Red Rising Review

I recently read the Science Fiction trilogy Red Rising Saga by Pierce Brown. Here are my thoughts.

The three books in this trilogy are Red Rising, Golden Son, and Morning Star. I read the first two books back to back over the course of a single weekend. I then had to wait two weeks before I could get the third book from the library. If I’d been able to binge all three books back to back, I likely would have rated them all the same. But with only a two week pause, my enjoyment of the third book dropped a fair amount. I do still like this trilogy overall and would recommend it to science fiction readers.

This series is set on Mars about a thousand years in the future. Clearly, it’s science fiction. But it feels more like dystopian, which is also considered science fiction, but is a distinct subgenre. In this future world, humanity has been broken into a color coted cast system with Reds being the very bottom, and Golds being the very top. Pretty much every color is a slave to the Golds, but Reds are the lowest of the slaves. In the first book, a Red named Darrow is inspired to rebel against the system and undergo extensive plastic surgery to turn himself into a Gold, so he can overthrow the corrupts system from the inside.

Most of Red Rising focuses on Darrow’s time at a school for Golds. I liked this story a lot. The class system was interesting, the politics of the society were interesting, and the school adventure was like nothing I’d ever read. I was hooked by the end of the first book and excited to read the rest of the trilogy.

Both Golden Son and Morning Star focus very heavily on the politics of the society and Darrow fights to change the broken system. They remind me a lot of the later books in the Hunger Games series, which is why I said these books feel like dystopian. I often enjoy political fantasy, but for some reason this political science fiction wasn’t as compelling for me.

I have heard some reviewers claim that they loved books 2 and 3 of this trilogy, but only mildly enjoyed book 1. I felt the opposite. I loved book 1, liked book 2, and only mildly enjoyed book 3.

It’s easy for political speculative fiction to feel like a commentary on current politics. All good speculative fiction should make a reader think not only about the world the author has created, but also the world the reader lives in. This series felt heavy handed in it’s political commentary. My biggest problem with the later books in the series was actually the fact that the political message the author was saying was basically that life is perfect now, we are doing things right now, and the ultimate goal of the future rebels should be to return to the great era of capitalist democracy.

The slave based, highly oppressive, authoritarian government of this future society is definitely a dystopia. But things aren’t perfect now either. Good dystopia makes readers question the status quo and dream of revolution. As much as I loved the beginning of this series, and I really would recommend reading at least book 1, I finished this series feeling like the message was instead to cherish our current society and hold fast to our traditions and belief systems, because things can only get worse.

Bonding with Agatha

My 14 year old son has officially found a new obsession. A few years ago, he was neck deep in Harry Potter fan fiction. Then he spent a few months focusing all his attention on anima and manga. Now, it’s Agatha Christie.

I shouldn’t be surprised. This kid learned how to read on the A to Z Mystery series, and then moved on to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. About a month ago, he went of vacation with his dad, and brought Murder on the Orient Express along to read during his trip. He called me multiple times not to tell me about all the cool places he was going, but to discuss THE BOOK.

As soon as he got home, I handed him a copy of And Then There Were None. This is now his favorite book of all time. Who even was that Harry kid he couldn’t stop talking about a few years ago. The poem, and the clues, and the murders… and then there were none.

He needed more, and I have a series book buying addiction, so I got him more. He read ABC Murders next. It was good, but when I asked him about it, his response was simply, “Can we talk about And Then There Were None some more, I just can’t stop thinking about it!”

He moved on to Death on the Nile after that. And now he’s reading Ordeal By Innocence. Agatha Christie wrote 66 mystery’s during her lifetime. I wonder if my son will read them all. I wonder if he’ll read them all before he finishes 9th grade. At his current rate, it’s entirely possible.

Homeschool Update and Future Plans

It’s July, both my kids are currently at camp – with other humans. The 2020-21 school year is over and it’s time to start thinking about the future. What will school look like for my family during the 2021-22 school year? Will we even continue to homeschool now that in person education is a possibility?

I went to public school when I was a kid and both of my kids attended public school up until the spring of 2020 when the world fell apart. My boys were in 5th and 7th grade at the time. Online school was challenging for everyone, but my oldest really couldn’t handle it. He’d never been a very good student, and figuring out how to make sure he attended six online classes a day was more than I could handle while also figuring out how to work from home. So my oldest shifted to homeschool in April of 2020.

My youngest son finished up 5th grade online, but spent more time playing video games than actually attending online classes. I assumed pretty much every 5th grader on the planet was in the same boat, and didn’t stress about it. But when faced with an entire year of online school, I opted to homeschool both of my kids for their 6th and 8th grade years.

Homeschool went far better than I could have ever predicted. Both of my kids learned a ton, and juggling homeschool while working from home was actually easier for this single mom than juggling homework/extra curriculars while working in an office. When this school year ended, I sat down with each of my boys to discuss what they want to do in the future. Their answers were different, so we’re doing different things moving forward.

My youngest son is a “traditional learner”. It actually took me quite a while to figure out what curriculum style works best for him. Turns out, it’s very traditional textbooks. Also, my youngest son is an extrovert. He has spent a lot of time playing video games online with friends this year, but he definitely misses seeing friends in person. While he learned a lot this past year, and enjoyed homeschool more than online school, he has opted to return to public school for 7th grade. I’m very supportive of this choice and think this past year at home has given him a great foundation to build upon when he goes back to public school for middle school.

The citation is different for my oldest son, because my children are very different learners. My oldest is not a “traditional learner” at all. He’s very smart, but also very stubborn. He was on an individualized education plan while in public school, and still struggled. Homeschool is working though. He’s learning a lot and having more control over what/when he learns has greatly improved his attitude and mental health.

I don’t think my oldest son is ready for public high school, and he doesn’t either. Sending him back to public school would only be setting him up for failure. But continuing to homeschool during high school can set him up for success during his adult life. So that is what we are doing. During the 2021-22 school year (and likely for the next four years), I’ll be homeschooling a high schooler, and sending my youngest child to public middle school.

I’m grateful for this past year we all had at home together. It was hard, but we learned a lot too. Not only about math and history, but also about ourselves. One of the things we learned was that it’s okay to learn in different ways. It’s okay for my youngest to be excited about returning to public school, and it’s equally okay for my oldest to hide in his bedroom with a giant stack of books and learn that way.

And what about me? I’m still a single mom with two crazy boys. Last week, my boss told me that I’m going to continue working from home full-time indefinitely. The only kid I’m still homeschooling does best when I step back and let him teach himself, so I’m not sure how much I’ll have to say in this blog. I have read 90 books in the past 6 months though. I think beginning next week, I’m going to turn this blog into more of a book review sight. I’ll probably include a mix of both what I’ve been reading and what my boys are reading. Especially my soon to be high schooler, who likes to read almost as much as I do.

YA Fantasy Recommendations

Narnia was my favorite book series when I was a kid, up until I found Harry Potter. Even though the YA Fantasy Genre didn’t explode until I was in my 20’s, it’s still one of my absolute favorite genres. I also read a lot of adult fantasy, and honestly, it’s usually pretty hard to tell the difference between the two (there are lots of cross over books). My boys are now getting to the age where they’re ready to start reading YA and adult fantasy themselves. Instead of only recommending my favorites to them, I’ll share them with you as well.

Books/series I absolutely LOVE:

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – This is a YA/Adult cross over duology that I honestly feel is more suited for adults than teens. It is absolutely beautifully written in a more literary style than most YA fantasy. The setting is gorgeous, the characters are heart warming, and the plot is okay, but really this is a duology that is only going to be loved by readers who prefer beautiful prose and compelling characters more than plot. I absolutely loved it!

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – This is an older YA series that has morally questionable characters and is honestly something I hope my young teens don’t find for several more years. I loved it though. The first book in the duology is a heist with a large cast of characters. The second book is the fallout after the heist and mainly just focuses on further developing the characters. I liked Six of Crows, but I LOVED Crooked Kingdom (the second book).

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater – If you can’t tell from the other books on my absolutely loved list, I care more about characters than plot. This series has very little plot, and the plot it does have makes even less sense. But the characters are fabulous! It’s been several years since I read this series, but there was a time when I considered Maggie Stiefvater my favorite author. Also, these books are totally appropriate for young teens. My oldest son read Raven Boys in 8th grade.

Books/series I liked a lot:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore – I read the first three books in this series a decade ago. The forth book just came out, and I haven’t read it. But I absolutely loved this series when I first read it. It’s a high fantasy series that features very strong female protagonists. In the first book, the main character is a female assassin who ends up needing to rescue a prince.

