20th Century World History

History / Bible / Literature 300
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Understand, engage and transform the modern world with Sonlight's 11th grade History / Bible / Literature 300 course: 20th Century World History


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Understand, engage and transform the modern world

  • Trace the massive, sweeping changes of the last century.
  • Guide your young scholars—you have the lesson plans, tools and materials to homeschool high school with success.
  • Explore complex roots of political, social and cultural battles that rage today.
  • Watch students hone valuable writing skills and learn to defend their faith.
  • Purchase this Sonlight 300 package and you'll get free shipping (lower 48), a one-year guarantee and other perks.

Overview of the History

Instructor's Guides

Like the other upper-level IG teaching tools, your 320 History and Bible Parent and Student Guides walk you through each school day, so students are free to embark on their own independent study. As they work through the Student Guide, you can easily engage and track their progress with tools that include your corresponding Parent Guide (with answers and extra notes), your students' journaling, and discussion.

20th Century World History

Today's world was shaped – in national boundaries, in economic policy, in technological advances – by the 20th Century. Sonlight 320 takes a year to look at this transformative century.

In 1900, it took days to travel from Europe to America. In 2000, it took hours. In 1900, only a wealthy few owned a car. In 2000, cars were common, if not quite universal. In 1900, even the radio had barely been invented and broadcasts were still several years away. By 2000, the radio had come and gone as primary entertainment, replaced by the television at first, and then an increasing array of electronics: cable, video games, computers, and the internet. In 1900, the airplane had not yet been invented. By 2000, men had gone to the moon, and satellites in orbit allowed many advances in communication.

It was an astonishing century.

In earlier programs, we don't study this century in depth. These years brought incredible suffering. There are the familiar tragedies: trench warfare in WWI, the Holocaust, the atom bomb. And there are the less-familiar tragedies: genocides in Europe, Asia and Africa; mass starvation in China and the USSR; drug wars, child labor, and human trafficking.

So it isn't as enjoyable to study this century. But it is important. And in 320, we tried to balance the horrors that occurred, with the hope of the Gospel. We include four missionary biographies (compared to the more typical one or two), because in the midst of darkness, it's good to remember that God is still at work.

Yes, the Nazi concentration camps were horrible. But God was at work even there, caring for his children in miraculous ways.

The spine, Modern History in Pictures, is a visual guide that offers insight into the century and explores earth-shattering events that have shaped our modern world.

This version sold on sonlight.com is printed exclusively for Sonlight. Versions not sold on sonlight.com may not match the Sonlight Level 320 Instructor's Guide.

Biographies & Historical Fiction

Sonlight's 320 History includes 19 additional books. Among them are biographies of suffragette Lizzie Stanton and scientist Albert Einstein.

There are two classic works of fiction: All Quiet on the Western Front, set in the trenches of World War I; and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, set in a Stalin prison camp in Siberia.

One book covers the establishment of Israel after World War II. One covers the unsettled experience of being a refugee.

One is about the 6000-mile trek that Mao made before he came to power. Imagine: the equivalent of fleeing across the United States and back. To write this book, the author traveled to China and interviewed survivors, 50 years later. The author's trip was 30 years ago now. An eyewitness account would no longer be possible. What a gift to be given.

This is a powerful course.

Why is 320 so important and different? Because it covers in-depth a century of human atrocities, genocide, horrible wars, achievements, accomplishments – a century that was supposed to be civilized. The other programs do not even come close to the in-depth study of the 20th Century. At all. And yes – there are dark and depressing books, books that make you sad and furious at the same time, and yet books that leave you with hope for the human race. I can't imagine skipping Sonlight 300. It was my daughter's absolute, 100% favorite course because she learned SO much about the truth of the century, and got a glimpse of where we're headed or could be headed. —Sarita Holzmann, Co-founder & president of Sonlight Curriculum

Bible / Apologetics

The Bible 310 program helps guide your older students on their way to adulthood.

The insightful and inspiring book How to Ruin Your Life by 30, challenges your kids toward making good biblical choices. Three additional books, Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ, Chip Ingram's Why I Believe, and C.S. Lewis's classic, Mere Christianity, will prepare your students to be competent apologists, able to answer those who have questions about Christianity.

Estimated daily time for 20th Century World History: Student: 1 hr.

Overview of the Literature

Instructor's Guides

The Literature 330 course can be largely selftaught. Your children are able to chart their own course with help from the Literature and Language Arts Student Guide. The corresponding Parent Guide lets you jump in at any time to assess learning or engage in meaningful discussion.

