From time to time, my husband and I have used the Heritage History free, online archive as a resource. For adapted works from the Greek and Roman periods, especially, this resource has been invaluable. There are certainly some wonderful books to be found here, but they are not all equal.
Now, Heritage History offers a 9-CD curriculum developed with materials from their free, online archive (=100’s of books!). We have been asked lately what we think of these materials, so I thought I would finally write a review.
Overview of Curriculum: 9 Topics (as of February 2012)
For each historical topic, there are books (whole books) in a variety of genres and reading levels. These books were published before 1923 and contain not only beautiful illustrations, but a beautiful and robust language that is age-appropriate for middle-school-aged students and younger. In addition to this ready-to-use library for each topic, there are study guides, maps, timelines, and accountability sheets (in other words, progress reports for good record-keeping).
These materials can be printed and bound or placed in a 3-ring binder. In addition, if you are technically enabled, the books can be read with Kindle or Nook, making this a convenient option for many families. (I personally prefer the smell of old books, but we cannot always find nor purchase such old editions as provided here by Heritage History.)
My Notes and Caveats: The founders of Heritage History are remarkably nice people and are trying to provide a great service to the homeschooling community. The organization found in the study guides is impeccable, and the tips offered for using the curriculum in the practical day-to-day homeschool room are very reasonable. The method presented here is certainly worth replicating. That said, my only criticism is that the Study Guides and several of the book introductions are written from a Protestant and modern understanding of history that does not give proper balance to the voice of the Church throughout the ages. There are a few Catholic authors included in the curriculum, but this does not make the curriculum Catholic or balanced.
If a Catholic is thinking about using these materials, I would recommend doing so only if you plan to provide a heavy degree of oversight and if you already have a solid Catholic history program. Even with a solid Catholic program in your belt, I would caution you not to allow students to read the study guides and/or books without first previewing them yourself. Be especially on the lookout for books that are about “Saints”; be certain there is a bishop’s approval of the book on the copyright page, for example, imprimatur, impressi potest, or nihil obstat.
For some Catholic history options, see the following: