Teaching a multi-perspective United States History: A Homeschoolers resource
I’ve been preparing for our 8th grade homeschool, a large portion of which will be US History and modern day revolutions. I’m looking forward to diving deep into our country’s history.
As for my own education, I remember receiving only trivial bits and pieces of America’s roots: a worksheet on Martin Luther King Jr., a paragraph here on the Pilgrims and Indians, a Weekly Reader there on The Gold Rush. I recall a junior high school history class, but not much from the oversized textbook; never a critical look at Manifest Destiny, never a meaningful discussion on the Civil Rights Movement. Now, my aim is to look back and learn—to connect where we’ve been to where we are now, to critically engage with our history.
Knowing where we come from. This is what I want to teach and learn. Developing this understanding is so important because it is a strategy for social change in 2020.
Understanding our past depends on who is telling the story. Are we a people who birthed and believe in the ideals of liberty or are we a people with a long legacy of conquest? Are we one or the other or are we both?
So I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of choosing the right literature. I want varying perspectives, I want the ones I didn’t hear growing up, particularly the Native American story. (Keep in mind I have not read all of these books yet, but plan on reading from these lists during the upcoming school year. I’ll post again at the end of the year with our favorites.)
- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (I have read this one and highly recommend it)
- A Young People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (from the viewpoints of workers, slaves, immigrants, women, Native Americans)
- The Story of Liberty from the Classical Historian
- Stories of America from Simply Charlotte Mason
- Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story by Wilfred M. McClay
Historical Fiction Options for US History:
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (colonial Connecticut 1600’s)
- The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (settlers and Native Americans, 1700’s)
- Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink (1800’s)
- The Birchbark House by Louise Erdich (Native Americans, 1800’s)
- Johnny Tremain by Esther Hoskins Forbes (revolutionary war)
- Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson (revolutionary war and slavery)
- Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (Civil War)
- Forty Acres and Maybe a Mule by Harriette Gillen Robinet (Reconstruction era)
- Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery (a memoir from the civil rights movement)
Websites for free lessons, discussions & support material:
- ADL, an anti-hate organization, offers lesson plans and family discussion guides on historical and current events through the lens of diversity, bias and social justice
- Zinn Education Project offers plenty of teaching materials based on A People’s History, that can be filtered by theme, time period and grade level.
- Civil Rights Teaching offers lessons and resources for teaching about the role of everyday people in the Civil Rights Movement.
Please leave comments on any of the above books, or other favorites, and on your experiences teaching US History! And don’t forget to check out more homeschool history & language arts support on the FREEBIES page!