Books We Read: Charters, Creeds and the English Civil War


This week, we studied the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Roger Williams and the English Civil War.

Next week, we’re looking at the Restoration Colonies and Louis XIV.  Look for that post next Friday!

(Again, this isn’t a comprehensive list of our resources… just some of the extra reading we enjoyed.)

Dream Seekers, Loree Lough (Historical Fiction, Grades 4-6)

John and Sarah Smythe’s younger brother and sister – 10 and 13 year old Phillip and Leah – move from the Plymouth Colony to the new Massachusetts Bay Colony.  In the process, they encounter a Narragansett Indian White Wolf, Roger Williams, and angry, bigoted townsfolk.  The children deal with colonial life, the measles, leeching, Native American herbal medicine, apothocary tinctures, and “modern” medicine.  Phillip’s best friend leaves for Salem, following Roger Williams, and Phillip works hard – really, really hard.  I appreciated the Christian values, as well as the daily life portrayed.  The feel of living in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was quite different from the the Plymouth Colony from the previous two books.  I really appreciate the series, and I think it’s a valuable contribution to our unit so far.

This is book #3 in The American Adventure series – 48 consecutive books from Barbour.  Though the series is out of print, it was produced in the late 1990′s, and there are still lots of copies floating around.  I got most of mine in a large lot on eBay.  When I’m looking for a series, that’s my favorite way to buy, as it really lowers the cost of shipping (per book).

John Bunyan: The Journey of a Pilgrim, Brian H. Cosby   (Biography, Grades 4-8)

John Bunyan was a terrific follow-up to the version of The Pilgrim’s Progress we read last week.  This is another of Christian Focus Publications’ Trailblazers series.  The books are wonderful; narrative biographies of important Christian figures with fictionalized dialogue.  The story quality really makes them an engaging read for the kids.  We all learned a lot about the life of John Bunyan – a preacher who spent much of his life in prison.  Bunyan could have walked right out of the prison, had he just agreed not to preach.  We had some great conversations about God’s call on our lives, the role of the Church and the State, and true worship.  I was excited that the story fit so well with our English Civil War focus as well.

Courage and Conviction; Volume 3: Chronicles of the Reformation Church, Mindy and Brandon Withrow (Church History, Grades 4-6)

See more about the History Lives series in Church History Worth Selling Your Silverware For. I couldn’t imagine not including this excellent book in our studies of the Reformation, so I am reading it aloud as we go.

This week, we read  a biographical sketch:  “Samuel Rutherford: Called Before a Higher Tribunal”, about a 17th Century Scotish Covenanter who worked to establish the Reformed faith in spite of the threat to his life.  He died of illness before he could be hung, as his friends were.  We also read a short article:  “Confessions and Catechisms of the Reformation”, covering the definitions of confession and catechism, as well as a brief history of both.

Ephesians and Philippians (The Bible!)

I thought it was kind of neat that the boys are reading some of the Pauline epistles at the same time that we were reading about Bunyan.  I can see the parallels, anyway.  Both were willing to pick up their cross for Christ and bear imprisonment rather than cease to preach the name of Jesus.  Both were willing to write and minister from prison, inspiring many to follow Christ.  (Of course, one was writing the inspired Word of God, included in the canon of Scripture… it’s a little different than writing an allegory.  None-the-less, we talked about joyfully bearing our crosses and what that means.)

What did your family read last week?

~ Danika Cooley

Danika Cooley is a freelance children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr., Pockets, Devozine, Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey and in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.  

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