World History Resources (Middle Grade)

World History Resources (Middle Grade)

My friend Georgia runs The Thinking Kid, a wonderful source for live, interactive online courses for kids around the world. She asked me for some ideas on history resources to supplement their curriculum, and I thought I would share them here.

These resources won’t cover everything a kid should know. I consider this list supplemental to a comprehensive text on these periods. It’s also a work in progress. Prior to Georgia’s request, I had never considered whether what I read would work for the middle grades, and I did not want to recommend anything I had not read myself. Check back for updates as I plow through my newly enhanced reading list!

Also, since Georgia’s class is not specifically about women’s history, I have a lot on here that is more general. But I have placed asterisks (***) by those that are about or by women, if that’s what you’re here for.

Mesopotamia

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

Egypt

Nonfiction 

Contemporary Literature and Documents

  • Rosetta Stone.
    • The link above goes to the full text, but it is admittedly pretty dry. This article about it from the British Museum is more interesting.
    • Students might find it interesting to know it was written for a 13-year-old Pharoah.
  • Mummy Cases
    • This site from the Denver Art Museum has a lot of closeups and explanations of details on one particular mummy.

Greece

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

  • Aesop’s Fables
    • There have been many, many publications of these, but here is one website I found with the fables and some information about Aesop himself.
  • The Odyssey
  • ***”It’s No Use, Mother Dear” a poem by Sappho
    • A very short poem that may resonate very well with modern middle schoolers.

Rome

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
    • Many editions but this one has been recommended as the most accessible.
  • Preface to Livy’s History of Rome
    • Good for a discussion on what history is for. Also for a discussion of how Rome started as a republic but ended as an empire

Historical Fiction

  • The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliffe
    • Excellent novel about a young Roman legionnaire serving in Britain
  • The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
    • Beautiful book about a brother and sister living in Judea at the time of Christ. Plenty about their relationship with the Roman empire.

China

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

Middle Ages

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

  • Beowulf
    • There are many versions of this, but here is an accessible age-appropriate version.
    • If any of the students are into J.R.R. Tolkien, it is also very interesting to compare Beowulf with The Hobbit.
  • The Nun’s Priest’s Tale by Chaucer
    • The full text is here, but it is probably too intimidating for middle school.
    • Barbara Cooney has a far more accessible version here.
    • If you have done Aesop’s Fables, it is also interesting to compare Chaucer with Aesop.

Historical Fiction

  • ***Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman
    • A beautiful, heart-felt and well researched look into what it was like to be a young teenage English girl of the lower aristocracy in 1290. It’s witty. It’s funny. It’s educational. Everything that historical fiction should be.
  • ***The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
    • A tale of three children in medieval France, including one that is clearly based on Joan of Arc.
    • ***Here is an article on Joan of Arc that could be used in conjunction with the novel.

Renaissance and Globalization

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

Historical Fiction

18th and 19th Centuries

Contemporary Literature and Documents

  • French Declaration of the Rights of Man
  • Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
    • The actual book is far too long and dense for most readers (adults included), but there is a delightful essay called “I, Pencil” by Leonard E. Read which presents economic concepts in a much more accessible way, though it was not written in this time period.

World War I

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

  • Treaty of Versailles.
    • The actual treaty makes dry reading, but there is a website on it here.
  • In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae

World War II

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

Historical Fiction

  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
    • One of my favorite books ever. About a Danish girl helping her Jewish friends’ family flee the country.

20th Century

Nonfiction

Contemporary Literature and Documents

Other Cultures

Contemporary Literature and Documents

  • Website on African Artifacts
    • Africa has many cultures, not all of which left documents, but the website above shows several artifacts to study.
  • The Dresden Codex (Mayan)
    • Most Mayan records were destroyed by the Spanish, but a few remain.
  • The world is big, and many places do not have many surviving documents, but you can still explore the physical remains through the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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