The Heritage Classical Curriculum recommends reading at least three age
appropriate "core" selections, as well as three or more
books from our "supplemental reading" list.
about the methodology associated with the Heritage program can be found
in the Curriculum User Guide.
Young Readers' Core Selections
The following books can be read by upper grammar
school students and provide an excellent introduction to English history.
The two most important are Famous
Men of the Middle Ages, which introduces famous characters from both
British and European history, and the Cambridge Historical Reader,
which focuses specifically on Britain.
The other books are taken from three excellent children's series:
Stories from English History from the Stories from History series;
Stories of Beowulf from the Told to the Children series; and
The Story of Sir Francis Drake from the Children's Heroes series.
Not all of the books in these series deal with British history, but many do, and
students that enjoy one of these books will likely enjoy others in the series.
Cambridge Historical Reader - Primary by Cambridge Press
This grammar school level introduction to British history covers many of
the most important characters and incidents of British history, and is
richly illustrated. It covers many of the most important and romantic
incidents of English history, from the rebellion of Boadicea to the
reign of Queen Victoria, in a manner that is easily accessible to
Famous Men of the Middle Ages by John Haaren
Attractive biographical sketches of thirty-five of the most prominent
characters in the history of the Middle Ages, from the barbarian
invasions to the invention of the printing press. Subjects include
Rollo the Viking, Henry the Fowler, Canute the Great, Peter the Hermit,
Marco Polo, and many more. Each story is told in a clear, simple manner,
and is well calculated to awaken and stimulate the youthful imagination.
Stories from English History by Hilda Skae
This book recounts six stories from early English history written for grammar
school students, beginning with the Celtic hero Caradoc and ending with Sir
Francis Drake. Other tales include the story of Augustine of Kent and the
conversion of the Saxons to Christianity, William the Conqueror and the
Battle of Hastings, King John and the murder of his rival Prince Arthur,
and the story of the Black Prince at Crecy and Poitiers.
Stories of Beowulf by H. E. Marshall
This volume retells the famous Anglo-Saxon saga in the manner of a
folktale, with the heroic qualities emphasized. It relates how Beowulf,
the hero of the Saxons, came to Daneland, and how he overcame the
ogre Grendel and the waterwitch. It closes with the story of how
the fire dragon warred with the Goth folk and how Beowulf fought
his last fight.
The Story of Sir Francis Drake by Mrs. Oliver Elton
Sir Francis Drake was one of the most colorful characters in
Elizabethan England. He was a sworn enemy of the Spanish and spent
many years plundering their ships and towns in the new world, both
to enrich himself and to strike a blow at England's most threatening
enemy. He was only the second European, after Magellan, to pass
Cape Horn in South America and sail around the world, but it is
his daring feats and audacious exploits against Spain for which
he is best known.
Intermediate Readers' Core Selections
Our Island Story, by H. E. Marshall, is a long but thoroughly entertaining
"storybook" of English history. It has been popular with middle school age
students for over a century and is highly recommended. Guerber's Story
of the English is also very good and significantly shorter. The
story of Robert Bruce is taken from the
Children's Heroes collection, which focuses on English
men-of-action and is appealing to students of all ages, and In the Days of
Alfred the Great is one of three enjoyable biographies from the
Makers of England series.
We suggest that middle school students read at least one book that introduces them
to continental history to complement their focus on the British Middle Ages. Any of the selections
from our European Middle Ages collection
will do. The Story of Europe was written by H. E. Marshall, but
takes a thematic rather than a storybook approach to European history. Students who
enjoy story-based histories, may prefer M. B. Synge's
Story of the World series, or
Famous Men of the Middle Ages.
Our Island Story by H. E. Marshall
Marshall's storybook of English history is an undeniable classic, popular with
generations of British children. It takes a romantic view of English history,
combining the most well-known stories from British history with legends and
folklore. It begins with the legends of Albion and Brutus and covers Roman
Britain, the British Middle Ages, and the rise of England through the Hanoverian
The Story of the English by Helene Guerber
Middle school level introduction to British history, from the age of the Celts
and Druids to the Victorian Age. Many of the most romantic stories from English
history are recounted in simple terms for school aged children. Includes a great
many famous anecdotes and legends from English history. Stories about Arthur,
Alfred, Canute, Lady Godiva, William the Conqueror, Thomas Becket, Richard Coeur
d' Leon, and many others English heroes are featured.
