Catholic kids and the REAL St. Valentine

Image of St. Valentine

Necessity is truly the mother of invention!

Here is my story!

In an attempt to spice things up a bit in our family homeschooling I was planning on doing all things St. Valentine! So off to the library I went. Only to find that practically EVERYTHING I found was about the cute (sometimes creepy looking) cupids with love arrows, hearts, flowers, chocolate BUT nothing about the real saint!

Just to paint the picture , here is a small sampling of titles you will find if you do a library or book search: Hugs and kisses for the Grouchy Ladybug by famed author Eric Carle, Groggle Monster’s Valentine (yes, that is a real book recommended on a popular teacher website), Valentine’s Day Jokes for Kids, The Secret Life of Squirrels – a Love Story, Little Ant’s Valentine, do I need to go on???

Needless to say I was dismayed and horrified at the same time!!

Who is the saint that causes us to be wild about hearts ♥, the color red and send friends and family messages of love every February 14?

The secular world is CLUELESS.

So I made it my mission to learn the real story behind this Catholic feast day!

Step 1:

I began our little evangelization journey/project towards reclaiming the REAL St. Valentine from the jaws of the secular world by first learning several prayers attributed to the saint, to ask him to intercede for our family and friends.

Step 2:

Next I went back to the library and scoured the shelves and on-line catalog, I took out a bunch of books that looked promising and eventually found a few good books to use for our nightly read aloud time. There are not many I would recommend but these definitely passed the mustard! Each one added different facts and historic details.

  • The Story of Valentine’s Day by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • Saint Valentine by Robert Sabuda
  • Saint Valentine by Ann Tompert
  • Hearts, Cupids and Red Roses by Edna Barth

Step 3:

The next thing you knew I was immersing myself in the transition from the pagan rituals and the symbolism of the symbols and colors surrounding this feast day! Naturally that then brought me to the history of the feast day and story of how a Pope helped to Christianize this day, his name is Pope Gelasius. So cool right?

In true form it was the Catholic Church elevating a pagan feast day and its symbols by celebrating the feast day of an early martyr of the Church, St. Valentine. 

Thus became our family tradition, to make cards that included sacred and beautiful images of the real St. Valentine, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary! We use Scripture verses that speak of REAL love.

Step 4:

I designed it to counts as school work, by adding notebooking sheets for our narrations, mini-book templates of various shapes and designs to have the kids write about all they learned from the history I had written for them on several reference sheets. We also added the mini-books to lapbooks too!

Handwriting practice lessons for the week included Scripture verses I had collected with God’s unending love for His children! Coloring sheets of St. Valentine, were super handy for my little ones during nightly rosary or quiet time.

And I also had holy cards designed so we could print/color and share. This collection has something for everyone in the family!

My talented daughters helped me put all of this together in a 50 page printable packet ! It is well loved by family and friends who use it year after year, as their family tradition and more importantly as an evangelization tool to tell the REAL story of St. Valentine.

For that we are grateful!

Leave a comment on your family’s journey towards evangelizing the culture by reclaiming the saints!!

You too can invite a family you know from your homeschool community or from your parish and make beautiful St. Valentine Cards or postcards to exchange or bring to neighbors! Immerse yourselves in all thing St. Valentine!

How to Make Read Aloud Time Work

Are you too tired, too busy, or too distracted to make time to read aloud? 

You’ve spent all day as teacher, chef, housekeeper, peacemaker, chauffeur, you name it—

There are countless benefits to family read aloud sessions that go well beyond the educational, and these benefits outweigh all your reasons for skipping it! 

Infographic on benefits to reading aloud
Image Source:Read Aloud 15 MINUTES

In addition to creating priceless family memories, these read aloud moments also give mom the chance to revisit her favorite childhood books or read the ones you missed the first time around.  It is also a fantastic way to wind down your household after a hectic day.

Even once your children begin reading proficiently on their own, family read aloud time still offers wonderful opportunities for the whole family to gather together and simply enjoy each other with great literature.

Need help to begin or keep it up?

If you find that the time you designate for family reading aloud always slips by, here is a helpful hint:

Set a timer for your desired reading time. 

I found that 15- 20 minutes before “lights out” is ample time to read a chapter or two.  It wasn’t until I placed this desire in my heart that this time became a reality. Once I did, I was amazed how quickly read aloud time became our regular nightly routine.  In fact, it was considered a harsh punishment by my kids to skip bedtime read aloud time! They grew to LOVE this special time each and every year, even through the teen years!

Don’t know what books to read, for each age?

Here are my all time favorite booklists! I kept a copy of each ready in hand when I went to the library or requested books on-line. Once you get familiar with favorite authors you can pick up great book bargains at the local thrift store or library book sale. My library keeps a section of used books for sale and I often find great hardcover copies of treasured family favorites.

Catholic booklists
  • A Mother’s List of Books by Theresa Fagan – My all time FAVORITE, listed by age with annotations too!
  • For the Love of Literature by Maureen Wittmann – great chapter on reading aloud with tons of book recommendations.
  • The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease – great tips and great list especially for reading aloud to children!
  • Program for Achieving Character Education by Monica Speach – Wonderful literature suggestions listed by age and coordinated to the virtues and much more!
  • A Landscape with Dragons by Michael O’Brien- back of book has a great list.
  • Let the Authors Speak by Carolyn Hatcher (plenty of used copies- worth finding if you love history).
  • Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories by William Kilpatrick – virtue based categories and also by age.
  • Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt – classic with beloved books especially for the younger crowd.
  • Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson – her lists contains books by topic, great to coordinate with your children’s interests, all by age!

Get everyone involved!

A wonderful tip to get every member of the family interested and involved in read aloud time is to let each person take turns choosing the books. 

Additionally, designate specific nights so each child may take his/her turn in reading aloud.  This gives your children an opportunity to practice reading plus it helps them to become effective public speakers. 

Hearing books read aloud also fosters better writing skills.  According to Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing, to become a better writer, you need to draw upon the foundations of the patterns within language. 

What better way to strengthen that foundation than by reading aloud, where the nuances and characteristics of language come alive. Reading aloud forces the reader to slow the pace and really process the information, processing the whole picture. 

Once children become accomplished readers, many tend to skim or scan through pages of a book as they read silently.  They miss so much, but if they read aloud, the content is displayed as complete rather than choppy fragments.  Our older boys were really struggling with reading Shakespeare’s plays. This is until they decided to read it aloud to one another.  They were astonished at how quickly and clearly they could grasp the concepts and summarize the content simply by hearing it out loud!

And that goes for just about any really good story! Language patterns, dialogue, plot points and characterizations are best understood when you read aloud as you are forced to speak every single word the author wrote in the sequence they wrote it! You will be teaching your kids the beginnings of reading for a deeper understanding!

What are your favorite read aloud time books? Share them in the comments below!

Ready, Set, Go, Homeschool Mom!

I love this saying as it evokes a clear image for me!  It is the image of a runner at the starting line of a race. They have been preparing for months to run this race.  The runner is eager to begin and give their very best effort to run the race.

catholic homeschool mom

In my mind, I can see that this runner is different. She does not run for personal gain but for a higher reward.  This reward is priceless. This reward is satisfying on such a deep level that the runner draws strength, her energy and perseverance from the mere thought of obtaining it.

What does this have to do with homeschooling?

I see the runner as a mom who homeschools her children.

I work best visualizing images, making movies in my head of the life I want to lead. Being fed on a steady diet of old fashioned black and white movies from the 30’s and 40’s, I was drawn to the messages told in a story. There was always the hero and his journey towards some good for himself or humanity. I find that the best books I cherish have strong hero stories!

It is no wonder that I was drawn to the ultimate story, the very best hero tale, when I was invited back home to the faith of my birth. This story is the one our Lord has told through His Word and through his Apostles and Saints, handed down through the ages.

This ultimate story is the center of my family’s homeschool journey.  It is the energy my family drawns upon to direct each day. 

It is all that matters in the end. 

Catholic Homeschool mom

A little while ago I wrote a guide called, Get Ready. This handy little guide I developed as a starting point for anyone who wants to begin their family journey towards an authentic and doable Catholic homeschool.  In it, I introduced the PRRR method, (a silly acronym, I know). Firstly you start with Prayer, then you go through the next steps of Read, Research, and Reflect. In addition, there are helpful suggestions and worksheets to guide you through this EASY process.

“Get Set, Go!”

Above all, what I learned after 25 years of homeschooling and consulting, is that you “Set” your life first, then layer in school. I know that seems unfamiliar and maybe even confusing at first, but think about it for a minute. The only way to find balance, to have enough time for all your roles, as wife, mom, and teacher is to SET LIFE and fit in school.

To do otherwise is a certain recipe for overwhelm.

Consider this…would you buy a car without thinking of who is going to drive it and be a passenger in it?  Would you make dinner by never looking at the ingredients you are adding to the dinner, let alone open the fridge?

In other words, when you choose to homeschool, to do something extraordinary, you have the opportunity to personalize and tailor the education of each and every child in your family.

However, can you possibly teach so many different levels with so many different personalities and learning styles?

It is possible! I have personally witnessed many, many families do this. Ordinary people with an extraordinary desire to challenge the status quo of education. You have already begun, when you decided to take on the primary role of educator.

How? You are a parent.

catholic homeschool mom

Two powerful passages come to mind that speak volumes:

Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule. The home is well suited for education in the virtues. (CCC 2223)

The home is the natural environment for initiating a human being into solidarity and communal responsibilities. Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies. (CCC 2224)

Relax, over the next few weeks I will be introducing practical techniques that help you SET YOUR LIFE.

So, go ahead and spend time first in getting to know what is in your fridge BEFORE you make dinner….spend time this week getting to really know your kids interests and talents.

Comment below what you “found in your fridge”…

Two Truths in 25 Years of Homeschooling

Yup! that is correct only two!

Actually, there are many more! As I look back not only over 2018 but also over these last 25 years of homeschooling my seven children, TWO very profound truths rise to the top!

Numero uno on the list is: If I don’t write it down it will never happen.

Yup! I know that seems so lame and not very profound BUT I tell you it is essential. I realized some time ago that in order for me to truly embrace my days, months, years with intention, I needed to have the important things written down.

I am not talking about being super organized or having a “set in stone” planner for the week or even the day. What I mean is to actually think about and write down my deeply held beliefs!

AND use verbs because they are actionable, like this:

  • Give until it hurts and expect no reward – the only thing I can control are my actions.
  • Pause before speaking, listen to others with patience.
  • Spend time getting to know another soul on this temporary existence to taste tidbits of heaven.
Catholic homeschool mom coaching

Putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is a deliberate act of intention that creates focus and clarity.

So I created for you a handy little WRITING PROMPT sheet for your YEAR IN REVIEW. Just three SIMPLE prompts to guide you in reflection. It is fashioned after one I received from my trusted coach Marie and I am doing it too! Click on this button to get your copy…

While this can be a great way to review my past year and look ahead for the new year, writing it down is a way to “own” what I do! I find when I take the time to step back and reflect on my kiddos passions and gifts, write down ONE GOAL for each then the result is real lasting success.

You see, this written goal translates to the daily tasks for the child. I become laser focused that their curriculum for the day, month, year all align with this ONE all important GOAL.

And on a very practical level, you know well that even the act of writing down a to-do list or scheduling a visit with friends ONLY actually happens when you write it down!

See it works on so many levels!!!

Okay, now onto SECOND TRUTH, which is the more spiritual and profound truth to share.

I borrow the line from my confirmation saint, St. Therese of the Little Flower:

“Remember that nothing is small in the eyes of God. Do all that you do with love.” – St. Therese

My entire life, as I reflect on it, is truly a miracle set in motion by profound love. You can read MY STORY to learn more details about that journey, but suffice it to say that, God is LOVE, and He loves me very much!

In thanksgiving for this love, I need to remember that everything I do, say or act upon, done with LOVE is my humble gift of love to the Father!

“My grace is enough for you, for My power manifests itself in your weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

What have you learned?

Let me know in the comments below, please share your reflections and insights…

Why Talk of Such Sadness? The Feast of All Souls

This past year we attended quite a few funerals, more than I can ever remember. I suppose in part it is due to my “getting on in years” as I am now in my late 50’s, in part though, it was because some very dear ones died way too soon.

I am especially missing some very dear soul sisters in Christ who were real heroes with unshakeable courage and a deep love of our Lord. 

But why am I talking of such sadness?

Call me crazy but I think it is not sad talk. As a Catholic I have come to understand suffering and death in its proper perspective.

Remembering that I belong to a very huge family of God comforts, heals and has sanctified my life.  I pray every day for those souls and their families. I ask them to intercede for my family and I have hope that perhaps some day we may all be united in the Beatific Vision.

November is the month dedicated to the Holy Souls in Purgatory, where we are asked by Holy Mother Church to remember all those who have died. We are asked to remember those poor souls in prayer in hope that they will rejoice in the glory of God.  We rejoice with the saints who the Church tells us have arrived at His heavenly kingdom and bask in His Glory. In fact the month is ushered in with All Saints Day, which we just celebrated yesterday.

After watching the movie Love is a Choice, the story of St. Gianna Molla, with my family, we were all moved deeply by the testimony of her husband, Pietro, who told the story of their son, only five at the time, who had seen his father crying several days after his wife’s funeral. He asked his father why he was crying.  Pietro told his son that he missed his wife so very much.  His son’s answer to this was simple and beautiful, “But Papa she is in heaven now.”

A beloved pastor of ours had once told us in an All Souls Mass homily, that his mom would call him about this time every year. It was to remind him to add the names of family members who died over the past year onto “the list.”

You see he keeps a list of everyone (and I mean everyone) in his family who has ever died since he was born! He keeps this list as a reminder to pray for them and remember them. This practice is much like our ancestors practice of lighting  blessed candles on the Feast of All Souls, one for each family member who died that year.   

The candles and Father’s “list” are visible signs that there is hope, peace, an eternal reward and that we are called to remember and pray.

Several years ago, at the Mass for All Souls, Larry and I were asked to each hold a small wooden cross with the name of a parishioner who had died that year. They asked us because no family member was present at that Mass to remember them. As we carried each cross to the altar, taking our our turns as each name was called, we were most grateful and honored by this small gesture of remembrance. 

It really hit home that Larry and I are members of a much bigger family than those who reside in our own home. We are members of the family of God. We belong to Christ Jesus, who laid down his innocent life so that we can have the hope in an eternity with God.

That’s really something to rejoice in.

A blessed All Souls’s Day….there is family waiting for your prayers!

“If we knew what may be obtained from God by the intercession of the Poor Souls, they would not be so much abandoned. Let us pray a great deal for them; they will pray for us.” –St. John Vianney

Praying for Departed Souls and Gaining Indulgences: Here’s how

Do you have a cemetery attached to your local parish or one close by?

Did you know you can gain indulgences during the first days of November?

Here’s how…pass it on…

Indulgenced Acts for the Poor Souls:
A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain aCemeteries-IMG_1975-620 plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.

A plenary indulgence, again applicable only the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.

A partial indulgence, applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed.

Here is Mozart’s beautiful version:

This is especially beautiful to play during this month of All Souls…and to recite the following prayer with our families at family rosary time or at grace each day this month.

In Latin: Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Requiescat (-ant) in pace Amen.

In English: Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Here is the prayer added to the “Prayer before Meals”

Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, Which we are about to receive, from Thy bounty, through Christ, our Lord, Amen. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. 

You just might find this lovely addition to your family prayer life will be a blessing all year long….it is a constant reminder of our own goal…to get to heaven…to see God face to face…we cannot forget these poor souls who need our prayers…and once they get to heaven, they will undoubtedly remember us!


Introducing Your Little Ones to History!

With the younger set, I really love to begin an introduction of history and the concept of time by telling stories.  We often begin with the stories of our own family.  Little ones LOVE the “when mommy and daddy were little…” stories! We go through family photos of the generations before us and tell their stories too!

Catholic Homeschooling Timelines

A great next step I found over the years is the book First Timeline by Mary Daly. It is the perfect vehicle for a history introduction as well as a wonderful precursor to our History Worth Remembering Timelines.

Catholic Homeschooling Timelines

What I love about this book is the way Mrs. Daly writes to the heart of a child, through the eyes of a Catholic.  She talks about the past as a family of God and the gift of time and those that came before us!  It is very sweet and is discussion oriented.  In fact. I would read aloud each story and pause when there is a question presented, as these are great discussion prompts. I would also use the program at your own pace.  Remember this is just an introduction and as such can be fun and light.

There is an optional 4.5″ by 81″ timeline mural that can to be colored and either fan folded as a booklet or displayed as a mural.   Your child can color as you read the story (or soon afterwards), filling it in as you progress through the stories. The line drawings are basic and the act of coloring them in makes them concrete in the mind of a child, giving them a better understanding of the sequence of time.

As you move through the book, your child will begin to comprehend what we mean by history and will be fascinated by those who came before us wanting to know more! In fact many of the personalities introduced will be studied in future years and they will remember hearing about them from this introduction.  Feel free to look up supporting images and information on the internet too!

Optionally there are 5.5” x 8.5” cards which may be colored and mounted on dividers or you can color the images as you complete the biographies, then shuffle, and practice laying them out in sequence.

Another option would be to use my suggestions for read aloud or picture books!  The list below contains the books we have read and enjoyed as a family as a way to introduce history to our younger kiddos.  Look for these at the local library and then order the favorites as gifts! You will find that these titles also complement the “history stories” from First Timeline.

Feel free to use this list for read aloud time once a week or as a monthly whirlwind tour of time. You will see that they are well suited to the younger set and introduce key events and personalities that matter!

  • Turn of the Century (Eleven Centuries of Children and Change) by Ellen Jackson
  • The Catholic Bible for Children (Magnificat) – contains many of the Bible figures
  • Noah’s Ark by Peter Spier
  • Ox, House, Stick: History of Our Alphabet by: Don Robb, Illustrated by: Anne Smith 
  • The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky, Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
  • Easter by Brian Wildsmith
  • Patrick by Tomie De Paola
  • Leif the Lucky by D’Aulaire
  • Francis Woke Up Early  by Josephine Nobisso  Illustrated by Maureen Hyde
  • D’Aulaire’s Christopher Columbus
  • William Shakespeare & the Globe (Trophy Picture Books) by Aliki
  • The Thanksgiving Story  by Alice Dalgliesh  illustrated by Helen Sewell
  • A Picture Book of George Washington (Picture Book Biography) by David A. Adler
  • A Picture Book of Abraham Lincoln (Picture Book Biography) by David A. Adler

When you have had a taste of the studying history, you will undoubtedly want more!  The next step is to dive right into our History Worth Remembering Time Sets!

Get my FREE Guide to 5 Keys to Open the Doors to Teach Catholic History Multi-ages! 

Please share with me other titles your family has enjoyed in the comments below!

PS- I have not received any compensation for this review, nor are there any affiliate links.

Top 10 Tips for College Prep

I often get calls from homeschool moms asking me about college preparation and recommendations for their high school kids.  So I put together for you my TOP TEN TIPS for college prep:

1. Begin to talk about college plans with your child as early as freshman year of high school.  This helps you to develop goals for your high school curriculum, spiritually, academically and extra-curricular.

2. Keep a file for your high school student where you can collect transcript info, test grades, awards, course descriptions and extra curricular activities.

3. I have my children begin practicing for the SAT, ACT or the new CLT by taking the real tests that come directly from the test providers in their junior year.

 – I do this by having them get up early, just as if they were going to take the real test.

 – Do all three hours at one sitting, complete with me acting as the proctor.

  – Then we go over the completed test and make note of the types of          questions that gave them the most trouble.

 – We spend the next two weeks practicing these types of problems, then take the test again.

catholic homeschool

4. I have had good experiences in sending our children to the summer programs offered by good Catholic colleges our children were interested in. We found it gave them an experience to try out the curriculum, as well as meet potential future classmates.

5. During our children’s junior year, spring semester, or either semester in their senior year,  I have them take classes at our local community college.  I call this “boot camp for college.”

– It really helped all of our seven children adjust to the speed with which a college level class moves and to manage their study time as well as being able to ask for help when they needed it.  They gain confidence in their ability to interact in a classroom situation. They also were able to get college credit for the class.

– I usually have had them take a math class. It helps give their college applications some clout such as, “this homeschooler passed a college class and mom didn’t just hand out A’s…those grades are real.” This can also help in their freshman year in college, as they can take a lighter load and work on the adjustment to being away from home and improving study skills.

– While I realize community colleges aren’t perfect, I have found that the student body tends to be a bit more serious than campuses with an active dorm-life. The teachers are easily accessible, (no 500-person lecture halls or TA’s) and they are super encouraging. Lastly, they are also an affordable and local option to beginning college.

6. We begin to ask for college recommendations early in the summer before their senior year. This gives plenty of time for the request to be submitted, avoiding the usual last minute rush!

7. We apply for and gather college applications during the spring semester of their junior year and begin their essays over the summer going into their senior year.  This really takes the load off their high school senior year, if most of them are written by summer’s end.

8. Visiting prospective college campuses during the school year has been a great boon to all of our children.  They can truly imagine themselves in the classrooms, interacting with the students and they get a real feel of the school spirit, academically and spiritually!

9. Incorporate a class or two during their junior and senior high school years that covers Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization.  These are the hot button topics that they will encounter even if they go to a small traditional Catholic college.  Some of the best discussions I had with my kids about their relationship to Christ and His Church happened over these important topics. For discussion prompts, we used several of these books in my blog post, Paola’s Book Bites: Apologetics Catholic Style. 

10. Most importantly, PRAY.  Begin or continue to ask your child’s patron saints to intercede on their behalf and ask Blessed Mary to lead their hearts to her Son. Help and guide them during the high school years to develop their own personal habits of prayer. Following what the family does is easy. However, once removed from their home structure it gets tougher, especially if they have not had any practice on their own! Adoration, rosary, bible study, volunteering at the parish or local pro-life group are excellent opportunities to be of service and develop their friendship with Jesus in love and action.

teens pray homeschool high school

Keeping you all in my daily prayer… Paola

PS – If you have friends who could use some support in this area please share this post!

Please comment below with your top tips for college prep too!

Teaching Your Child to Read

JESSIE WILLCOX SMITH's A Rainy Day, Dream Blocks original illustrationThere are a variety of ways to begin teaching your children to read.

I have used the book Teach Your Child to Read in a 100 Easy Lessons successfully with most of our seven children. I really love that it is scripted.  In other words, it tells mom exactly what to say and what to ask the child to repeat.

However, this is not the only way to teach reading, some moms and/or children respond better to a different presentation.  Another fantastic scripted program, I wish I had when my children were little, is All About Reading . A multi-sensory program this would have been perfect for my kinesthetic learner as well as my auditory learner.  It is a pick up and go program with a gentle approach that achieves success quickly and easily.

Also highly recommended, is the Little Angel Reader Phonics Program, this lovely program has the added bonus of being a Catholic program with readers and workbooks which reinforce and teach basic phonics. In addition I have used the series, Explode the Code, as it too has beginner lessons to give focus on sounds and blends that need some extra help or a different presentation of the basic letters and sounds.

All of these programs introduce your child to the concept that symbols represent sounds, and that when the symbols are placed next to each other and blended, the new, blended sound forms a word. The next step would be to introduce the concept of writing these sound-symbols together or in other words, begin a spelling program. We highly recommend the new All About Spelling Program.

The entire process of reading and spelling varies in time and method, and can be individualized for each child in your family. My best recommendation is to watch for reading readiness in your little child. When you begin to see your child follow along with you while 3321615408_a14f8bec88_oyou are reading to them, and you see them begin to make out the sounds, either by themselves or in imitation of you, it is a good sign they are ready.


Move at your child’s pace.  Try to keep these sessions short, fun, pleasant and full of praise.  A sure sign of moving too fast is when they get easily agitated or downright resistant to these sessions.  That’s when it’s a good time to close the book and move back to reading aloud, cuddled up next to mommy.

All of our children have learned to read at a variety of ages, some as early as five years old, and some closer johnny_automatic_children_readingto nine years old.  But all of them, I am most happy to report, by having had the luxury of moving at their natural pace,  have a true love of reading.

After all, a true love of reading and a real sense of reading success is a gift of lifetime of learning!


Paola’s Book Bites: Medieval Times

Catholic homeschooling consulting coaching historyLight to the Nations, Part I: The Development of Christian Civilization

Publisher: Catholic Schools Textbook Project

Use this text for any study of the Medieval time period.  It is especially good to use as your framework text, and the teacher manual will also prove indispensable too!

From the coming of Jesus Christ, through the achievements of medieval Christendom, to the threshold of the Enlightenment projects of the 18th century, God’s work in history reveals itself. This book combines narrative accounts with the necessary facts, dates, short biographies, and concept definitions needed for a Christian cultural understanding. The central concern of the volume is the effect on human civilization wrought by the Christian Faith. Drawing on the work of Catholic historians of the 20th century—Christopher Dawson, Hilaire Belloc, and Frederick Wilhelmsen—the authors have crafted a Catholic and accurate account of our Western heritage to convey our story to youth.

††Textbook (Grades 7-9, HC, $$$)
††Teacher’s Manual (PB, $$)
††Workbook on CD (Grades 7-9, CD-ROM, $)


Medieval History-Based Writing LessonsCatholic Homeschooling History

By Lori Verstegan

Publisher: Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)

I love to round out my history with writing lessons centered on the time period we are studying.  You will find this the perfect complement to any study of Medieval Times.  You can easily coordinate the topics with the historic novels you read or the chapters in your framework text.

These 27 weekly lessons move through major Medieval History themes as they incrementally teach most of the IEW models of structure and elements of style. Easy-to-follow instructions and checklists are included for two levels of students: elementary and junior high. In addition, a Teacher Tips section provides helpful hints, sample whiteboards, and review games to help teachers reinforce the concepts taught. Vocabulary cards (with great pictures to help kids remember definitions), quizzes, and games are also included. 144 pages plus 64 vocabulary cards. Includes all teacher and student materials.

(Student Book: Gr. 5-9, 177 pages, PB, $$) (SB & TM Set: $$$)


Catholic homeschooling consulting coaching historyHistory Portfolios

by Barbara Shurkin

Publisher:Homeschool Journey

Hands-on is optional for the study of History BUT oh so much fun for those kiddos that are real tactical and visual learners!  Each Homeschool Journey History Portfolio encourages study and plenty of creativity while providing a compact way of organizing and showcasing a student’s own written research projects and reports, colorful drawings, photographs, clippings, downloaded images… anything that can fit between the pages! Use it as a stand alone curriculum using living books, or alongside your current history program. Each book is designed for individual use and will become a unique record of the student’s journey through history… a keepsake and a “book to treasure!” The History Portfolio Classic editions are designed for your middle school to high school students while the Junior version for your younger set, which is especially nice for families who want to study the same time period together. The body of the Portfolio is divided into chapters of commonly studied historical time periods, cultures and civilizations. The Table of Contents provides a thorough reference index to work with, indicating topics covering: works of literature, important people, works of art and architecture, important places and events, plus advances in science and technology. The attractively formatted Portfolios contain an entirely unique system of “image boxes” and “text boxes” that support and showcase the student’s work, whether hand or type written reports, graphs, diagrams, hand drawn images, photographs, or images accessed from the Internet. Also includes black-line maps of the regions being studied. And a sturdy timeline comes bound in each History Portfolio ready to be removed and easily assembled (we suggest using our History Worth Remembering Timeline Figures). The assembled timeline measures approximately 11” x 47” and is printed on heavy card stock. In the Teacher’s Guide you will find specific recommendations to put into each and every image box and text box. Use the Guide as-is, coloring, cutting, and pasting the images into the Portfolio, or simply you use it as a springboard and source of ideas. The Full color maps are a great add-on!

The Medieval timeline is divided into sections, allowing a separate strand for each culture or empire. Dates begin at The Birth of Christ and continue to 1500 A.D. The JUNIOR version also include Teachers Guides.

Medieval History†Medieval History Portfolio (Ages 8+, Binder, $$$)††Medieval History Full Color Maps ($$)††Medieval History Teacher’s Guide ($$)††Medieval History Portfolio JUNIOR

Living History Novels

Catholic Homeschool History I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History’s Strangest Cures

By Carlyn Beccia

When we recently visited the bookstore at a National historical site we were drawn towards this book… who wouldn’t be intrigued just by the title. It proved to be a really fascinating read and glimpse into how we view medicine and health since ancient days and ancient places all over the world. It wasn’t too long ago that people tried all sorts of things to help sick people feel better. They tried wild things like drinking a glass full of millipedes or putting some mustard on one’s head. Some of the cures worked, and some of them…well, let’s just say that millipedes, living or dead, are not meant to be ingested. Carlyn Beccia takes readers on a colorful and funny medical mystery tour to discover that while times may have changed, many of today’s most reliable cure-alls have their roots in some very peculiar practices. Great to add to your study of Medieval times (Grades 5+, 48 pages HC, $$)

The Making of a KnightThe Making of a Knight

By Patrick O’Brien

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Seven-year-old James wants to be a brave and noble knight like his father. He dreams of the day that he, too, will wear the golden spurs that symbolize knighthood. But before his dreams are realized, James must work for seven years as a page and for seven more as a squire, learning to ride, hunt, and fight. This is perfect for the younger crowd interested in the medieval period and especially what it takes to become a knight. (Ages 10+, 32 pages, PB, .epub, $)

The Castle CoronaThe Making of a Knight

By Sharon Creech, illustrated by David Diaz

Long ago and far away . . .

There was a castle. But not just any castle. This was a castle that glittered and sparkled and rose majestically above the banks of the winding Winono River: the Castle Corona. And in this castle lived a family but not just any family. This was the family of King Guido: rich and royal and… spoiled. And King Guido was so spoiled that neither jewels nor gold nor splendid finery could please him, for what he longed for most was… a nap and a gown that didn’t itch. Far below this grand, glittering castle lived two peasants. But not just any peasants. These peasants, though poor and pitiful, were resourceful and in possession of a stolen pouch. But not just any pouch and not stolen by them. A pouch whose very contents had the power to unlock a mystery from the past that will transform lives… Our children loved this, especially our Julia has read this one over and over again… delightful! (Grades 5+, 336 pages, PB, $)


By Avi

Crispin: The Cross of Lead (Newberry Winner)The Making of a Knight

“Asta’s son” is all he’s ever been called. The lack of name is appropriate, because he and his mother are but poor peasants in fourteenth-century medieval England. But this thirteen-year-old boy who thought he had little to lose soon finds himself with even less—no home, family, or possessions. Accused of a crime he did not commit, he has been declared a “wolf’s head.” That means he may be killed on sight, by anyone. If he wishes to remain alive, he must flee his tiny village. All the boy takes with him is a newly revealed name—Crispin—and his mother’s cross of lead. His journey through the English countryside is amazing and terrifying. Why are his enemies so determined to kill him? He discovers that by losing everything, he has gained the most precious gift of all. (Grade 7+, 320 pages, 7¾” x 5⅓”, PB, $)

 Catholic Homeschool HistoryCrispin at the Edge of the World

“The more I came to know of the world, the more I knew I knew it not.” Crispin.

In this riveting sequel to the Newbery Award–winning Crispin: The Cross of Lead—the second book in a this trilogy—Avi explores themes of war, religion, and family as he continues the adventures of Crispin and Bear. Crispin met Bear, who helped him learn the secret of his full identity. And in Bear—the enormous, red-bearded juggler, sometime spy, and everyday philosopher—Crispin also found a new father. Now Crispin and Bear have set off to live their lives as free men. But they don’t get far before their past catches up with them: Bear is being pursued by members of the secret brotherhood who believe he is an informer. When Bear is badly wounded, it is up to Crispin to make decisions about their future: where to go, whom to trust. Along the way, they become entangled with an extraordinary range of people, each of whom affects Crispin and Bear’s journey in unexpected ways. To find freedom and safety, they may have to travel to the edge of the world—even if it means confronting death itself. (Grade 7+, 256 pages, 7¾” x 5⅓”, PB, $)

Crispin: The End of TimeCatholic Homeschool History

“As long as I could keep myself out of bondage, I would be true to Bear’s teaching. And so it was that beyond all else, I was determined to keep my freedom.” —Crispin

After the death of their beloved mentor, Bear, Crispin, and Troth are more desperate than ever, wandering the desolate French countryside, where they don’t speak the language and know no one. The only hope they cling to is that somehow they can reach Iceland, where Bear had said there were no kings or lords, and where they can live in freedom. Crispin is determined to fulfill this dream, both for himself and to honor Bear’s memory. But the road to liberty is filled with danger, betrayal, and loss. Crispin must decide for himself what freedom really means—and how high a price he is willing to pay for it. (Grade 7+, 240 pages 7¾” x 5⅓”, PB, $)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryFingal’s Quest

By Madeleine A. Polland

A wonderfully written historical fiction of Sixth Century France and Ireland! Learn about the life of St. Colomban, who brought the Faith back to Gaul after the collapse of the Roman Empire, as seen through the eyes of his young student, Fingal. (Gr. 7+, 191 pages, HC, $$)

Children of the Red KingCatholic Homeschool History

By Madeleine Polland

Publisher: Hillside Education

This was Mrs. Polland’s first novel for children, and it is excellent! In her usual beautiful storytelling style (City of the Golden House, Beorn the Proud, Chuiraquimba and the Black Robes), she tells the story of the last Irish chieftain to hold out against King John and the English conquest of Ireland. While his children are held captive by a Norman knight, Cormac of Connacht battles to keep the land free and retain his kingship against conspirators. Exciting historical Emmanuel Books Review 23

fiction set in early 13th century Ireland. (Gr. 8+, PB $$, .epub $)

If All the Swords in EnglandCatholic Homeschool History

By Barbara Willard

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Young Simon, recently and tragically orphaned, becomes a scribe in the following of the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. The uncertainty of the tumultuous years leading to the infamous cathedral slaying is heightened by Simon’s separation from his twin, Edmund, who is in the service of King Henry II. With astounding talent, Willard recounts the events leading to the Archbishop’s martyrdom. Gripping! (Ages 9+, 200 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Catholic Homeschool HistorySon of Charlemagne

By Barbara Willard

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Son of Charlemagne treats readers to a rare glimpse of the great historical ruler who united most of Europe in Christianity. Told through the eyes of Charlemagne’s son and heir Carl, with the rest of his sons and daughters, this fast-paced tale recounts the piety, faith, courage, and love of family embodied by the first Holy Roman Emperor. Readers are taken behind the scenes to witness the agony and turmoil Charlemagne faced when choosing one son over the other and sending two other sons to remote thrones. We also see his commitment to converting the barbaric tribes to Christianity and his determination for justice to always prevail. Charlemagne was a great ruler and an even better visionary, but more than that, he was a man extremely devoted to his wife and family. This unique perspective on one of history’s most famous men is a must read and is a great addition to any home library! (Ages 10+, 208 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Augustine Came to KentCatholic Homeschool History

By Barbara Willard

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

One of my all time favorites!! The era of English history right after the passing of the Roman empire has few books written about it. This historical novel does an excellent and inspiring job of filling that gap. The missionaries from Rome led by St. Augustine do not know whether they will be welcomed, tolerated or martyred. (Grade 4+, 179 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryThe Hidden Treasure of Glaston

By Eleanore Jewett

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Amidst great mystery, Hugh is left in the care of Glastonbury Abbey by his father who must flee England too swiftly to be burdened by a crippled son. Ashamed of his physical weakness, yet possessed of a stout heart, Hugh finds that life at the abbey is surprisingly full in the year 1171, in the turbulent days of King Henry II. Hugh and his friends uncover a treasure, “It was here, right in this treasure vault…there may well be other things hidden – that Other Thing, most holy of all…Tis a good notion truly, to swear brotherhood. Now, by this sword of mystery and magic, King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, let us three swear that we will not speak of this thing nor cease to seek till we have found the Grail, the Holy Cup, if so be it still rests hidden in our Glaston.” There is also a deeper mystery to be uncovered, of the sort that could only occur in Glastonbury where Joseph of Arimithea was said to have lived his last years. A Newbery Honor winner. (Ages 10+, 345 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

The Lost BaronCatholic Homeschool History

By Allen French

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Martin, the son of Sir Anselm of the Hollow, risks his life in more ways than one in this fast-paced story of Cornwall in the year 1200. King Richard is dead and John is a greedy, dishonest king. The young Rosamund must bear the burden Emmanuel Books Review 24

of the disappearance of her father, the Baron Eric. The moody Sir Basil, distant relation and heir, has taken over the castle—and would not be pleased if Eric should ever return. When Sir Basil invites young Martin to come to the castle as a page and squire, the boy is swiftly drawn into Rosamund’s troubles… as well as a few of his own! A courageous ride through the perils of medieval England! (Ages 10+, 303 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Red Falcons of TremoineCatholic Homeschool History

By Hendry Peart, Illustrated by Maurice Brevannes

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Set in 12th century Medieval England in the days of Richard the Lionhearted and the Crusades this exciting story will immerse you in Medieval life. Told through the eyes of the orphan boy Leo who at 15 finally hears what he has been longing to know, his families lineage. Entrusted to and therefore raised by the kindly Abbot who has protected and raised the boy since he was a baby Leo learns the way of life in a monastery until his mother’s and father’s families fight to claim him as their heirs. In a feuding family history played out with Leo at the center Leo must rise from childhood to become a virtuous young man, and mend the wounds of the past. (Ages 12+, 239 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Twelve Bright TrumpetsCatholic Homeschool History

By Margaret Leighton

Publisher: American Home School Publishing

This book is a real treasure! I use this book as a sweeping overview of the entire period OR we read a chapter every week or two to coordinate with our progress through this time period. Leighton paints a vivid portrait of life in the Middle Ages – through the eyes of children. Here are twelve stories that demonstrate the centrality of the Catholic Church for the people of medieval Europe. You will meet young boys and girls who are educated in monasteries, who fled from Viking invasions, and who witnessed the Crusades. Young readers will be fascinated by the adventures of these children—and moved by their faith! We suggest using this as a read-aloud or a framework novel for studying the medieval time period. (Gr. 6+, 172 pages, PB, $$)

Where Valor LiesCatholic Homeschool History

By Adele and Cateau De Leeuw

Publisher: Lepanto Press

This is the exciting tale of Richard, a young boy of fourteen who ‘takes up the cross’ and joins the crusade to free Jerusalem, but also to escape his lonely and impoverished life as an apprentice in 13th century Paris. However, Richard is in for quite a surprise as he discovers that life as a Crusader is not all triumph and glory! Food is scarce, disease is rampant, and the work is unceasing. Readers will enjoy sharing in Richard’s experiences as he travels into Egypt, participates in countless battles and learns the true meaning of friendship and self-sacrifice. An inspiring story for all ages! (Ages 12+, 186 pages, HC, $$)

CathedralCatholic Homeschool History

By David Macaulay

Another classic from the famed  David Macaulay’s wonderful books- this recreates the building of a French Gothic cathedral. Extraordinary!! Honored by countless medals, this book teaches about architecture as well as the crafts of the Middle Ages. Detailed B&W Illustrations (Ages 10+, 79 pages, PB, $)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryCastle

By David Macaulay

And here is another award winning book from David Macaulay, tracing the step-by-step planning and construction of both castle and town! Detailed B&W Illustrations (Ages 10+, 79 pages, PB, $) Emmanuel Books Review 25



The Red KeepCatholic Homeschool History

By Allen French

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

In the country of Burgundy, the Sauval brothers have begun to terrorize the surrounding lands in an attempt to bring the area under their control. They raid the Red Keep, in hope of gaining it for themselves, only to be thwarted by Sir Roger and Conan. Now they plot anew to steal the Keep from its rightful owner, Lady Ann. She, with Conan and her loyal followers, set out to bring justice upon the evil brothers. An action filled tale of France, less than a century after William the Conqueror captured Britain, by the author of The Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow. (Gr. 5+, 370 pages, PB, $$)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryThe Story of King Arthur and His Knights

By Howard Pyle

Publisher: Dover Publications

The stories in this book describe the thrilling adventures of King Arthur and his knights in that glorious age of chivalry and honor. The author relates the story of Arthur’s battle with the Sable Knight and his securing of the sword Excalibur. Pyle tells of Arthur’s confrontations with the Duke of North Umber and Sir Pellias, describes King Arthur’s wooing and wedding the Lady Guinevere, and tells of the establishment of the Round Table. Includes tales of Arthur’s knights, including Merlin the Wise, Sir Pellias (or the Gentle Knight) and of course, Sir Gawain. An engaging tale of a classic hero. Some B&W illustrations and some side cliff notes. (316 pages, 6” x 10”, PB, $$)

The Blue Gonfalon at the First CrusadeCatholic Homeschool History

By Margaret Ann Hubbard

Publisher: Lepanto Press

Ever since he could remember, Bennet wanted to become a knight. No matter that he was the son of an armorer on the estate of Lord Godfrey, Duke of Lorraine; no matter that a peasant’s son could never see the realization of such a fantastic dream. In his few spare moments, Bennet practices a rigorous training routine, hoping that somehow he might be selected as a castle squire – the first step toward his goal. Then one day Peter the Hermit rode through Lorraine, describing atrocities commited by infidels in Jerusalem and calling for an army of Christians to march to Palenstine. Bennet’s chance had come at last, for when Godfrey took the crusader’s cross, he asked Bennet to accompany him to the Holy Land as his squire. With the Blue Gonfalon flying at the head of the French troops, Bennet began the long journey to Jerusalem – toward adventure, danger, and the possibility that a courageous deed would make his dream of knighthood come true. A panorama of Europe in 1099 unfolds in Margaret Ann Hubbard’s thrilling story of the First Crusade. (Ages 10+, 187 pages, HC, $$)

The Blood Red Crescent and the Battle of LepantoCatholic Homeschool History

By Henry Garnett

Publisher: Lepanto Press

It was fall 1570, and rumors of an invasion by the Turks were spreading throughout Venice. Down by the docks, Guido Callata listened to the sailors as they discussed past battles and speculated about more fighting in the future. From the altar of St. Mark’s, a message from His Holiness Pope Pius V had been read, calling for crusade to repel Turkish advances. A fleet of Venetian and Spanish vessels would be assembled, and Guido’s father, like other wealthy Venetians, had agreed to build and equip a galley for the Christian fleet. Secretly, Guido hoped to sail to battle with his father’s crew; instead, he was whisked off to the safety of a monastery, far from the excitement of the Venetian waterfront. How Guido finally manages to join the fleet and help to defeat the Turks in the memorable Battle of Lepanto is a colorful tale of danger, suspense, and adventure in sixteenth-century Italy. (Ages 10+, 188 pages, HC $$, .epub $)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryAdam of the Road

By Elizabeth Janet Gray

Eleven-year-old Adam loved to travel through the open roads of thirteenth-century England with his father, a wandering minstrel, and his red spaniel, Nick. But when his father suddenly disappears and Nick is stolen, Adam finds himself alone searching these same roads filled with rich merchants, pilgrims with cockleshells upon their hats, Emmanuel Books Review 26

farming folk driving pigs to the fair, minstrels and priests, saint and thieves—and somewhere in the crowd are his father and dog. A story that clearly demonstrates the power of determination. Some B&W illustrations. (318 pages, 5” x 8”, PB, $)

Crossbows and CrucifixesCatholic Homeschool History

By Henry Garnett

Publisher: Sophia Press

England, 1585: Queen Elizabeth’s spies lurk everywhere, searching out Catholics who refuse to attend the non-Catholic services of the State religion. Officers of the law hunt down and kill Catholic priests, and imprison those who shelter them. In these perilous times, fifteen-year-old Nicholas Thorpe discovers that his widowed mother has become Catholic. He soon joins the Church and The Companions, a pious underground army of resistance that shelters priests and leads them in strict secrecy and great danger from one estate to another, so the Catholic faithful can continue to receive the Sacraments the law now forbids. Author Henry Garnett brings to life the drama of a nation where unjust laws forced good men and women to choose between their country and their Faith, and young people heard early and well the call to heroism that Christians must be ever ready to heed. Former title: A Trumpet Sounds (Gr. 7+, 208 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

The Merry Adventures of Robin HoodCatholic Homeschool History

By Howard Pyle

Publisher: Dover Publications

Pyle takes the reader along with Robin Hood and his band on their merry adventures. They tell of Little John, Will Scarlet, and Allan a-Dale, and how they came to join the band; how Robin Hood escaped the arrows of the grim Sheriff of Nottingham, and later revenged himself; and what happened at the court of the gentle Queen Eleanor. The tales go on to tell all the other exploits of Robin Hood and his band. Brings the timeless stories to life! Some B&W illustrations and some side cliff notes. (High School, 296 pages, 6” x 10”, PB $$, .epub free)

El Cid, God’s Own ChampionCatholic Homeschool History

By James Fitzhenry

This is an inspiring biography about an extraordinary Catholic knight chosen by God to save his nation from Islamic aggression. Known by the honorary title of El Cid, Rodrigo Diaz is an epic hero who is relevant to our time. Exiled by his king, insulted and maligned by those who should have supported him, he selflessly fought against seemingly insurmountable odds to save Christian Spain. Commanding the respect even of his enemies, upon his death a Muslim historian acclaimed him, “a miracle among the great miracles of the Almighty.” The Cid is an example of what can be achieved through devotion to duty, prayer, and trust in God. The history of this great Catholic knight will inspire all to do their duty to God without fear or concern for the cost and to imitate the virtues of this Catholic champion. (High School, 186 pages, PB, $$)

IvanhoeCatholic Homeschool History

By Sir Walter Scott

Publisher: Penguin Classic

Crowded with incident and full of memorable characters, among them: wicked Prince John, the outlaw Robin Hood, and the beautiful Jewess Rebecca, Ivanhoe is Scott’s most high-spirited novel. Ivanhoe, banished by his father Cedric for falling in love with Cedric’s ward Rowena, wins the trust of Richard Coeur-de-Lion in the Crusades. Returning to England to claim his inheritance, Ivanhoe is drawn into the struggle between Richard and his brother John. In the two central scenes of the book lay the opposing themes of historical reality and chivalric romance, social realism and high adventure. (High School, 496 pages, 5” x 8”, PB $$, .epub free)

The Apple and the ArrowCatholic Homeschool History

By Mary and Conrad Buff

1952 Newberry Honor Book

The year is 1291, and Walter is the twelve-year-old son of William Tell, the greatest bowman in the land of Uri. Walter lives happily in the remote heights of the Alpine Mountains, caring for his family’s goat herd and practicing his marksmanship in the hopes of making his father proud. But as the end of the year approaches, Walter’s peaceful life is shaken as his country enters a revolution, and Walter must carry a secret that could threaten the life of the father he loves so dearly. More than seven hundred years have passed since the day Walter stood in the marketplace balancing an apple on his head while the Austrian tyrant Gessler commanded Walter’s father, William Tell, to take aim at the apple with his great crossbow. The dramatic tale of William’s arrest and escape and the daring revolt of the Swiss against the Austrians has become a legend around the world. (Gr. 4-6, 80 pages, 7⅝” x 10½”, PB, $)

The Door in the WallCatholic Homeschool History

By Marguerite de Angeli

Ever since he can remember, Robin, has been told what is expected of him as the son of a nobleman. He must learn the ways of knighthood. But Robin’s destiny is changed suddenly when he falls ill and loses the use of his legs. A monk named Brother Luke rescues Robin and takes him to the hospice of St. Mark’s, where he is taught patience and strength. Winner of the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award. (121 pages, PB, $)

The Black ArrowCatholic Homeschool History

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Set in England during the 15th-century Wars of the Roses, this swashbuckling historical novel by the author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped tells the story of young Dick Shelton. Betrayed by his treacherous and brutal guardian Sir Daniel Brackley, Dick seeks the help of John Amend-All, leader of the mysterious fellowship of the Black Arrow—and Brackley’s sworn enemy. Brimming with adventure, suspense, and romance, this thrilling tale presents a classic portrait of England during one of its most tumultuous eras, as Dick is pulled by his loyalties to the houses of both York and Lancaster. He must make a crucial choice, for the fate of England hangs in the balance. (234 pages, PB $, .epub free)

Red Hugh, Prince of DonegalCatholic Homeschool History

By Robert T. Reilly

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

Growing up heir to the throne of Donegal, Red Hugh had known a comfortable life but with his father’s debilitating disease setting everyone’s eyes on Hugh, life becomes more dangerous by the day. Queen Elizabeth is on the prowl to conquer all of Ireland and the young prince and his mother, Queen Ineen Duive, stand in Britain’s way. Elizabeth hatches a deceitful plot to land Red Hugh in Dublin Castle, shackled under solitary confinement. The royal Irishman is cunning and never loses hope that he will successfully escape. When the time finally comes to escape, Hugh must brave a January blizzard, rough passages along the Wicklow Mountains and countless British soldiers in hot pursuit! Will he reach Donegal before Queen Elizabeth’s troops pillage and will the beautiful Kathleen MacSweeney be waiting for him? In the end, despite everything the English have put his family through, Red Hugh’s mother teaches her son an important lesson in forgiveness. A wonderful story on the power of faith, perseverance and love! (Ages 10+, 202 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Big John’s SecretCatholic Homeschool History0

By Eleanore M. Jewett

Publisher: Bethlehem Books

There is a mystery woven into Big John’s young life that he must solve. Raised during the strife-filled days of the reign of King John of England, in a rude peasant village by “Old Marm,” John understands that injustice has been done to his family and that Old Marm is preparing him one day to reclaim his name, family honor and avenge his unknown father! But Old Marm dies, and he is left without a clue to his name. In the next years John’s unusual size and strength (and the knowledge he has gained of letters and of the art of healing) earn him a place as page to an earl organizing the 5th Crusade. In the Holy Land, John searches for his father. Amidst battle, capture and setbacks, John encounters Francis of Assisi, who had come to the Holy Land just at this time to preach the Gospel to the Saracens. What a great story to incorporate medieval history with Church History! Our children couldn’t put this one down!!! (Ages 10+, 176 pages, PB $$, .epub $)Emmanuel Books Review 28

I, Juan de ParejaCatholic Homeschool History

By Elizabeth Borton de Trevino

We love this book. It combines history with art and faith. This 1965 Newberry medal story is told through the eyes of Velasquez’s slave and assistant. The slave becomes an artist in his own right as he works with his master Velasquez in spite of the prohibition against a slave learning to paint in 17th century Spain. We are also introduced to another famous artist Murillo and his deeply Catholic faith and how he shares this with Juan and uses his faith in his art. It is a wonderfully well told tale that will inspire the entire family to get to know the artists and their works as well as giving us a glimpse into the lives of those in Europe during the time period our country was being colonized. Simply wonderful. (Gr. 4+, 180 pages, PB, $)

The King’s ThaneCatholic Homeschool History

By Charles Brady

Publisher: Hillside Education

Set in Northumbria at the time of St. Paulinus (mid-7th century) and the conversion of King Edwin, this story retells the tale of Beowulf. Bjarki, a Viking descendant of the legendary “Beowulf” comes to King Edwin’s court from Geatland to rid the King’s halls of the Grendel. He takes Beorn, a lame boy, to be his thane, and Beorn’s life is forever changed. Beorn eventually accepts Christianity, as does his King, and becomes a monk. As a monk, in his old age, he writes the story of the original “Beowulf” as he promised Bjarki he would. This story ably blends the quest of Bjarki with the quest to convert England to Christianity undertaken so courageously by the missionaries. (Gr. 6+, 222 pages, PB $$, .epub $)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryThe Trumpeter of Krakow

Eric P. Kelly

Newberry Award Winner! The Great Tarnov Crystal has been sought after for many years and now a murderous Tartar chief has plans to steal it. It’s up to young Joseph Charnetski, who is bound to a sacred oath to protect the jewel at all costs, to keep it out of the hands of evil. Learn a little about Polish history as his efforts take him and his family to medieval Krakow where they find themselves caught up in the toils of alchemists, hypnotists, and a dark messenger of evil. (Gr. 8, 208 pages, PB, $)

The Ballad of the White HorseCatholic Homeschool History

By G.K. Chesterton

Publisher: Ignatius Press

This is one of the last great epic poems in the English language. On the one hand, it describes King Alfred’s battle against the Danes in 878 AD. On the other hand it is a timeless allegory about the ongoing battle between Christianity and the forces of nihilistic heathenism. Filled with colorful characters, thrilling battles and mystical visions, it is as lively as it is profound. (Gr. 9+, 173 pages, HC $$, .epub free)

The Lives of the Kings and Queens of EnglandCatholic Homeschool History

Edited by Antonia Fraser

My go-to reference book for keeping English history and reigns of kings in context. The family trees provided make this book not only fascinating but a valuable tool. A sweeping journey that helps to place English historical figures and events in the time period they lived. Beautiful illustrations and brilliant narration make history jump off the page, when kingdoms were won and lost, wars fought, and empires crumbled. “A beautifully illustrated collection of biographies… blending bare facts and narrative with a judicious amount of atmosphere.” (High School, 374 pages, Quality Softcover, $$$)

Robert Southwell – Unit Study Catholic homeschool history

By Philip Healy and Lesley Payne

This “…is a unique high school level teaching resource, integrating the life and martyrdom of St. Robert Southwell with study of the English Reformation, poetry, the Catholic Faith, and more.” Recommended by The Wanderer and Laura Berquist! (High School, 43 pages, PDF, $)

The Daughter of TimeCatholic Homeschool History

By Josephine Tey

Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant lies in a hospital bed with a broken leg. To alleviate his boredom, a friend brings him a pile of pictures: photographs, prints, engravings, and clippings. Among the more engrossing images is the portrait of King Richard III. Studying the benign face, he asks himself how such a sensitive-appearing soul could have been the infamous murderer of his own nephews. With the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, Grant reconsiders 500 year-old evidence pertaining to one of the most intriguing murder mysteries of all time. Josephine Tey’s answer to who really killed the two princes in the Tower of London has provoked controversy ever since its publication in 1951. An easy and fast-paced high school level reader which just may inspire your child to research this “mystery of all time” themselves. (High School, 206 pages, PB, $$)

The Life of St. Thomas MoreCatholic Homeschool History

By William Roper

A classic biography by Sir Thomas More’s son-in-law that includes intimate glimpses of life in the More household, and an account of the heroic figure of the English court in King Henry VIII’s day—a lawyer, a servant of the king, and a devout Catholic always. It is a difficult read in that the language is of the time period it written. However well worth the effort in that it reveals his true character in light of those who loved and lived with him. An excellent opportunity to get to know this beloved saint who inspires us to this day—and clarifies for us—the hierarchy of God’s law over civil law. (High School, 125 pages, HC,$)

A Man For All Seasons (DVD)Catholic Homeschool History

This is the acclaimed Academy Award winning drama about the conflict between St. Thomas More and Henry VIII which is filled with intrigue and courage. Robert Shaw stars as Henry, who wants to divorce his wife in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Only Sir Thomas More (Paul Scofield) has the courage and conviction to oppose the King’s will. Though all alone in his brave decison to stand firm with the Church, More’s valiant refusal to abandon his principles leads to his martyrdom. A stunning performance by Scofield who won Best Actor for his role as More. A good exercise in comparing and contrasting sources on the same figure and events surrounding his life and choices. (Family, DVD, $$)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryThe Gunpowder Plot

By Hugh Ross Williamson

Publisher: Neumann Press

Still the subject of controversy and anti-Catholic feelings, this book explains what happened almost 400 years ago in England when barrels of gunpowder were found under the House of Lords. This is a fascinating story of intrigue and suspense – involving heroic actions, cowardly politics and unwavering faith. (High School+, 301 pages, Some B&W Illustrations, HC, $$)

Isabel of Spain Catholic Homeschool History

By Warren H. Carroll

Almost every historian who has written of Isabel has recognized her extraordinary goodness and devotion to her Catholic faith, along with her greatness as a leader. She was not only as outstanding Queen, but a devoted wife and mother as well. The many evidences of her personal holiness led to the introduction and substantial progress of her cause for canonization. Isabel’s patronage of Christopher Columbus made possible his discovery of America. This is the first full scholarly biography of Queen Isabel in English in more than sixty years-extensively annotated and strictly accurate. Highly readable! (HS+, 385 pages, PB, $$)

The Characters of the InquisitionCatholic Homeschool History

By William Thomas Walsh

Publisher: TAN Books

A great book that dissects the Inquisition in a way that eliminates the preconceived judgments against the Catholic Church. This profiles six of the prominent inquisitors. Through these profiles, Walsh explains for the modern readers: the Inquisition itself, its operations, and the historical lines of its progress. This book lays to rest the myths which are accepted by modern Catholics today. Some of the main myths are just how unjust and sinister the Inquisition was, and the stories surrounding the “sinister” Inquisitor, Tomas de Torquemada. (Ages 14+, 304 pages, PB, $$)

Catholic Homeschool HistoryThe Song of Roland

Translated by Robert Harrison

One of the crowning achievements of medieval artistic genius, The Song of Roland tells the story of the battle of Roncesvals in 778. At the center of this heroic epic is Roland, the supreme embodiment of the chivalric ideal who leads his men into combat and fights valiantly to the death. But Roland is just one of the superbly defined figures in the panoramic drama. The poem’s vivid portrayals of Ganelon’s treason, Roland’s last stand, Charlemagne’s campaign of vengeance, and the final act of retribution are justly famous. As Robert Harrison, the translator of this acclaimed edition, explains, “The carefully balanced structure of The Song of Roland is designed like a folding mirror to reflect the battle between Good and Evil at all levels of meaning.” (High School, 183 pages, PB $, .epub free)