Guest Hollow's High School American History (Year 2) Curriculum Books and Resources

American History Curriculum Books for High School

Please read through these notes before looking at the book/resource list.

NOTE: If you purchase this curriculum, you will have access to a printable book list with a shopping/planning checklist.

WARNING Preview all materials!!

I recommend you preview all items to see if they are appropriate for your students. I have NOT marked every incidence of potentially objectionable material. Some of the books for this course were written with an adult audience in mind. They may contain incidences of cursing or a few references of adult themes / content. I personally feel that high schoolers should be mature enough to handle any/most of the adult references contained in these books, but every family is different in what they find offensive! History does include some topics that may be uncomfortable to some such as rape, sexual slavery, etc. I believe these are excellent topics to discuss with high schoolers in the context of your family's beliefs. High school is the time, in my opinion, to tackle some of the uglier aspects of history and should be the time for some great family discussions (when little ears are not present). Additional notes about some of the books are in the descriptions below to help you make decisions about which books/materials may be OK for your family or not. I have NOT, however, remarked about every possible offense.

Question: If I buy all of those books, I'll spend a fortune! How can I afford this?

Answer: Check out our article on how to use a literature-based curriculum without breaking the bank!

A few additional notes:

Note: The resources below do not contain most of the free YouTube videos that are linked in the schedule.

Quotes below are from the official book descriptions.

You will notice that I've scheduled in quite a few graphic novels. I've found them to be engaging, memorable, and an easy way to absorb history. I believe students will enjoy these selections, but also retain what they are learning. I loved reading through them while choosing books for the curriculum!

Question: Aren't some of the books too easy for high schoolers?

Answer: The spine text A Patriot's History of the United States is a book that is used in some colleges. It is NOT a lower-level book. Using just the spine book, the scheduled videos, and the linked activities covers quite a bit of history. The scheduled books are "frosting on the cake" that help bring topics alive in a way that is engaging and memorable. I do schedule in quite a few graphic novels and some easier fare (amidst some more difficult titles written for adults), but my goal is to get students to not only learn history, but to RETAIN it and LOVE it. I do this using a mix of materials that even adults could learn from. Information is information. It doesn't have to by dry and difficult to get through in order to be valuable (in my opinion). When I was homeschooling, I always used what I believed to be the BEST vehicles for teaching information, no matter what the "level" of those materials. The feedback I've received about this program has been amazing. Students who used to think history was dry and boring have remarked how much they love it after using Guest Hollow's American History Year 1!

Question: Aren't some of the books too hard for high schoolers?

Answer: I combed AP U.S. History reading lists when researching books for this program. Most high schoolers should be able to handle the reading. There is plenty of "easier fare" to balance things out.

Do you have a middle schooler who wants to learn American history with an older sibling (or independently)? You can easily adapt this program to work with a younger student. Instructions on how to do that are included with the curriculum guide. Look for the middle school substitutes for some of the books in the list(s) below.

Are you on a tight budget? You'll notice a lot of the books are FREE through various sources. Just look for the purple text that says FREE. I was once a homeschooler myself and always appreciated a good deal, so I try to take care of my Guest Hollow customers with the same eye towards saving money (without sacrificing quality)! You will need to get a free account for the Open Library to access some of the books in a digital format. The Open Library books are available via checkout, so they aren't always available and you may have to be on a wait list. If a book you want isn't available via the page I linked, search for it (in the Open Library search box). Sometimes there are multiple copies and versions of a book available for checkout. If you check a book out, please make sure to return it as soon as your student is finished, so other families can take advantage of these free books, too! Open Library books are available in a variety of formats - some of which you can download onto a tablet.

Also, many of the books below are available in the Kindle format. The ebook format is often less expensive than physical copies. I LOVE my Kindle and used one in my homeschool (as it saved me a lot of $$ when buying books). Kindles have parent controls for those of you who are concerned about unmonitored Internet access.

If you purchase books new (including ebooks & audiobooks), please consider clicking through our links to Amazon. We get a small commission from your purchases which helps our business!

Scheduled Books & Other Resources

Scroll down past this section to see scheduled videos and unscheduled books. The printable schedule lists when books are used (via a printable book list) for your planning and shopping purposes. The list also tells how long each book is used for, so you can plan whether to borrow or purchase a book.


Middle school substitutions are also listed for various titles. The printable schedule will give more details about why I believe specific titles are not appropriate for that age.

A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to America's Age of Entitlement, Revised Edition

Main "spine" book

Available as an audiobook
Available as an audio CD
Available in Kindle format

NOTE: Other versions of this book may not be exactly the same as the one I've linked to via Amazon. Some of the earlier editions of this book are missing some material in the last chapter(s). If you want your book to line up exactly with the schedule, you will want to get the one revised and updated in 2014. Check the publisher info on Amazon to see if you are getting the correct book.
If you only have access to the free (or other) versions of the book, they should still be very similar, so you can still do this course, but you may miss out on some material at the end of
Year 2.

A Patriot's History of the United States: From Columbus's Great Discovery to America's Age of Entitlement, Revised Edition

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

This is the spine text. It will be used for both year 1 and year 2 of our American history curriculum. I researched a plethora of history texts. This is the best one I found that presents history from a conservative and patriotic viewpoint.

This book can be borrowed for FREE from archive.org:
https://archive.org/details/patriotshistoryo00larr_0

The audio book version is also available for FREE on Hoopla (which many libraries have a subscription to): https://www.hoopladigital.com/title/11667981 . I REALLY like the audio version. You may want to consider it for students who get easily overwhelmed by a lot of reading. If you use the audio version, you can purchase an adult coloring book or allow some other quiet activity during the scheduled portions (knitting, paper models, etc.). If you are using this program with a middle schooler, I highly recommend the audio version as it will probably capture a younger students attention better than the text (and more difficult vocabulary will be read out-loud).

Warning! This book contains: cursing in the context of historic quotes, some sexual references, and violence.

"For the past three decades, many history professors have allowed their biases to distort the way America’s past is taught. These intellectuals have searched for instances of racism, sexism, and bigotry in our history while downplaying the greatness of America’s patriots and the achievements of “dead white men.”

As a result, more emphasis is placed on Harriet Tubman than on George Washington; more about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II than about D-Day or Iwo Jima; more on the dangers we faced from Joseph McCarthy than those we faced from Josef Stalin.

A Patriot’s History of the United States corrects those doctrinaire biases. In this ground-breaking book, America’s discovery, founding, and development are reexamined with an appreciation for the elements of public virtue, personal liberty, and private property that make this nation uniquely successful. This book offers a long-overdue acknowledgment of America’s true and proud history."

Cartoon History of the United States

Non-fiction in a cartoon format

The Cartoon History of the United States

This book can be borrowed for FREE from archive.org: Click here.