Dormant by LeeAnn Elwood McLennan – I’m friends with LeeAnn in real life, and her YA superhero series is also super good. My oldest son has already read it, and I’m hoping my younger soon will pull it off our self soon. If you, or one of your children, wants a fun superhero themed urban fantasy, I highly recommend Dormant.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger – This is a 2020 release that I am definitely going to encourage my sons to read. It’s an urban fantasy about a Lipan Apache girl who can see ghosts. She has a ghost dog, a quirky best friend, and a fairly typical teenage life. Until her cousin dies and his ghost finds her and asks her to find his killer. It’s a great ghost story/mystery blend that I know my 14 year old son will absolutely love. And the own voices Native American representation is great too.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor – I’ve only read the first book in this series but I really enjoyed it. I’m fully planning to encourage my sons to read it. This is a fairly typical YA fantasy series that is similar to most of the other books I’m listing, except it’s set in Nigeria. I’ve been trying to read more diverse books lately, and I really enjoyed the African feel to this story, that had nothing to do with slavery.

The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater – I said Maggie Stiefvater used to be my favorite author. This is a werewolf romance series that came out at the same time as Twilight, and was infinitely better than Twilight. I haven’t heard anyone talk about this series in years, and I’m not sure if it’s even any good. But I really liked it 10 years ago.

Books/series I enjoyed:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – The forth/final book in this series just came out in 2021. I read all four books in less than two weeks and really enjoyed them. They have a very gripping story line, with a great mix of war, political intrigue, and an enemies to lovers romance. But once I’d finished the series, it lost a lot of it’s excitement for me. I feel like this is a very fun series to read, but not exceptionally great literature.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – This is a series of fairytale retellings with a sci-fi feel. In the first book, Cinderella is a cyborg. Later, Snow White is trapped on the moon. It’s a fun series, that is probably more enjoyable for young teens than adults. But it can be fun for adults too. (My oldest son read Cinder in 6th grade.)

Vladimire Tod by Heather Brewer – This is a vampire series about a snarky teenage vampire who deals with normal teenage stuff while also being a vampire. The first book came out in 2007, when everyone was obsessed with vampires. These books were really funny though. I actually want to see if I can find some copies of it at the library, because I think my sons would really enjoy this series.

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White – This is another older series that I really liked when it first came out. It’s basically a super girly version of Men in Black, where sassy Evie and her faerie ex-boyfriend have to go around capturing dangerous supernatural creatures. It’s a funny series that is definitely appropriate for younger teens. While some books hug the line between YA and adult, this series is more on the line between Middle Grade and YA.

Books/series that were okay:

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna – This is a 2021 release that was good, but not amazing. The beginning feels kind of dystopian, even though it’s also clearly fantasy. There is redemption in the end, and you can tell the world will get better later in the series. I doubt I’ll read the rest of this series though, nor will I likely recommend it to my kids.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu – This is a 2020 release that doesn’t seem as hyped as some of the other recently released titles. It’s a historical fantasy about the Mozart siblings, Wolfgang and Nannerl. Nanneral is just as musically gifted as her brother, but because she’s a girl she hasn’t been remembered by history. If this was only a historical fiction, I would have absolutely loved it. But even though fantasy is my favorite genre, I didn’t like the fantasy part of this story at all. When fairies enter the Mozart children’s world and bless them with their musical abilities, all it does is detract from the history.

Wayward Children by Seanan McGuire – This is a series of portal fantasy books. Children that travel to different worlds (think Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, etc) are often feel very lost when they return to earth. So they all gather at a boarding school to recuperate, and sometimes find their way back to their other worlds. The books in this series are all super short (it’s more of a series of novellas). This series is typically classified as adult, even though most of the characters are teens. I know lots of people love these books, but they really aren’t my favorite.

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn – This is a 2020 release that mixes dark acidemia, a King Arthur retelling, and race issues all into one story that didn’t really work for me. Because this book came out so recently, there is quite a bit of hype about it right now. I feel like it’s over hyped and in a few years everyone will forget about it. There are many other books that deal with one of these themes way better, and combining them all into a single book feels like too much.

