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Designing a Course: China

Designing courses around topics my kids want to learn more about is at the heart of how our homeschool functions. So when this question appeared in my inbox,

Would you be willing to share the books you use for history of China? It has been a frequent request of my kids but I’m having a hard time finding books that are appropriate and beyond Marco Polo and the Great Wall.

it made me smile because the question brought back wonderful memories of a study I did with my daughter a few years ago.

The poster did not provide any information on the ages of her children, but the study I did with my daughter was when she was in middle school.  I built the study around a book that I had used with my oldest son when he was a middle schooler,  China Under Communism  by Michael Kort. Back then, when I was looking for a book on China, every non-adult book I found had glossed over the history of the country.  I wanted a factual book, but not one that was inaccessible to a middle school student. I finally found what I was looking for in Kort’s book.

For my daughter, who wanted to delve into China’s history in greater depth, I fleshed out the study with a broader range of books while still keeping Kurt’s book at the center.

I decided to add the novel Red Scarf Girl.  I searched Facing History and Ourselves (scroll down that page and take a peek) hoping to find resources to supplement the book. I had used the site several times before for other history studies, and I was not disappointed. Not only did they have teaching resources for Red Scarf Girl but they also had pages of additional resources. I won’t expand on what else we used from their site; I’ll leave that for families to peruse for their own family’s needs.

One other resource I’ll mention due to its fabulous artwork is Ancient China. (It is one of the books in Time Life’s Great Ages of Man series, A History of the World’s Cultures.) I own several of the Time Life book series.  I absolutely love them because they are full of so many wonderful images. My younger kids will pull the books off the shelves just to look through the pictures; the books have the additional benefit of making great supplements for older kids (who also like to look at pictures!)

Hopefully these ideas will help guide you toward resources for a greater exploration beyond the Great Wall and Marco Polo.  Enjoy the journey!