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Recommended Reading

    Young Readers     Intermediate Readers     Advanced Readers     Supplemental Reading

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. More information 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 elementary students.

      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 John Haaren's 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 Kings.

      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 captivating detail.

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 Richard I, 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 difficulty level.

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 and ability.

TitleGenreHistorical Era
Our Island Saints   by Steedman Biography Early Britain
The Story of Raleigh   by Kelly Biography Tudor
Through Britain With Cromwell   by Marshall Biography Stuart
Stories of Robin Hood   by Marshall Legend Plantagenet
Stories of Guy of Warwick   by Marshall Legend Plantagenet
Stories of King Arthur's Knights   by Macgregor Legend Early Britain
Robinson Crusoe told Anew   by Baldwin Adapted Literature Stuart
Stories from Pilgrim's Progress   by Macgregor Adapted Literature Stuart
Stories from Robinson Crusoe   by Lang Adapted Literature Stuart
Stories from the Faerie Queen   by Lang Adapted Literature Tudor
Stories from the Ballads   by Macgregor Adapted Literature Scotland
Our Little Saxon Cousin of Long Ago   by Cowles Historical Fiction Saxons—Normans
Famous Men of Modern Times   by Haaren Episodic History European
The Story of England   by Harding Comprehensive All
Stories from English History: I   by Church Comprehensive Early Britain to Plantagenet
Stories from English History: II   by Church Comprehensive Tudor to Stuart
Scotland's Story   by Marshall Comprehensive Scotland
Great Englishmen   by Synge Biography All
Great Englishwomen   by Synge Biography All
In the Days of William the Conqueror   by Tappan Biography Saxons—Normans
In the Days of Queen Elizabeth   by Tappan Biography Tudor
King Arthur and His Knights   by Warren Legends Early Britain
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare   by Nesbit Adapted Literature Tudor
The Chaucer Story Book   by Tappan Adapted Literature Plantagenet
Men of Iron   by Pyle Historical Fiction Plantagenet
The Discovery of New Worlds   by Synge Comprehensive Europe
The Awakening of Europe   by Synge Comprehensive Europe
Brave Men and Brave Deeds   by Synge Episodic History Europe
Margaret of Anjou   by Abbott Biography Plantagenet
Richard I   by Abbott Biography Plantagenet
Richard II   by Abbott Biography Plantagenet
Richard III   by Abbott Biography Plantagenet
Mary Queen of Scots   by Abbott Biography Tudor
Charles I   by Abbott Biography Stuart
Charles II   by Abbott Biography Stuart
Queen Elizabeth   by Abbott Biography Tudor
Oliver Cromwell   by Ross Biography Stuart
Stories from the Border Marches   by Lang Legends Scotland
The Chantry Priest of Barnet   by Church Historical Fiction Plantagenet
With the King at Oxford   by Church Historical Fiction Stuart
The Count of the Saxon Shore   by Church Historical Fiction Early Britain

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