Heritage History Living eBooks Curriculum Review

by Jimmie Lanley on March 27, 2012

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different living books based curriculum. I started with Sonlight, shifted to Winter Promise, used Beautiful Feet, and now I’ve started falling in love with Heritage History.

Although the basis was always living books, there is a definite thread in my choices. I went from high structure to less and less. In the beginning, I needed a well-planned, “check the box” type of “open and go” curriculum. But as I grew in experience and confidence, I realized that living books and narration were the cornerstones that I could trust. I didn’t need a lot of detailed lesson plans; I needed quality literature and a general outline.

I think my transformation has found its culmination in Heritage History.

What? You’ve never heard of Heritage History? Well, let me introduce you to this hidden gem of living books. But first, a little more background.

Public Domain Books

I have always loved public domain books but have found them difficult to integrate into our homeschool for these reasons.

  1. In a chronological history study, I want the books to be in order. But I never know exactly what time period a public domain book covers.
  2. I don’t want to print the pages from the Internet.
  3. Reading a PDF on the Kindle is also not the best scenario — the type is small, the colors are faint, the pages load slowly.
  4. The freebie ebooks are poorly formatted, full of errors, and do not make use of the normal Kindle features such as the dictionary, bookmarking, highlighting, etc.

Heritage History Curriculum

Heritage History is a library of public domain books beautifully formatted into eBooks. Each book in the library comes in three different formats which means you can use the books no matter what kind of eReader you use — Nook, Kindle, iPad, or computer. The eBooks have all the functionality which your particular device offers (and which freebie eBooks normally lack). I’ll let you go over to Heritage History if you want to read more about the file types and such.  The bottom line is that whether you want to print out the books or read them on an eReader, they will work. And work well.
History from Heritage-History.com on Kindle

The Aeneid for Boys and Girls on the Kindle DX

Teaching Helps

Along with the books themselves are teaching helps that make using the books easier:
  • book summaries
  • general grade classification of each book
  • suggestions of core books and supplemental books (all included in the CD library)
  • outlines  that clearly show where each book fits into the scheme of chronological history
  • historical maps
  • historical background
  • image files of the illustrations from the books.

What Kind of Homeschool Mom Will Love Heritage History?

Heritage History (HH) is great for a mom who

  • loves living books
  • wants affordable books
  • appreciates the style of public domain books
  • feels confident to make book selections from a list of options
  • feels comfortable without the bells and whistles of an elaborate program
  • has her own ideas of how to organize, schedule, and teach

[a mom like me!]

HH is more of a library than a curriculum. In fact, many people buy the curriculum libraries to use as reading material avid readers or for language arts.

aeneid mapping

A Mapping Activity– designed by me– with the Aeneid

There is no schedule to follow, no boxes to check. There are no hands-on activities, research topics, notebooking assignments, or tests.

There are just quality books (without the politically correct bias of modern books, by the way) plus reference material.

And at this point in my homeschool career, HH is exactly what I want. Just give me the books. We can read them, narrate them, notebook them, and choose our own topics for in-depth tangents.

When we wrapped up Beautiful Feet Ancients, I chose to continue our study of Ancient Rome with some of the great public domain books from Heritage History.

Sample Image from Heritage History CD

How to Use Heritage History as Your History Curriculum

If you trust that reading good books is enough (or you can create your own materials to go along with the books), consider Heritage History as an affordable history option. This is how HH recommends you use the books.

  1. Choose one of the three core books to start with. (There is no right or wrong choice. Just choose the one that appeals to you.)
  2. Read a set number of hours per week, keeping records with the reading log pages. Use notebooking to record what you read.
  3. Select 3-4 supplemental books and read these in the same way.

A CD could last a semester or up to a year depending on how you scheduled and how many of the books you read.

Sampling the eBooks

If you want to sample the eBooks at Heritage History, each book can be purchased individually. Although these books are in the public domain, paying $1.99 for a well formatted book is very much worth it. On my Kindle, for example, a properly formatted book means that I can use the dictionary function and learn the meaning or how to pronounce an unfamiliar word. This function alone is worth $2.

Here’s a short video from when I first loaded the books onto our Kindles.

Corrections and clarifications to what I say on the video:

  • The eBooks do include images. I simply had not found them at that point. Most of the books were not originally published with illustrations. But if they were, those images are within the eBooks.
  • Also the notebook is an extra product and does not come with the CD. But the files are on the disc and can be printed out.


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