My husband and I were both history majors and we believe that history is an important part of helping our children remain grounded. We are not centering our curriculum around it - but we have thought a lot about it. Some people focus on American history for a time (maybe a semester or year) and then switch to world history. Others advocate running two tracks of history simultaneously. Here is a quick overview of what different programs do for their history:
Classical Conversations - 3 year cycle - 2 years world history (ancient and then medieval to current) and one year of American history. Actually, every year you learn a timeline that covers the span of history. Each year you focus on the eras mentioned above and learn sentences that give you pegs for the major events that occurred in that era.
Story of the World - this is a 4 year history cycle which uses a "story book textbook" that covers Western history and introduces the history or significance of some other cultures. There is not a stand alone American history curriculum in this series - but many of the major events of American history are included.
Ambleside - a 6 year history cycle that does not introduce American history until America enters the scene around year 4. Prior to that the focus is on England's history which naturally connects with American history. The page I linked does a great job explaining their approach. In the early years the focus is on story and enjoying history (thus the use of 50 Famous Stories Retold in year 1).
Charlotte Mason Help - a dual track history program that uses This Country of Ours as the primary elementary reader for American history and uses a four year cycle for world history in the elementary grades. In fifth grade she recommends a break that introduces students to a variety of cultures and their place in history.
Latin Centered Curriculum - I have his second edition in which he focuses on a more chronological approach to history using the Memoria Press series "Famous Men of ______". He does not include any American history as a separate study in the elementary school years. Memoria Press has their own outline of American and World history studies. They use Grueber's books to study American history from 6th to 8th grade.
There is also Veritas Press but I really don't know much about their history program.
As you can see, most of them don't focus on American history because of their classical bent. It makes sense, but I wanted to find some American history that was similar to 50 Famous Stories Retold to share with my children. I think the modern version of this approach would be William J. Bennett's Book of America (which I often see at Half Price Books).
However, I was wondering if there are older books in the same style and came upon two different writers who created American history series. Please remember that older history books might have references and phrases that some might find offensive. You can choose how you handle this. As a read aloud just rephrase it or have a discussion about how we use language differently over time. Whatever is best for your family. Here are two authors I found:
Edward Eggleston books
Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans - this is VERY similar to 50 Famous Stories but about Americans.
Stories of American Life and Adventure: a third grade reader - this text also focuses on short biographies of Americans. There are many stories in here that you will not find elsewhere.
A First Book of American History - this one is more like a textbook in the old style with an emphasis on people more than events and goes up to the 1900's.
A History of the United States and its People - a textbook for middle and high school students
Mara Pratt books (the first two volumes can be found on librivox)
This is a series of four books that cover American history up to the early 1900s. There is one available through google books and all four can be found through Yesterday's Classics.
American History Vol. 3 - from George Washington to the Civil War
Stories of Colonial Children - starts with the babies born on the Mayflower.
Ms. Pratt actually has quite a few history books if you search her name on google books.
For slightly older children you might want to check out Teddy Roosevelt's Hero Tales from American History.
So, if you still want to include some American history despite your overall classical focus this might be an easy way to add some in. I also HIGHLY recommend the Childhood of Famous American series. One of my friends used to require his children to read a biography or two over the summer break. These can often be found in libraries (if you are really interested I have a bunch of vintage ones at my house that my husband wants me to sell!)
** Sorry to those who viewed the blank post earlier. I am not sure how that happened. I am still figuring some of these blogging technicalities out. Thanks for your patience.