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Sonlight High School Curriculum Review by Kate Kessler

20th Century World History, Level 320
20th Century Literature Level 330
Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.
8042 S. Grant Way
Littleton CO 80122

Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd. is committed to serving homeschool families with literature-rich curriculum. This commitment does not stop in the high school years. As a literature-loving mother, this excites me. High school can be intimidating, not only to plan but to execute, but Sonlight makes it 100% doable.

Before I dive into the what’s and the how’s of the 20th century programs, I want to share how Sonlgiht makes it easy to select what you need for each year of high school. This is how their high school selection process works.

  1. If you are new to Sonlight and are interested in their high school options, I recommend downloading their high school catalog.
  2. Once you are familiar with their choices, the next step is to open up their high school page.
  3. Select the grade level you need. I selected 10th grade as I have 10th and 12th graders and I wanted to do history, Bible, and literature together with them.
  4. After grade selection comes a big choice:
    “Start with History”
    “Get a Complete Package”
    If you select the latter, it includes literally every single subject you need for 10th grade. You can also customize it to suit your child. I did this, but I also started with history.
  5. By starting with history, I was brought down to the section on the page that described all the different age-appropriate history packages. There are several to choose from for 10th grade, and I selected 20th Century World History. Due to the serious subjects covered in this program, they recommend this for 10-12 graders only; a perfect fit for us. 20th Century also includes Bible and apologetics as well as geography. (I will describe the curriculum further below.)
  6. Once you have determined your history program, you will move on to selecting a Literature/Language Arts course. There are five to choose from and I selected the sister course to the history, 20th Century Literature. This too is geared towards 10-12 grades. (More details on this below.)
  7. Once you have selected what I term “the biggies” you will then move on to math, science, and elective choices. The default math for the 10th grade Complete Package was Math-U-See’s Algebra 2. However, as anyone that has been homeschooling for longer than five minutes knows, there is no one-size-fits all to math and Sonlight realizes that. When customizing, you can select which program you need for your 10th grader. I selected Math-U-See Geometry. In addition to Math-U-See, they offer math programs from Saxon Math and VideoText Math for high school.
  8. Selecting science is next. The Complete Package includes Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Chemistry along with the science kit and Sonlight Schedule Plus to help you navigate it. My daughter was not ready for this, so we customized our package yet again and selected Exploring Creation with Biology from Apologia that included the CD-ROM, Microscopy Supplies Kit, Advanced Dissection Kit, and the Sonlight Schedule Plus for Science 250. We already owned a microscope so we did not need this. (Obviously if you were ordering and you did not need a microscope, you would want to speak to customer service so that the complete package price would reflect this change.)
  9. Last, you will select electives you would like to use. There are many to choose from and we reviewed two of the many choices separately:
    Sonlight Psychology Program
    Sonlight 200 Electives (art and money)
  10. To wrap it up, this is the ordering process in a nutshell:

Pick a History/Bible Course
Pick a Literature/Language Arts Course
Math & Science
Add on any electives you desire.

So that’s the simple process Sonlight has created to make a complete year of high school come together. I have been a homeschooler for almost 20 years and it just isn’t this easy on your own! Sonlight has taken all the planning, curriculum gathering, lesson planning, and stress away for you and in return you receive a rich and complete package of fascinating books and assignments and challenges for your year!

20th Century World History, Level 320 (Also covers Geography, Bible, and Apologetics)

To begin, the 20th Century World History course covers exactly what it states: 20th century beginning in 1900 and ends in 1999. In all my years of homeschooling, I have never been able to dive this deeply into the history of this time period. Sonlight uses The Visual History of the Modern World, a giant book filled with two-six-page spreads of what transpired in the year addressed. Some years have only two pages and the side bars are the year in brief with notable happenings in science, history, government, art, music, and literature. By using this book, we gradually see the changes in society and in the build-ups leading to the various wars and what was simmering in the background to produce the carnage that was World War I and II. It has also been fascinating to see just how unbelievably fast the development of industry happened. For example, from the first flight by the Wright brothers in 1903 to the first airplanes used in combat in 1911, it was only a mere eight years! Industry and invention was booming! We would not have put that together had we not been learning year by year with this program.

In addition to the marvelous Visual History book, we have the meat and heart of the program, the 20th Century World History 320 Parent Guide. This is more than a spine—it is the guide to making this giant program come together. Each week you have a five-day week schedule laid out for you with all aspects in the grid from page numbers to be read in each book to timeline suggestions, map points (maps included), important vocabulary words of note, to specific notes to the parent instructor.

For Example:

Week 7
Date: – Days 1-5 in columns and space for you to date the day.
How to Ruin your Life By 30 – Page numbers listed per day.
Bible Reading – Chapters of Genesis listed per day.
Memorization – Bible verses to memorize.