I schedule in this book as an easy, visual review of the concepts covered in the main text. Students will enjoy the humorous presentation of history in a cartoon format!

Warning! This book contains: minor cursing (the word hell), minor sexual content in chapter 19 (mention of the sexual revolution and the "gay liberation")

Map Trek US Edition

Historical outline maps

Map Trek - US Edition

I believe maps are an integral part to understanding historical events. I've scheduled in many of the high quality maps and the accompanying lessons from the Map Trek U.S. Edition atlas. You can order the ebook or CD version and print out maps as needed. Each map has 3 levels of assignments associated with it depending on the grade. This collection of maps was also used in American History Year 1.

 

American history workbook

Guest Hollow's American History Workbook / Study Guide - FREE download with your purchase

Some of the books below have this statement in their description:

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Those books are referenced in the FREE PDF workbook that is included with your American History Year 2 curriculum purchase.

The workbook / study guide pages were created for those of you who wish to assess your student’s reading assignments and to help train students to look through a text for information. They are also designed to help students retain what they’ve read and include some maps and other activities. There is an answer key provided at the back of the workbook.

Please don't skip books just because they are NOT referenced in the study guide! They are just as important to the curriculum!

Uprising by Margaret Haddix

1910-1911
Fiction

Uprising

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: a mention of prostitutes showing up at a strike (no sexual details), a girl is groped when being searched for stolen goods, death

"The fire at the Triangle Waist Company in New York City, which claimed the lives of 146 young immigrant workers, is one of the worst disasters since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and the disaster, which brought attention to the labor movement in America, is part of the curriculum in classrooms throughout the country.

Told from alternating points of view, this historical novel draws upon the experiences of three very different young women: Bella, who has just emigrated from Italy and doesn't speak a word of English; Yetta, a Russian immigrant and crusader for labor rights; and Jane, the daughter of a wealthy businessman. Bella and Yetta work together at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory under terrible conditions--their pay is docked for even the slightest mistake, the bosses turn the clocks back so closing time is delayed, and they are locked into the factory all day, only to be frisked before they leave at night to make sure they haven't stolen any shirtwaists. When the situation worsens, Yetta leads the factory's effort to strike, and she meets Jane on the picket line. Jane, who feels trapped by the limits of her own sheltered existence, joins a group of high-society women who have taken an interest in the strike as a way of supporting women's suffrage. Through a series of twists and turns, the three girls become fast friends--and all of them are in the Triangle Shirtwast Factory on March 25, 1911, the day of the fateful fire. In a novel that puts a human face on the tragedy, Margaret Peterson Haddix has created a sweeping, forceful tale that will have readers guessing until the last page who--if anyone--survives."

Monopoly Game
Game

Monopoly

Play this classic game that was invented in 1903 as a political education tool by Progressive Lizzie McGee.

Houdini

1908
Graphic novel

or

DK Biography: Harry Houdini

1900's-1920's
Highly illustrated biography

Choose one of the following:

The first book is harder to find, so I've also scheduled in the 2nd book as an alternate. If both are easily available to you (via a library or other venue), the first book is a very quick read that illustrates one event in Houdini's life in a graphic novel format. It's probably perfect for the student who isn't that interested in Houdini or a reluctant reader. The 2nd book is a more detailed biography with many photographs and illustrations from the time period. It's also a very easy and quick read, but is scheduled out over the course of a week vs. a day.

Houdini: The Handcuff King - Also available new from Scholastic

This book can be borrowed for FREE from openlibrary.org:
https://openlibrary.org/works/OL17791442W/Houdini_the_handcuff_king

"Harry Houdini mesmerized a generation of Americans when he was alive, and continues to do so 80 years after his death. This is a "snapshot" of Houdini's life, centering on one of his most famous jumps. As Houdini prepares for a death-defying leap into the icy Charles River in Boston, biographer Jason Lutes and artist Nick Bertozzi reveal Houdini's life and influence: from the anti-Semitism Houdini fought all his life, to the adulation of the American public; from his hounding by the press, to his loving relationship with his wife Bess; from his egoism to his insecurity; from his public persona -- to the secret behind his most amazing trick! And it's all in graphic form, so it's fresh, original, and unlike anything previously published about this most fascinating of American showmen."

Alternate title:

DK Biography: Harry Houdini
This book can be borrowed for FREE from openlibrary.org:
https://openlibrary.org/works/OL15213354W/Harry_Houdini

This biography stuffed with illustrations and photos covers Houdini's entire life with lots of interesting tidbits about the tricks he performed, a narrow escape, and his tragic death. Sidebars also explain other history of the time period to put things in context.

Magic

Book for an activity

Magic: The Complete Course (Any book on how to do magic tricks will work.)

Students will learn to perform their own magic tricks while learning about Harry Houdini. This is a great confidence booster (and ice breaker) for shy or socially awkward students and something fun for the extroverts as well!

Very, very, very dreadful

1918
Non-fiction, history, science

Very, Very, Very Dreadful

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: violence (in the context of war), pictures of dead bodies, graphic descriptions of illness, a brief mention of evolution

You may want to preview for students who have anxiety about health related issues.

Very, Very, Very Dreadful has a good mix of topics: World War I, the flu epidemic of 1918, and some science! It was really interesting to read how the flu impacted life in the U.S. - something most history books gloss over.

NOTE: if you have a squeamish student or one who doesn't enjoy non-fiction, you may want to schedule in the following book instead: Hattie Big Sky. See the unscheduled books (scroll down) for more information about Hattie Big Sky.

"In spring of 1918, World War I was underway, and troops at Fort Riley, Kansas, found themselves felled by influenza. By the summer of 1918, the second wave struck as a highly contagious and lethal epidemic and within weeks exploded into a pandemic, an illness that travels rapidly from one continent to another. It would impact the course of the war, and kill many millions more soldiers than warfare itself.

Of all diseases, the 1918 flu was by far the worst that has ever afflicted humankind; not even the Black Death of the Middle Ages comes close in terms of the number of lives it took. No war, no natural disaster, no famine has claimed so many. In the space of eighteen months in 1918-1919, about 500 million people--one-third of the global population at the time--came down with influenza. The exact total of lives lost will never be known, but the best estimate is between 50 and 100 million.

In this powerful book, filled with black and white photographs, nonfiction master Albert Marrin examines the history, science, and impact of this great scourge--and the possibility for another worldwide pandemic today."

Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (A World War I Tale)

1914-1918
Graphic novel
World and American history

Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (A World War I Tale)

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: violence

I love the Nathan Hale Hazardous Tale series of books! They are both informative and humorous.

This book can be borrowed for FREE from Hoopla (which some libraries have a subscription to).