Books/series that Books/series that weren’t for me:

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer – My oldest son actually read the first book in this series when he was in 7th grade and I yelled at him. I’ve never stopped my kids from reading, but this series isn’t good. Granted, the first book is kind of fun, and I did let me son read it. The series is fun enough that I read all four books when they first came out. But I really really wish I’d stopped after book three. Breaking Dawn is AWFUL! Even thinking about it a decade later, the premise of that book makes me want to vomit.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick – I’m not listing every bad book I read over a decade ago, but I feel the need to list this book simply because it’s awful. This book takes “bad boy” romance way to far and is basically a paranormal romance written for teens that promotes rape. Do not read this book, and definitely don’t let your teenagers read this book.

Best Middle Grade Series

My youngest son is starting to move out of the middle grade section and is now reading young adult and adult titles. Many of my all time favorite books are middle grade, and I still sometimes read middle grade books solely for my own enjoyment even if I know my kids have no interest in them. Over the years, I have however read a lot of amazing books with my sons. Today, I’m going to be ranking only the series (not stand alone books) that I read with my boys. If you’re children are slightly younger than mine and you’re currently looking for some read aloud ideas, I suggest trying some of these great titles.

Books my kids absolutely LOVED:

Percy Jackson and all the other spin off series by Rick Riordan – I read the Percy Jackson series before having kids and enjoyed it a lot. When I realized that The Heroes of Olympus series also starred Percy and was basically just 5 more books in a best selling series I was annoyed. Then I introduced my kids to Percy and learned to appreciate all things Rick Riordan. My kids LOVED these books so much! For his entire second grade year, my youngest son read nothing but Greek mythology themed graphic novels and chapter books while I read him Percy Jackson books.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer – After Percy, Artemis was probably the best loved fictional character in my house when my boys were in 3-5 grade. This series is absolutely delightful, and not a hyped as it should be. It’s about a 12 year old evil genius human who reeks havoc on the fairy world. Artemis does have a redemption arch over the course of the series, but at least in the first book he’s very much the villain. The fairies are funny, the magic and adventure are great, and my kids couldn’t get enough.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke – This is a less well known trilogy that my kids and I really enjoyed. In this series, characters can be read out of books and enter our world and people from our world can also be read into books. It’s fun, magical, and shows kids how easy it is to get lost in a great story.

The Giver by Lois Lowry – I did read this entire series with my oldest son when he was younger, and then I read just The Giver with my youngest last year (when he was in 6th grade). Even though this “series” is really just several stand alones that kind of have matching themes, I’m including this on my list. Because honestly, The Giver is the best read aloud ever! Don’t have your kids read it to themselves, and don’t allow them to grow up without listening to this story. It is so thought provoking, and invites so many amazing conversations. Dystopia for kids – it’s a must.

Books my kids liked a lot:

The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis – This series was my absolute favorite book series when I was a kid, and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” is still easily one of my favorite books of all time. Because I love these books so much, I’ve actually subjected my children to them more than once (1st in early elementary school and then again in late elementary school). They enjoyed the series both times, but neither of my sons is as connected to Narnia as I was when I was young.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart – These books are long for middle grade and may be intimidating for kids to read to themselves, but they make excellent read alouds. In this series, a group of kids form a secret society and go on a quest to save the world. There are science fiction elements to the story, but it’s more of a mystery than anything else.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – This is a steam punk retelling of WW1. In a way, I wish I’d held off on reading it to my kids when they were younger, because it would be great series for teens to read to themselves. But my boys really enjoyed it in elementary school. And 3rd grade is a perfectly good time to learn about WW1… and steam punk.

Harry Potter by JK Rowling – I read the first three books in this series to my boys when they were in 1st and 3rd grade. My rule was then that they had to read the rest of the series to themselves (because the series gets a lot darker starting at book 4). I really liked this series when it first came out (and I was already an adult). My oldest son read all the books in 4th grade and then got super into the series in 6th and 7th grade. He not only read the series multiple times, but also read A LOT of Harry Potter fan fiction. My youngest son watched all the movies, and finally finished reading the series in 6th grade, but it was never his favorite.

Books my kids enjoyed:

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell – My kids and I listened to this entire 12 book series on audio while I was shuffling my kids to all their various extra curricular activities in elementary school. It’s a funny series, but I honestly wish I’d made my sons read the books themselves instead of listening to them. The paper version of the series has illustrations and this is a great series to pull kids out of early chapter books into longer and more complex middle grade titles (similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid in reading level).

