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American History for Young Students I Review by Tess Hamre

Michelle Howard Miller
TruthQuest History
526 W 14th St, Suite 161
Traverse City, MI 49684

Families, like mine, that prefer a literature-rich approach to study history need a program like TruthQuest History Guides. History comes to life and becomes more memorable when reading biographies, historical fiction, and living book style textbooks. Michelle Howard Miller gathered resources and organized the topics in a beautiful chronological flow from Exploration to 1800 in American History for Young Students I. Intended for grades 1-5 this investigation enlivens the history, art, culture, and ideas of this time period.

This TruthQuest History Guide begins with a section of “Notes for Dad & Mom.” This section explains what history is and the approach TruthQuest offers. Parents will find encouragement and suggestions as well. Even though I am a veteran homeschool mom who has always approached history by reading great books, I found this section a great place to start and refresh for myself why this is the way my husband and I wanted our children to learn.

Following the notes section is the 6-page long Table of Contents. I used the Table of Contents as an overview of what TruthQuest offers in their buffet of choices. Miller divided The American History for Young Students I into 52 chapters or units.

Chapters begin with bolded text to read aloud. These introductions or commentaries prime children and their parents to “look for the deep spiritual issues at work in the lives of all those people and events they’re reading about.” Some commentaries are short – only a few sentences long. Others are longer and may span two or three pages.

Each chapter focuses on a topic, event, person or group, place, or year. Examples of chapters are Discover the Discovery, Pilgrims, More Colonies, Daniel Boone and the Wilderness Road, Peter Stuyvesant and New Amsterdam, King Philip’s War, Great Awakening, and Williamsburg, and Events of 1778.

Further divided into lettered sections, the length of each chapter varies. Like the chapters, these lettered sections cover people, places, and events. Because these smaller sections are related to the numbered topic, I find it easy to overlap or combine readings. For example, when studying Chapter 5 On to Jamestown we started reading some general overview books and the recommended historical fiction book A Lion to Guard Us from the 5a General Overview section while also reading a biography about Captain John Smith from 5b and Pocahontas and the Strangers from 5c Pocahontas.

Some people may prefer to read one book straight through and then begin another and sometimes we’ll get caught up in a book and only read one book during our history time but usually, we prefer to divide our reading time between two or three books.  One of the things I love about TruthQuest History Guides is that I have that choice. I can choose what books we read and I can choose how many and I can choose if I want to read a book from each lettered section at the same time or focus on one section at a time.

Miller included a variety of books giving parents more options. If one title is unavailable, I can substitute another title. Since my daughter loves the YWAM Heroes of History books we have been using those. Many of the titles are already suggested in the TruthQuest Guide such as Christopher Columbus, William Penn, Daniel Boone & George Washington. We have been adding more books from the series such as Captain John Smith, William Bradford, and Benjamin Franklin.

TruthQuest History Guides are not just a collection of books arranged in chronological order. TruthQuest wants parents to think about history differently. From the Notes for Dad & Mom: “Please think about history in a brand-new way, for it is not first the story of mankind, but of the One who made mankind!”

The six ThinkWrite assignments ask students to think about what they have been reading and then respond. “A wonderful way to deepen learning is to write about your reading” (page 2). We have treated these assignments more as discussion time because my daughter struggles with fine motor skills. Many of our discussions happen outside of our actual history time. Most often they happen during dinner. I love these conversations that not only help my daughter remember what we have been reading but allow to make connections and develop thinking skills.

While the History Guide does not itself have mapping, timeline, or notebook suggestions or assignments, TruthQuest partnered with A Journey Through Learning (AJTL) to create three PDFs. TruthQuest offers the specially created AJTL Binder-Builder for TQH: American History for Young Students I. They also offer the specially created AJTL Notebooking Pages for TQH: American History for Young Students I as well as the AJTL Maps, Timeline & Report Package.

History, while a favorite subject, is not a daily subject. Some days though we do make the focus our history studies and take a break from our daily subjects. We might read from two or three different books while sitting in the family room and then move to the dining room table to work on our history notebook. More frequently though we spend one day focused on reading books and another day we work on timelines, map work and our history notebook which is a three-ring binder that holds our completed Binder Builder pages, additional maps, coloring pages, and notebook pages.

While it is not necessary to have these added resources, I appreciate having everything I need for my daughter to build a history notebook as a record of her journey through American History.

When we finish American History for Young Students I (Exploration – 1800) we will continue our American history exploration with American History for Young Students II (1800 – 1865). It has the same format and layout as the first course but only has three ThinkWrite assignments instead of six. TruthQuest History also has a bundle of resources created by A Journey Through Learning to use with American History for Young Students II. 

TruthQuest History Guides are available in both printed and PDF formats. There is even an option to purchase both. When planning out what books or topics I want to be sure to use or cover I prefer to do the searching in the PDF. I can also copy and paste titles from the PDF into the search field of my library’s website. I love having the printed copy for reading the bolded text of each chapter.

For book-loving parents searching for a history program that is more than just memorizing names, dates, and places, I recommend TruthQuest History Guides.

-Product review by Tess Hamre, Single Product Reviews Manager, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2019