American History :: Our Book Lists & Plans

by | Jul 27, 2011 | American History, Home Education | 36 comments

I’ve been spending some time over the past couple weeks creating plans for our American History Study for this coming school year – using the books we have on our shelves, in addition to a few of my favorite resources for finding additional book suggestions, to create our book lists.

I’ve broken the year into 6 Units, each unit containing core reading assignments, additional picture books/literature based on the time period, coloring books, a lap book, timeline entries, additional activities, and geography (state) assignments.   I’ve broken the lists into two sections – one for my Pre-K/Kindergartner-3rd graders (mainly the girls) and the other for my 4th-5th graders (the older boys).   We will most likely spend 4-8 weeks on each unit, some units requiring more time than others, but we’ll have to see how it goes.

These plans are completely tailored towards my own family, and I didn’t intend to share them online (at least not until after completing each unit and posting our Lap Book pictures), but since so many of you asked for them, here you go. . .

I’ve uploaded our plans to Scribd, along with listing our book list for the year below:

Note:  Books in bold on these lists are ones that we already own.  The rest we will purchase throughout the year if they are not available to check out from our local libraries.   Overall it is a LOT of books, but I don’t intend to have all of my children read all of them.  They will each be assigned some of the books from the lists, and at least 2-3 from each list will be read aloud all together.  



Kindergarten-3rd Grade

4th-5th Grade

Coloring Books, Activities and Games


Kindergarten-3rd Grade

4th-5th Grade

Coloring Books, Activities and Games


Kindergarten-3rd Grade

4th-5th Grade

Coloring Books, Activities and Games


Kindergarten-3rd Grade

4th-5th Grade

Coloring Books, Activities and Games


Kindergarten-3rd Grade

4th-5th Grade

Coloring Books, Activities and Games


Kindergarten-3rd Grade

4th-5th Grade

Coloring Books, Activities and Games

It’s a pretty full book list already, but if anyone has any additional favorites to recommend for these time periods, I’d love for you to share them in the comments!


  1. Marie

    This will be so helpful. I am printing out all of your lists now, to add to our library bag. Thank you!

  2. Nicole

    Great resource and so nice of you to share! I think that sharing the lesson plans are a good idea. We all adapt to our own families and it gives a nice place to start as wells as ideas.

  3. Laurie

    Amazing! Thank you.

  4. Cynthia

    Thanks for sharing! We are working on the time covered in your last three units this year, and I'm always looking for more good books for history.

  5. Nadja

    Ah, Jessica, you are an absolute Godsend! We are doing American History this year, and I am currently making my lists. You have probably cut my work in half. You see, it is as I always suspected: procrastination is it's own reward 😉

  6. Anonymous

    Wow, this is so impressive Jessica! Great job!!!

  7. Lillian

    The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills.

  8. Anonymous

    Thank you so much for sharing! I just downloaded all units. God Bless!! Julie H.

  9. Christina

    Wow! What a wonderful reading list! I must say you certainly have changed my impression about homeschooling. In fact, you make me wish that I was able to have you as my teacher to relearns some of this fascinating history. I am not sure if you would be interested in these books, but Ann Rinaldi does a wonderful job writing historical fiction. They might be a little advanced for your girls, but I would highly recommend them. Here is a link to one of her many wonderful books.

  10. fadfd

    As always great plans. Have you heard the audio version of Johnny Tremain? We were glued to it when we went through American hx.

  11. Jessica Gordon

    Thank you all for your kind comments! I'm so glad to hear that these will be helpful to some of you.

    Creating these plans (and spending a ridiculous amount of time doing so!) gave me a renewed appreciation for the wonderful resource that the Connecting with History books have been for me the past few years. I look forward to purchasing the 3rd and 4th volumes, once they are completed!

    Lillian ~ The Rag Coat!! Love that book, and yet it makes me cry every time I read it to my kids! 🙂 Thanks for the reminder.

    Christina ~ Thanks for the suggestion!

    Elizabeth ~ The audio version of Johnny Tremain is the one that we own and that I plan on using. (I forgot to list "audio" after it, but I did link to that version. It is EXCELLENT!!

  12. Just One Handful

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this up and be willing to share it. I was so excited I showed my husband and said "Do you know how long it would have taken me to write this up?" He said "Your whole life!"
    Thanks Jessica, you're a lifesaver!

  13. Kelly

    Love, love, love History. And I absolutely love this post! So much work! Thank you for sharing it all. I'm going to save this for a quiet moment when I can savor and devour it in small scrumptious portions.