"World War I set the tone for the 20th century and introduced a new type of warfare: global, mechanical, and brutal. Nathan Hale has gathered some of the most fascinating true-life tales from the war and given them his inimitable Hazardous Tales twist. Easy to understand, funny, informative, and lively, this series is the best way to be introduced to some of the most well-known battles (and little-known secrets) of the infamous war."

The Roaring 20's book

1920's
Non-fiction in a magazine format

 

 

TIME-LIFE The Roaring 20's

This book is very similar to a magazine and is stuffed full of photographs and short chapters. It's very readable and covers many of the main topics for the 1920's.

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: mentions of sexual content (in the context of social change but without graphic details) - Examples: some women discarded restricting corsets and even went braless (p. 14), sexuality became divorced from procreation and condoms (as well as other birth control) became more available (p. 16), petting parties were a scandal to the older generation (p. 34)

"They were years like no others, defined by bootleggers and flappers, sports greats and Hollywood stars, mobsters and the literary Lost Generation, Wall Street and the syncopated rhythms of jazz. Turn back time to rediscover the exuberant 1920s, the decade that kicked off the modern era."

Of Mice and Men

1930's
Fiction (novella)

Of Mice and Men

This book can be borrowed for FREE from openlibrary.org:
https://openlibrary.org/works/OL23204W/Of_Mice_and_Men

Warning! This book contains: frequent cursing, the "N" word, sexual content/innuendo - but no graphic details, mention of a "cat house", a mention of drowned puppies, death

This is an emotionally draining book, but it definitely earns it's place as a classic. Highly recommended despite the bad language.

"A controversial tale of friendship and tragedy during the Great Depression:

Over seventy-five years since its first publication, Steinbeck’s tale of commitment, loneliness, hope, and loss remains one of America’s most widely read and taught novels. An unlikely pair, George and Lennie, two migrant workers in California during the Great Depression, grasp for their American Dream. They hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations, nor predict the consequences of Lennie's unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

Of Mice and Men represents an experiment in form, which Steinbeck described as “a kind of playable novel, written in a novel form but so scened and set that it can be played as it stands.” A rarity in American letters, it achieved remarkable success as a novel, a Broadway play, and three acclaimed films."

Children of the Dust Bowl

1930's-early 1940's
Non-fiction

Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: cursing

This book can be borrowed for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

"Illustrated with photographs from the Dust Bowl era. This true story took place at the emergency farm-labor camp immortalized in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Ostracized as "dumb Okies," the children of Dust Bowl migrant laborers went without school--until Superintendent Leo Hart and 50 Okie kids built their own school in a nearby field."

To Kill a Mockingbird Graphic Novel

1930's
Graphic novel

To Kill a Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel

Warning! This book contains: the "N" word, infrequent cursing, a mention of rape

I had, at first, considered scheduling in the original classic but decided to replace it with this instead to keep the reading assignments more manageable (and enjoyable, lol).This is such a beautiful graphic novel that is quite faithful to the original!

"A beautifully crafted graphic novel adaptation of Harper Lee’s beloved, Pulitzer Prize–winning American classic, voted America's best-loved novel in PBS's Great American Read."

FDR and the American Crisis

1880's-1945
Non-fiction/biography

FDR and the American Crisis

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: minor cursing, a mention of FDR's affair (no graphic details), violence, sexual content (Example: p. 169 - during the Japanese invasion of China, women were used as "comfort women"/sex slaves)

"Brought up in a privileged family, Franklin Delano Roosevelt had every opportunity in front of him. As a young man, he found a path in politics and quickly began to move into the public eye. That ascent seemed impossible when he contracted polio and lost the use of his legs. But with a will of steel he fought the disease—and public perception of his disability—to become president of the United States of America.
 
FDR used that same will to guide his country through a crippling depression and a horrendous world war. He understood Adolf Hitler, and what it would take to stop him, before almost any other world leader did. But to accomplish his greater goals, he made difficult choices that sometimes compromised the ideals of fairness and justice.
 
FDR is one of America’s most intriguing presidents, lionized by some and villainized by others. National Book Award finalist Albert Marrin explores the life of a fascinating, complex man, who was ultimately one of the greatest leaders our country has known."

The Bomb

1930's - 1940's and beyond
Non-fiction
World and American history

or

Trinity - graphic novel

Non-fiction graphic novel


Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon

Warning! This book contains: violence

This book is like reading a true James Bond novel! ;-)

In December of 1938, a chemist in a German laboratory made a shocking discovery: When placed next to radioactive material, a Uranium atom split in two. That simple discovery launched a scientific race that spanned 3 continents.

In Great Britain and the United States, Soviet spies worked their way into the scientific community; in Norway, a commando force slipped behind enemy lines to attack German heavy-water manufacturing; and deep in the desert, one brilliant group of scientists was hidden away at a remote site at Los Alamos. This is the story of the plotting, the risk-taking, the deceit, and genius that created the world's most formidable weapon. This is the story of the atomic bomb.

Bomb is an acclaimed nonfiction book from award-winning author Steve Sheinkin.

Alternate selection:

Trinity - A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb

Warning! This book contains: cursing, violence

If your student wants a quicker read (in a graphic novel format), Trinity may be a better choice. Trinity is also scheduled in our chemistry program. Trinity is NOT scheduled in this curriculum. If you choose it, read it during the same time Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon is scheduled.

Prisoner B-3087

1930's-1940's WW2
Novel based on a true story

Prisoner B-3087

Warning! This book contains: violence

This book can be borrowed for FREE from openlibrary.org:
https://openlibrary.org/works/OL16592184W/Prisoner_B-3087

A gripping novel based on the astonishing true story of a boy who survived 10 concentration camps, was rescued by Americans, and became an American citizen himself. Based on the true story by Ruth and Jack Gruener.

Feel free to schedule in your favorite novel that covers the Holocaust, instead of this one, if you wish.

Raid of No Return

1940's WW2
Graphic novel

Raid of No Return (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #7): A World War II Tale of the Doolittle Raid

Warning! This book contains: violence, a man's arm is chopped off by a plane prop, minor cursing

I love the Nathan Hale Hazardous Tale series of books! They are both informative and humorous.

This book can be borrowed for FREE from Hoopla (which some libraries have a subscription to).

"On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, officially bringing the United States into World War II. A new generation of pilots were recruited to fly bombing missions for the United States, and from that group, volunteers were requested for a dangerous secret assignment. For the first time in American history, Army bombers would be launched from an aircraft carrier. Once at sea, they were told their mission was a retaliation strike against targets in Tokyo. But on the day of the raid, a Japanese patrol boat spotted them and they had to launch early, with barely enough fuel to get them past their target.

After the bombing, some pilots crashed, some were captured, and many ended up in mainland China and were carried to safety by Chinese villagers, being hunted by Japanese forces all the while. With tales of high-flying action and bravery, Raid of No Return is a story of heartbreak and survival during wartime."

