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Recommended Reading

    Young Readers     Intermediate Readers     Advanced Readers     Supplemental Reading

Most of the books in the Spanish Empire Classical Library are intended for intermediate and advanced readers rather than grammar school age students. Stories of the early Spanish explorers and adventurers are suitable for students of any age, but in the realm of politics, Spanish and Latin American history present difficulties for youngsters, particularly during the 19th century, when Latin countries throughout the Americas gained their independence, but struggled to form stable governments.

Young Readers' Core Selections

These selections are engaging and easy-to-read for elementary school students. They focus mostly on exploration rather than political history. Stories from Don Quixote is a particularly good rendition of the classic, appropriate for grammar school students.

      The Men Who Found America     by F. W. Hutchinson

This book provides an excellent introduction to the exploration of the Americas. It provides adventure packed short biographies of Columbus, Cortez, Pizarro, Hudson, La Salle, Balboa, De Vaca, Raleigh, Champlain, and many others. The author is very even handed in his treatment of explorers and Indians, and makes moral distinctions between the most abusive conquistadors, and the relatively noble missionary explorers.

     Stories of Don Quixote     by James Baldwin

This adapted version of Cervantes' classic Don Quixote was rewritten to make it accessible to grammar school children. The tone and humor of the original is well preserved. Cervantes' original is famous for its portrayal of quirky characters, and Baldwin's book does an excellent job of faithfully representing these fascinating towns-fellows.

     The Story of Columbus     by Gladys M. Imlach

The Story of Columbus does not end when he discovered the American Continent in 1492. In his lifetime he made four voyages to the New World and instead of enjoying honor and rewards, he suffered a great deal due to jealous colleagues and scheming courtiers. The promise of gold brought out the worst in almost everyone, as this book, which retraces the fifteen years after Columbus's great discovery, makes clear. A fascinating character study appropriate for sophisticated grammar school students.

Intermediate Readers' Core Selections

The intermediate selections include easy-to-understand comprehensive histories of Spain and Latin America. Our selection on the history of Mexico focuses only on the Spanish conquest of Mexico, and does not present a complete Mexican history, but it is a terrifically compelling story that is sure to hold the interest of any reader. The Adventures of Magellan is only one of a number of excellent biographies of explorers, but it gives fascinating insights into the lives of both the Spanish conquistadors and the native peoples. The legend of El Cid, one of the greatest heroes in Spanish history, provides an insightful study into the Spanish character and its traditional ideal of chivalry.

      The History of Spain     by Frederick Ober

This short history of Spain provides a succinct introduction to Spanish history for the intermediate reader. It was written by an American author who lived for many years in the West Indies, and covers all the important events of Spanish history from the age of the Phoenician and Carthaginian Traders to the Spanish-American War of 1898.

      Stories of South America   by E. C. Brooks

This book provides an excellent introduction to history of South America, with special attention to the 19th century. It introduces all the major heroes of South American independence in insightful detail, including Miranda, San Martin, Bolivar, O'Higgins, and Don Pedro of Brazil. It also provides a more thoughtful critique of the various republican factions that embroiled the continent, than some other histories.

      The Boys' Prescott   by Helen Ward Banks

The Conquest of the Empire of the Aztecs by Cortes and his conquistadors is one of the most dramatic and consequential tales in all history. This book tells the story in fascinating detail and is based on Prescott's famous and sympathetic account. The story of how Cortes was able to rally his desperate band of followers, conquer and befriend dozens of neighboring tribes, and topple an aggressive empire with hundreds of thousands of warriors in arms, is simply astounding. The secondary characters including Montezuma, Cortez' translator and consort Marina, his Spanish enemies Velasquez and Narvaez, and his Tlaxcalan allies are all portrayed with great depth and interest. A truly spellbinding story told with supreme insight.

      The Adventures of Magellan   by George M. Towle

The story of Magellan's voyage around the world is one of almost uninterrupted adventure and peril. His men faced harrowing hardships, storms, mutiny, disease, starvation, sunstroke, shipwreck, cowardice and desertion, treachery, savage warfare, and vicious national jealousies. Yet at great cost they prevailed over all obstacles and after three years one of Magellan's ships returned to Spain with only 18 of the 250 who set forth. This book follows one of the greatest adventure stories of all time and introduces dozens of fascinating indigenous peoples the Spanish encountered in their voyages.

      The Story of El Cid   by Calvin Dill Wilson

The Legend of the Cid was based on a real character in medieval Spain, who has been honored by all Spaniards as a model of chivalry. This delightful rendition is tells the complete tale of the Cid, a noble Christian knight who served a faithless king. Driven into exile by jealous courtiers, he conquered much of Moslem Spain, including the great city of Valencia, and won admiration from both his Christian and Moslem subjects by his bravery and fair dealing.

Advanced Readers' Core Selections

The advanced selections feature more sophisticated histories of Spain and Mexico than are provided by the intermediate collection. Noll's A Short History of Mexico, is shorter and more balanced than many other Mexican histories, and Bonner's A Child's History of Spain is a very readable and complete account of Spanish history.