In the Days of Alfred the Great by Eva March Tappan
Alfred the Great is one of the most outstanding
characters of English history and this books brings him to life in an appealing
manner for students of all ages. The book spends a considerable amount of time
on the childhood of Alfred and
tells how at twenty-two he inherited a land overrun by savage pirates,—a restless
ignorant, defenseless land. After spending most of his youth in conflict with the
invaders, the final chapters tell how he fought the Danes and restored the country
to a condition of peace and safety. Students who enjoy this book will also enjoy
In the Days of William the Conqueror, another book in the series.
The Story of Robert Bruce by Jeanie Lange
This story of Robert Bruce, hero of Scotland, is an action-packed tale of one of
the greatest patriotic heroes of Scotland. Deprived of his crown by Edward I of
England, who had completely subjugated Scotland by the time he came of age, he
won back Scotland's independence against terrific odds. With lots of
hand-to-hand combat, treachery, and larger-than-life action, the story of
Robert the Bruce is one of the greatest adventure-dramas in English history
Oliver Cromwell by Estelle Ross
This biography of Oliver Cromwell, the fierce puritan general who led the
Roundheads to victory in the English Civil War and formed the Commonwealth
government very ably describes the problems of the age, and Cromwell's role in
permanently transforming the English monarchy. It is an excellent intermediate
biography, suitable for mature middle school or high school students who would
like to better understand this critical period in English history.
The Story of Europe by H. E. Marshall
This book presents the broader movements of European history, emphasizing the
main factors which have gone into the development of the various European states
from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Reformation. The history of England is
included only when that country plays a prominent part in the politics of
Europe. A full treatment of the period immediately following the fall of the
Roman Empire is given, since that period provides the necessary key to future
developments. Maps, timelines, and genealogy charts of the various royal houses
of Europe contribute to making this book an excellent resource for the study of
the Middle Ages in Europe.
Advanced Readers' Core Selections
It is assumed that advanced readers are already familiar with the outline
of Enlish history. Morris's Historical Tales—English is not
a comprehensive history, but a collection of exciting tales from English
history told in depth.
The Makers of History series by the Abbott
brothers is a particular treat for advanced students who are already
familiar with the basic outline of English history. Our "core"
selection lists only William the Conquer,
but the complete collection includes ten biographies from
early English history and they all introduce fascinating
characters and explain important events in
Another suggestion for advanced readers is The Tudors and
Stuarts from the Nisbet self-help history series. It explains
the political ramifications of English reformation politics in
just enough detail to be thorough, without becoming tedious.
H. E. Marshall's English Literature for Boys and Girls
provides an excellent survey of English authors, literature,
and culture. Although it is supposedly directed to younger
children, it is detailed enough to be more appealing to sophisticated
readers than to novices.
Historical Tales: English by Charles Morris
This selection of stories from English history includes many well-known
episodes, but also a variety of lesser known but romantic events. Morris
is an excellent writer and his stories are told with enough detail and
dramatic flair to be of interest to an older student or adult. Although
there are many familiar heroes, a good number are less
well-known, such as Elfrida, Hereward, Arabella Stuart, and Prince Charles.
The Tudors and Stuarts by M. B. Synge
This book presents an excellent intermediate level history of sixteenth and seventeenth
century England. The Tudor section provides details of how the Reformation came
about, including the closing of the monasteries and widespread religious
persecutions. The Stuart section explains the rising conflict between parliament
and the monarchy, the relationship between religious and political freedom, and
the rise of political parties and religious toleration.
English Literature for Boys and Girls by H. E. Marshall
A terrific and accessible introduction to English literature by one of Britain's
greatest authors of juvenile history. All of the major authors and literature of
England are covered, from the Celtic ballads to the nineteenth century greats
such as Dickens and Thackeray. Short examples of most of the literature is
included, along with fascinating biographies.
William the Conqueror by Jacob Abbott
Even before invading England to claim the throne, William the Conqueror was
recognized throughout Europe as the greatest warrior of his time. His entire
life was a series of battles and rebellions in which he was uniformly
successful. He was often hated but always respected by his subjects, and his
iron-fisted policies were more effective in ruling England than in managing his
own family. Other books in this series, including
Margaret of Anjou, and
Mary Queen of Scots are also of great interest.
Supplemental Reading Selections
We recommend that students who are studying the British
Middle Ages for the first time read four or more selections
from our supplemental reading list, in addition to their
core material. All selections should be age and interest appropriate,
but student can select their supplemental reading from any
The British Middle Ages provides a broad selection for
supplemental reading. Our selection of British biographies
are especially rich, and there are series at every available
reading level. Likewise, the selections of British legends, folklore, and
literature is broad and compelling. Students should have no
trouble finding additional reading suitable to every interest
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