A Review of Simply Charlotte Mason’s Stories of the Nations and Stories of America

Our family uses many of the resources found over at Simply Charlotte Mason.  
I honestly love the friendly, easy to use materials and their affordability.  Last year we worked through the Family Guide for Early Modern History and Epistles.  This took us on a living books learning journey from 1550-1850 that centred around family learning and reading.  I’m always adding to and changing the formal plan laid out in the guides but they are so affordable, it’s completely fine in my opinion even if you only use them as a springboard for era study.  You can, mind you, use them as a well laid-out curriculum.  This year we’ve been (slowly, mind you) working through Modern Times.

Stories of the Nations and Stories of America are spine history books to the SCM Family Guides for Early Modern Times History and Modern Times History.

You really need these books to make the program flow.  There are two Volumes for each title.
Volume 1 of each book is used extensively with the Family Guide for Early Modern History.  Stories of America covers ‘Columbus through Alamo’, Stories of the Nations covers ‘Queen Elizabeth the I through Geribaldi’.
Volume 2 of each book is used with the Family Guide for Modern History.  Stories of America covers ‘Oregon Trail through the Information Age’ and Stories of the Nations covers ‘Count Bismarck to Queen Elizabeth the II’.

So, if you are anything like me you want to know – how are these books written?  Will they engage my kids?  Enlighten them?  Express historical fact in a living-book format that our family actually wants to sit down and read…?
My answer to all of these is a resounding, YES!
I absolutely love these volumes and how they are written!
Lorene Lambert writes Stories of the Nations. 
Various authors contribute to Stories of America, based on much of the ‘original and revised material from The Child’s Story of America and other books by Charles Morris, originally published in the early 1900s’.
Both Volumes, however, read in a similar tone.  They reflect a Charlotte Mason, living-book, let-me-sit-beside-you-and-chat style that is known and loved by so many homeschool families.

To give you an idea of the clever way these books are written to enlighten and engage, I’ve typed out a few examples of some of my favorite sections/parts from a few volumes –

The beginning of Stories of the World, Volume 1 is so captivating.  I LOVE Chapter 1 ‘A Bird’s-Eye View’.  It invites the readers to come on a journey, here’s a piece:

“It is a strange journey we are going to take.  Our route lies not through space, but through time.  Not over land and water, but backward over the years.  We are going to set out on a journey over the Old World….  The Old World is so big and has so many countries that I think one had better go over it by balloon, and look down on it as a bird does when flying through the clouds… But how little we see of the land beneath us.   Clouds spread thickly over it and blot out nearly the whole of Australia and great regions of Africa and Asia.  A dense cloud of ignorance rests upon them and hides from view, for we are sailing in the year 1550, when very little was known about these continents…”

(Stories of the Nations, Volume 1, pgs. 7-8)

Oh my gosh!  Don’t you love it?

My kids were hooked.  They love me to read them these stories and this opening was so perfect!

More hints of what to expect:

“…To tell the whole story of our Civil War would take a book five times as large as this, so all I can do is to draw a sort of outline map of it.  A civil war, you should know, means a war within a nation, where part of a people fights against the other part.  A war between two nations is called a foreign war…”  

(Stories of America, Volume 2, page 36)

“All around Boston the farmers and villagers began to collect guns and powder and to drill men into soldiers.  These were called ‘minute men’ which meant that they would be ready to fight at a minute’s notice, if they were asked to.  When people begin to get ready in this way, war is usually not far off…”

Stories of America, Volume 1, page 101)

“I am curious how many of my readers ask questions.  I fancy many of you do.  But I am also curious how many of my readers set out to answer their questions for themselves.  It is much easier to sit and wait for someone else to discover and explain the answers, is it not?  And yet, if every person sat and waited for others to do the work, answers would be few and far between.  The man I want to tell you about now was such a man as asked questions and then set about to find the answers himself.  Like the great Galileo, he carefully observed what was going on around him, then set up experiments to learn more.  His name was Isaac Newton, and he was born in England the same year that Galileo dies in Italy.”

Stories of the Nations, Volume 1, page 63)

These books can be used with the Simply Charlotte Mason Family guides or as stand alone history books.  Either would be a huge benefit to any homeschool.

These are narratives that not only the children love, but I love as well.  They are perfect family read-alouds and I highly recommend them for the study of early modern history and modern history!



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