TruthQuest History guides by Michelle Miller are among my favorite, most valued homeschool resources; a gem that I am so thankful to have found. You see, we haven’t ever read our history solely from a textbook (though I have actually found a favorite one recently- that we’re reading from as a spine at the moment!) and since I’m usually designing our history and literature reading plans by pulling from a variety of sources, from the best book lists of literature and biographies to primary sources to documentaries and movies, etc., I began to realize early on that I really needed help- a way to help me tie it all together, to mindfully keep the big picture of our LORD’s Sovereignty over the affairs of men before us as we learn.
Enter TruthQuest History… these guides have helped me to do just that, providing me with the perfect balance of structured commentary from a purposefully Christian world view synchronized with chronologically listed book suggestions! As we’re watching HIS-story (history assimilated with a Providential understanding) unfold before us, these guides have enabled me to draw more deeply from the well of thoughts and questions inspired by so many wonderful living books and other sources that we’re finding recommended along the way. Learning history together in this manner has become a rather serendipitous adventure, always interesting and no doubt has partly been the catalyst of our 14 year old son’s love for history (which he pursues even more in depth on his own time). These TruthQuest guides are so much more than just literature guides or book lists, though they are an exceptional source in that regard as well.
The input I’ve received from these guides has given me the confidence I needed to approach a subject that though I love, I know very little about (thank you public education!), in the manner which my children and I most love to learn about it, through the reading of great, living books (chosen at our own disgression)! With Michelle Miller’s help, I’m better able to assimilate our (eclectic) history lessons into a cohesive strand of meaningful discussions (and thus, narrations) and purposeful planning. I am enjoying having the daily, helpful input of these amazing guides, learning history with Michelle Miller as my mentor. Most of all, I’m just love, love, loving that I am re-learning history right along-side my kids in such a wonderfully fascinating, informative and meaningful manner!
We began our journey with TruthQuest a few years back, when I bought our first guide, American History for Young Students I (Exploration – 1800) to supplement our studies of American history. We just read through it at our own pace, selecting various book titles to read as we went along, from our own collection, favorite book lists and according to what we found at our library.
I will tell you that there are SO many amazing books suggested, that one could easily get overwhelmed or bogged down in an era, if they actually tried to read them all… you’re not supposed to, there’s just way too many to choose from here! Michelle even recommends that you skip some topics as you deem best, mentioning those that are safely omitted. However in my mind, this is really a strength of the program, as you’re bound to find plenty of inspiring recommendations suitable to your family, even at your local library. Michelle has included as many suggestions as possible, “leaving the executive decisions up to you!”
I’ve found that using Truth Quest is sort of like a buffet of some of the richest living books arranged chronologically for you to choose from (along with age appropriateness listed beside each one) as you journey on this Quest for TRUTH with a most helpful and insightful guide to point out the sights and ideas not to be missed!
Now that our kids are older, and the years are flying by faster than I can hardly keep up, I’m finding that my planning of our journey through the corridors of HIStory is more purposeful and scheduled than it used to be. There’s just so much that I’d like to be able to cover and learn alongside of our kids during these preciously few years I have left to focus on our studies with them. Thus I’m synchronizing our TruthQuest guides with our scheduled history and literature reads from Ambleside Online (though for the record, these guides would stand alone beautifully with only a few of their recommended books for each period, or they could work with just about any other history curriculum or homeschooling method for that matter). They mesh beautifully and the Ambleside advisory has even recommended these guides in their HEO (highschool) line-up. Looking ahead, I’ve seen that I will be doubly thankful for Michelle’s invaluable help in navigating our studies and world-view discussions as we adventure through our history, literature and philosophy readings during highschool!
Now that we have recently finished up our study of Ancient Egypt, we are digging deep into Part II of this particular guide, “pursuing the vast breadth and depth of Ancient Greece in a chronological investigation enlivening its history, art, culture and ideas.” We’ve chosen to read from one or more of the recommended spines for each time period (history is our favorite subject!), though these spines are purely optional. Over the years I’d tried quite a few different (literature-based) history guides/programs and this is the only one that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with and have kept. I anticipate gleaning from them with my children for years to come, regardless of what other books/curricula we may or may not use, thankful for an ally as we proceed in our Quest for HIS Truth!
