Is history the story of God or the story of mankind? Who is the primary power in the universe? What does any of that have to do with history curriculum? It turns out it has everything to do with history curriculum, with how your children learn and relate to history.
TruthQuest History is a complete 1st-12th grade history curriculum written by Michelle Howard Miller. As she explains on her website, history isn’t the story of what man has done; it is the story of what God is doing. Michelle shifts the focus of history off of mankind and his achievements to God and His pursuit of His creation. He created everyone of us to live with and respond to Him. God began history by speaking the world into existence, and one day, He will bring the world and history as we know it to a close. Every moment between those two points is filled with God drawing people to Himself and people’s response. What people believe about God (whether true or not) and how they then view their own purpose for existence is what motivates and constitutes history. Michelle calls these the Big 2 Beliefs. When a man conquers to expand his kingdom because he desires wealth, power, and glory, could it be that he is doing so because of how he views himself (deserving of it, desiring to get everything possible in this life because he believes there is nothing beyond death, etc.) and how he views God (whether the true God or one of many substitutes mankind has fashioned for himself)? When a man sacrifices all to defend another, could it be that he is doing so because of how he views the other person (of incredible value, made in the image of God) and how he views God (as One Who has called us to serve others ahead of ourselves)?
That is the worldview from which TruthQuest History builds. It is a literature-based history study that is packed with living book recommendations for every period of history explored. But do not let the booklists fool you. This curriculum is so much more than that. Each historical period is introduced and explained through a short narrative, followed by book lists. Thought-provoking questions are sprinkled throughout, called ThinkWrite™ exercises. This approach gives students the facts of the time periods but focuses on encouraging them to experience the history through stories and literature and internalize what they have read about through thought-provoking exercises. This makes history much more than “just another class.” This makes history alive, relevant, and a tool by which they can understand the world around them – and be challenged to change it.
I don’t know about you, but I remember stories far more easily and much longer than dry facts. The “people” I meet in stories teach me more about a time period or event than simple textbooks ever can. Russian history was always completely mysterious to me – until I read the Russians series by Michael Phillips and Judith Pella. The Hindenburg disaster was a tragic event but remained distant until I watched an episode of the Waltons when John Boy witnessed it first hand.
TruthQuest History combines historical narrative with both historical fiction and nonfiction, creating a unique way to truly experience history. I’ll be reviewing the entire series, one book at a time. Check out the reviews I have done so far below, and watch for more!
American History for Young Students I: Exploration – 1800
American History for Young Students is a chronological look at American history for 1st-5th grade. As mentioned above, it doesn’t simply share the facts. It begins with a challenge to older students to consider why the New World was discovered when it was. Was there a special reason? It then moves forward with a look at some of the explorers, such as Leif Ericson, Columbus, Vespucci, Cabot, Ponce de Leon, de Soto, Balboa, Coronado, Hudson, and others. It stops by St. Augustine, Roanoke, and Jamestown, and then introduces us to the Pilgrims, Squanto, Massasoit, and many others.
Another thing I love about this American history book is that Michelle doesn’t just refer you to books to read about huge, general topics like the colonies or Native Americans. She breaks it down – New Hampshire, Connecticut, New York; Abenaki, Catawba, Cherokee.
I also appreciate that while Michelle shares the stories of great men of faith like John and Charles Wesley, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards, she does not pull back from the fact that not all of life in early America was Godly. She gently shares about topics such as slavery and the mistreatment of the Native Americans in a way that is appropriate for 1st-5th grade and explores them in more depth in later books for older students.
The first volume of the American History for Young Students series has a lot of ground to cover – from Leif Ericson to the Battle of Fallen Timbers – but it covers it in such a delightful way that I think your kids will be anxious to hear what happens next in the unfolding story!
Beginnings: Creation, Old Testament, Ancient, Egypt
Beginnings is the first in the series of history books for 5th-12th grade. It begins where all of recorded history truly begins, “In the beginning, God . . .” The moment God spoke life as we know it into existence. It also starts with an honest look at Michelle’s heart and the questions that have swirled in her heart and mind, which can be summarized in the often-repeated phrase, “If God is good, why do bad things happen?” There are many bad things recorded through history, and many bad things we have experienced in our lives. The quest to understand this, to see a glimpse of God’s plan behind it all, is one of the themes that runs throughout Beginnings.
The study of history begins with the Days of Creation and moves through the Fall, Noah, Babel, and the beginnings of the Jewish nation in Abraham. It’s the story of the Jewish people that will occupy most of this first history study, as we trace the story of God’s plan through Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, Samuel, Saul, and David. The story continues with Solomon, the divided kingdom of Israel, many kings and prophets, the exile in Babylon, and the return to Jerusalem.
Throughout this story, we’ll also learn of other major influencers on world events. We’ll meet the Mycenaeans, explore the history and culture of Egypt, learn about the Canaanites, get acquainted with the Assyrians, and visit Babylon.
This first part of the story of history ends with the story of Esther. This line by Michelle grabbed me the moment I read it, “Esther’s story, then, is one of the most heart-grabbing ever told, because, deep-down, while we are afraid to be disturbed in our obscurity, we all long to be loved by a king.” And in that truth lies the Story of history – the longing of our hearts to be reunited with the King who created us and loves us whom we separated ourselves from at the Fall. His quest to bring us back to Himself and our response will fuel all of history itself.
Notice of material connection: I received these books from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.