March Book 1

Civil Rights Movement

1950's-1960's
Graphic novel

March: Book 1

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: violence, the "N" word, the murder of Emmett Till, a curse word (p. 79)

This book can be borrowed for FREE from Hoopla (which some libraries have a subscription to).

"Before he became a respected Congressman, John Lewis was clubbed, gassed, arrested over 40 times, and nearly killed by angry mobs and state police, all while nonviolently protesting racial discrimination. He marched side-by-side with Martin Luther King as the youngest leader of the Civil Rights Movement that would change a nation forever.

Now, experience John Lewis' incredible story first-hand, brought to life in a stunning graphic novel trilogy. With co-writer Andrew Aydin and Eisner Award-winning artist Nate Powell, John Lewis' MARCH tells the story of how a poor sharecropper's son helped transform America, from a segregated schoolhouse to the 1963 March on Washington and beyond.

BOOK ONE spans John Lewis' youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Dr. King, the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall."

March: Book 2

1960's
Civil Rights Movement
Graphic novel

March: Book 2

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: violence, the "N" word, cursing (including taking God's name in vain), cartoon nudity of backsides (p. 102), Bayard Rustin is "gay" - but no graphic details are discussed (p. 151 & 153)

This book can be borrowed for FREE from Hoopla (which some libraries have a subscription to).

"After the success of the Nashville sit-in campaign, John Lewis is more committed than ever to changing the world through nonviolence - but as he and his fellow Freedom Riders board a bus into the vicious heart of the deep south, they will be tested like never before.

Faced with beatings, police brutality, imprisonment, arson, and even murder, the young activists of the movement struggle with internal conflicts as well. But their courage will attract the notice of powerful allies, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy... and once Lewis is elected chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, this 23-year-old will be thrust into the national spotlight, becoming one of the "Big Six" leaders of the civil rights movement and a central figure in the landmark 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom."

Kennedy's Last Days: The Assasination That Defined a Generation

or

Killing Kennedy

1960's
Non-fiction/biography

Kennedy's Last Days: The Assassination That Defined a Generation

Warning! This book contains: violence, especially the description of Kennedy's assassination in chapter 35

I had originally scheduled in Killing Kennedy (see the title below), but decided that it has quite a bit of sexual content that may be more appropriate for more mature teens vs. some of the younger teens who may be doing this program. I've scheduled in BOTH books, so you can make a choice based on your teen's maturity level and your family's beliefs about reading materials. Kennedy's Last Days is adapted from Killing Kennedy. The sexual content was taken out, the text abridged by a great deal, and lots of photos (and terrific maps) were added. It is a much quicker and easier read. There is also a lot more information about the culture at the time (inventions, foods, etc.).

Mature teens may be able to handle:

Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot

This book can be borrowed for FREE from openlibrary.org:
https://openlibrary.org/works/OL17652042W/Killing_Kennedy

Warning! This book contains: violence, bad language (in the context of quotes), frank discussions of Kennedy's multiple infidelities and Jackie's complaints about her sexual relationship with him (chapter 4 starting on p. 57 and chapter 5 starting on p. 63), other mild sexual references, a description of the murder of Emmett Till (chapter 6 starting on p. 86), Kennedy's murder in detail (beginning on p. 239)

Here are some suggestions for teens who want to read this version of the book but may not be mature enough to read about Kennedy's sex life:

  • You can paperclip the pages of those sections together if you have the physical book.
  • You can have your teen skip chapters 4-5 and summarize them for him/her in whatever way you feel is appropriate.
  • Use the adaptation of this book: Kennedy's Last Days
Fondue pot

Fondue Pot

You'll need a fondue pot if you want to have a 1970's fondue party! Fondue is so yummy and fun. You can make a new family meal tradition!

Vietnam War Graphic History

1960's-1970's
Vietnam War
Non-fiction in a graphic novel format

The Vietnam War - A Graphic History

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: violence, very infrequent cursing

This book can be borrowed for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

"Through beautifully rendered artwork, The Vietnam War: A Graphic History depicts the course of the war from its initial expansion in the early 1960s through the evacuation of Saigon in 1975, and what transpired at home, from the antiwar movement and the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. to the Watergate break-in and the resignation of a president."

Vietnamese fish sauce

Item for a recipe

Fish sauce

This is used in a Vietnamese recipe students have the option of making after reading about Tết.

Optional: Thai mushroom seasoning.

Note: The mushroom seasoning is expensive. Since it’s an optional ingredient in the recipe, you may want to skip it.

Most Dangerous

1960's-1970's
Vietnam War

 

Most Dangerous - Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War

This book is referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: violence, cursing

"From Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of The Port Chicago 50 and Newbery Honor Book Bomb comes a tense, narrative nonfiction account of what the Times deemed "the greatest story of the century": how whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg transformed from obscure government analyst into "the most dangerous man in America," and risked everything to expose years of government lies during the Nixon / Cold War era.

On June 13, 1971, the front page of the New York Times announced the existence of a 7,000-page collection of documents containing a secret history of the Vietnam War. Known as The Pentagon Papers, these files had been commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. Chronicling every action the government had taken in the Vietnam War, they revealed a pattern of deception spanning over twenty years and four presidencies, and forever changed the relationship between American citizens and the politicians claiming to represent their interests. The investigation that resulted--as well as the attempted government coverups and vilification of the whistleblower--has timely relevance to Edward Snowden's more recent conspiracy leaks.

A provocative and political book that interrogates the meanings of patriotism, freedom, and integrity, Most Dangerous further establishes Steve Sheinkin as a leader in children's nonfiction."

There Are No Children Here

Late 1980's
Non-fiction

There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in The Other America

Warning! This book contains: violence, cursing, references to prostitution (no graphic details), mentions of rape (no graphic details), teen pregnancy, drug use, etc.

There Are No Children Here, the true story of brothers Lafeyette and Pharoah Rivers, ages 11 and 9 at the start, brings home the horror of trying to make it in a violence-ridden public housing project. The boys live in a gang-plagued war zone on Chicago's West Side, literally learning how to dodge bullets the way kids in the suburbs learn to chase baseballs. "If I grow up, I'd like to be a bus driver," says Lafeyette at one point. That's if, not when--spoken with the complete innocence of a child. The book's title comes from a comment made by the brothers' mother as she and author Alex Kotlowitz contemplate the challenges of living in such a hostile environment: "There are no children here," she says. "They've seen too much to be children." This book humanizes the problem of inner-city pathology, makes readers care about Lafeyette and Pharoah more than they may expect to, and offers a sliver of hope buried deep within a world of chaos.

Option for middle schoolers or teens who need a shorter read: Monster or Monster: A Graphic Novel - Both of these are NOT scheduled.