20th Century Literature

Sarita Holzmann's daughter once described 330 Literature as "an embarrassment of riches." When she helped revise the program, she came away astonished by the power and beauty in this course. With 330, I'm challenged, I'm grieved, I'm amused, I'm enthralled – all by turns. That happens in the other Sonlight programs, too, but I think the emotion is more, and deeper, here.

The books follow a rough chronological progression. The school year begins with The Great Brain, a children's book set in the late 1800s. One of the chapters describes how the family got a flush toilet, the first in the town. The big struggle in this book is with an older brother who is selfish and greedy. By the end of the book, he reforms.

Contrast that with one of the last books assigned, Alas, Babylon. Although it was written in 1959, when the threat of nuclear annihilation loomed large, it reads like a modern dystopian survival thriller. Where does one go for water, when all the surrounding communities have been destroyed?

In less than 100 years, the world went from the wonder of flush toilets to the horror of nuclear annihilation.

So that's the big-picture progression.

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 (okay, that isn't 20th Century, but it connects with another book, and … it's Shakespeare!), historical fiction, and novel. Because "literary" works can be dark or difficult, the schedule tries to break up the more intense works with enjoyable, thoughtful books.

Among the more challenging works, 330 includes Brave New World, the remarkably prescient book that foresaw a culture dedicated to entertainment and pleasure.

The Great Gatsby is a compulsively readable story set in the Roaring Twenties. (One teacher challenged her students to find a single sentence they could improve on in the book, and none could. Whatever you think of the lifestyle of characters, the prose itself is stunning.)

Heart of Darkness, set in the Belgian Congo, has one of the most robust vocabularies I've ever read, and a few famous lines: "the fascination of the abomination" and, for the dissolute man facing death: "The horror! The horror!" This is an incredible book even without knowing that this is an eyewitness account of actual atrocities that took place during the reign of King Leopold.

Kafka's Metamorphosis, about a man who wakes to find himself transformed into a giant cockroach, portrays the isolation many people felt in the modern age.

Among the less-challenging works, 330 includes one of my favorite Agatha Christie novels. The world's best-selling author, she sold over a billion copies of her mysteries, known for their surprise endings. (By contrast, the Harry Potter series has sold about 450 million.) Meet the Belgiam detective Hercule Poirot as he finds out whodunit.

Kon-Tiki is the story of a man who wondered if perhaps the Polynesian Islands were settled by people sailing west from South America, rather than east from Asia. He constructed a balsa raft, recruited some men to go with him, and set afloat. This is the story of their astonishing journey.

One of the most beautiful books ever written, Cry, the Beloved Country, takes place in South Africa. A minister goes to seek his son, who has fallen into trouble in the city. Somehow the language holds the rhythms of Africa, and the words are unimaginably beautiful. In one of my favorite scenes, the grieving minister has gone to seek consolation, and sits as a preacher reads Scripture to him and the congregation: "It was not only a voice of gold, but it was the voice of a man whose heart was golden, reading from a book of golden words. And the people were silent, and Kumalo was silent, for when are three such things found in one place together?"

Whether or not your children have a voice of gold, may they have hearts of gold, and may they love the Book of golden words.

Language Arts

Fully integrated with the Literature, this year's Language Arts builds on past years and continues to develop literary analysis, creative writing, research, and essay skills, with weekly writing assignments in a range of lengths and topics.

Estimated daily time for 20th Century World Literature: Student: 1 hr.

Prefer to build your own course of study?

Create a complete course of study by mixing and matching individual high school courses. Visit sonlight.com/high-school to get started.