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien – Yes, I read this classic high fantasy series to my children when they were children. Technically, we listened to the audio books in the car, when my boys were 11 and 9. My youngest son didn’t just enjoy this series, he loved it. He would talk about it all the time while we were listening to it, and make comments that showed how deeply he was comprehending the complex story. You don’t have to read Tolkien to your kids, but I’m including this series more as a way to give yourself permission to push your kids. Especially with read alouds, you can read books to your children that are at a much higher reading level then they could read to themselves.

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan – Percy is Greek mythology, this is Egyptian mythology. My kids enjoyed this series, but it failed to inspire an obsession with Horus and Osiris. This trilogy is good, but a bit more clunky than the Percy series(s).

Books I absolutely LOVED and need to recommend, but my kids haven’t read them:

Amari and the Night Brothers by BB Alston – This is a brand new series. The first book was just released in 2021. It is easily one of the best middle grade fantasy stories I’ve ever read! Amari is a black girl from the projects who enters a secret magical society and has to save the world. It is just as fun and magical as Percy and Artemis, but it also deals with issues of race and class beautifully. I can’t recommend this book enough. I might have to require my high schooler to read it next year, even if it is intended for younger readers.

6th Grade Reading List

My 12 year old son claims to not be a fan of reading. Somehow, he managed to read 54 books during the past nine months anyway. Here is a complete list of everything he read during his 6th grade school year along with his a highlight of his favorites broken up by genre.

I’m one of those crazy people who regularly reads more than 100 books per year. My 6th grade son isn’t quite as big of a fan of reading, but he still managed to read 54 books this year. He read 15 non-fiction books assigned for school, 12 fiction books assigned for school, 15 fiction books that he selected himself (and then read for school), and he listened to 12 audiobooks or read alouds. I have divided these titles by subject/genre. All titles are listed with links to goodreads page and his favorite title in each category are further highlighted with a short review.

Manga/Graphic Novels


Science Fiction/Fantasy

Literary Fiction

Literary Nonfiction/Historical Fiction

Historical Nonfiction

Scientific Nonfiction

8th Grade Reading List

The school year is coming to a close. In the past 9 months, my 14 year old son has read 64 books. Here is a complete list of everything he read during his 8th grade school year along with his a highlight of his favorites broken up by genre.

My son is a big time reader. Because of that, I used a literature based curriculum for him. As a result, he read 20 non-fiction books assigned for school, 15 fiction books assigned for school, 10 self-selected titles that fit into his school requirements, and 19 self-selected titles that he read completely on his own outside of school. I have divided these titles by subject/genre. All titles are listed with links to goodreads page and his favorite title in each category are further highlighted with a short review.

Manga/Graphic Novels


Contemporary Fiction



Historical Fiction

Historical Nonfiction

Scientific Nonfiction

Earth Science for Readers

My soon to be ninth grader is a big reader. Instead of using a science textbook, he is going to read several different non-fiction titles to learn about Earth Science. Here is a list of all the books he’ll be reading for this class.

Last week, I explained that my 9th grade son will be using a lot of material from the Build Your Library Level 7 curriculum as a Geography and World Cultures elective. You may be asking, what about Build Your Library Level 9, he will be in 9th grade after all. Fear not, he is using Build Your Library Level 9 for science.

Build Your library is a secular literature based homeschool curriculum that very closely matches with my sons learning style. Each grade level curriculum is intended to be all inclusive. It teaches language arts, history, science, and art all with overlapping books that coordinate together. If someone used the curriculum as it was intended, all they would need to add was math. I never manage to use any curriculum as it was intended.

The overarching theme of BYL Level 9 is Pre-History. The science is Earth Science, and the history is History of the Earth. Somehow, learning about fossils and geologic time doesn’t seem very much like history to me. Since my son had never done the BYL Level 7 (which the theme of Exploring Your World) I thought the two topics would overlap together nicely. My son is the one who specifically asked for actual history to be included as well, because he likes history. So BYL Level 7 became an elective, BYL Level 9 is science, and I created my own history course to tie the two together.

My son won’t be reading all of the text from BYL Level 9, but he will be reading most of the “science” texts and about half of the “history” texts”. He will also be reading a few of the language arts texts in language arts, but not many. The BYL Level 7 curriculum is jam packed full of hands on projects, and worksheets. The Level 9 curriculum has few worksheets and more suggested writing assignments, which I’ll definitely be assigning.

Here is a list of all the titles my son will be reading for science this year.