Educated: A Memoir

1990's
Memoir

Educated: A Memoir

This is an extremely popular book right now with good reason. It's an interesting and inspiring memoir that shows students they can accomplish great things if they work hard to do so. There is also a bit of 1990's history sprinkled in, like a mention of Ruby Ridge, etc.

Warning! This book contains: violence/abuse perpetrated by a family member, extremist views of the author's parents

"Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills” bag. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged metal in her father’s junkyard.

Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent.

When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. She taught herself enough mathematics, grammar, and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. There, she studied psychology, politics, philosophy, and history, learning for the first time about pivotal world events like the Holocaust and the Civil Rights Movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home."

Option for middle schoolers or younger teens: American Born Chinese (See details for this book in the unscheduled books below.)

9/11 report

2001
Non-fiction in a graphic novel format

The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation

Warning! This book contains: violence

This book can be borrowed for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

"Using every skill and storytelling method Jacobson and Colón have learned over the decades, they have produced the most accessible version of the 9/11 Report. Jacobson's text frequently follows word for word the original report, faithfully captures its investigative thoroughness, and covers its entire scope, even including the Commission's final report card. Colón's stunning artwork powerfully conveys the facts, insights, and urgency of the original. Published on the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, an event that has left no aspect of American foreign or domestic policy untouched, The 9/11 Report puts at every American's fingertips the most defining event of the century."

Sunrise Over Fallujah

2003
Iraq War, Literature

Sunrise Over Fallujah

This book is briefly referenced in the curriculum workbook /study guide.

Warning! This book contains: violence, mild sexual banter, an attempted rape (no graphic details), death

This book can be borrowed for FREE from openlibrary.org:
https://openlibrary.org/works/OL98256W/Sunrise_over_Fallujah

Robin "Birdy" Perry, a new army recruit from Harlem, isn't quite sure why he joined the army, but he's sure where he's headed: Iraq. Birdy and the others in the Civilian Affairs Battalion are supposed to help secure and stabilize the country and successfully interact with the Iraqi people. Officially, the code name for their maneuvers is Operation Iraqi Freedom. But the young men and women in the CA unit have a simpler name for it: WAR

Drowned City

2005
Graphic novel

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans

Warning! This book contains: death, drawings of dead bodies, mentions of drownings, etc. - Preview for sensitive readers.

This award-winning graphic novel tells the powerful story of Hurricane Katrina.

Buffet of Optional Videos - Continue scrolling down for unscheduled books!

These videos are in the schedule (unless they are labeled as unscheduled), but you can decide whether you want to watch them or not due to time constraints, budget, availability, and/or student interest. I believe video is an important component of learning history, especially so students can see real events that happened. Try to fit in as many as you can! We used to watch videos like these as a family instead of paying for cable. ;-)

You will need to decide which videos are appropriate for your student depending on his/her maturity level and level of sensitivity as well as your family's beliefs about mature content.

Please note: There are many other videos in the schedule that aren't listed here. They are usually short (or free) videos on YouTube.

Some of the following videos are FREE for Amazon Prime Members.

Don't forget to check your local library for these videos, too! Our library system has most of these titles available for check out.

American Experience: Henry Ford

Documentary

American Experience: Henry Ford

"HENRY FORD paints a fascinating portrait of a farm boy who rose from obscurity to become the most influential American innovator of the 20th century."

American Experiecne: The Great War (WWI)

Documentary

American Experience: The Great War

I didn't schedule this series in as a "required" video due to how long each episode is (1 hour 53 minutes), but it's a worthwhile addition to your history studies. See the idea in week 4 for a binge-watching pajama party marathon! Amazon Prime members can watch it for free (at the time of this writing)!

"This is the story of heroism and sacrifice in WWI, told through the varied voices of nurses, journalists, soldiers, suffragists, and others whose participation in the war to "make the world safe for democracy" has been largely forgotten."

The Eugenics Crusade

Documentary

American Experience: The Eugenics Crusade

Warning! This video contains: mentions of sterilization

"The Eugenics Crusade tells the story of campaign to breed a "better" American race, tracing the rise of the movement that turned the fledgling science of heredity into a powerful instrument of social control."

The Kid

The Kid

This is a classic Charlie Chaplin movie.

Warning: This video contains: A mild curse word is used via text. The main character flirts with a married woman.

Prohibition: Ken Burns

Documentary

Prohibition: A Film by Ken Burns

Warning! This video contains: black-and-white pictures of dead bodies, mild sexual references (prostitution, etc.), lots of alcohol consumption

Ken Burns makes fabulous documentaries. This one is about the rise and fall of the 18th Amendment, but you'll also learn about the culture of the time, income tax, women's suffrage, immigration, politics, crime, and much more at the turn of the century into the early 1930's!

America in Color

Documentary

Unscheduled: America in Color (series)

America in Color: Warning! This video contains (in the 1920's video): footage of a woman breast feeding (the top part of her breast is visible), flappers dancing in skimpy 2 piece outfits

or

Scheduled: The Century: America's Time (2nd link here.) - This is a series that was produced by ABC and aired on TV in 1999. Even though it's older, it's still pretty interesting. *Recommended!

I have not yet previewed every single video in these series. Watch at your own discretion.

Modern Marvels: Radio

Documentary

Modern Marvels: Radio Out of Thin Air (free online)
Also available on DVD via Amazon: Click here.

"To some it was a miracle. Others derided it as a triumph of illiteracy. The introduction of the radio changed life in America nearly overnight. In the age of TV, radio is a second-class citizen, but for a few brief decades it was king. MODERN MARVELS tells the story of the dawn of the electronics age, when the wireless was a stunning phenomenon. Meet the men who took the work that had been done on the telegraph to the next step, and hear some of the earliest broadcasts. Radio personalities like Casey Kasem and Larry King explore the unique qualities of the medium, and reflect on its current renaissance. And historians explore the dramatic and lasting changes that the coming of the radio made on society. Don't touch that dial this is a compelling saga of invention and sweeping cultural changes, the history of the first mass broadcast medium that started us on the long road to the "global village."

Choose one of the following for week 10 (optional):

Movies

Disney’s Snow White, Of Mice and Men, Wuthering Heights, The Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Goodbye Mr. Chips, or Gone with the Wind

Shirley Temple Watch a documentary about Shirley Temple (or one of her movies).

War of the Worlds

Documentary

PBS - American Experience: War of the Worlds

Relive Orson Welles' infamous radio dramatization 75 years after the mass hysteria event it spawned.

