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.


{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Ticia March 27, 2012 at 8:07 am

Forget my kids, I want it.


Jennie March 27, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Thank you so much for the review! I came across Heritage History a couple of weeks ago and haven’t found anyone that has even heard of it. I was immediately drawn to it but really wanted to hear more about it before I purchased anything.


Jamie {See Jamie blog} March 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I’ll be checking it out since I’m still making decisions for next year!


Tracey March 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I am right at this point now with our history and most of all our home learning as well Jimmie~ when you refer to the Early America CD Library we need to choose, is that the Young Readers Curriculum CD we need to get in order to choose one of the other CD’s? Or is this one somewhere else? We have used Heritage History quite a while back before they had created these. I plan on using these for our World History and US History as I wrap them both together for that particular time period. I can’t wait~ 🙂


Nadene March 28, 2012 at 3:32 am

I love your summary – “Just give me the books. We can read them, narrate them, notebook them, and choose our own topics for in-depth tangents.”
So simple, so rich and rewarding! I choose this approach too and have had such an amazing homeschool journey through living books.


Michelle March 28, 2012 at 8:30 am

Oh my WORD! This is what I’ve been looking for. I have tried to use all those public domain books in the past, but have gotten a little overwhelmed at how turn them into a cohesive, logical study.

I will definitely be looking at these again. Thank you!


Mary March 28, 2012 at 11:55 am

Ahhhh….I love the ultimate flexibility and beautiful, wonderful books. This looks intriguing…..


Rebecca March 28, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Jimmie, this looks so wonderful and the way our family has been moving along as we homeschool. I just had a friend at my house….and I think this is exactly what she needs….and I can’t wait to dig in!!!


Cindy K. March 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Thanks for the reminder that these exist, Jimmie! I have not been back to the site for a while and I am not sure I knew that they sell the CDs all formatted for ebooks. This might be a great resource for next year for my SAH-son who anticipates studying Ancient History then.


Joy March 28, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Reading your review has gotten me so excited about Heritage History! I had looked at them a couple of months ago, but wasn’t for sure on how I could incorporate it. We love History and I think these stories will add so much more to our lessons!


Karen March 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm

This looks really interesting to me. I am searching for a new History curriculum after using SOTW. Keilee will be in 7th grade next year. You are one of the first homeschooling blogs I ever found 5 years ago and I was delighted you had an ‘only girl’ like me. 🙂 I never comment much but have used so many of your resources over the years. Off to check out HH


Dawn @ The Momma Knows April 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I love love LOVE Heritage History! I know Teresa (Dave’s wife) and have tested a couple of her Libraries in the past. They are wonderful. I’m so happy that they are getting noticed!! Coming out with their Libraries in eReader formats makes them usable for ANYONE. Great review Jimmie! 🙂


Vica December 18, 2012 at 9:07 pm

I have a question. How exactly do you use it? You indicated:

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.)-Do you choose 3 books from their list? How do you handle multiple ages?

Read a set number of hours per week, keeping records with the reading log pages. Use notebooking to record what you read.-What exactly does notebooking entail?

Select 3-4 supplemental books and read these in the same way.-Do you just choose another 3-4 books for each core book about a particular subject or 3-4 supplemental books total based on the original 3 core books?

I thank you in advance for any assistance you can provide regarding this matter.



Jimmie Lanley December 22, 2012 at 10:57 am

For the core, I choose one of the three books on the list of core books. I have an only child, so multiple ages is not an issue for me. But you could choose a title that would work for all your children. You will just have to test out the different titles to see what works for your mix of children.
Notebooking — you need to check out The Notebooking Fairy. I have an entire site devoted to notebooking.
I choose the supplemental books based on what I want my daughter to cover and what she would most be interested in.
Remember, Vica, that there are really not right or wrong answers. If your child is reading history and learning, it’s not wrong.


Vica December 22, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Thanks for your response. I really appreciate it.



Diane May 10, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Hi Jimmie,

What I would like to know is if the Heritage History has anything from before the Greeks. From Creation to ? And are some of the books Christian based? It seems some of the classics are, but many also aren’t.




Tabitha September 13, 2015 at 8:14 am

Are the links crossed out now because you no longer recommend Heritage History?


Jimmie Lanley September 13, 2015 at 8:42 pm

No! The links simply need to be updated. It’s no my to do list. So sorry, Tabitha.


Tabitha September 13, 2015 at 8:54 pm

No sweat. Just wanted to check because you share some wonderful resources and tips.


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