Instructor's Guide
  • History 320 Parent Guide
    Complete lesson plans and teaching helps you need to effectively teach Level 320, History, Geography and Bible for the entire year.
    Retail: $64.00
  • History 320 Student Guide
    The daily schedule and tools your student needs for Level 320, History, Geography, and Bible for the entire year.
    Retail: $37.00
  • Literature 330 Parent Guide
    Complete lesson plans and teaching helps you need to effectively teach Level 330 Literature and Language Arts for the entire year.
    Retail: $64.00
  • Literature 330 Student Guide
    The daily schedule and tools your student needs for Level 330, Literature and Language Arts for the entire year.
    Retail: $37.00
  • The Case for Christ
    Is there credible proof that Jesus of Nazareth really is the Son of God? In The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel retraces his own spiritual journey from atheism to faith and builds a captivating case for...
    Retail: $9.99
  • Why I Believe: Straight Answers to Honest Questions about God, the Bible, and Christianity
    This is the perfect resource for anyone who longs not only to really know what and why they believe but also to be equipped to explain the intellectual justification for their faith in everyday language.
    Retail: $17.99
  • Mere Christianity
    One of this century's master wordsmiths presents the case for Christianity — "mere" Christianity: "a hall out of which doors open into several rooms" — the various Christian churches and denominations.
    Retail: $17.99
  • How to Ruin Your Life By 30
    Every choice comes with consequence. In trademark style, Farrar uses Godly advice and real-life stories to encourage readers toward making good choices" and reaping the benefits.
    Retail: $14.99
  • 7 Men Who Rule the World from the Grave
    Dave Breese warns us of the dangers of believing unreservedly the ideas of these seven men. He also reminds us of the only man whose life and words we can trust completely—Jesus Christ.
    Retail: $16.99
  • World War I
    In this book, Richard Maybury presents an idea-based explanation of the First World War. He explains how the explosion of the battleship Maine in 1898 was the beginning of a chain reaction that continues...
    Retail: $17.95
  • The Six Day Hero
    The Six-Day War, told from the point of view of an Israeli seventh-grader in 1967.
    Retail: $9.99
  • The Story That Cannot Be Told
    The story of a girl finding her voice and the strength to use it during the final months of the Communist regime in Romania in 1989.
    Retail: $8.99
  • Warriors Don’t Cry
    In this essential autobiographical account by one of the Civil Rights Movement's most powerful figures, Melba Pattillo Beals of the Little Rock Nine explores not only the oppressive force of racism, but...
    Retail: $18.00
  • Hero of the Empire
    This thrilling biographical account of the life and legacy of Wintson Churchill is a nail-biter and top-notch character study rolled into one.
    Retail: $18.00
  • The Blackbird Girls
    Like Ruta Sepetys for middle grade, Anne Blankman pens a poignant and timeless story of friendship that twines together moments in underexplored history.
    Retail: $8.99
  • A Night Divided
    Set during the time period of the rise of the Berlin Wall, a wonderfully crafted historical novel that is absorbing and deeply suspenseful.
    Retail: $8.99
  • All Quiet on the Western Front
    Hailed as "the greatest war novel of all time," the author says his purpose with the "All Quiet on the Western Front" book is "simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped...
    Retail: $8.99
  • God Spoke Tibetan
    Follow a disgraced Tibetan official, a hapless courier, Christian missionaries, native translators and more, to hear the moving story of how the Bible came to the Tibetan people in their own language.
    Retail: $16.00
  • There's a Sheep In My Bathtub
    What can God do when you simply trust and obey Him? Watch an unreached people explode with the Gospel--not in the first century, but in ours! Like this American family in remote, mysterious Outer Mongolia,...
    Retail: $16.99
  • First They Killed My Father
    The author tells a story reflective of the experiences shared by many Cambodians who lived through the Vietnam War. The fascinating firsthand account vividly describes events during this time in history:...
    Retail: $16.99
  • China's Long March: 6,000 Miles of Danger
    Stunning portrayal of one of the defining events in modern Chinese history: the epic 6000-mile trek of Mao Zedong and his men as they sought to escape the Nationalist forces of Chiang Kai-shek in the...
    Retail: $15.00
  • Modern History in Pictures
    Modern History in Pictures: A Visual Guide to the Events that Shaped Our World explores these earth-shattering events as never before, offering unique insight into the century that has so keenly shaped...
    Retail: $34.99
  • The Green Glass Sea
    It's 1943, and 11-year-old Dewey Kerrigan is en route to New Mexico to live with her mathematician father. The town Soon, she arrives at a town that, officially, doesn't exist. Los Alamos is abuzz with...
    Retail: $9.99
  • The Hiding Place
    The worldwide bestseller about a staunchly Christian Dutch family whose faith overcomes the worst of the Nazi holocaust. Challenging and uplifting.
    Retail: $15.99
  • Living On the Devil's Doorstep
    A strait-laced preacher's kid becomes a minister to hippies, drug addicts, prostitutes and other societal drop-outs, first in Kabul, Afghanistan, and then on the streets of Amsterdam, Holland. Challenging.
    Retail: $14.99
  • Made You Look
    How advertising works, and what your kids (a prized demographic) should know. Familiar examples get unbiased review, raising teens' critical awareness of the messages filling their world.
    Retail: $16.95
  • Red Scarf Girl
