• About Farm School

    "There are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live."
    James Adams, from his essay "To 'Be' or to 'Do': A Note on American Education", 1929

    We're a Canadian family of five, farming, home schooling, and building our own house. I'm nowhere near as regular a blogger as I used to be.

    The kids are 18/Grade 12, 16/Grade 11, and 14/Grade 10.

    Contact me at becky(dot)farmschool(at)gmail(dot)com

  • Notable Quotables

    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everybody, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
    William Morris, from his lecture "The Beauty of Life"

    "‘Never look at an ugly thing twice. It is fatally easy to get accustomed to corrupting influences."
    English architect CFA Voysey (1857-1941)

    "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men’s hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
    Clarence Day

    "Anyone who has a library and a garden wants for nothing."

    "Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtile; natural philosophy, deep; moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend."
    Sir Francis Bacon, "Essays"

    "The chief aim of education is to show you, after you make a livelihood, how to enjoy living; and you can live longest and best and most rewardingly by attaining and preserving the happiness of learning."
    Gilbert Highet, "The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning"

    "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."
    Walter Wriston

    "I'd like to give you a piece of my mind."
    "Oh, I couldn't take the last piece."
    Ginger Rogers to Frances Mercer in "Vivacious Lady" (1938)

    "No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem."
    Booker T. Washington

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member."
    Attributed to Groucho Marx in "The Groucho Letters" by Arthur Sheekman

    "If you can't say something good about someone, sit right here by me."
    Alice Roosevelt Longworth

    "If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, we feel all our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'."
    Jean Hagen as "Lina Lamont" in "Singin' in the Rain" (1952)
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Farm School blog posts on history (world, Canadian, American), and history books we’ve liked and used:



Teaching, and learning, history with passion

“Education Truly Begins at Home”

History and story: When “folklore and fact collide”

Respectable history for a general readership

Tossing textbooks

World history

Getting back to Gombrich: A Little History of the World, with a listing of some of our favorite narrative world history books, for adults and for children

Farm School bait: Children’s history book reviews, including E.H. Gombrich’s A Little History of the World and H.E. Marshall’s Our Island Story.

Canadian history

Canadiana and Canadian history links for children

Beefing Up SOTW3: Adding more Canadian history

Nicola Manning’s Canadian history reading list

American history

A Benjamin Franklin Education

Chris Barton’s American history picture book reading lists for kids, Prehistory-the Present


Miscellaneous links

Sonlight Books in WTM order

Paula’s Archive: Resources for Story of the World (SOTW)

Paula’s Archive: Literature to Supplement History

Paula’s Archive: Movies to Supplement History; many of these can be found at Netflix, Zip.ca, or your local library; and for purchase at Amazon.ca or Amazon.com

Regena’s lists of history and science books

Suggestions for copywork

Thomas Jefferson quotations

Benjamin Franklin quotations


*  *  *  *  *


: :  History books on the Farm School shelf  : :

World history books

A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich; for children and the rest of the family; also available inexpensively and unabridged on audio CD

An Illustrated History of the World: How We Got to Where We Are by Gillian Clements; this books seems to have gone out of print recently, which is a great shame.  A cartoon history much enjoyed by the younger historians in the house.

The Story of the World (SOTW) series by Susan Wise Bauer (four volumes), more comprehensive than elegant; for children (grades one to four or five)

Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia Of World History; I have to confess that my kids have a fondness for the previous incarnation, The Usborne Book of World History, and its cartoons

The Golden History of the World: A Child’s Introduction to Ancient and Modern Timesby Jane Werner Watson, illustrated by Cornelius de Witt, 1955.  A Giant Golden book, long out of print but worth finding.  Perfect for Kindergarten, first grade, and up.  Well-written and beautifully illustrated.

Oxford Children’s History of the World by Neil Grant; similar to the Usborne book (above) but not as comprehensive

A Child’s History of the World by Virgil Hillyer; for children

The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem Van Loon, updated by John Merriman; for children

Outline of History and/or A Short History of the World, both by H.G. Wells; for adults and older children

The New History of the World by J.M. Roberts; for adults and older children.  For something less unwieldy, you can try Prof. Roberts’ abbreviated A Short History of the World

Asimov’s Chronology of the World: The History of the World from the Big Bang to Modern Times by Isaac Asimov; for adults and older children

The Columbia History of the World edited by John A. Garraty and Peter Gay; out of print but easy enough to find

National Geographic Visual History of the World, with a foreword by Douglas Brinkley

The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant, the masterful 11-volume series, for adults and older children

Heroes of History: A Brief History of Civilization from Ancient Times to the Dawn of the Modern Age by Will Durant

The Creators: A History of Heroes of the Imagination by Daniel J. Boorstin

The Discoverers: A History of Man’s Search to Know His World and Himself by Daniel J. Boorstin

The Seekers: The Story of Man’s Continuing Quest to Understand His World by Daniel J. Boorstin

The Guns of August by Barbara W. Tuchman, her Pulitzer Prize-winning work on the outbreak of World War I

The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam by Barbara W. Tuchman (a more or less complete list of her works here)

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Canadian history books

The Story of Canada by Janet Lunn; beautifully illustrated narrative history book (available new only in paperback, worth tracking down secondhand in hardcover); intended for children but wonderful for the whole family

My First History of Canada by Donalda Dickie; the recent reprint is apparently out of print. Worth tracking down but not worth three figures.