I love how a Biblical worldview is strengthened as relevant scriptures and spiritual concepts are woven seamlessly throughout all of the commentary Michelle’s written for each time period. For instance, take a moment and check out this sample portion excerpted from the first chapter of our Guide to Ancient Greece. Notice how it sets the tone for our studies of Greek Mythology: Greek Beliefs (Mythology) Wonderful, isn’t it?!
So far we have mostly used the Think Write writing exercises (which mostly consist of a lot of open-ended questions prompting the student to consider his/her own thoughts and formulate a response to what they’re learning) scattered throughout the guides as oral discussion prompts, however as my kids are older and we’re entering into meatier guides and discussions, we’ll be doing more writing with these too.
Another thing I’ve really appreciated about these guides is their versatility. We’re covering Greece in 12(ish) weeks and will be doing the same with Rome (we school through the year), though this study (each guide) could certainly last an entire year if one wanted it to. Our kids have already learned a lot of ancient history over the years, and so we’re doing a sort of formal survey, bringing it all together within the context of our discussions and TruthQuest readings, before moving on to our much anticipated study of the Middle Ages. We have lots of reading selections scheduled into each week. I’m hoping to spend a full year with each of the Age of Revolution guides (which I’ve heard are not to be missed in highschool- and have been told really do almost require a year each, especially the last two!).
You can slowly meander through a particularly interesting era, or if in a hurry, you and your students would benefit greatly simply by reading the commentary and background information Michelle’s written on each time period. I’ve even heard of older students reading through a guide or two independently, covering more ground quickly, and thus gaining an overview of an era(s) before settling into a desired spot in the chronological history cycle.
However one goes about using them, I would think that the amount of learning one gains from the use of these guides (both factual and ideological) is priceless.
Here’s more on How to Use TruthQuest History and other FAQ.
Here’s a thorough Product Description of TruthQuest History from Christianbooksdistributors.com
This thorough compendium of living books and picture books is arranged by subject and date, with grade levels clearly notated. Commentaries summarize and tie topics together as you go from book list to book list, analyzing what is called “life’s two most critical questions: Who is God? And who then, is mankind?” Written directly to students in a very informal tone, they’ll move through history in chronological order; you have all the freedom in the world to pick and choose what books to use and how to integrate activities (reports, newspapers, building demonstrations…).
History may seem murky, but only because we wrongly focus on the long corridor of human actions. History is really a door to God Himself!God created mankind and his times. He is the initiator; we are the responders. So, it is first God’s truths and then our responding beliefs which shape all of history: government, philosophy, art, architecture, literature, scientific thinking, economics, law, and the value placed on human life itself.
TruthQuest History opens the door to it all by bringing together worldview wisdom, literature recommendations, and chronology… all in a fascinating storyline of spiritual context!
How? Picture your family reclining in a comfy boat. The current of TruthQuest History carries you… because each topic has its own powerful commentary and reading list. Your children do not just visit times… they understand them! They do not just read… they see cause-and-effect truth!
Whatever your style, TruthQuest History can benefit you. It follows key Charlotte Mason and Classical resources, and assists unit-study and unschooling familes exploring an era. TruthQuest History even helps you teach your own theology and choose your own resources! Adaptable for all grades.
However, if you don’t start TruthQuest with six plus years left before your child’s graduation, Michelle has provided a helpful guide with suggestions for figuring out where to jump into the history cycle, according to how many years of schooling you do have left with your kiddos, among other variables such as placing multiple children here, TruthQuest History: How to Choose.
There is also a very large, active yahoo group of families using this history curriculum which I’ve found quite helpful in the past: HIStoryQuesters
Curious as to what’s inside?
Here’s a listing of the various guides’ Table of Contents, along with Sample Chapters (in pdf format) from each guide:
American History for Young Students I, II, III: Grades 1-5
American History for Young Students I (Exploration – 1800)
American History for Young Students II (1800-1865)
American History for Young Students III (1865-2000)
Ancient Civilizations: Grades 5-12 (Recommended age-range, though book recommendations ARE provided for elementary grades as well.)
