Every great school year starts with a great book list! Or so I believe! Our family is once again part of a local Classical Conversations community, and this year we study medieval to modern history in CC Cycle 2. It’s our 3rd time through this cycle, and we’ve already read so many great books, but there are many yet pages yet to be turned! I’ve compiled a medieval to modern history book list for CC Cycle 2 that is sure to set a feast of tales for all the story lovers in your home!
**This post was previously the “Usborne Books” list. I have now expanded this into a full CC Cycle 2 Book list, which still includes some Usborne titles.
CC Cycle 2 Book List: Medieval to Modern Times
This year, I’m homeschooling middle grade students in grades 5 and 7. Now I can appreciate the beauty of cycling (sometimes called “spiraling”) through the same time periods over and over. When my boys were 4 and 6 doing this cycle, many of the books on this list were too long for them. (I remember trying to read The King’s Fifth, and they had no attention span for this lovely book, but three years later, we all enjoyed it!). To be honest, I put together this book list as much for me as the boys, because I adore middle grade fiction!!
This list is perfect for any family studying medieval times, European exploration and trade, the Renaissance, Reformation, or the World Wars. Of course, it’s an especially good list for families involved in Classical Conversations, like us, because I have tailored the book picks to the weekly themes!
Medieval to Modern Book List Organization
The book list presented on this blog is organized by Genre: Biography, Fiction, Non-Fiction
At the end of this post, I have a free PDF download of this book list (click link to skip right to the end). The printable contains the books organized by genre AND by Classical Conversation Cycle 2 weeks! So you can see which books go with each week’s memory work.
Even if you’re not using Classical Conversations for your homeschool, you will find this book list a useful breakdown of what to read week by week in your study of medieval to modern history!
Medieval to Modern Book List Selection Criteria
There are SO many great books that you might think should be on this list. And I would probably agree with you! However, because this time period contains so many notable historical figures, and SO many *really good!* book titles on each person or event, I had to set a few limiting factors:
I have a 5th and 7th grader this year. We will continue to read text-heavy picture books, but I did not include very simple pictures books for the preschool crowd (2-5). Generally, the picture books included are for 4-8 years olds.
The fiction and non-fiction selections are readable by ages 6-12 (or use higher-level books as read-alouds for the youngers). Since my oldest is now in Challenge A and has his own lengthy book list, I did not include too many books for the over-12 crowd (although there were a few good titles I had to cut because of this! So if you have a very advanced reader, there’s more out there!).
Not every book on the list is religious. In fact, many are secular, but I chose books that hold with our values for content and language. (If you spot something I overlooked, please make me aware – some of these books I read quite some time ago!).
I often say books should be “high-quality” and have “readability.” But the Charlotte Mason concept of Living Books states it better than I can. A Living Book has these qualities (adapted from Simply Charlotte Mason):
- Convey the author’s passion in conversational style – often narrative (story) based.
- Construct well-told stories using strong word choices and well-developed characters, plot, or organization.
- Create a lasting impression – whether because it sparks the imagination or inspire the heart – a living book will draw the listeners in and create desire to discuss the book and leave a lasting impression.
- Contain character-building ideas – the reader/listener will be shaped and changed by the ideas contained in the book. A book of facts cannot do this work.
This list attempts to balance fiction with non-fiction, and picture books with chapter books. While it leans heavily into history topics, I included books on science and fine arts topics, especially where they overlap with the history era.
I have tried to include choices where possible for families with kids at different stages. For example, you might see a biography of Corrie ten Boom in picture book and chapter book format. Pick the one that best fits your children. Or, if you like, read both! It’s up to you.
Or, when it comes to topics like medieval tales or Shakespeare, there are so many choices, I have listed three or four. Choose whatever piques your interest (or is available at your library!). Do not feel like this book list is an assignment you must get through. Remember you will return to this list in three years and have a chance to cover some of the books you skipped this year.
I can overwhelm myself with a book list that is not do-able in a year’s time. I, want to #readallthebooks. However, this book list strives to curate carefully more than compile exhaustively. It’s an attempt at a year of literature study for my kids, so I had to limit myself to what can possibly be read in nine to ten months. Therefore, if I found a topic/week had too many titles, or if there were titles that covered similar ground, I made some hard choices.
Illustrated Reference Books
There are MANY illustrated reference books available for this time period. I have listed a few key books that would be handy to have all year round. I’ve listed a few where the book list was “thin.” But otherwise, I have narrowed the field on those, because those kinds of books are better for browsing and report writing than for read-alouds. Feel free to add additional reference books in as you see fit. These publishers offer illustrated reference books with consistent quality:
There truly is such a thing as “too many books, too little time!” Series books provide ample reading opportunities for this time period. I love series books, because they support independent readers and can be reliable book grabs at the library.