    I tried to post a lesson plan/ learning notes post earlier this week and blogger ate it. 🙁 I was so bummed. C'est la vie.

  14. Tiny Actions

    Thanks so much for compiling this wonderful list of books. This year we're taking a tour of the continents and the research involved in picking the books took the longest amount of time. I can appreciate the time, effort and energy. And it reminds me that I need to post my booklist on my blog. My girl is the same age as twinkle toes and is so captivated by the american girl series. I had no idea they had recipe and activity books to go along with each doll. I think a birthday present is in her future. I also wanted to mention, though you may already know, that has all the american girl doll templates for lapbooks. They are cute and simple and my princess can't wait for the school year to start because of it. Many thanks again.

  15. Anonymous

    All I have to say is that you are truly gifted! Thanks you so much for this and for your Little Flowers' posts. They have been lifesavers for me these last several years. I love your blog! Thank you so much for sharing your gifts and talents with us! May God bless you and your family!

  16. penelope

    Thank you so much for sharing this. We'll be doing US History in the winter term, so I am bookmarking this page! Thanks again! I know how much work it is to write up a post like this!

  17. LuAnn

    Hi Jessica ~

    Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. I am also doing American History this year with 4 of my 7 kids. I would LOVE to do the lapbooks as you suggested. Do you have a resource for them, or do you just make them up on your own? I would appreciate any links or help with them. (I'm not very creative or good at making things up on my own – but I'm great following someone else's directions!!) Thanks again!!

  18. Jessica Gordon

    Tiny Actions ~ Thanks for the tip on the American Girl Lap books! I hadn't even thought of looking for something like that, and my girls would LOVE it!

    LuAnn ~ I can't believe I didn't link to the Lap Books! I had too much on my mind as I was putting together this post. 🙂 We will be using the Time Travelers series from Home School in the Woods as a base, and modifying them as/if needed, since they come from a non-Catholic source. Currently there is one lap book for each of the 6 time periods I mentioned, and I based our units around those particular time periods. The CD's are available directly from Homeschool in the Woods, but I purchased ours from either Amazon (if they had them) or Rainbow Resource.

  19. Jen

    Thank you for sharing!! I saw from your comments you use Time Travelers. Do you also use their time lines? Also, do you purchase a Time Travelers kit for each child?

  20. Jessica Gordon

    Jen ~ Each of my older children have a "Record of TIme" Timeline book published by Home School in the Woods. We tried many different timelines (wall, books, etc) when my boys were younger and this has worked the best for our family. I hope to post a little more about it soon, including pictures. I also have the various Time Traveler CDs, which contain projects and lap book printables. I just have one of each, since I can print out as many copies as I need for my children. I haven't used these much in the past, but they will tie in nicely to our studies this year. I purchased them (discounted from wither Rainbow Resource or Amazon) mainly for the projects, and I don't plan to use the lessons. They are not a Catholic Company, and since I haven't used them, I can't say if there is anything anti-Catholic included, but I'm not too worried since I am using Catholic Textbooks for our Spine and just the projects from these CDs. Hope that helps!

  21. Jen

    Hi Jessica. Yes, that helps a lot! I was a little overwhelmed purchasing from the Time Travelers Series & wasn't sure how we would get it all done! Just doing the projects seem very doable. I love the From Sea to Shining Sea book. I borrowed a copy yesterday from a friend, and will be buying one today! Thank you for creating these wonderful resources. It goes perfectly for what we are doing this year =))
    We have also tried various timelines that just don't stick. I have eyed the one at Homeschool in the Woods for a few years. So perhaps I will take the plunge & get it!

  22. CeAnne

    How wonderful! We just finished Seton's history book and I felt like it glazed over and that I needed to add to it! Looks like you saved me a TON of work, you are a blessing!

  23. Jen

    Hi Jessica. I am getting ready to make my purchase for the timeline books, timeline cd & the time travelers unit study. I know you said you bought a Record of Time book for each of your children. Do you think it is important for them to each have their own, or do you think one per family is okay?

  24. Jessica Gordon

    Sorry I never got back to you Jen! I have one timeline book for each of my children… I love having them create and personalize their own illustrations and these books will make wonderful keepsakes. However, I am sure one per family would work fine as well.

  25. Mary Alice

    These are great, thanks so much for sharing. We are doing the same texts, split over two years, and we are also using What Your …grader Needs to Know for background reading. I am loving From Sea to Shining Sea so far.

    We just finished the Matchlock Gun last night!