The main TruthQuest History series (seven guides which begin with ancient history and fully cover European and American history to just after the year 2000) are designed for Grades 5-12.
These guides will take you deeper than you ever dreamed you’d go, but the learning is so lively, so personal, and so incremental that the students hardly realize all they’ve absorbed until the truths begin to meld in their hearts. The depth of commentary and topics increasingly advances as the series progresses, so your graduating seniors are fully prepared to understand and minister to the needy world they are inheriting. Younger siblings can often tag along (see further discussion of this below), and though the commentary and ThinkWrite™ exercises are deeper in these upper guides, the reading lists include all the book titles for the younger set as well. These upper TruthQuest History guides can be used by non-Americans as well, for all are interested in ancient and medieval history, and even the three guides which cover American history (Age of Revolution I, II, and III) have about half of their material on European history.
~ excerpt from TruthQuestHistory.com
Ancient Egypt/Ancient Greece
Laurie Bluedorn, co-author of Teaching the Trivium, has this to say of these guides:
Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome: These two study guides, which can be used by students of all ages, contain short, concise historical commentary along with exhaustive book recommendations (both in-print and out-of-print) for every key person and event covered. Also included are writing exercises placed throughout the commentary. These guides, which are thoroughly Christian in their worldview, can be used as your sole history curriculum for these time periods, or as a supplement to any other history curriculum. I love the cautions that Mrs. Miller gives us. At numerous points she suggests that we be careful in our study of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman civilization, and she shows us which books would not be appropriate for young children or even some older students. There is just enough commentary throughout the books to guide us and keep us on the correct path so that we won’t leave out any important historical events or people. A family is free to spend as long or as little time at each stop on the timeline as they wish. Mrs. Miller recently revised these two guides including: citing our “Ancient History from Primary Resources” book/CDs set and showing when to use it; adding more ancient writers and more in-print spine books; numbered the sections and subsections; included more Ambleside Online spines/books/resources; and there is a corresponding “Table of Contents” which makes planning and using the guides easier. With these additions, Mrs. Miller has made a wonderful curriculum even better. I wish my children were young again so we could use it.
Middle Ages: Grades 5-12 (Recommended age-range, though book recommendations ARE provided for elementary grades as well.)
Middle Ages (500-1400)
Renaissance-Reformation: Grades 5-12 (Recommended age-range, though book recommendations ARE provided for elementary grades as well.)
Age of Revolution I, II, III: Grades 5-12 (Recommended age-range, though book recommendations ARE provided for elementary grades as well.)
Age of Revolution 1 (US/Europe, 1600-1800)
Age of Revolution II (US/Europe, 1800-1865)
Age of Revolution III (US/Europe, 1865-2000)
Our son has been particularly enamored with Alexander the Great over the last couple of years, reading many wonderful, mature books about him. I was so thrilled to have found this poem contrasting that world-famous king with the King of Kings in our guide to Ancient Greece, p. 64. What a beautiful reminder it’s been of Jesus’s own words:
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
~ Matthew 16.25
Jesus and Alexander (Anonymous)
Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three;
One lived and died for self; one died for you and me.
The Greek died on a throne; the Jew died on a cross;
One’s life a triumph seemed; the other but a loss.
One led vast armies forth; the other walked alone;
One shed a whole world’s blood; the other shed his own.
One won the world in life, and lost it all in death.
The other lost His life to win the whole worlds faith.
Jesus and Alexander died at thirty-three;
The Greek made men slaves; the Jew made all men free.
One built a throne on blood; the other built on love.
The one was born of earth; the other from above;
One won all his earth; to lose all earth and heaven.
The other gave up all; that all to him be given.
The Greek forever died; the Jew forever lives;
He loses all who gets, and wins all things who gives.
(Quoted from: Varner, Williams “The Greeks” Israel My Beloved, Aug/Sept 1994:14.)
Written by Beth Brewer, a Charlotte Mason inspired, Spirit-led, relaxed-eclectic homeschooling Mama of 3. She’s also an author at The Homeschool Post and blogs her photos, musings, hopes, fears, faith and falterings as she lives, loves and learns with her family at the brew*crew adventure.