Books We Read: Empires at Odds

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This week, we studied Empires at Odds as we lead up the Revolutions (we’re continuing our study of Native Americans, as well).

Next week, we’re looking at the thirteen established colonies.  Look for that post next Friday!

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

Smallpox Strikes, Norma Jean Lutz  (Historical Fiction, Grades 4-6)

We are continuing our journey through the American Adventure series from Barbour.  I don’t think it’s too strong to say that I love these books. Smallpox Strikes!is the story of the 1721 smallpox outbreak in Boston.  Hundreds of people died, many fled the city at night, and smallpox inoculation was introduced.  There was quite an uproar about the idea of purposely infecting oneself with a disease in the hopes of avoiding death.  Rev. Cotton Mather and Benjamin Franklin play small roles in the book.

This is book #7 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).

Peter the Great, Diane Stanley (Biography, Grades 1-3)

We’ve read several of Diane Stanley’s picture book biographies (which she also illustrates) and we have enjoyed them all.  Peter the Great was a fascinating figure.  I knew little about the way the tsar of Russia catapulted the country into modernity and greatness.  Nor did I know about the terrible burden he placed on his citizens in so doing.  His story is well-told, and the paintings are beautiful.

Titanic, the Ship of Dreams: John Harper, Robert Plant (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.  This exciting fictionalized biography of John Harper, published by Christian Focus Publications, was inspiring.  The author, Robert Plant, is a children’s evangelist in the UK; his love of the Gospel is clear throughout the book.  I reviewed Titanic, the Ship of Dreamsthoroughly here earlier this week.

Hearts and Hands: Volume 4: Chronicles of the Awakening Church, Mindy and Brandon Withrow (Church History, Grades 3-8)

See more about the History Lives series (published by Christian Focus Publications) in Church History Worth Selling Your Silverware For. I couldn’t imagine not including this excellent book in our studies of the 18th and 19th centuries, so I am reading it aloud as we go.

This week we read an article called “What was the Awakening Church”.  The article covered revivals, enlightenment and deism, the First and Second Great Awakenings, and Evangelicalism.  I don’t know about the boys, but I learned a lot!

Hebrews (The Bible!)

Hebrews is incredible; I love that book!  The boys are still talking about Melchizedek.  It’s been so fun to explore the Bible with them.

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.


  1. says

    We just read Peter the Great with Sonlight. Hadn’t heard much about him before either. Earlier in the year, we read another of Diane Stanley’s books, “Good Queen Bess.” She’s got way more detail than you can find easily presented in a simple style with great pictures. When our copy disappeared under a bed we tried to find another book on Elizabeth I at the library. After searching, they decided to put in an order for the same title because there’s nothing comparable out there.

    Smallpox Strikes sounds like it would be really good for us to read next year (we finally get to cover American history in depth!!)

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