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20th century history. Sonlight? Teaching Company?

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I am looking for 20th century history resources for my history next year. We have a co-op of 3 kids who will be in grades 8, 9, and 10 - all very advanced readers.


I looked at Sonlight's 300 history and, based upon the book list, I am concerned that it might be more junior high than high school level. Most of the book selections seemed around the 6th grade reading level based upon School Library Journal reviews. Does the Instructor's guide have some meaty stuff to make up for the young-ish reading material?


We are also looking at the Teaching Company's History of the 20th Century: the Struggle over Democracy. Has anyone used this? How did you round it out to be a complete course and what kind of high school credit would you give?



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and the reading load is very heavy. Sonlight typically mixes in more meaty literature with easier titles to achieve a balance. It's true that some of the readers are a bit easy, they are there to give a break from the heavy books and to fill in the historical picture. I thought Core 300 had many, meaty high school-level books like Brave New World, Cry, the Beloved Country, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and the Great Gatsby.


The level of detail of the literature guides was a concern of mine when we used Core 300. I didn't think there was enough meat to the guides. I do believe that SL is working on improving the Core 300 guide. They have a new catalog coming out April 1st, so you could wait and see if the IG was revamped.




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I'm going to be teaching a 20th C history and literature class next year to 11th and 12th graders. My plan for now is to use two books for our core history readings. I'm relying most heavily on Paul Johnson's Modern Times, as he delves so deeply into the ideas that shaped the century, but to round it out (and also because Johnson begins with the 20s) I am also using Twentieth Century: The History of the World 1901-2000 by J. M. Roberts. I am reading through both of these now (having already read the Johnson once) and heavily marking both and taking notes to formulate discussion questions, quizzes and exams, and writing assignments. We will also be reading some other supplemental books and primary source material. I had thought, too of that very same TC course, but wasn't sure about it. I'll probably go ahead and purchase it, because I can always send it back if it won't work. They have a fabulous customer service policy.


I am still formulating my literature list--would you care to share yours? I'd appreciate it!

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My son is a 9th grader and he has been interested in the World Wars for about 5 years now. I like the way the program is laid out, and my son is getting good look at the life all around the time of the world wars.


He spends about an hour a day on history. He doesn't follow the writing component of Sonlight either. I had him write a 5-page paper on the 20th century topic of his choice that he did for "English," and his reading is another hour a day.


I read many of the books in the Sonlight 20th cent. list myself. Though they were not hard to comprehend, the subject matter of many of the books was a different story. Books like The Moves Make the Man and Run Baby Run are disturbing and definitely not for children younger than high school (IMO). I didn't think they were worth taking up formal reading time when I have so many classics I wanted to get through. These books are depressing as well; Run Baby Run had an uplifting ending, but the whole book plodded through an overwhelming amount of darkness, and I just didn't think it was written well enough to make it required reading. It gave a realistic look at gang life, but for a realistic look at a harsh life I'd choose something like The Jungle instead, which was written better and has more historical value, though not as strong an evangelical theme. I don't know if I'd give The Jungle to my son in 9th grade, though; I would definitely not give it to an 8th grader. Since books of this period are the darkest of any historical period (I think, based on what I've read so far), I'd prefer something a little more whimsical to break up the heavier, more difficult reading.

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Ds is using Sonlight 300, but not the writing component, and only half the books. We are tying films and books to the history.

I like the giant 20th Century Day by Day book (we have the book, not the cd-rom), but honestly, the commentary is weak. It's mainly factual recall, and not much in depth analysis that I would expect from high school.

We are on the 1960's.

We've read

The Jungle

Heart of Darkness


Great Gatsby

Grapes of Wrath

Cheaper by the Dozen (needed something light at that point!)

The Hiding Place

Old Man and the Sea

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich


and The Scarlet Letter--I threw that in there for our first one, because I intended to have him read the Big Four--Scarlet, Moby, Huck and (ooo, what's the other one? Can't remember). But those plans have changed.


Anyway, it's been good to use the fiction to illuminate the period. I can't recommend the Sonlight, but I did like using the big book, at least for information. Tried to use Spielvogel for the more "high school" stuff, but it is better for the 1800's and earlier. I did find another book by Martin someone--it went year by year thru the 20th century, in 4 volumes. We did volume one successfully.

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Here are some resources my teen used when studying that time period in 9th grade.




Mao Tse-Tung and His China (Albert Marrin)

The Depression and New Deal (Robert McElvaine)

Surviving Hitler (Andrea Warren)

North to Freedom (Anne Holm)

Maus I, II

Vietnam War (Marilyn Young et al.)

Fax from Sarajevo

A Little History of the World by E. H. Gombrich

All Quiet on the Western Front


Diary of Anne Frank

Animal Farm (Orwell)

The Mouse that Roared

W;t (Edson)

Material World





Battleship Potemkin (1904)

The Sinking of the Lusitania (Winsor McCay)

Influenza 1918

The Best Arbuckle Keaton Collection

Inherit the Wind

All Quiet on the Western Front


Rabbit Proof Fence (1930s)

1940's house


Atomic Cafe

Ed Sullivan


All the President's Men

Forrest Gump


Good Morning, Vietnam

The Mouse that Roared





"In Flander's Field" by John McCrae (WWI)




"I Have a Dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)





Miss Saigon




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