    Oh, and to a previous poster, we are doing one timeline book for the family, and so far it is going well, they might each narrate something different about a particular event or time, so together it makes a nice keepsake, and they can review by reading the whole section, including siblings work.

  26. Theresa

    Oh wow, these are amazing! We have been using My Father's World and History is the one subject everyday that my boys hate. 🙁

  27. Anonymous

    Thank you so, so much for posting these! What a blessing! Thank you!

  28. Sarah

    Delighted to meet you! I hope you don't mind if I splash around a bit to get to know you. This looks like a refreshing place to dip into some serious goodness. And it is always a joy to splash around with a fellow homeschooling momma.

    Be blessed bunches,

  29. Amy

    Jessica, Your website is really fun and inspiring to view. Thank you!

    I happened upon this topic for history. I will have a 6 (first grade) and 3 year old next fall. We currently use CHC lesson plans and have no need to change for next year. They do not necessarily have "history" for this level. Looking at your six unit study above and knowing you had multiple children, would you have any advice for someone that wants to include some history, but does not want to get too overloaded/overwhelmed? I have the Seton book but not sure where else to go? Thanks so much if you have time to answer. Not urgent of course. Thanks again for all you do!

  30. Jessica Gordon

    Have you looked into Connecting with History? We study History on a 4 (sometimes 5!) year cycle and will return to Ancient History next year. You only have little ones right now, but for me, with children in multiple grades it really works well for us. I especially love the book lists that she provides. You really don't need to do much in the primary grades, just read lots of great books, but I've always liked to have a little more structure than that.

    The only reason I came up with these plans for American History is because Volume 4 of Connecting With History has not been published.

    So much of Ancient History (Volume One) ties in so well with living the liturgical year – reading through the Old Testament during Lent along with our Jesus Tree, etc.

    I'm not sure if this helps at all, but it's something to look into. Here is a link back to one of my 2008 posts on Our Plan for World History. My oldest would have only been about 8 at the time.

    My older boys also enjoyed Beautiful Feet's Early American History when they were in K and 1st. This would be a good option if you are wanting to go with American History first, though there are a couple books recommended in that program that I would stay away from.. Here is a sample: A Love of History.

    Hope that helps!

  31. Krista

    We'll be moving into Volume 3 next school year and that will start moving into Early American Explorers (it even touches in Volume 2 with the Norse explorers, really). Then of course Volume 4 with American History. It looks like Volume 4 will be out in a couple year's time since they are starting to add books in that series now. If Volume 4 was out when you DID DO American History, would you still have used the Time Travelers CD's or just gone with Volume 4's curriculum and activities/suggestions instead or done both? Just curious how you might work it the next time around with the younger kids that will still be in elementary grades once you get back around to it.

    Thanks! Blessings!

  32. Jessica Gordon

    You know, in away I'm glad that Vol. 4 wasn't out yet, since we really loved the History study I put together for the kids. We only used the Lap Books and some of the activities from the Time Travelers CDs (I didn't read or use the lessons – just our own booklists) but the Lap Books are just awesome. The boys LOVED them. Next time we probably will use Volume 4 (I haven't seen it yet, so I can't say for sure), but I do want to incorporate the American History Lap Books for some of the younger children.

  33. Krista

    I feel the same way looking over what you did for American History! It's an AWESOME curriculum and looks very comprehensive! Daughter will be in 4th once we get to FORMAL American History studies, so these lapbooks would be perfect (and in fact I may just get the New World Explorers CD for next year's Volume 3). I was thinking that I could use Volume 4 as a spine and incorporate the lapbooks in a few areas or just use "From Sea to Shining Sea" as a spine (which I've ordered actually) and living books and just do the lapbooks. It just seems so comprehensive, generally speaking. Volume 4 may help to include more of the Catholic content, however, so I would probably still get it and use it alongside everything.

    Thanks for your thoughts! They are always appreciated!!!!

    God Bless!

  34. Cmerie

    Do you study American History evry year as well as a World/Ancient History? Or do you just do one? We have followed MoDG so far, as well as doing RC History for World History and it just seems like a lot. My older two are studying different times in US History, and we are doing RC as a family (currently in Vol. 2). I'm considering only doing one study next year and transitioning to a complete family study. But I'm not sure if I'm brave enough to do it.

  35. sanchez

    I am a fifth grade teacher in a Catholic school. I found the lesson plans for the New World Explorers unit. Is there also a link to purchase some of the activities included in the lap book? Thank you for your assistance.


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