Books We Read: Colonists and Native Americans (and some special fun)


This week, we studied Colonists and Native Americans (we’re continuing that for a couple more weeks, as well).

Next week, we’re looking at empires at odds.  Look for that post next Friday!

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

Danger in the Harbor, JoAnn A. Grote (Historical Fiction, Grades 4-6)

This is the second story about Will and Beth Smith in Boston in 1713.  This story was told from Beth’s perspective, which was interesting.  Beth complains loudly (in her head at least) about the many chores she must endure as an 11-year-old girl.  I was impressed (having never been a colonial girl) with the amount of work she did!  In the end, Beth’s character develops admirably and she helps several people in very sacrificial ways.  The book addresses the aftermath of Queen Anne’s War and the Great Fire of Boston.  Social issues such as class, widows and orphans are also addressed as the author takes us through Boston’s grain riots.

This is book #6 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).

Between Earth and Sky: Legends of Native American Sacred Places, Joseph Bruchac (Myths, Grades 1-3)

Joseph Bruchac uses poetry to tell the nature-related stories of different Native American tribes across the United States.  Each story is beautifully illustrated by Thomas Locker.  The boys and I read this together so that we could discuss the worldview (paganism) from which it originates.   We also spent a lot of time this week talking about the Native Americans – where they were living when the colonists arrived, and what happened to them as a result of Europeans settling in their lands.  Our favorite part of this books was a two-page map at the back of the book which showed the many Native American tribes prior to the arrival of the colonists.

The Woman Who Fell from the Sky: The Iroquois Story of Creation, John Bierhorst  (Myths, Grades 1-3)

Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker, this is the Iroquois story of creation.  Again, the boys and I read this together.  We had a very interesting conversation about the worship of the earth (nature), the various mythological stories of creation that we’ve read, and the fact that many of them incorporate some aspect of the biblical story, yet they all veer drastically from the Bible, creating new deities and facts.  The part we found most interesting about the Iroquois story was the fact that two brothers were responsible for creating the earth.  One created good things, while the other perverted those creations and created monsters.  We talked about the how Satan sometimes perverts that which the Lord creates, though he cannot create anything on his own.

On Board the Titanic, Shelley Tanaka  (Specific Event/Biography, Grades 4-6)

We couldn’t let the week go by without taking a look at the Titanic, which sunk on April 15, 2012.  (Check back Monday for a review of an incredible biography involving the Titanic!)  The boys were excited by the fact that we were reading about events that were 100 years old.  They loved this great picture book, which is told from the point-of-view of two young men who survived the ship’s demise.  My youngest insisted that the splendid paintings by Ken Marschall must be photographs.  Further into the book, I pointed out that all of the actual photographs were black and white.  He was quite impressed with the artwork.  This was a fantastic book with an engaging story, and interesting sidebars and diagrams explaining various aspects of the ship and the story.

Gladys Aylward: The Adventure of a Lifetime, Janet and Geoff Benge  (Biography, Grades 4-6)

Have I mentioned how much I love Janet and Geoff Benge’s biographies, published by YWAM Publishing?  They are wonderful.  I also love the story of Gladys Aylward (1902-1970).  We read this as part of our CQLA unit on meekness.  Gladys was a housemaid who wanted to be a missionary in China.  Told she was too old, and not smart enough, by the mission school, she set out on her own.  Gladys was an incredible missionary.  She raised hundreds of orphaned children, ministered to prisoners, helped stop the tradition of foot-binding while she traveled and shared Christ, spread the Good News via the muleteers she told Bible stories to, and ministered to a large lamasery (like a monastery – only Buddhist).  Her life was incredible because she gave the Lord everything she had.

Titus  and Philemon (The Bible!)

I still love this daily Bible-reading habit the boys are getting into!  It’s really exciting to watch them explore the Bible, and I love the questions they come to me with.

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.  

This post is linked to Holy Spirit-led Homeschooling and Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Weekly Wrap-Up.

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