But because of the overwhelming quantity of materials, I limited the inclusion of series books unless the book choices for the topic was thin. Again, generally if you see a book on the weekly topic in these series, feel free to add it to the stack:
- Magic Tree House series
- Who Was? series
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be… series
- Christian Heroes Then and Now (or Christian Heroes for Young Readers) – the YWAM books
CC Cycle 2 covers the medieval to modern times, which is nearly 800 years of time. Since history is horizontal, we could spend a tremendous amount of time trying to cover all that was happening across the globe during this era. For instance, World War I and II are European wars, but eventually involved the United States of America. However, I limited selection of books having to do with U.S. involvement in these wards because I know we’ll cover this again in Cycle 3.
**I only included the Science, Math, Music, and Art books we use for CC Cycle 2 in this blog post if they specifically involve people or events during this time period. There are supplemental books listed in the printable though.
How we use our CC Cycle 2 Booklist
Some weeks have ample books on the weekly topic and others are slim pickings, especially towards the end of the year. It would be impossible to strictly read all the week 1 books during week 1! So I adhere only loosely to the book list as written.
My usual method is to select about twenty “must-read” books for our morning time read-aloud titles. Sometimes I shift a few titles to bedtime reading status, so we can cover more ground.
Some books (like non-fiction titles with topical sections) might not get fully read, or they might get read out of order.
Sometimes we play “catch-up” during the break weeks of CC.
If a book is just not gripping us (maybe it’s too advanced for younger readers), I feel free to “abandon” or “postpone” the title to another time. Please do not feel tied to any book – not every book will be a home run for your family or kids!
Medieval to Modern CC Cycle 2 Book List by Genre
[UNDER CONSTRUCTION – this will be updated soon!]You can shop these books right through the pictures in this post – just click the image and you’ll get to the Amazon page for each title. OR, visit my Amazon Storefront to shop.
- (PB) = Picture Book
- (IB) = Illustrated Book (more pages / text than picture books, usually a reference book)
- (Comic) = Comic strip format
- (Audio) = CD, audiobook (MP3 or Audible)
- (Series) = Additional books follow or precede
- (IEW) = Recommended reading by the Institute for Excellence in Writi
There you have it! That’s the buffet of books from which our family will feast while studying medieval to modern times! If I come across any more good ones, I’ll be sure to update this list!
The pictures below are all linked to my Amazon Affiliate account. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
CC CYCLE 2 – FICTION
THE MIDDLE AGES
- King Arthur: Tales from the Round Table – Andrew Lang (CB) (IEW)
- Son of Charlemagne – Barbara Willard (CB)
- The Magic Runes: A Tale of the Times of Charlemagne – Emma Leslie (CB)
- The Squire’s Tale – Gerald Morris (CB)
- The Minstrel in the Tower (Stepping Stone) – Gloria Skurzynski (CB)
- The Whipping Boy – Sid Fleischman (CB)
- The Story of Beowulf – HE Marshall (CB)
- Caedmon’s Song – Ruth Ashby (PB)
- Saint George and the Dragon – Margaret Hodges (PB)
- Henty’s Wulf the Saxon – G. A. Henty (Jim Weiss) (Audio) (IEW)
- The Apple and the Arrow – Conrad Buff (CB)
- The Hidden Treasure of Glaston – Eleanore M. Jewett (CB)
- The King’s Shadow – Elizabeth Alder (CB) (IEW)
- The Sword in the Tree – Clyde Robert Bulla (CB)
- Marguerite Makes a Book – Bruce Robertson (PB)
- Favorite Medieval Tales – Mary Pope Osborne (CB) OR
Medieval Tales – Lorna MacDonald Czarnota (CB)
Tales of Court and Castle – Joan Bodger (CB)
Stories from the Crusades – J Kelman (CB)
- Adam of the Road – Elizabeth Janet Gray (CB) (IEW)
- Eleanor: Crown Jewel of Aquitane – Kristiana Gregory (CB)
- The Canterbury Tales – Geraldine McCaughrean (CB)
- The Great and Terrible Quest – Margaret Lovett (CB)
- King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table – Roger Lancelyn (CB)
