History has only become interesting to me in the last couple of years. While sitting with a friend at a Classical Conversations Parent Practicum this summer, we discussed how we didn't remember much "history" in the elementary years. Yes, there was social studies, but where were the wars, the heroes, the civilizations, and the revolutions? I want to pass on a different understanding of history to my own children.
My desire is for them to not fear any field of study, and the way I can do that is by conquering my fears of unknown subjects. If I don't know anything about history, what shall I do? Read. It's always the answer.
It's always great to start out with an overview of history when you're wanting to tackle a new educational endeavor. I love these ISI Guides to Major Disciplines. They offer a great framework for students. Since I am new to finding my love of history, I'm thankful for a quick read like this to point me in the right direction.
Lukas encourages the best way to study history is to read. The good news is that he doesn't offer a long list of rules to govern this reading, simply the wise words:
What you must do is follow and feed your own interest.
Become a reader of history, and in turn you become a historian.
Here are some of my favorite writers that have won me over to fall in love with the past.
If you're looking for an entry level historical read, Jean Fritz does it better than anyone I know. She writes children's books that bring history to life. I've been collecting her writings for some time because I'm always amazed at how much I learn when I read these simple books.
The first book of hers that I read was The Cabin Faced West. It's a historical fiction, but when George Washington entered the scene, I was captivated by picturing a hero of history as a real man that lived in a real time and a real place. I've been a huge fan of her work ever since!
Geoff and Janet Benge
The next step up for me is Geoff and Janet Benge. This couple has a gift for writing simple, yet profound biographies. While I favor the Christian Heroes Then and Now series better, their Heroes of History books are equally fantastic.
My mother has thoroughly enjoyed reading through these books. She inspires me to continue reading and learning for life.
Paul Johnson is an epic historian. He researches his topics and gives amazing depth to every historical figure he writes about. He is one I want to collect and read.
If you're looking for someone to fly to the heights of the metanarrative, Daniel Boorstin can take you there. He has such an amazing grip on history that he can weave thoughts, ideas, and events into a grand tapestry of story. You'll be fascinated with the depth of insight that you'll find within the pages of Boorstin's books.
If you think economics has nothing to do with history, then read Thomas Sowell's works. He loves the history of the world and how it impacts trade, commerce, and economics.
As far as historical fiction written for adults goes, you can read no better than David McCullough. He is also a deep researcher of his subject matter. He goes back to primary documents to dig into the life and times of his subject matter. I recently watched the HBO John Adams Mini Series. It was incredibly informative, and it made me want to know more!
The goal of tackling a new subject matter is always to grow in wisdom and virtue. To study our history is to know where we came from. I desire to learn from my own history so that I can avoid mistakes in the future. Either way, I love finding new authors to motivate and inspire me to continue learning for life.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.