When I started homeschooling 17 years ago, I wanted anything but a textbook. I searched and researched many non-textbook options. I found many that I loved. Fast forward to today and there are so many great literature based options, especially for history studies. So how do you bring history alive with literature?

So what is the difference between literature based and textbook education? Simply put, a textbook is a collection of dry facts to teach a subject and literature based is using a wide variety of stories to teach said subject.


Why choose literature over textbooks?

For many of us, growing up in the public school system, textbooks may seem like a natural addition to education. But one of the gifts of homeschooling, is that you don’t have to conform to a set way of doing things. We have the great opportunity to expose our children to an amazing world through hands on experiences, documentaries, live cams, and literature.

Adding literature to your homeschool can be done with read alouds, independent reading, audiobooks and book clubs. It provides your student’s a wide world of experiences and perspectives for almost any subject.

For lots of great inspiration check out Read-Aloud Revival and the Read Aloud Handbook. These books are full of the why’s and how’s of adding literature to your everyday. Plus they help you locate good books, those that you don’t want to miss!

Literature Based History Options

History is a great subject to introduce the literature based method to your child. Many unit study style programs use lots of literature, such as My Father’s World and Tapestry of Grace. Beautiful Feet Press offers history and geography based literature packs. Currently we are using BookShark for their beautiful selection of American History books.

BookShark offers a 4-day written lesson plan, so it makes it easy to implement. And since it’s whole curriculum revolves around great literature, I don’t have to hunt any down. Everything is provided so we were able to jump into our studies as soon as our box arrived.

A typical homeschool day for my high schooler includes listening to the read aloud, reading history books independently, drawing and tracing maps together, Easy Grammar, Schoolhouse Teachers Reading Program, Signing Naturally, and Life of Fred Financial Choices. For more homeschool scheduling help you can check out Homeschool Planning for a Large Family and Lesson Plans with Google Docs.

Let’s Go Read!

I hope I have inspired you to leave one more textbook on the table and pick up some good literature. History doesn’t have to be boring because it isn’t! Real people tell about their experiences, museums are full with hands on exhibits of things long ago, and creative historians re-tell history so that you can experience it yourself. Some great book lists can be found at Read Aloud Revival. Comment with what you are currently reading in your home!

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