- The Kingdom Series – Chuck Black (Series)
- Castle Diary: The Journal of Tobias Burgess – Richard Platt (PB)
- The Squire and the Scroll: A Tale of the Rewards of a Pure Heart – Jennie Bishop (PB)
- The Kitchen Knight: A Tale of King Arthur – Hodges, Margaret (PB)
- The Making of a Knight – Patrick O’Brien (PB)
- Big John’s Secret – Eleanore M. Jewett (CB)
- The Lost Baron – Allen French (CB)
- Gabriel and the Hour Book – Evaleen Stein (CB)
- Robin Hood – Margaret Early (PB) OR
Robin Hood – J. Walker McSpadden (CB) (IEW)
- Robin Hood And The Golden Arrow – Robert D. San Souci (PB)
- Rupert’s Parchment: Story of Magna Carta – Eileen Cameron (PB)
- Crispin: The Cross of Lead – Avi (CB) (IEW)
- The Door in the Wall – Marguerite de Angeli (CB) (IEW)
- Catherine Called Birdy – Karen Cushman (CB)
- The Hawk of the Castle: A Story of Medieval Falconry – Danna Smith (CB)
- From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – E.L. Konigsburg (CB)
- Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare – E. (Edith) Nesbit (CB) OR
Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers – E. Nesbit (CB)
Tales From Shakespeare – Tina Packer (CB)
- The Shakespeare Stealer Trilogy – Gary Blackwood (CB)
- Tales from Shakespeare – Marcia Williams (Comic)
- Saint Francis – Brian Wildsmith (PB)
- Brother Hugo and the Bear – Beebe, Katy (PB)
- Francis Woke Up Early – Nobisso, Josephine (PB)
- The Ink Garden of Brother Theophane – C.M. Millen (PB)
- Pippo the Fool – Tracey E. Fern (PB)
- Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs – Molly Blaisdell (PB)(IEW)
AGE OF ABSOLUTE MONARCHS
- Dangerous Journey (The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress) – Oliver Hunkin (CB)
- The Beggars’ Bible – Louise A. Vernon (Series)
- A Murder for Her Majesty – Beth Hilgartner (CB)
AGE OF EXPLORATION
- To the Edge of the World – Michelle Torrey (CB)
- Spice and the Devil’s Cave – Agnes Danforth Hewes (CB)
- The Kite Rider – Geraldine McCaughrean (CB) (IEW)
- The King’s Fifth – Scott O’Dell (CB)
AGE OF INDUSTRY
- In the Reign of Terror – G. A. Henty (Audio)
- In Search of Honor – Donnalynn Hess (CB)
- Les Miserables (A Stepping Stone Book) – Monica Kulling (CB)
- Marie Antoinette: Princess of Versailles – Kathryn Lasky (CB)
- Saint Bartholomew’s Eve A Tale of the Huguenots – G. A. Henty (CB)
- Stone Soup – Marcia Brown (CB)
- The Escape: The Adventures of Three Huguenot Children – A. Van Der Jagt (CB)
- Betsy and the Emperor – Staton Rabin (CB)
- White Stallion of Lipizza – Marguerite Henry (CB)
- My Napoleon – Catherine Brighton (PB)
- The Twenty-One Balloons – William Pene du Bois (CB)
- The Bobbin Girl – Emily Arnold McCully (PB)
- Claude Monet: The Painter Who Stopped the Trains – P. I. Maltbie (PB)
- Degas and the Little Dancer – Laurence Anholt (PB)
THE WORLD WARS
- Philomena – Kate Seredy (CB)
- The Good Master – Kate Seredy (CB)
- The Singing Tree – Kate Seredy (CB)
- Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear – Lindsay Mattick (PB)
- Fly Cher Ami Fly!: The Pigeon Who Saved the Lost Battalion – Robert Burleigh (PB)
- Rags: Hero Dog of WWI: A True Story – Margot Raven (PB)
- War Game Village Green to No Man’s Land – Michael Foreman (PB)
- War Horse – Michael Morpurgo (CB)
- The House on Walenska Street – Charlotte Herman (CB)
- Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes – Eleanor Coerr (CB)
- The Little Riders – Margaretha Shemin (CB)
- Yellow Star – Jennifer Roy (CB)
- Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust – Eve Bunting (PB)
- The Butterfly – Patricia Polacco (PB)
- A Place to Hang the Moon – Kate Albus (CB)
- North to Freedom – Anne Holm (CB)
- The Upstairs Room – Johanna Reiss (CB)
- Twenty and Ten – Claire Huchet Bishop (CB)
- When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr (CB)
- Always Remember Me: How One Family Survived WWII – Marisabina Russo (PB)
- Boxes for Katje – Candace Fleming (PB)
- One Candle – Eve Bunting (PB)
- War Dogs: Churchill & Rufus – Kathryn Selbert (PB)
- Angel on the Square (Russian Saga) – Gloria Whelan (CB)
- The Endless Steppe – Esther Hautzig (CB)
- Breaking Stalin’s Nose – Eugene Yelchin (CB)
MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA, & ASIA
- Goodbye Vietnam – Gloria Whelan (CB)
- Little Cricket – Jackie Brown (CB)
- The Wall – Eve Bunting (PB)
- The Breadwinner – Deborah Ellis (CB)
- The Soccer Fence: A story of friendship, hope, & apartheid – Phil Bildner (PB)
- John Calvin (Christian Biographies for Young Readers) – Simonetta Carr (CB)
- Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed The World – Paul L. Maier (PB)
- Johannes Kepler: Giant of Faith and Science – John Hudson Tiner (CB)
- Who Was Marie Antoinette? – (CB)
- Louis Braille: The Boy Who Invented Books for the Blind – Margaret Davidson (CB)
- Napoleon: The Story of the Little Corporal – Robert Burleigh (PB)
- George Müller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans – Janet Benge (CB)
- The Story of Eli Whitney and the Cotton Gin – Frances M. Perry (CB)
- Hero Tales: A Family Treasury of True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes – Dave Jackson (CB)
- Isaac Newton: Inventor Scientist and Teacher – John Hudson Tiner (CB)
- Brother Andrew: God’s Secret Agent – Janet and Geoff Benge (CB)
- Who Was Anne Frank? – (CB)
- Eric Liddell: Running for a Higher Prize – Janet and Geoff Benge (PB)
- Corrie ten Boom: Keeper of the Angels’ Den – Janet and Geoff Benge (CB)
- Corrie Ten Boom: Shining in the Darkness – Renee Meloche (PB)
- Water Buffalo Days – Huynh Quang Nhuong (CB)
- Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution – Ji-li Jiang (CB)
- Children of the Storm: The Autobiography of Natasha Vins – Natasha Vins (CB)
- Richard Wurmbrand: Love Your Enemies – Janet and Geoff Benge (CB)
- Who Was Nelson Mandela? – Pam Pollack (CB)
- Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela (PB)
CC CYCLE 2 – NON-FICTION
- International Children’s Bible Field Guide – Larry Richards, Chris Garborg (IB)
- A Kid’s Guide to the Armor of God – Tony Evans (CB)
- A Child’s Geography – Explore Medieval Kingdoms – Ann Voskamp (CB)
- Window on the World: When We Pray God Works – Molly Wall (IB)
- Into the Unknown: How Great Explorers Found Their Way by Land, Sea, and Air – Stewart Ross, Stephen Biesty (IB)
- The Kingfisher Atlas of the Modern World – Simon Adams (IB)
- The Kingfisher Atlas of the Medieval World – Simon Adams (IB)
- The Story of the World: Volume 3: Early Modern Times – Susan Wise Bauer (Audio)
- The Story of the World: Volume 4: The Modern Age – Susan Wise Bauer (Audio)
- The Story of the World: Volume 2: The Middle Ages – Susan Wise Bauer (Audio)
- The Usborne Book of Living Long Ago – Felicity Brooks, Helen Edom (IB)
- A Child’s History of the World – V. M. Hillyer (CB)
- The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia – (IB)
- Usborne Encyclopedia of World History – (IB)
- When on Earth? – DK (IB)
THE MIDDLE AGES
- Medieval Towns Trade and Travel – Lynne Elliott (IB)
- The Medieval Cookbook – Maggie Black (IB)
- Science and Technology in the Middle Ages – Joanne Findon (IB)
- Built to Last – David Macaulay (PB)
- Manners And Customs in the Middle Ages – Marsha Groves (IB)
- The Bayeux Tapestry – Lucien Musset OR Denny and Filmer-Sankey (CB)
- The Bayeux Tapestry: The Comic Strip – Pivard (Comic)
- Illustrated history of 1066 – Charles Jones (PB)
- Design Your Own Coat of Arms – Rosemary A. Chorzempa (Activity)
- Dragons: Legends & Lore of Dinosaurs – Laura Welch (PB)
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Crusader! – Fiona MacDonald (PB)
- Picture That: Knights & Castles – Alex Martin (PB)
- Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland – Cindy Neuschwande (PB)
- The Magna Charta – James Daugherty (CB)
- The Magna Carta: Cornerstone of the Constitution – Roberta Baxter (PB)
- A Medieval Feast – Aliki (PB)
- Joan of Arc: Heroine of France – Ann Tompert (CB)
- Joan of Arc – Demi (PB)
- Joan of Arc – Diane Stanley (PB)
- Joan of Arc – Josephine Poole (PB)
- Plagues Pox and Pestilence – Richard Platt (PB)
- Starting Chess – H. Castor (IB)
- Along Came Galileo – Jeanne Bendick (CB)
- Leonardo: Beautiful Dreamer – Robert Byrd (PB)
- Michelangelo – Mike Venezia (PB)
- Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare – Diane Stanley (PB)
- Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk – Jane Sutcliffe (PB)
