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

5 thoughts on “History & Geography

    • Author gravatar

      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.

    • Author gravatar

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

    • Author gravatar

      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)

      • Author gravatar

        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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