Using Living Books in High School for Credit

I am often asked how I design classes for our high school young adults.

Actually, I don't design all their classes, only ones where there is a special interest, an intrinsically motivated independent study, a travel experience which sparks learning, or in a case where we can't find a traditional curriculum fitting our learning goals.

We have used several approaches to formulating classes based on strengths, interests and the future plans of the young adult.

Our oldest son had a great interest and gift for learning history. This was, by my understanding, his favorite subject in school. He read constantly, checking out books at the library and spending saved monies at museum and historical landmark book shops. He outsourced his dad, a public school history teacher, very early. By the time he reached high school, there really wasn't a curriculum available to challenge him. I had to research accelerated reading lists, college course syllabi, and talk with historians to find resources for him. It was a challenge, but a privilege to help him grow yet further in his learning.

With his interest in history, we divided American History into Early American (to 1850) and Modern (from 1850 to present), and World History into Ancient (to the Reformation) and Modern (from the Reformation to present) so we could allow time for him to dig deeper into his interest. I developed literature selection lists for each course, providing him reading suggestions to get him started. His desire to learn history prompted him to seek out additional titles. My motto became, 

"You read it, I will give you credit."

For readers interested in the detail of what we constituted Ancient World History/Survey of Ancient Literature, our reading list (remember it was a springboard from which he could jump in for more) is below.

Please keep in mind as you read through the list, he was a self-motivated reader with an interest in the subject. Not all young adults will share this interest or learning preference. In addition to his independent reading, we used a textbook as a spine of topics. Though he started the year reading some of the text, by the end of the year he was reading more primary source documents, living history selections, and biographical pieces than text. He also had the amazing opportunity to travel to Rome, including tours of several sites inside the ancient city wall. 

This method works for us. I tweak the process with each young adult. Please, don't use what is written here as a comparison for what your student should or shouldn't be doing.

Comparing ourselves or our children to others leads to discouragement and discontent, neither of which are valuable.

Our examples are only intended as encouragement, to give an idea of what worked for us, and what you might be able to create (or adjust) for your high schooler. Our young adult was (and still is) a reader, but your young adult may have an opportunity to intern with a local businessman or a museum curator. Use what God provides for you and pray about how he is preparing your young adult for the future plans He has, not for the ones we best intention.

Our ancient world history/ancient literature list:

The Epic of Gilgamesh

Oedipus Rex, Sophocles

Oedipus at Colonus, Sophocles

Antigone, Sophocles

Mysteries of Ancient China, Rawson

Mythology, Hamilton

The Roman Way, Hamilton

The Greek Way, Hamilton

The Death of Socrates, Plato

Ben Hur, Lew Wallace

For the Temple, Henty

The Young Cathaginan, Henty

The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone, Giblin

In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great, Wood

The Republic, Plato

The Histories by Herodotus

The Eagle of the Ninth, Sutcliff

Anna of Byzantium, Barrett

The City of God, Augustine

I, Claudius, Graves

Claudius the God, Graves

Don Quixote, Cervantes

Julius Caesar, Shakespeare

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I am so excited about a NEW  workshop I've added to my conference speaking topics--Keeping High School ALIVE with Living Books. Can't wait to share how Living Books can continue to impact learning all the way through high school.

Check out my speaking topics page. 

*The information in this blog post is not intended as legal or educational advice. It is simply a journal of what worked for us. Parents are responsible to oversee their child's home education.


This blog post is intended to offer an example of personal experience. It is in no way intended to be legal advice and should not be taken as such. Parents own the sole responsibility for the training and education of their children.