- William Shakespeare & the Globe – Aliki (PB)
- Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci – D’Agnese, Joseph O’Brien, John (PB)
- Nicolaus Copernicus: The Earth Is a Planet – Dennis B. Fradin (PB)
AGE OF ABSOLUTE MONARCHS
- Courage and Conviction: Chronicles of the Reformation – Brandon Withrow (CB)
- Monks and Mystics: Chronicles of the Medieval Times – Mindy Withrow (CB)
- The Monk Who Shook the World – Cyril Davey (CB)
- Lady Jane Grey (Christian Biographies for Young Readers) – Simonetta Carr (CB)
- Who Was Henry VIII? – (CB)
- Peter the Great – Diane Stanley (PB)
- Brilliant Brits: Henry VIII – Richard Brassey (PB)
- The King’s Day: Louis XIV of France – Aliki (PB)
- Good Queen Bess : The Story of Elizabeth I of England – Diane Stanley (PB)
- The French Revolution (Cornerstones of Freedom) – Josh Gregory (CB)
- The Moon Book – Gail Gibbons (PB)
- The Heroic Symphony – Anna Harwell Celenza (PB)
AGE OF EXPLORATION
- Explorers Who Got Lost – Diane Sansevere-Dreher (CB)
- The Discovery of New Worlds – MB Synge (CB)
- The World of Columbus and Sons – Genevieve Foster (CB)
- Who Was Ferdinand Magellan? – SA Kramer (CB)
- Marco Polo – Demi (CB) (IEW)
- The Look-It-Up Book of Explorers – Elizabeth Cody (IB)
THE WORLD WARS
- The World Wars – Paul Dowswell (IB)
- Christmas in the Trenches – John McCutcheon (PB)
- The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans – Barbara E Walsh (PB)
- What Was the Holocaust? – Gail Herman (CB)
- I Will Come Back for You: A Family in Hiding – Marisabina Russo (PB)
- Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story – National Geographic (PB)
- Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World – Douglas Wood (PB)
- The Little Ships: The Heroic Rescue at Dunkirk – Louise Borden (PB)
- I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings & Poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp- Hana Volavkova (Poetry)
- Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot” – Michael Tunnell (CB)
- Stalin: Russia’s Man of Steel – Albert Marrin (CB)
- Christmas from Heaven – Tom Brokaw (PB)
- Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot – Margot Raven (PB)
- Where is the Kremlin? – (CB)
- Eyewitness: Russia – Kathleen Berton Murrell (IB)
- BOMB: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon – Steve Sheinkin (CB)
- Spying and the Cold War – Michael Burgan (IB)
- Ronald Reagan: Fortieth President 1981-1989 – Mike Venezia (PB)
- Cold War Correspondent (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales #11): A Korean War Tale – Nathan Hale (Comic)
- The Wall: Growing Up behind the Iron Curtain – Peter Sis (PB)
MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA, & ASIA
- Peacebound Trains – Haemi Balgassi (PB)
- America at War: Desert Storm – John Perritano (IB)
- DK Eyewitness: Oil – (IB)
Get a Printable Copy of this List!
To get a printable copy of this list for library runs or thrift store shopping, I have that for you! This printable is organized by genre AND by CC Weeks!
Sign up for my emails below. The PDF list will “pop up” in a new browser window after you fill out the form. It includes the above titles sorted by genre AND a handy week-by-week Reading list for the 24 weeks of CC study including additional titles for Science, Math, English, and Fine Arts!
Want more Medieval History resouces for your Homeschool?
Check out my Medieval to Modern Classical Morning Menu – a full year of morning time materials to start your day! Scripture, Poetry, Artwork, and more in a handy PDF you can use on your device or print out and put in an actual menu!
See how we use these menus in our morning time!
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Be sure to pin this post to your Homeschool or Reading Pinterest boards so you always have this handy! And share with your friends!
Are you a Classical Conversations family? Comment below to let me know, and share any of your ideas for resources for Cycle 2!
More homeschool posts you may enjoy:
- Learning Art From Great Artists
- Homeschooling a Preschooler with A Year of Playing Skillfully
- Classical Morning Menu for Homeschool
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