Selections from two other particularly excellent series are also recommended for advanced readers. Charles Morris's Historical Tales, includes volumes on Spanish and Spanish American history that are full of entertaining and romantic episodes from Latin history. Just as compelling is Frederick Ober's Heroes of American Exploration series, which provides detailed and fascinating biographies of the adventurers and conquistadores who discovered the American continent. We have only included his volume on Balboa in the following selections but the whole series, is excellent.

      A Child's History of Spain     by John Bonner

This concise and well-illustrated history of Spain begins with stories from Visigoth Spain, and ends in the late 19th century, immediately before the Spanish-American war. It covers the history of the Moors in Spain and the Reconquista thoroughly, and fairly. Much attention is paid to the exploits of Columbus and Cortes, but most other Spanish explorers are not discussed in detail. The final portion of the book is dedicated to the decline of Spain under the Hapsburg and Bourbon monarchs.

      A Short History of Mexico     by Arthur Howard Noll

This history of Mexico from the earliest history of the Aztecs to the administration of Porfirio Diaz in 1900 is a thorough and well-balanced look at the troubled history of Mexico. It includes three chapters on the achievements of the Spanish Viceroys—a peaceful period frequently omitted entirely from Mexican histories, and presents a balanced rather than a partisan view of the century-long conflict between clerical and secular interests following Mexico's Independence from Spain.

      Stories of South America   by E. C. Brooks

This book provides an excellent introduction to history of South America, with special attention to the 19th century. It introduces all the major heroes of South American independence in insightful detail, including Miranda, San Martin, Bolivar, O'Higgins, and Don Pedro of Brazil and provides a more thoughtful critique of the various republican factions that embroiled the continent, than some other histories.

      Historical Tales: Spanish, Spanish American   by Charles Morris

This collection of stories from Latin America begins during the age of the Spanish Conquistadors and include lesser known tales such as Lantaro, the hero of the Araucanians, Hidalgo, Paez, and Cudjoe of the Maroons, as well as familiar stories of Pizarro and Cortez. The histories are continued all the way to the end of the 19th century, and the years prior to the Mexican Revolution.

      Vasco Nunez de Balboa     by Frederick Ober

Balboa is most famous for discovering the Pacific ocean, but this was but one incident in a swashbuckling life. After running amok in Hispaniola, Balboa escaped from the island by stowing away in a barrel, and founded the first Spanish settlement in the region of Darien (modern Panama) by first battling, and then making alliances with several important chieftains. After making his famous discovery he lost control of the colony, and for the next few years was at loggerheads with the new governor Pedrarias, his arch-nemesis. It was a battle he ultimately lost, along with his head on the executioners block.

Supplemental Reading Selections

We recommend that students who are studying Exploration and the Spanish Empire read four or more selections from our supplemental reading list in addition to their core material. The selections should be age and interest appropriate, but students can select their supplemental reading from any difficulty level.

TitleGenreHistorical Era
Mexican Twins   by Lucy Fitch Perkins Historical Fiction Modern Mexico
Greatest Nations - Spain   by Charles F. Horne Comprehensive Historyall
South American Fights and Fighters   by C. T. Brady Episodic History Spanish America
Buccaneers and Pirates   by Frank. Stockton Episodic History Spanish America
Mexico   by Margaret D. Coxhead Episodic History Spanish America
Isabella of Castile   by Oliver O. Howard Biography Reconquista
Adventures of Vasco da Gama   by George Towle Biography Exploration
Adventures of Pizarro   by George Towle Biography Exploration
Jose de San Martin   by Anna Schoellkopf Biography South America
Maximilian   by George P. Upton Biography Modern America
Irving's Alhambra   by Washington Irving Legends/Literature all
Story of the Cid   by Calvin D. Wilson Legends/Literature Reconquista
Into Mexico with General Scott   by Edwin Sabin Historical Fiction Modern Mexico
Spanish History   by John S. C. Abbott Comprehensive Historyall
Moors in Spain   by M. Florian Comprehensive HistoryMoorish Spain
History of Mexico   by Frederick Ober Comprehensive HistoryModern Mexico
Story of Mexico   by Charles Morris Comprehensive HistoryModern Mexico
War With Spain   by Charles Morris Episodic History Bourbon Spain
Buccaneers of America   by J. Esquemeling Episodic History Spanish America
War with Mexico   by H. O. Ladd Episodic History Modern Mexico
Columbus the Discover   by Frederick Ober Biography Exploration
Ponce de Leon   by Frederick Ober Biography Exploration
Ferdinand De Soto   by Frederick Ober Biography Exploration
Ferdinand Magellan   by Frederick Ober Biography Exploration
Pizarro   by Frederick Ober Biography Exploration
Albuquerque   by Morse Stephens Biography Exploration
Simon Bolivar   by G. A. Sherwell Biography South America
Junipero Serra   by A. H. Fitch Biography Modern Mexico

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