The Story of Canada by Isabel Barclay; also out of print but very good for the very youngest readers

The Kids Book of Canadian History by Carlotta Hacker, for children

Kids Book of Canadian Exploration by Ann-Maureen Owens, for children

Pierre Berton’s series for children, slim yellow paperbacks in the original “Adventures in Canadian History”, recently reprinted as bindups in the new “History for Young Canadians” series: The Battles of the War of 1812by Pierre Berton, with a foreword byCharlotte Gray;  Exploring the Frozen North by Pierre Berton, with a foreword by Eric WilsonCanada Moves West by Pierre Berton, with a foreword by Arthur SladeThe Great Klondike Gold Rushby Pierre Berton, with a foreword by Ken McGoogan

Stampede for Gold: The Story of the Klondike Rush by Pierre Berton, for children

Publisher Fitzhenry & Whiteside’s biography series for children

The National Dream: The Great Railway, 1871-1881 by Pierre Berton, for adults and older children

The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 by Pierre Berton, for adults and older children

Klondike: The Last Great Gold Rush, 1896-1899 by Pierre Berton, for adults and older children

A Short History of Canada by Desmond Morton

The Illustrated History of Canada, edited by Craig Brown

Penguin Books Canada’s new(ish) “Extraordinary Canadians” biography series of twenty of Canada’s “most influential historical figures” by 18 of Canada’s best contemporary writers; the series editor is the writer (and husband of the formerGovernor GeneralJohn Ralston Saul.

Who Killed Canadian History? by Jack Granatstein

American history books

The History of US by Joy Hakim

Betsy and Giulio Maestro’s “The American Story” picture book series: The Discovery of the Americas: From Prehistory Through the Age of ColumbusExploration and Conquest: The Americas After Columbus: 1500-1620The New Americans: Colonial Times: 1620-1689Struggle for a Continent: The French and Indian Wars: 1689-1763;Liberty or Death: The American Revolution: 1763-1783A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution

Out of print but very good: the multi-volume “History for Peter” by Gerald W. Johnson, illustrated by the great Leonard Everett Fisher, for ages 10 or so and up: America Is Born (volume 1, published 1960), America Grows Up (volume 2, 1961), and America Moves Forward (volume 3, 1961). I understand that most families want considerably less than a three-volume US history for children, especially when each volume is the thickness of four or five Hakim books. All three “History for Peter” volumes were selected by The Horn Book as part of its Fanfare/best books for the years they were published, and the first and third volumes were Newbery Honor books for their years. You can read more on the writer/journalist Gerald Johnson and his politics here.

Also out of print and very good is the brief, one-volume illustrated The First Book of American History by noted historian Henry Steele Commager (1957), illustrated too byLeonard Everett Fisher with muscular, energetic woodcuts; part of Franklin Watts’ very good ”First Book” series for children. For ages 6 or so and up.

Jean Fritz’s American history biographies for children

The American Story by Jennifer Armstrong

Kids Make History: A New Look at America’s Story by Susan Buckley and Elspeth Leacock, illustrated by Randy Jones

Places in Time: A New Atlas of American History by Susan Buckley and Elspeth Leacock, illustrated by Randy Jones

Journeys in Time: A New Atlas of American History by Susan Buckley and Elspeth Leacock, illustrated by Rodico Prata

Journeys for Freedom: A New Look at America’s Story by Susan Buckley and Elspeth Leacock, illustrated by Rodico Prata

The Landmark History of the American People by Daniel J. Boorstin with Ruth F. Boorstin

Daniel J. Boorstin’s “The Americans” series, a social history of the United States: The Colonial ExperienceThe National Experience, and The Democratic Experience; for adults and older children

The Growth of the American Republic by Henry Steele CommagerSamuel Eliot Morison, and William E. Leuchtenberg (volume Ivolume II)

1776: The Illustrated Edition by David McCullough

American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies in the Founding of the Republic by Joseph J. Ellis

To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian by Stephen E. Ambrose


General history books

Practicing History: Selected Essays by Barbara W. Tuchman

Hidden History: Exploring Our Secret Past by Daniel J. Boorstin

The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant


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