As many of my friends have moved from homeschooling to elementary public school their kids have noted the lack of history. As a history major this is disturbing to me. There is so much to be gained from an understanding of our history (teaching the election of 1912 brought up themes very similar to our most recent election). History helps us to consider issues and problems without the emotion of today and allows us to see how things change and stay the same. It offers perspective plus the stories are great.
Adding a short history reading to your week can help your kids meet these men and women of the past. Today, we will look at a few spine or complete history books that might work for your family. We are made for stories so why not share some true and inspiring ones with our kids.
Story of the World - This is a 4 book series that covers much of world history. There is also a CD version and activity book that you can buy in addition to the text itself. If you get the CDs you can learn history while you drive. The activity book is a great resource if you want to go "hands on" with history. The best way to use this resource is probably to read a chapter (they are pretty short) and then have your child narrate it back to you. If there are themes or issues you can bring those up as well.
M.B. Synge - This is an older series of books that covers from Ancient times to World War I. There might be some phrases and perspectives that are not appropriate for today so either edit as you read or talk about how things have changed. It starts with "On the Shores of the Great Sea". These are all public domain so you can get them for free. There are also recordings of this series on librivox. Not all of them have been recorded yet.
A Child's History of the World - This is a volume that was originally written in 1935. If you get an older version it might have language that we would not use today. The more current versions cover history beyond 1935.
The Story of Mankind - This is another single volume that covers from Ancient Egypt to more current times. It is cheap on kindle and you can also listen to it through librivox.
The Story of US - This is a 10 book series that covers American history. It is a bit more text book and less story than other books. She also has a three book series that covers scientific history if that is something your kids are interested in - this is probably best for a middle school student though.
H.E. Marshall - She wrote a number of histories. Our Island Story is about England. This Country of Ours is about early American settlement. The Story of Europe starts with the Romans and moves through the Reformation. Some of these are found on librivox. Her writing is very detailed and might give you more than you want to know about an era but it is engaging.
Mary McGregor - Her histories are from a specific country - France, Rome, Greece. I have not read these but they look engaging.
Famous Men of ------ - This series has short biographical stories covering Rome, Greece, The Middle Ages and Modern Times. In addition to the free online stories, there are full color editions that include famous art work and renditions of the people in the stories.
I encourage you to look for books that tell the story and don't just hand out facts. It will help your child connect with history and make it come alive. I am sure there are many more sources I could list and if you have a favorite add it in the comments. Most of these resources are free so it just requires a little investment of your time to help your child see how history fits together.