The War

Documentary

The War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick

Warning! This video contains: violence

"Six years in the making, this epic 15-hour film focuses on the stories of citizens from Waterbury, Connecticut; Mobile, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and the tiny farming town of Luverne, Minnesota. These four communities stand in for -- and could represent -- any town in the United States that went through the war's four devastating years. Individuals from each community take the viewer through their own personal and quite often harrowing journeys into war, painting vivid portraits of how the war dramatically altered their lives and those of their neighbors, as well as the country they helped to save for generations to come."

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

Movie

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

Students can watch this movie after reading about the Doolittle Raid in the book: Raid of No Return (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #7): A World War II Tale of the Doolittle Raid
This movie is based on the book written by Ted Lawson (and mentioned in Raid of No Return). It was made two years after the actual events occurred.

"Oscar-winning fact-based World War II picture about General Jimmy Doolittle's efforts to train American troops for the first airborne attacks on Japan."

Band of Brothers

Mini-Series

Band of Brothers (unscheduled)

Warning! This video series contains: graphic violence, brief nudity, cursing, sexual content
See the Common Sense Review for specific warnings. Here's an additional guide with more details: IMDb Parent's Guide

(Make sure to preview Episode 9: Why We Fight for a brief sex scene showing naked buttocks and breasts.)

This is one of the best (in my opinion) series on WW2. It is very realistic, though. We allowed our son to watch it as a teen, but were on hand to fast forward through objectionable content. This series may not be appropriate for younger teens, and some families may feel it's not appropriate for teens at all. Use your discretion.

This landmark ten-part HBO miniseries recounts the remarkable achievements of an elite team of U.S. paratroopers in World War II.

Note: My husband and I also watched HBO series The Pacific. It has much more sexual content, though, so I don't recommend it for teens.

Saving Private Ryan

Movie

Saving Private Ryan - This movie is scheduled for the week when students learn about D-Day.

Warning! This video series contains: graphic violence, cursing

Click here for the IMDb Parent's Guide for content warnings.
Click here for the Common Sense Media warnings.


This is another excellent movie about WW2 that all of our teens watched with us. This movie may not be appropriate for younger teens, and some families may feel it's not appropriate for teens at all. Use your discretion.

Schindler's List

Movie

Schindler's List

Even though this movie isn't about American history, I've scheduled it in during the week when students read about the Holocaust. This is a must-see (in my opinion), powerful, emotionally wrenching movie. Click here for a Common Sense Media review. All of our teens watched it. You may want to be on hand to fast forward through the sex scene (where bare breasts are shown) and possibly the nudity in the concentration camp scene(s) (although it illustrates the humiliation the Jews suffered). This movie may not be appropriate for younger teens, and some families may feel it's not appropriate for teens at all. Use your discretion.

Warning! This video series contains: nudity, cursing, graphic violence, implied rape, sexual content

"Winner of 7 Oscars including Best Picture, Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List follows the true story of Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson), who saved more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust."

The Bomb (PBS)

Documentary

PBS - The Bomb

"This is the story of the most powerful and destructive device ever invented. With newly restored footage, go behind the scenes of the first atomic bomb, revealing how it was developed and how it changed the planet. Examine the choices society has made since 1945--and continues to make--to live with an invention that could destroy the planet."

MASH

T.V. Show

M*a*s*h TV Season 1

Warning! This video series contains: violence, comedic kissing/groping, some sexist joking, etc.

Click here for a Common Sense Media review.

"Korea, 1950. They were a MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) unit stationed three miles from the front. Incoming helicopters full of wounded brought the horrors of war to them daily and sometimes bullets flew right outside the operating room door. Occasional hilarity and constant hijinks were all that kept them sane.

Loosely based on real-life MASH unit 8055, life at the 4077 revolved around the day-to-day routines of Captain "Hawkeye" Pierce, Captain "Trapper" McIntyre, Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake, Major Margaret Houlihan, Major Franklin Burns and Corporal "Radar" O'Reilly."

Happy Days

T.V. Show

Leave it to Beaver

Choose:

Happy Days

Warning! This video series contains: teens "making out", drinking, guys trying to get girls to go out with them, etc.
Happy Days is known to be pretty "squeaky clean" though, compared to shows today.

Click here for a Common Sense Media review of Happy Days.

"Set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 1950’s, HAPPY DAYS revolves around Richie Cunningham and his family and friends. "

or

Leave it to Beaver

This is a well-loved show about growing up in the 50's and early 60's - I feel it's safe for the whole family to watch. :-)

The Founder

Movie

The Founder

Warning! This video contains: cursing, a married man flirts with a married woman

Click here for a Common Sense Media Review.

"The true story of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), a struggling salesman from Illinois, met Mac and Dick McDonald, and worked to create a billion-dollar burger empire."

Thirteen Days

Movie

Thirteen Days

Warning! This video contains: cursing

Click here for a Common Sense Media review.

"Kevin Costner stars in this inside look at how the Kennedy Administration responded to the discovery of offensive Soviet weapons in Cuba."

The Help

Movie

The Help

Warning! This video contains: violence, a miscarriage

Click here for a Common Sense Media review.

This movie is set in the early 1960's and covers issues of racial upheaval in Jackson, Mississippi.

First Man

Movies and Mini-Series

 

Choose one (or any combo of the following):

From the Earth to the Moon

Click here for a parent's guide to the series.

"This 12-hour HBO miniseries created by Tom Hanks garnered 17 Emmy nominations and captivated audiences. From the early stages of the space program and Kennedy's 1961 call to reach the moon within a decade to the successes and heartbreaking failures of the race for space, the dream was kept alive by dedicated, daring professionals and a nation intent on reaching for -- and landing amid -- the stars, all while the world faced the Vietnam War."

First Man

Click here for a Common Sense Media review.

"Ryan Gosling stars in First Man, the riveting and triumphant story behind one of the most dangerous missions in history: the first manned mission to the moon."

Apollo 13

Click here for a Common Sense Media Review

"A "routine" space flight becomes a desperate battle to survive in this breathtaking adventure of courage and faith starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise and Ed Harris."

The Right Stuff


Click here for the Common Sense Media review
. Warning: This movie features some sexual content. Read the linked review for details.

"From Chuck Yaeger -- the first man to break the sound barrier -- to the seven Mercury astronauts, it's the story of the birth of the U.S. Space Program."

Vietnam War

Documentary

The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novak

Warning! This video contains: mature content, strong language, nudity (a child in disc 1, mountain village women's breasts in disc 2), mentions of rape, and graphic violence

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's ten-part documentary series, THE VIETNAM WAR, tells the epic story of one of the most consequential, divisive, and controversial events in American history.

The Post (movie)

Movie

The Post

*Highly recommended! This movie has a bit of a slow start, but once it gets going, it's great. It contains some very positive messages and is very "clean" for a modern movie with just a bit of swearing, etc.

Click here for a parent's guide to this movie.

Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, and Meryl Streep team for the first time in this true story about how the Washington Post exposed a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades.

