History Quest as Interest-Based Chapter Books
History Quest is a chapter book series and curriculum for elementary aged children from Pandia Press that our family used for several years of homeschooling. We used History Quest: Early Times when my children were in First Grade and Kindergarten and then History Quest: Middle Times when my children were in Second Grade and First Grade. We transitioned at that time to public school, but now that my children are in public school we still are able to use and incorporate this wonderful resource into our home learning.
Both my children have a strong interest in history so I have found that just incorporating History Quest: United States in a read aloud rotation in our home is working quite well. I treat it more as an interest-based resource for the entire family rather than “curriculum.” We also use some of the additional resources from the Study Guide (more on that below) but I do not require the kids to do any sort of notebooking to keep track of their learning like I would if we were still homeschooling.
About Each Book
History Quest uses a narrative style chapter book to engage young children in history in a meaningful way. I never liked history as a child because to me it was all about memorizing facts and dates and it never really came alive. I’m so happy to offer something age-appropriate to my young children that engages their imaginations to make history come alive. Each core historical overview chapter contains maybe one or two black and white illustrations and a wealth of information in an engaging narrative. Then, each topic/time period is followed by a coordinating “History Hop” chapter where you pretend to jump back in time and meet a historical person from that time period.
History Quest: United States is the most recent addition to the History Quest series. Because of the content this is geared more towards upper elementary, though I will say that my 3rd and 2nd grader are doing just fine with it. Again, because they have shown in interest in history we have covered a lot of the harsher truths of the history of our country already so it isn’t a total surprise.
We already incorporate a number of books in our home that provide historical and current contextualized history — If you are looking for excellent black history books for children, I recommend checking out Heritage Mom Blog. For Indigenous history, check out books from American Indians in Children’s Literature.
The United States history covers from the 1500s to the early 21st century.
Middle Times covers from the Fall of Rome to the 17th century CE.
Early Times covers pre-history to the eighth century CE. See my full curriculum review here.
I think these books work nicely in progression and age up with your children. However, I do not think there is anything wrong with jumping around and reading them in a different order! The chapter book narratives do not rely on previous books so you will not be confused if you start with the United States history book.
About the Study Guides
The Study Guides are a nice companion to the chapter books, though not necessary to use. When homeschooling, I appreciated all of the step-by-step lesson prompts as well as curated book lists and websites to explore and engaging hands-on projects. Since we are now public schoolers I do not see a need for the projects and writing prompts; however, I still value the Study Guide for the curated book lists and websites to enhance our exploration of a particular chapter.
Some of our more memorable experiences studying different periods in history through History Quest have come through the additional recommended reading. We adored (and still revisit) The Ramayana and The Adventures of Odysseus with Early Times, Norse Myths and African Tales with Middle Times, and now are enjoying Native American Folktales and Black Folktales from the United States History Guide.
The value of the Study Guides varies across ages. If you are doing Early Times with young elementary children, the hands-on projects will be inspiring and incredibly valuable. If you are reading these books with upper elementary children, the extra reading as well as writing and journaling prompts will be fantastic.
I think History Quest is a great entry point for those families interested in history but maybe do not know where to start. These books are also nice because they can work for families with multiple children — there will be something in there for any child in the elementary school age range.
I appreciate the effort that History Quest has made to be inclusive in the subjects and areas of the world covered throughout the series. The books are secular — avoiding the promotion of religious, cultural, or political agendas. A wide variety of religious and cultural practices are indeed explored through the texts but no one individual practices is promoted to the reader.
Marginalized people are highlighted throughout all of the texts, especially through the History Hops.
And — remember that audiobooks are available! These can be great resources for car rides or kids who want to read on their own but maybe need that extra help.
Take Advantage of the August Sale
Right now, through August 31, 2022 all of the History Quest materials are on sale. Take advantage!
I was given a review copy of History Quest: United States for review by the publisher. Opinions are my own. Other materials mentioned were purchased independently.
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