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living books for grade 4 modern history / thoughts on Robert Lacey?


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I'm using A Child's History of the World as a spine for grade 1-4 history (will use Story of the World for grades 5-8). I'm planning out grade 4 history, and there are so few chapters in CHW for me to work with; I'm having a hard time fleshing it out with enough well-written biographies/histories. I am just now looking over Robert Lacey's Great Tales from English History vol 2, but don't have access to vol. 3 from my local library. I'm wondering if It is a worthwhile purchase for me, as I tend to be pretty right-leaning, and understand he's a pretty staunchly not. I don't have a problem reading my children stuff that has opposing perspectives, but I guess I'm wondering whether I would find his angle to be more distorting than it is beneficial (based on a review of his treatment of Churchill, for example). Otherwise, his short biographies are exactly the sort of thing I'd find ideal.


Regardless, any other recommendations for fleshing out modern history at the grammar stage? I have Granfield's Flanders Fields and that's pretty much all I've found so far that I am thrilled about. I'm looking for books that cover more of the basic historical bases of that time than, for example, Snow Treasure (eg. am using Lila of Ingleside for read-aloud this year, but not for our history lessons.) But, I would very much like to be using truly excellent literary material.


Thanks for your help!









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It's tough to find good supplemental resources for Modern History!


Here are a few that might work for you. Most of these are apolitical, although Patrol definitely does not have a positive take on the Vietnam War.



The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis.


World War I

War Game by Michael Foreman


World War II

Pearl Harbor by Stephen Krensky

Franklin and Winston: A Christmas that Changed the World by Douglas Wood

The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk by Louise Borden

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier



The Wall by Eve Bunting

Patrol by Walter Dean Myers


Modern Explorers
Shackleton's Journey by William Grill (Antarctica)

Trapped by the Ice by Michael McCurdy (Antarctica)

Keep on: The Story of Matthew Henson by Deborah Hopkinson (Arctic)


Space Travel

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Team Moon by Catherine Thimmesh (more for Middle School students)


US History

There are tons of good Civil Rights books for Grammar stage (for a list, you can follow the website linked in my signature or go here)

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That's a fabulous list. I've only looked over a few so far, but they are all bang on. I wasn't expecting any one person to present me with such a gold mine. Wow! Thank you, Rebecca!


At the risk of being greedy, I'm Canadian, so if anyone has any suggestions to add that have a bit more connection with Canada, that would be appreciated as well. 


Anyone with thoughts on Robert Lacey? 




PS. Just visited Homeschool Garden. What an exciting discovery. Thank you for putting together such an organized and thorough and aesthetic list of resources. You've made my life so much easier today!

Edited by September
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For Canadian possibilities, what about something like When the Cherry Blossoms Fell?  It might work for that age though it would depend on the reading level.


I've found that for modern history, and especially Canadian, it really pays to look for nline thing, for example through the Museum of Civilization.  Many of them have quite a lot of information and archived material that isn't available in hardcopy.  And also, there is a lot of great historical film material - so much of the primary sources we have for the modern period are film recordings.  The NFB has some great stuff.


A bit of an aside, but I suspect when you get there you might find the first SOTW a bit young for grade 5, it's written at a similar level to CHOW.


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Those are some great recommendations, Bluegoat. Thanks for the lead with When the Cherry Blossoms Fell. That's exactly the reading level I'm looking for too.


I'm fine with a British history focus as I find that at least has more lead-in to Canadian history. In my dreams there is a resource out there like Young Folk's Plutarch / Tales of the Greeks/Romans for modern history that I just haven't found yet. !


And, thanks for the heads up about SoTW. Shoot! I was banking on that -- mostly just because I loved both CHoW and SoTW and wanted to make them both work somehow. I guess when my son was five it was hard to picture what level he'd need in five years... and I haven't actually re-read any of SoTW since then. The best-laid plans of mice and men... 





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And thank you, again, Rebecca. Another good call!


You should consider adding those two Canadian resources to your site. ? It'll make all of us Canadians, who feel so left out most so much of the time with homeschool resources/curriculums, very very grateful! 


Edited by September
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Obviously public domain books after 1922 are rare, but the Dave Dawson series is set during WW2 and is in the public domain.



A few more WW2 novels



There is quite a bit set in WW1 that is in the public domain.


Edited by Hunter
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Some autobiographies


A Negro Explorer at the North Pole



Indian Boyhood



The Story of my Life Helen Keller



The Rough Riders



Student's Friend is a free 2 year history and geography textbook series that covers modern history, but it is pretty liberal.


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If you have not read all the Little House on the prairie books, I'd read some more of those.


How about Jack London and The Red Badge of Courage?


Great Inventors and Their  Inventions



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