The Visual History of the Modern World – Year and page numbers per day listed.

Current Events – They suggest that you have your children do three reports per week; at least two of an international concern.

Biographies and Historical Fiction:

All Quiet on the Western Front – Page numbers and chapters listed to read per day.

On each day within the guide, you will find extra notes for parents with some discussion questions for you and your children to make sure they have understood the lesson, in the case of the history book, or questions that help you dive deeper into the subject matter covered in the biography or historical fiction you are reading at the moment. This guide is unabashedly written from a Christian perspective and the living faith of the authors seeps through their notes and their perspectives. This is a real positive to me. So much of modern history is steeped in secularism and this guide asks us to think about difficult concepts and filter them through a biblical worldview.

Also listed per day is the map work your children will be doing. Many aspects of geography are covered, but not all the same for each map. I like that these are mixed together so that if a river or mountain range is of particular importance in the story, your child is marking it on a map appropriate for that story. There are also notes to parents on topics that might need further explanation or questions to ask and discuss with your children on difficult or strange concepts you might not have run into before. The guide is rich and valuable, and I can tell it must have taken years upon years to craft this guide. It is a teacher for the teacher in the home.

The part of Sonlight’s World History I like the best are the amazing literature choices. The list of books used in 20th Century World History are:

Bible and Apologetics:

Know What You Believe

Know Why You Believe

Mere Christianity

How to Ruin Your Life By 30

First They Killed My Father

The Hiding Place

Living on the Devil's Doorstep

History & Geography:

After the War

All Quiet on the Western Front

God Spoke Tibetan

There's a Sheep in My Bathtub

China's Long March: 6,000 Miles of Danger

The History of the Modern World

The Green Glass Sea

Labor's Untold Story

Made You Look

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Readers / Literature:

Albert Einstein and the Theory of Relativity

Red Scarf Girl

The Road from Home

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit

Winston Churchill: Soldier, Statesman, Artist

You Want WOMEN to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?

You will cover all these books, and explore different places, times, and experiences through this awesome list. We began with God Spoke Tibetan and learned through a fascinating and gripping story, how the Bible came to the Tibetan people. What a journey of hardship and devotion! My girls did not want me to put the book down! Each book is selected with care and thought to build upon the story of the 20th century and the notes found in the Parent Guide will help you understand and discuss the difficult topics you will run into in this year.

There is also a Student Guide that includes all the same schedules, notes to the student, and questions to be answered (without the answers found in the Parent Guide). It also includes blank maps so that the student can fill it in on their own. The Parent Guide has the answer keys for the maps. This is a great option if you are not doing the bulk of the work out loud with your children and it can be used to keep your child on-track and self-starting.

20th Century Literature, Level 320 (Language Arts and Literature)

Not only are you going to cover great history-based books, with the 20th Century Literature, Level 320, you will be reading some of the great literary works of this century. Then you will be writing about and digesting many of them too through the language arts assignments.

Some examples of the language arts assignments are:

Diary/Journal on specific subjects being discussed in the literature books that interest or disturb them. As the 20th century marches on, we encounter many things that are difficult, and this is a way for our children to process them.

Creative Expression – At least twice a week, an assignment for your children to write on subjects like, “What Makes a Compelling Plot” or “The Significance of The Great Gatsby.” These assignments are discussed and defined within the Parent Guide so that your child is not guessing as to what is being asked of them.

Research Projects – Your children will be guided over seven weeks as they produce a research project of their choosing. There are a lot of details on this in the Parent Guide.

Under Creative Expression, the language arts section will also dive into detailed assignments on specific aspects of writing like “The Hook” assignment found in week 13. Or, for example, the assignment to write a detailed descriptive passage modeled after the ones found in the literature book, Kon-Tiki. There are a lot of different language arts assignments and they offer a wide variety of uses and applications within the literature module.

My favorite aspect of this program is, of course, the books! This is the list of amazing literary choices your family will be feasting on this year:

History & Geography:

The Snow Goose


Children of the River

Parallel Journeys

Alas, Babylon

Brave New World

The Contender

Cry, the Beloved Country

The Tempest

The Wednesday Wars

The Great Brain

The Wave

The Great Gatsby

Hope Was Here

My Father's Daughter

The Great Gilly Hopkins

Robert Frost's Poems

Heart of Darkness

Heart to Heart


The Metamorphosis

The Moves Make the Man

Murder on the Orient Express

The Old Man and the Sea

Walk Two Moons

Discussion of prose and exposure and discussion of various types of poetry is a feature here as well as books that focus on every aspect (both good and bad) of mankind. This literary selection covers almost every genre out there. “Sonlight's 330 Lit has a range of genres: dystopian, sci fi, the Great American Novel (Gatsby), novella, lyric poetry, travel narrative (or, maybe, anthropology, or adventure), absurdism, murder mystery, thriller, memoir, Shakespearean comedy…” It’s a rich selection and you and your child will have much to discuss! Sonlight does note that this module is one that is well-suited for self-taught students with the use of the Student Guide. I enjoy reading to my children, and they love that I do this, so we are reading these out loud. I like to read some characters in different voices so while we were reading Murder on the Orient Express, I did just that for Inspector Poirot. I would not have chosen to read that book had it not been in this package, but it was highly enjoyable to discover the who-done-it together!

Poetry has never been a strength for me, so I have been very grateful for the Robert Frost book and the book, Heart to Heart, that features poetry and artwork by various talents, and a bit of help on the discussion of the poems in the Parent Guide. As with the History Parent Guide, there are the parent notes, map work, vocabulary words of interest, in addition to the page numbers of the books you are reading at one time. The weekly schedules are going to be invaluable with the page number/chapter breakdowns so that you can work alongside the history schedule and keep your reading straight!

Math-U-See Geometry

Math-U-See Geometry is a marvelous program. Included in the program is a Student Workbook, Test Booklet, Instruction Manual and Instruction DVD. The Student Workbook includes daily worksheets, review pages, and honor pages for further exploration of the subject. This is a program that can be used on its own or with the help of mom. The DVD gives all the lessons and the Instruction Manual offers complete solutions to all the problems in the Student Workbook. This course covers these subjects and more: points, lines, planes, angles, circles, triangles, quadrilaterals, Pythagorean Theorem, conic sections, proofs, etc.

Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Biology (Science 250)

Science 250 encompasses Exploring Creation with Biology, and it is an amazing course. Ours came with the CD-ROM, the Science 250 Schedule Plus, Sonlight's Advanced Dissection Kit, and the Microscopy Supplies Kit.

The CD-ROM is the complete course usable via your computer. It encompasses 16 modules:

Biology: The Study of Life

Kingdom Monera

Kingdom Protista

Kingdom Fungi

The Chemistry of Life

The Cell

Cellular Reproduction and DNA

Mendelian Genetics

Evolution: Part Scientific Theory, Part Unconfirmed Hypothesis


The Invertebrates of Kingdom Animalia

Phylum Arthropoda

Phylum Chordata

Kingdom Plantae: Anatomy and Classification

Kingdom Plantae: Physiology and Reproduction

Reptiles, Birds, and Mammals

The Advanced Dissection Kit includes:

"Three disposable dissection trays; T-pins; scissors; forceps; scalpels; glass eyedropper; vinyl ruler; teasing needles; latex exam gloves; magnifying glass; cork; thermometer; handy case to hold the above tools; complete step-by-step descriptive dissection guides for each animal (includes more information and detailed instructions than the textbook offers on its own); four specimens packaged in an easy-to-open container: frog, crayfish, yellow perch, and a  worm."

Microscopy Supplies Kit Includes:

Lens paper

Glass slides

Slide covers

Microscope drawing paper

Glass eyedroppers

1 bottle Methylene Blue

16 prepared slides

Magnifying glass

1 bottle Iodine


Coffee filter

In the Science 250 Schedule Plus, the weekly schedule is found that is detailed and helpful! It notes the day/assignment ratio for your student and is very specific about the sections she will need to read and do. It also notes experiments to be done, what is required for each experiment and when it is used, and whether or not they have provided it to you, and what you need to obtain. This is every day of science laid out for you or your student in an easy-to-understand and use format. The schedule also includes important vocabulary words for each module, classification charts, lab documents, experiment write-ups to take down what your student has learned. We particularly enjoyed the use of the microscope as there is a whole new world to be found there!

After almost 20 years of homeschooling, to have had these boxes full of amazing literature, science, history, and math arrive at my home, to have all the prep/planning work done, to have the assignments and even the page numbers handed to me ready to use from the get-go—there is nothing like it. Sonlight has taken all the hard work out of homeschooling high school. You just get to sit back and have amazing, wonderful, and challenging reading adventures together. You get to help your children navigate the tough questions of faith and life and human behavior, and discuss good solid answers with them. You get to read the stories and experience the richness that flows from the literature provided in these programs together. You get to live your faith in the day to day and not worry about the page numbers or the book choices—you get to live the shared experiences and the lightbulb moments—the real beauty of homeschooling! Sonlight helps make it happen, even in the high school years. Check out their high school page ( and see if they can help you!

-Product review by Kate Kessler, Product Reviews Manager, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2018