 

Chappaquiddick

Movie

Chappaquiddick

Warning! This video contains: a drowning, cursing, etc. Click here to see a parent's guide to this movie.

Ted Kennedy's life and political career become derailed in the aftermath of a fatal car accident in 1969 that claims the life of a young campaign strategist.

 

Miracle

Movie

Miracle

Filled with exhilarating nonstop hockey action and heart-racing suspense, MIRACLE is the inspiring true story behind one of the greatest moments in sports history — the 1980 United States ice hockey team's triumphant Olympic victory against the Soviet Union.

 

Steve Jobs

Movie

 

Steve Jobs

Warning! This video contains: swearing

Click here for a Common Sense Media review of this movie.

"Directed by Academy Award-winner Danny Boyle and written by Academy Award-winner Aaron Sorkin, Steve Jobs paints an intimate portrait of the brilliant man."

LA 92

LA '92

Warning! This video contains: violence

Marking the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots, LA92 immerses viewers in that tumultuous period through rarely seen archival footage.

Unscheduled Books

These books are an important part of the curriculum. Your student will not read all of them.
Instructions on how to choose from the following books as well as how to schedule them are included in the printable schedule.

You may want to assign literature (English/Language Arts) credits for some of these books.

Warning: I have not fully previewed the books in italics due to time constraints. I have, however, researched them and skimmed through most of them. Although I have included warnings for some of the books, I have not included every possible objectionable item. Please preview with your own family’s values in mind.

American Inventions

TIME-LIFE American Inventions: Big Ideas That Changed Modern Life

Note: This book is more like a magazine stuffed full of photos. It's an easy and interesting read!

"TIME-LIFE American Inventions: Big Ideas that Changed Modern Life features our top-picks of inventions that were not only successful, but that changed the way we live on a day-to-day basis, shaping the modern world that we live in. TIME-LIFE American Inventions investigates the fruits of imagination, innovation, and ingenuity from cities to hospitals to kitchens. With chapters including Building America, The Office, Food, Recreation, Health and Medicine, Apparel, and Technology, learn about how innovations throughout time made this land our land."

 

The Jungle

Early 1900's
Literature

The Jungle

This book can be read for FREE from openlibrary.org (no check-out required!):
https://openlibrary.org/works/OL17804954W/The_jungle

This book can also be found free online in a variety of formats, including eBooks and free audio books (check YouTube and Librevox)!

Warning! This book contains: descriptions of animal slaughter, worker accidents, alcohol consumption, death, sexual references (no graphic details)

NOTE: The Jungle has a very strong socialist agenda. The main character Jurgis does "bad" things, but it's as if his actions are excused due to his circumstances. This is one of those novels that can be depressing and plodding at times. However, it's also interesting in the context of history and how it spurred the creation of real-life laws. I took The Jungle out of the scheduled books, but put it here for those of you who'd like to explore it with your student(s). I highly recommend you (the parent/teacher) read it first before handing it over to your student(s).

"An ardent activist, champion of political reform, novelist, and progressive journalist, Upton Sinclair is perhaps best known today for The Jungle — his devastating exposé of the meat-packing industry. A protest novel he privately published in 1906, the book was a shocking revelation of intolerable labor practices and unsanitary working conditions in the Chicago stockyards. It quickly became a bestseller, arousing public sentiment and resulting in such federal legislation as the Pure Food and Drug Act.

The brutally grim story of a Slavic family who emigrates to America, The Jungle tells of their rapid and inexorable descent into numbing poverty, moral degradation, and social and economic despair. Vulnerable and isolated, the family of Jurgis Rudkus struggles — unsuccessfully — to survive in an urban jungle.

While Sinclair's main target was the meatpacking industry's appalling labor conditions, the reading public was most outraged by the disgusting filth and contamination that his novel exposed. As a result, President Theodore Roosevelt demanded an official investigation, which led to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug laws. For a novel to have such an impact outside its literary context is extremely rare

A powerful view of turn-of-the-century poverty, graft, and corruption, this fiercely realistic American classic is still required reading in many history and literature classes. It will continue to haunt readers long after they've finished the last page."

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

1900-1917
Fiction

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

This book can be read for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

"From the moment she entered the world, Francie needed to be made of stern stuff, for the often harsh life of Williamsburg demanded fortitude, precocity, and strength of spirit. Often scorned by neighbors for her family’s erratic and eccentric behavior—such as her father Johnny’s taste for alcohol and Aunt Sissy’s habit of marrying serially without the formality of divorce—no one, least of all Francie, could say that the Nolans’ life lacked drama. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the Nolans’ daily experiences are tenderly threaded with family connectedness and raw with honesty. Betty Smith has, in the pages of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, captured the joys of humble Williamsburg life-from “junk day” on Saturdays, when the children of Francie’s neighborhood traded their weekly take for pennies, to the special excitement of holidays, bringing cause for celebration and revelry. Betty Smith has artfully caught this sense of exciting life in a novel of childhood, replete with incredibly rich moments of universal experiences—a truly remarkable achievement for any writer."

Terrible Typhoid Mary

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Storey of the Deadliest Cook in America

This is an easy read that is appropriate for almost all ages.

"What happens when a person's reputation has been forever damaged? With archival photographs and text among other primary sources, this riveting biography of Mary Mallon by the Sibert medalist and Newbery Honor winner Susan Bartoletti looks beyond the tabloid scandal of Mary's controversial life. How she was treated by medical and legal officials reveals a lesser-known story of human and constitutional rights, entangled with the science of pathology and enduring questions about who Mary Mallon really was. How did her name become synonymous with deadly disease?"

Hattie Big Sky

1918

Hattie Big Sky

This book can be read for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

This award-winning book is about a homesteading 16-year-old girl in Montana during World War I. It will probably appeal more to girls than boys. You can use it as a substitute for Very, Very, Very Dreadful if you have a squeamish student or one who doesn't enjoy non-fiction.

The Great Gatsby

1920's

The Great Gatsby

Warning! This book contains: violence, sexual content, murder

This book can be read for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

"Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. First published in 1925, this quintessential novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s."

Orphan Train

1929-1940's
(and modern times)

Orphan Train OR Orphan Train Girl (Young Reader's Edition)

This book can be read for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

Orphan Train is based on the real orphan trains that operated from 1853 to 1929. Warning! The first book I've linked to was written for adults and has some adult content: cursing (including the F-bomb), a teen boy touches his girlfriends chest while kissing in a car (p. 85), a girl sees the private parts of a woman "accidentally" (p. 144) and there is a sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl (p. 150). Click here for a parent's review of this book.

