Friday, January 4

Teaching History with We Were There Books


You've probably seen that we have unit studies for older students based on the vintage We Were There series, but today we wanted to back up a step and introduce you to this amazing series of books...


If you have kids that love historical fiction, or love books where they feel like they're right in the middle of the action, this fabulous collection of stories spans from Caesar's Rome to post-World War 2!


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A little backstory...

We've been reading to the kids since they were born...seriously.  Baby in one hand, book in the other.  When the first one was really little, I'd just read aloud to him from whatever book I happened to be reading....it was about getting him used to the cadence of being read to at that point, rather than any real understanding.  

Fast forward fifteen years, and we're still reading aloud to the kids.  Sure, they can read to themselves now, and they frequently do, but there's something special about curling up and reading together as a family.  Over the years, we've read together the A to Z Mysteries, I Survived series, Magic Treehouse series, Little House series, and most of the Newbery winners and Caldecott winners.  Also, our curriculum primarily utilizes vintage books, which we read together.  No matter the age, I'm always willing to curl up with a child and read!

I started creating unit studies to go along with the books we were reading because the boys would ask questions and research more information about the stories.  Then, we began creating costumes and hands-on projects to accompany the novels, and thus the idea was born.  I wanted to tailor these units to older children because there isn't as much online in the way of Charlotte Mason / units available for older students...


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Written between 1955 and 1963, the thirty-six books in this series each tackle the fictional retelling of an actual historic event.  Children are the primary characters, which makes the books accessible and easy to relate to...an excellent way to learn our history!


The books weren't just standard fiction; they each had a "historical consultant," someone who was an expert in the topic covered in each, and are historically accurate.  Our children have retained a lot of historical fact simply by 'living' these adventures!

Additionally, each of the books has beautiful pen and ink illustrations...at least one per chapter, to help your child visualize the story.

As a Charlotte Mason / Unit Studies family, we love reading aloud together.  Even now, as teens, the children still sit by me for hours each week as we experience these living books.  It is for this reason that I designed an upper grades unit study for each book, so that we can use them in a learning context.

Each book has an accompanying unit study from our site, focusing  on a history, geography, or scientific topic, as well as a unit study from another homeschool blogger. We used all different bloggers so that you would have lots of great options from which to choose! 

I have organized the list of books in the order that they were originally published.  Titles with a song title beside them have an elementary-school unit, as I have not yet re-created that particular book for upper grades.  Titles with a topic of study beside them are ready for use at the upper grade levels.  The goal is to have everything completed for upper grades (the elementary grade units will still be available at Gypsy Road) by June 2019.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post. These books look amazing. Do you try to read the books when you are at the same point in history in your curriculum? Or do you read them in chronological order? Or, no order at all?

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    1. We don't read them in chronological order....just as the boys were / are interested in the subject at hand, how it lines up with where we would be traveling to at the time, or how it lines up with our history curriculum! I know your family will enjoy them, too! I meant to say (and will go back to edit) that Dover has re-released four of them in paperback format; I'm not sure if they'll do more in the future.

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  2. Historical fiction is one of our very favorite genres! We will be checking these out! Thanks!

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