    Multiple award-winner. A devastating, first-person story of the Chinese Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao in the late '60s.
    Retail: $10.99
  • The Road from Home
    The author writes a true-to-life fictionalized autobiography of his mother--a young Armenian girl in Turkey during the "other" 20th century Holocaust that was prelude to Stalin, Hitler, and others.
    Retail: $10.99
  • You Want WOMEN to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?
    A simple but thorough introduction to the work and words of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, one of the pioneers in the women's suffrage movement.
    Retail: $7.99
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
    Nobel Prize-winning author tells the story of one man and "just one of the three thousand six hundred and fifty-three days of his sentence" in a Siberian prison camp during Stalin's rule.
    Retail: $5.99
  • Children of the River
    Multiple award-winner. A stunning tale of cultural pressures felt by a Cambodian girl who finds herself a refugee in late 20th Century United States.
    Retail: $7.99
  • Parallel Journeys
    The author interweaves the personal narratives of Helen Waterford, a German Jewish woman who got married only days after Hitler came to power in 1933, and Alfons Heck, 10 years old when he proudly joined...
    Retail: $7.99
  • The Snow Goose
    A simple yet moving story of love and faithfulness and duty . . . concerning a hunch backed man, a young girl, and a snow goose . . . all climaxing at the Battle of Dunkirk. A perennial favorite since...
    Retail: $19.95
  • Alas, Babylon
    An engaging modern-day Robinson Crusoe adventure: survival after a nuclear attack that destroys all civilization outside the confines of a small Florida town.
    Retail: $17.99
  • Brave New World
    A bleak look at a utopian world in which human beings are made to love servitude and totalitarian government crafted by author Aldous Huxley.
    Retail: $16.99
  • The Contender
    Alfred Brooks, an inner-city high school dropout, learns, through the disciplines of boxing, what it takes to win the battles of life. Fascinating, moving, and--trade places--all too real!
    Retail: $8.99
  • Cry, the Beloved Country
    The magnificent, deeply moving story of a dignified Zulu pastor and his son in mid-20th Century South Africa: a land driven by racial injustice. A classic work of love, hope, courage and endurance. Sad...
    Retail: $17.00
  • The Tempest
    This version of the Tempest by William Shakespeare has modern English side-by-side with the original text.
    Retail: $7.99
  • The Wednesday Wars
    Holling is a 7th-grade boy forced to spend Wednesday afternoons dissecting Shakespeare with his teacher who, he is certain, "hates his guts." You'll grow with him through the uproars of adolescence and...
    Retail: $8.99
  • The Great Brain
    Tom, The Great Brain, puts his mind to use in creating all manner of hilarious mischief in a turn-of-the-century Utah town!
    Retail: $8.99
  • The Wave
    Two students, Laurie and David, realize they must stop a dangerous movement before it's too late. Let this sobering drama, based on actual events, spark thoughtful discussion with your family.
    Retail: $7.99
  • The Great Gatsby
    The quintessential novel of "Roaring 20s" America.
    Retail: $17.00
  • Hope Was Here
    This is "comfort food" in print! Hope and her aunt move from New York to Wisconsin to run a diner. The kind owner runs for mayor against the corrupt incumbent. Hope's positive determination will leave...
    Retail: $10.99
  • My Father's Daughter
    Young Winston Carmichael and his handicapped younger sister have been virtual prisoners in their mansion since birth. Years before, their elder half sister, Caroline was kidnapped. Believed dead, she...
    Retail: $8.99
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins
    A foster girl learns what true love is and what it means to belong. Riveting. A book you'll read over and over.
    Retail: $7.99
  • Robert Frost's Poems
    This thorough Robert Frost anthology (over 100 poems) should be a home library essential.
    Retail: $8.99
  • Heart of Darkness
    Set in turn-of-the-century Congo, West Africa, Heart of Darkness is considered one of this century's literary masterpieces. This book by author Joseph Conrad is a study in human corruption and despair.
    Retail: $5.00
  • Heart to Heart
    This book combines full-color reprints of famous American works of art (Harper, Pollock, Man Ray, Lichtenstein, O'Keeffe, and many more) accompanied by poems.
    Retail: $22.95
  • Kon-Tiki
    Kon-Tiki is the classic true tale of men against the sea and against scientific orthodoxy.
    Retail: $8.99
  • The Metamorphosis
    Classic Kafka book: the story of a young man who, transformed into a giant insect, becomes an object of disgrace to his family and an outsider in his own home. Asks what it means to be truly and fully...
    Retail: $6.95
  • The Moves Make the Man
    Jerome Foxworthy tells the story of his friend, a white boy named Bix. Basketball--played straight or with fakes--becomes an allegory for life. Engrossing. Brilliantly written.
    Retail: $9.99
  • Murder on the Orient Express
    The famed Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is traveling on the unusually crowded Orient Express when a notorious gangster is found murdered.
    Retail: $8.99
  • The Old Man and the Sea
    A towering story of man against nature, victory in defeat. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway is haunting and deep.
    Retail: $13.99
  • Walk Two Moons
    Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech is a deep, exquisitely-textured story, full of symbolism, about a 13-year-old girl, her parents and grandparents, and about relationships, living and dying. A story that...
    Retail: $8.99
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