The young reader's edition keeps the same threads of the story but changes some details. A 17-year-old foster girl is changed to be a 6th grade girl. Sexual content and violence is removed, as is the bad language. The writing is condensed to be appropriate for elementary through middle school aged students (although many adults end up reading this edition as well). There is also a history note at the end with archival photos as well as "mother-daughter book club questions."

Click here for an optional curriculum guide for the book.

To Kill a Mockingbird

1930's

To Kill a Mockingbird

Study guide

This book can be read for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

I scheduled in the graphic novel version of this book in order to not burden students with "too much" reading - plus it's just a beautiful and powerful rendition of the original. After reading the graphic novel, some students may be interested in reading the original, so here it is! :-)

"Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork of honor and injustice in the deep South—and the heroism of one man in the face of blind and violent hatred

One of the best-loved stories of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, served as the basis for an enormously popular motion picture, and was voted one of the best novels of the twentieth century by librarians across the country. A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father—a crusading local lawyer—risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime."

Shirley Temple book

Biography
Depression era

The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression

This book is kind of a combo of Shirley Temple biography and a social/cultural analysis of the Depression with plenty of politics, racial issues, etc. thrown in. The writing is fairly "academic" as it was written by a history professor. There are plenty of interesting tidbits, though.

Warning! This book contains: brief sexual content (p. 79 - out of work men in the Depression are quoted as having less sexual relations than before in regards to feeling humiliated from not having any work) (p. 81 - a novelist writes a review of Shirley's movie and speaks of subliminated erotic appeal - pedophilia is mentioned)

Note: This is not the best biography of Shirley Temple as it doesn't focus solely on her, but it's one of the few that is still available to purchase new. If your student is interested in reading about Shirley (and how she affected Depression era movie goers) a better book is Child Star. It's not currently available new, but you can find used copies on Amazon and also find it FREE at Openlibrary.org here and also here.

 

Unbroken

1940's
Non-fiction

Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation)

Very mature teens may be able to read the adult version of this book:

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Read a parent's review of the adult version of the book here.

This book can be read for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

"On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War."

Uprooted

Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II

"Just 75 years ago, the American government did something that most would consider unthinkable today: It rounded up over 100,000 of its own citizens based on nothing more than their ancestry and, suspicious of their loyalty, kept them in concentration camps for the better part of four years.

How could this have happened? Uprooted takes a close look at the history of racism in America and carefully follows the treacherous path that led one of our nation's most beloved presidents to make this decision. Meanwhile, it also illuminates the history of Japan and its own struggles with racism and xenophobia, which led to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, ultimately tying the two countries together.

Today America is still filled with racial tension, and personal liberty in wartime is as relevant a topic as ever. Moving and impactful, National Book Award finalist Albert Marrin's sobering exploration of this monumental injustice shines as bright a light on current events as it does on the past."

World War Two: Against the Rising Sun

Graphic Novel
World and American history
1937- 1945

World War Two: Against the Rising Sun

Warning! This book contains: violence, very minor and infrequent cursing

Relive World War Two, as it happened in the East, through the eyes of the servicemen and civilians on both sides of the conflict. Follow the invasion of Manchuria by Japan in 1937, right through to the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Witness the end of the British
Empire, the rise and fall of Japan and destruction the likes of which the world must never know again.

The Cross and the Switchblade

1950's
True story

The Cross and the Switchblade

Warning! This book contains: violence

This book can be read for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

"Fifty years ago, when a lanky country preacher stepped onto the gang-ridden streets of New York City, most people thought he had gone over the edge. But David Wilkerson had faith that God was leading him and never looked back. Today his inner-city ministry, Teen Challenge, boasts residential and crisis counseling centers in more than seventy countries. Its Christian discipleship program has restored hope to tens of thousands of men and women with drug or alcohol addiction.

In this 45th anniversary edition of The Cross and the Switchblade, readers will experience anew the dramatic story that started it all. Since its original 1963 publication, The Cross and the Switchblade has sold more than 15 million copies. Wilkerson's story continues to inspire renewed faith in God's ability to overcome problems that even the most determined human efforts cannot resolve."

March: Book 3'

1960's
Civil Rights Movement
Graphic novel

March: Book 3

Warning! This book contains: violence, the "N" word, sex is mentioned (but no details - p. 92), alcohol consumption, cursing (not frequently) including the "F" word, mention of fornication (p. 232), murder, mention of "balls" (p. 241)

Students who enjoyed the first two March graphic novels may wish to read the last book in the series.

"By Fall 1963, the Civil Rights Movement is an undeniable keystone of the national conversation, and as chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is right in the thick of it. With the stakes continuing to rise, white supremacists intensify their opposition through government obstruction and civilian terrorist attacks, a supportive president is assassinated, and African-Americans across the South are still blatantly prohibited from voting. To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative projects, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and a pitched battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television. But strategic disputes are deepening within the movement, even as 25-year-old John Lewis heads to Alabama to risk everything in a historic showdown that will shock the world."

The Watsons Go to Birmingham

1960's
Fiction

The Watsons Go to Brimingham
Click here for a parent's review of this book.

"Enter the hilarious world of ten-year-old Kenny and his family, the Weird Watsons of Flint, Michigan. There's Momma, Dad, little sister Joetta, Kenny, and Byron, Kenny's older brother, who at thirteen is an "official juvenile delinquent."

When Momma and Dad decide it's time for a visit to Grandma, Dad comes home with the amazing Ultra-Glide, and the Watsons set out on a trip like no other. Heading south, they're going to Birmingham, Alabama, and toward one of the darkest moments in America's history.

By turns comic, tragic and touching, this remarkable Newbery Honor work, delightfully performed by LeVar Burton in this unabridged production, will delight listeners young and old as they meet Christopher Paul Curtis, a storyteller of bold ambition and a true and original voice, and his inimitable Watsons."

Ready Player One

Ready Player One

Warning! This book contains: bad language, sexual content (p. 223, p. 232), a secondary character is gay

Click here for a Common Sense Media review of the book.

Although Ready Player One is set in a dystopian world in the future, it has tons of 1980's references.

This book can be read for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

"Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines—puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. 
   But when Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape."

American Born Chinese

Modern times
Graphic novel

American Born Chinese

This award-winning book is a graphic novel about a Chinese immigrant, racial stereotypes, prejudices, and identity. It gives a good depiction of some of the things an immigrant may have to deal with, what it means to be an American, and ultimately being happy with who you are.

Warning! This book contains: bullying, mention of "bosoms" (some sexual innuendo), a boy's crush and kiss, racial stereotypes (important to the story), cartoon violence (including a kick to the "nards"), smoking

Here's a good review I found for it that sums it up: click here.

This book can be read for FREE from openlibrary.org: Click here.

"A tour-de-force by rising indy comics star Gene Yang, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he's the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny's life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable. American Born Chinese is an amazing ride, all the way up to the astonishing climax."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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