Selecting History

History education is always selective. Who’s stories do we choose to tell and why? My son will be a Freshman in Highschool next year, and he is going to study World History spanning from the first humans to the industrial revolution. Obviously, far more happened in that time that a student can learn in a single year. Here is what I’m planning to teach him.

In addition to this history class, my son will also be taking a geography and human cultures class. For language arts he’ll be studying world literature, and for science he will be studying earth science and geologic history (ending with the evolution of man, which is also where his history course will begin).

My son loves to read and is a good writer. As such, this history course will be a lot of reading along with various write assignments associated with his assigned reading. My goal for him in this course isn’t to learn all the details of world history but instead to understand how human experiences have changed over time and the effect that culture has on history, especially when different cultures collide.

Here is a list of all the books he’ll be reading for history next year, along with a short description of why I decided to select these specific titles.

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari – This book begins with the early hominins and the emergence of the Homo sapiens species. It then looks at how the agricultural revolution further changed the human experience. The second half of the book focus on modern history/culture in very broad strokes, looking at human systems not specific historic events. My son will begin the school year by reading this book.

A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich – This is the closest thing to a textbook my son will be using this year. It divides all of human history into 40 short chapters and will serve as the spine of what he studies this year. The rest of the books listed below will be interspersed throughout the year fitting in between the appropriate chapters in this book.

Gilgamesh by Stephen Mitchell – Fiction in history class? Yes. This course is more of a study of human culture over time than a list of dates and wars. Gilgamesh is the worlds first novel and I can’t think of a better way to learn about Mesopotamia than by reading it’s about it’s legendary hero.

Siddhartha by Herman Ness – A big part of the geography and world cultures class my son will be taking simultaneously will be a study of world religions. Here in history, he’ll learn about the founder of one of the worlds most notable religions – Buddhism. This entertaining novel, is also a biography of the Buddha.

The Art of War: A Graphic Novel by Sun Tzu and Pete Katz – Sometimes, war is a form of religion. To add a bit of variety, I’m having my son read the graphic novel version of this classic Chinese text instead of the original.

The Book of Mark from Christian Bible – If I included a biography of Buddha, I’ve got to also include a biography of Jesus. Including the Bible in a history class does not mean I think the bible is 100% historically accurate, but nobody can deny this book has had a tremendous impact on human culture and history.

Muhammad A Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong – I decided to go with a biography of Muhammad instead of having my son read the Quran. This decision was made primarily because I think learning about who Muhammad was a person and how his life impacted history will feel more relevant to my son than reading a religious text from a religion his is not familiar with.

1066 The Year of Conquest by David Howarth – Dates, I know. The Norman conquest of Britain is one of the few specific dates in history I’m opting to focus on. Mainly because we speak English. This event in world history may not impact every human culture, but it effects our culture.

Samurai Rising by Pamala Turner – I wanted to include more Asian history, and figured this would be a fun addition. Really, that’s the only reason why I selected this particular part of history over all the other equally significant time periods.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford – Genghis Khan and the Mongols were the Medieval version of the Nazis. Just as it’s important to study WW2, this is one specific time in history worth studying. Especially because unlike the Nazis, the Mongols succeeded.

Mansa Musa by James Oliver – We need some African history. And this is the golden age of Africa. Literally, there is a lot of gold in Africa.

The Renaissance Inventors by Alicia Klepeis – A relatively short history book with STEM projects included seems like a great way to break things up a bit.

Over the Edge of the World by Laurence Bergreen – This is a biography of Magellan. He wasn’t a religious leader or a world conqueror, but Magellan definitely had a huge impact on world cultures and their interactions with one another. Also, in an academic year focused so heavily on geography, I had to include this title somewhere.

The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction by William Doyle – Like the Norman Conquest, I feel like the French Revolution is a part of world history that is worth taking a closer look at. Even if it’s only a “very short” closer look.

Who was Napoleon by Jim Gigliotti – I know “Who was” books are targeted towards much younger readers, but I wanted to spend some time focusing on Napoleon and the who was books do present relevant/useful information in a very straightforward and succinct way.

The Electric War by Mike Winchell – We are ending the year at the end of the 19th century. And what better place to stop than New York City and an epic fight for control of emerging technology. The warriors of this battle are of course Tomas Edison, Nicola Tesla, and George Westinghouse.

When teaching history, or even thinking about it yourself, what parts of our past human experience do you select to shape your own vision of the world?