A History of U.S. series, by Joy Hakim|
    (Be aware there are many criticisms of Joy’s work, here is an example…despite these criticisms, many homeschoolers still feel the positives outweigh the negatives in her books.)
  • This Country of Ours, by H. E. Marshall
  • Early American History Literature Guide, by Beautiful Feet Books
  • Don’t Know Much About History, by Kenneth C. Davis
  • People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present (P.S.) by Howard Zinn
  • The Radical Reader: A Documentary History of the American Radical Tradition by Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John McMillian
  • PBS series “Freedom”–and there is a [amazon_textlink asin=’B00007FOGD’ text=’soundtrack’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’homeschoolrealm-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e61934be-3aa0-11e8-9c49-576111ed658d’]
  • The Making of America: The History of the United States from 1492 to the Present, by Robert D. Johnston
  • Pocket History of the United States, by Henry Steele Commager & Allan Nevins
  • The Growth of the American Republic, by Henry Steele Commager
  • Genevieve Foster books (Augustus Caesar’s World, George Washington’s World, etc…)
  • The First Book of American History by Henry Steele Commager
  • Growth of the American Republic by Henry Steele Commager, Samuel Eliot Morison, and William E. Leuchtenberg
  • The American Story: 100 True Tales from American History, by Jennifer Armstrong

World History:

  • DVD Series: Journals Through History (There is an excellent 2 dvd set of Ancient China and of Ancient Egypt)
  • Documentary: “Grass”–b/w silent documentary on a nomadic tribe in 1925
  • Documentary: “People of the Wind”–excellent later documentary on the same nomadic people in the “Grass” documentary.
  • Cartoon History of the Earth, by Jacqui Bailey and Matthew Lilly
  • Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, by Jack Weatherford
  • The Story of Mankind, by Hendrik Willem Van Loon (also other works by Van Loon including “America”, “Geography”, “Arts” and “Lives”)
  • Our Island Story (also called “An Island Story”), by H. E. Marshall
  • A Picturesque Tale of Progress (Complete 9 Volume Set), by Olive Beaupre Miller
  • The Story of Religion, by Betsy and Giulio Maestro (other of their books are good too, I’m told)
  • For Canada history: “Dear Canada” series and “Our Canadian Girl” series…also: Underground to Canada, by Barbara Smucker…The Last Safe House by Barbara Greenwood
  • Rosemary Sutcliff books (fiction)
  • Kingfisher World History Encyclopedia
  • Picture That: Knights and Castles (Exploring History through Art series)
  • The Egyptology Handbook: A Course in the Wonders of Egypt (Ologies), by Candlewick Press
  • Genevieve Foster books (Augustus Caesar’s World, George Washington’s World, etc…)
  • A Little History of the World, by E.H. Gombrich–read a review by a homeschooling mom here
  • Voyages Through Time series by Peter Ackroyd
  • African Kingdoms of the Past series, by Kenny Mann
  • Stone Age Farmers Beside the Sea: Scotland’s Prehistoric Village of
    Skara Brae, by Caroline Arnold
  • Young Oxford Book of Archaeology
  • Books by Marc Aronson
  • Scotland’s Story–published by Galore Park
  • Kings & Things: A Light-Hearted Romp Through British History–published by Galore Park
  • Schoolhouse Rock DVDs (history rock)
  • The Cheese and the Worms: The Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller, by Carlo Ginzburg
  • Past Worlds Atlas of Archaeology by Collin Renfrew
  • Archimedes and the Door of Science (Living History Library) by Jeanne Bendick
  • Missionary Travels in South Africa by David Livingstone–not necessarily secular, but a lot of info on Africa, mid 1850s–very dry, supplement with outside materials

General History Resources:

Historical Fiction:

  • Henry Winterfeld books
  • Galen: My Life in Imperial Rome, by Marissa Moss
  • The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare
  • Living History Library–historical fiction series
  • “My America” series, for youngers and “Dear America” series for olders…
  • Rosemary Sutcliff books
  • Carolyn Meyer books

History Curriculum & Resource Books/Sites:

Book of Century/Timeline Resources:

Geography Resources:

  • Wish You Were Here, by Kathleen Krull
  • Paddle to the Sea, by Holling Clancy Holling
  • Teaching Geography Through Art, by Sharon Jeffus and Richard Jeffus
  • Geography Matters
  • Map Essentials by National Geographic
  • Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia
  • Where on Earth: A Geografunny Guide to the Globe, by Paul Rosenthal
  • The Revenge of the Whale: The True Story of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • A Child’s Geography of the World by V. M Hillyer
  • 1857 Africa Map


  1. Wow. Thanks for this comprehensive list. We’re just starting to approach CM through history using CM methods after using a comprehensive curriculum. It’s exciting, but the time dedicated to finding resources is quite intense, though I love it! We’re working with the ancient world, first volume of SOTW and A Little History of the World as our spine. The Usborne book is enticing.

  2. Wow!!! Fantastic, thanks!!! I’ve started getting some of these books and just found this site. What a great resource for all future purchases!!!! 🙂

    1. No problem! If I can find the time, I’ll update things…I’m sure I could add a ton more to these lists at this point. Just a matter of finding that ever elusive TIME! 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for going to all the trouble to write this list! We are secular homeschoolers, and my husband is a history professor. You’d think it would be easy for us to find a history textbook for our kids, but it’s not! (My husband has many for adults, but they are not engaging enough for young kids …my boys are 10 & 7.) I was looking at Joy Hakim’s series on U.S. History, and I’m sad to see that criticism because we’re enjoying the first book. Anyway, I’m going to bookmark your page & refer to it when I need it!

    Also, you might be interested to know that my husband has put his college history lectures online (for free). They might be helpful to someone. (no longer available)

    1. Shelli, thank you for your kind words! And I agree…I’m sad about the criticism of Joy Hakim’s books as well…although there does seem to always be criticism on just about everything, so I take it with a grain of salt. I still very much enjoy her books as well!

      And I will check out your husband’s lectures! Thank you for sharing!

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