Adding diversity to Middle School History

My kids are now in Year 8 and 6 with a Kindergarten student joining in occasionally. We also have a 3 year old. We’re in the History Cycle of Ancient Near East (3500BC to 550 BC) and American and British History from 1000-1680AD. Since we’re starting from the very beginning, I especially wanted to add diversity to history this time around.

We discovered Charlotte Mason and jumped into Ambleside Online six years ago when my oldest was in Year 2. Year 2 is the same time period as we are doing now. However, back in Year 2, I wasn’t trying to add diversity to history. I was just sticking to the book list. I also didn’t have a very clear understanding of what the Charlotte Mason principles even were! It’s been such a wonderful journey delving deeper in my understanding of her philosophy of education. We no longer use Ambleside Online because we like the whole family to be on the same history cycle, but I still visit it often to help me choose books!

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Ancient Near East

I purchased Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors and The Book of the Ancient World to use as spines. What I like about Ancient Egypt and Her Neighbors is that I can use the corresponding narration cards from Simply Charlotte Mason.

Amber of Heritage Mom mentioned some great resources for studying the great nations of Western Africa: Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. We will add all of those books in as well. Some of those we are reading and narrating during our summer break, as they were available at the library.

American History

As I looked at American History for the 1000-1680 time period, and considered what narrative I wanted to teach my children, I realized that we have never actually studied the indigenous peoples who were here before the Europeans. Searching on the Living Books for All People Facebook Group, I decided on several books to round out both our Ancient and American History streams to include indigenous people of North America and South America.

We will read through the chapters (relevant to our time period) of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People and A Young People’s History of the United States. We will also read all of Turtle Island and Before Columbus.

World History

Ideally we would have read Our Island Story in this time slot, but we have already read this book. Leah Boden of A Modern Miss Mason recommends The Story of Britain. (We’ve actually used this book for Modern Times and it is one of my son’s favorite history books.) The Winston Churchill history books were another possibility. However, ultimately, I decided on the Genevieve Foster books (The World of Columbus and Sons & The World Of Captain John Smith) because I like how these books present a wider picture of people and events around the world for a time period. There are issues – I especially do not like the sections between page 29 and 41 in the Columbus and Sons book. I have not read the whole book yet, but have several weeks to do so before school starts. I will be assigning specific non-problematic sections for the kids to read.

How to fit it all in

This is how I am scheduling the books:

Monday – Ancient History of the Near East
Tuesday – Africa (see Heritage Mom for details)
Wednesday – (Term 1) History of Indigenous People in the Americas (Turtle Island and Before Columbus) (Term 2 and 3) America History (An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People and A Young People’s History of the United States)
Thursday – World History
Friday – Geography

Any other recommendations for adding diversity to history? Drop me a comment. What biographies and historical fiction do you love for this time period?