Level E - American History, 2 of 2

Great for ages 9-12

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Sonlight E continues the story that began in Sonlight D, from the mid-1800s to the present.

Overview of the History

History this year begins with William Wilberforce, the British reformer who ended the slave trade in England peaceably. What a contrast to the United States, where slavery continued until a bloody war divided the nation. And, of course, the residual effects of racism continue to the present.

After reading about slavery's end in Britain, Sonlight E studies the Civil War. As in D, the primary history books are Boorstin's Landmark History of the American People and the Smithsonian's Children's Encyclopedia of American History .

Some weeks after that students read The World Wars, filled with photos. It seems wrong to call a book on war "lovely," so use whatever sober synonym you can think of for this powerful, informative book.

The History ends on a high point, with two missionary biographies. God is at work in the world. Praise Him!

Overview of the Literature

I think most people consider the Read-Alouds the best part of their school day. The 15 Read-Alouds this year are a bit longer than those in D. And what a superb collection!

Across Five Aprils is absolutely unique in children's literature: It focuses on the western front of the Civil War. Did you even know that there was a western front? It's the story of one family's experiences during the five Aprils of the Civil War. One of the most powerful scenes occurs when two brothers decide, both according to conscience, which side they must fight for – and they pick opposite sides. I love that this introduces nuance into what sometimes is a very cut-and-dried narrative: South = bad, North = good. Real history, like real people, and real problems, is far more complex than that.

The Great Turkey Walk tells of how a young man walked 1000 turkeys from Missouri to Denver in 1860. This sounds wildly improbable, but is based on actual drives. (Proving once again that, yes, fact is stranger than fiction.)

There's a book about the common New England practice of making maple syrup, and the almost superhuman attempt to build an enormous Ferris Wheel at the Chicago World's Fair.

The Read-Alouds include topics like racism, shell-shock, the Great Depression, and immigration. Funny books (General Butterfingers made my grandsons laugh out loud), and poignant books (Little Britches has my husband's favorite last line in all of literature).

All of them are great books.

At this point in your children's literacy, some of the Readers are almost as long as the Read-Alouds. The Readers offer almost 20 more marvelous books for your children to enjoy this year.

The Readers include biographies of important people, like Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, the Wright Brothers, and George Washington Carver.

The Readers include books that are a delight to read, like By the Great Horn Spoon, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Henry Reed, Inc.

And the Readers include several very different coming-of-age books, like Old Yeller, Because of Winn-Dixie, and The Seventeenth Swap. Nineteen fabulous books.

P.S. I would recommend trying to get to these Readers before your children do. I have heard reports of parents and children disputing over who will get to finish first. These books are that good.

Estimated daily time for Intro to American History, Year 2 of 2 plus your other subjects: Student: 3.5-5 hrs | Parent: 2-3 hrs

First time Sonlighting? Click here for a few required resources.

Want a one-year option? See Sonlight D+E.



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