Supplemental Literature

“Read-Aloud Favorites”

In all four Companion Guides of The Mystery of History, we offer "Supplemental Books and Resources" to enrich and enhance your studies. (these extensive lists of books and films contain hundreds of titles for younger, middle, and older students!) To help you narrow down the "best of the best" in historical fiction or reference material, suitable for the whole family, we have selected 12-15 "Read-Aloud Favorites" for every volume. For a quick and easy way to build your home library, please use the lists and links provided below. (While the following titles are "family-friendly," not all support a biblical worldview. So we suggest you screen them to meet your own standards.)

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  • Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein: Based on a True Story

    Modern History

    by Jennifer Roy and Ali Fadhil 

    It’s not easy to find children’s stories about modern warfare, but these authors have delivered! Iraqi-born Ali Fadhil recounts his war-torn boyhood—going hungry on some days and playing video games and soccer on other days. With a dose of humor and self-reflection, Ali Fadhil takes you to the streets of Iraq in 1991. For easy reading and cross-cultural awareness, this is an excellent choice.

    Clarion Books

    ISBN 978-0358108825; 2019; 176 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 78 of The Mystery of History Volume IV. 

  • A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story

    Modern History

    by Linda Sue Park

    Parallel narratives set in 1985 and 2008 follow the lives of two Sudanese (Nya and Salva) caught in the crosshairs of civil unrest.  While not related to the lesson on Sadat, this story brings to life the unique challenges of the African continent, which are still relevant today. This is an amazing easy-to-read true story you won’t want your students to miss!

    Clarion Books

    ISBN 978-0547577319; 2011; 128 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 76 of The Mystery of History Volume IV.

  • Goodbye, Vietnam

    Modern History

    by Gloria Whelan

    In this difficult story, a family must leave their home in Vietnam and escape to Hong Kong on an overcrowded boat! While this book contains Buddhist undertones true to the culture, it is above all a story of human perseverance.

    Perfection Learning

    ISBN 978-0780725140; 1993; 133 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 70 of The Mystery of History Volume IV. 

  • Number the Stars

    Modern History

    by Lois Lowry

    This 1990 Newbery Award-winning book is about a Danish girl whose family smuggles her best friend’s family out of the country through a fishing boat. Based on similar true accounts, this story portrays courage and kindness in the face of grave danger.

    Clarion Books

    ISBN 978-0547577098; 2011; 160 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 56 of The Mystery of History Volume IV.

  • Espiranza Rising

    Modern History

    by Pam Muñoz Ryan

    This heart-warming story follows a young girl from the high life in Mexico to migrant farming in California during the Great Depression. It’s a book about the value of family and attitude—no matter the circumstances.


    ISBN 978-0439120425; 2002; 262 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 53 of The Mystery of History Volume IV.   

  • Breaking Stalin’s Nose

    Modern History

    by Eugene Yelchin

    Communism under the Soviet Union is all that 10-year-old Sasha knows and loves. But an accident with a statue of Stalin, and the arrest of his father, changes everything for Sasha. The author of this Newbery Honor Winner lived a similar dark story and uses a little humor to tell it.  Insightful and powerful!

    Henry Holt and Co.

    ISBN 978-0805092165; 2011; 161 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 52 of The Mystery of History Volume IV.  

  • I Escaped the Salem Witch Trials: Salem, Massachusetts 1692

    Renaissance History

    by Scott Peters

    This historical fiction follows Hannah, a young orphan girl, through the harrowing events of the Salem Witch Trials. In a powerful way, the story applies to modern-day bullying and the consequences of peer pressure, thus offering more than what meets the eye in this short, illustrated chapter book.

    Best Day Books for Young Readers

    ISBN 978-1951019174; 2020; 116.

    Pair with Lesson 81 of The Mystery of History Volume III.

  • Duncan’s War

    Renaissance History

    by Douglas Bond

    This exciting historical fiction follows young Duncan M’Kethe through the tragedy and triumph of the Scottish Covenanters. Challenged at every turn, Duncan clings to his faith in Christ while on a rescue mission to save his own father. This story is one of three set in seventeenth-century Scotland. (It is Crown and Covenant book #1. See also King’s Arrow and Rebel’s Keep.) For depth and quality, it may appeal to multiple ages.

    P & R Publishing

    ISBN 978-0875527420; 2002; 288 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 73 of The Mystery of History Volume III.

  • Cast Off: The Strange Adventures of Petra de Winter and Bram Broen

    Renaissance History

    by Eve Yohalem

    Though not a story about China, this exciting historical fiction takes place in 1663 and thus belongs near this lesson. Through 12-year-old Petra (a Dutch girl) and her friend Bram (a Dutch/Javanese boy), readers will find themselves on the high sea aboard a Dutch merchant ship dodging pirates, mutiny, and disease.

    CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

    ISBN 978-0525428565; 2018; 244 pp.

    Near Lesson 74 of The Mystery of History Volume III.

  • Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting

    Modern History

    by Jim Murphy

    This is a true story about one Christmas Day when soldiers put down their weapons to sing Christmas carols and remember the Christ child. Inspiring!

    Scholastic Press

    ISBN 978-0545226288; 2009; 128 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 47 of The Mystery of History Volume IV. 

  • The Story of My Life

    Modern History

    by Helen Keller

    This autobiography is impressive on so many levels, but I most recommend it to my readers because of the Charlotte Mason style of education that Helen received. Under the superb teaching of Anne Sullivan, Helen was an enthusiastic learner despite her many challenges. This story draws students into Helen’s world! Primary source.

    Dover Publications

    ISBN 978-0486292496; 1996; 80 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 44 of The Mystery of History Volume IV. 

  • Heart of a Samurai

    Modern History

    by Margi Preus

    This true story recounts a shipwrecked Japanese boy who was rescued by an American fishing vessel. Set just before Emperor Meiji’s reign, this book gives readers a picture of mid-nineteenth-century Japanese life and the cultural clash and distrust between Japan and America at that time. (Though listed as a Read-Aloud Favorite for Middle Students, All Students may enjoy this one.)

    Harry N. Abrams

    ISBN 978-0810989818; 2010; 320 pp

    Pair with Lesson 39 of The Mystery of History Volume IV. 

  • Across Five Aprils

    Modern History

    by Irene Hunt

    This is a wonderful historical novel that gives readers a sense of how the Civil War affected families. Though listed as a Read-Aloud Favorite for Middle Students, All Students may enjoy this Newbery Honor winner.


    ISBN 978-0425182789; 2002; 224 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 35 of The Mystery of History Volume IV.

  • The Clay Marble

    Modern History

    by Minfong Ho

    As a refugee family flees a devastated Cambodia in the 1980s (a setting much later than Lesson 34), the explosions of war follow them to their camp on the border of Thailand—and 12-year-old Dara is separated from her family. Not an easy story, but excellent character development for a shorter chapter book.

    Square Fish

    ISBN 978-0374412296; 1993; 176 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 34 of The Mystery of History Volume IV.  

  • Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears

    Modern History

    by Cornelia Cornelissen

    In this heartfelt story, the Trail of Tears is told through the eyes of a nine-year-old Cherokee girl. The difficult theme of the story is well handled through relatable characters.


    ISBN 978-0440412427; 1999; 128 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 23 of The Mystery of History Volume IV.  

  • In Search of Honor

    Modern History

    by Donnalynn Hess

    Similar in theme to Les Misérables, this terrific tale follows one young man’s quest for redemption upon surviving an escape from the Bastille during the French Revolution.  This story offers rich vocabulary and a moving plot!

    JourneyForth Books

    ISBN 978-0890845950; 1992; 168 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 12 of The Mystery of History Volume IV.


  • Johnny Tremain

    Modern History

     by Esther Forbes

    This Newbery Award Winner (1944) is a classic American Revolution children’s novel about a silversmith apprentice whose life is changed by an accident. Though I chose it as a “Read-Aloud Favorite” for Middle Students, I’m listing it here for All Students since multiple ages may enjoy this one!

    Clarion Books

    ISBN 978-0547614328; 2011; 320 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 9 of The Mystery of History Volume IV.

  • Amos Fortune, Free Man

    Modern History

    by Elizabeth Yates

    For good reason, this is the 1951 Newbery Medal Winner. Spanning the true life of Amos Fortune (1710-1801), this story follows a young man born the son of an African king who is captured by slave traders, then sold into the colonies, and later earns his freedom. Heartwarming!


    ISBN 978-0140341584; 1989; 192 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 2 of The Mystery of History Volume IV.

  • Simon

    Renaissance History

    by Rosemary Sutcliff

    Master storyteller Rosemary Sutcliff takes readers to the English Civil Wars, where Simon and his best friend find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. This historical fiction provides historically accurate context for an otherwise confusing time period. The book offers excellent character development and flow of the story.

    Oxford University Press

    ISBN 978-0192714428; 1980; 268 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 68 of The Mystery of History Volume III.

  • Nzingha: Warrior Queen of Matamba

    Renaissance History

    by Patricia C. McKissack

    In the style and beauty of the Royal Diaries, this historical fiction tells the story of young Nzinga, who grew up to become a real African queen. With marked bravery, she sought to lead her people wisely through a difficult time period.


    ISBN 978-0439112109; 2000; 144 pp.

    Pair near Lesson 61 of The Mystery of History Volume III.

  • Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories

    Renaissance History

     by Florence Sakade

    This beloved collection of 20 illustrated stories offers students around the world a feel for Japanese culture and provides virtuous stories about honesty, humility, and hard work.

    Tuttle Publishing

    ISBN 978-4805312605; 2014; 112 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 50 of The Mystery of History Volume III. 

  • The Shakespeare Stealer Series

    Renaissance History

    by Gary Blackwood

    This award-winning trilogy of historical fiction takes place in the Globe Theatre when orphaned Widge becomes an actor. Three books in one set include The Shakespeare Stealer, Shakespeare’s Scribe, and Shakespeare’s Spy. One reviewer claims that this series sparked her nonreading student to become a reader!

    Dutton Children’s Books

    ISBN 978-0525473206; 2004. Total series page count is 784.

    Pair with Lesson 49 of The Mystery of History Volume III. 

  • I, Juan de Pareja

    Renaissance History

    by Elizabeth Borton de Treviño

    This Newbery Medal winner follows the true life of Spanish artist Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez from the perspective of a slave named Juan who is the artist’s assistant. Well-written and moving!

    Square Fish

    ISBN 978-0312380052; 2008; 192 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 47 of The Mystery of History Volume III.


  • The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day

    Renaissance History

    by Scott O’Dell

    This historical fiction revolves around William Tyndale’s plan to put the English Bible into the hands of the common people. Told through the experience of a 16-year-old sailor, Tom Barton, this book sheds light on the faith and courage of Bible smugglers.


    ISBN 978-0890843680; 2007; 182 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 34 of The Mystery of History Volume III.

  • Children of the Longhouse

    Renaissance History

    by Joseph Bruchac

    This Native American author brings to life young Ohkwa’ri, a Mohawk boy, to reveal the life and times of Native Americans before the arrival of Europeans. This pleasant read offers an important cultural perspective of North America.

    Puffin Books

    ISBN 978- 0140385045; 1998; 150 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 33 of The Mystery of History Volume III.

  • Kitty, My Rib

    Renaissance History

    by E. Jane Mall

    This is the endearing story of Katharine Luther, the devoted wife of Martin Luther, and how she handled her famous husband, their finances, and their family.

    Concordia Publishing House

    ISBN 978-0570031130; 1959; 182 pp

    Pair with Lesson 21 of The Mystery of History Volume III.  

  • The Apprentice

    Renaissance History

    by Pilar Molina Llorente

    This page-turning historical adventure tells the story of a 13-year-old boy raised by tailors who aspires to be a painter during the Renaissance. A discovery adds to the suspense and provides a backdrop to the times and customs of the era.

    Square Fish

    ISBN 978- 0374404321; 1994; 112 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 17 of The Mystery of History Volume III.

  • Pedro’s Journal

    Renaissance History

    by Pam Conrad

    This adventurous historical fiction retells the voyages of Columbus from the perspective of a shipboy named Pedro whose ability to read and write makes him an asset to the crew. Of significance, Pedro feels empathy for the native inhabitants the crew encounters—offering students an opportunity to process the controversies surrounding Columbus.

    Boyd’s Mills Press

    ISBN 978-1878093172; 1991; 96 pp.

    Pair with Lessons 7–8 of The Mystery of History Volume III.

  • The Player King

    Renaissance History

    by Avi

    This unusual story is so entertaining that you’d think it was all fiction. But it’s not! The characters are based on the true story of a young boy swept up in a plot to overthrow the King of England. This is a great little story told by Avi, the author of Crispin (a Read-Aloud Favorite from Volume II).

    Atheneum / Richard Jackson Books

    ISBN 978-1481437684; 2017; 208 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 1 of The Mystery of History Volume III. 

  • So Young a Queen: Jadwiga of Poland

    Medieval History

    by Lois Mills 

    Based on a true story, this book shines a light on the faith and loyalty of a young Polish queen who was determined to put God and country above personal gain. It also depicts the imbalance of church and state that was true to the time period—and led to the Christianization of nations.

    Bethlehem Books

    ISBN 978-1932350739; 2018; 157 pp.

    Not related to Lesson 78 of The Mystery of History Volume II, but near the time frame of it.

  • Crispin

    Medieval History

    by Avi

    Set in 1377, Crispin tells the tale of an orphan on the run who finds refuge in a kind soul. With twists, turns, and adventure, this page-turner is truly one of my favorites for representing the history and humanity of the time period.

    Little Brown Book for Young Readers

    ISBN 978-0786816583; 2004; 320 pp.

    Not related to Lesson 75 of The Mystery of History Volume II, but near the time frame of it.

  • Adam of the Road

    Medieval History

    by Elizabeth Janet Gray

    I included this Newbery winner primarily for its gentle approach to the Middle Ages through the simple story of a lost boy and a lost dog. Adam travels across England in 1294 to 1295 to learn about merchants, minstrels, and medieval folk.

    Puffin Books

    ISBN 978-0142406595; 2006; 317 pp.

    Not related to Lesson 72 of The Mystery of History Volume II, but near the time frame of it.


  • Big John’s Secret

    Medieval History

    by Eleanore M. Jewett

    This exciting story is based on actual events. It begins in 1215 and follows a squire nicknamed Big John into the Fifth Crusade, where he encounters Francis of Assisi—sharing Christ with Muslims. I chose it for adventure, history, and the portrayal of a Christian witness.

    Bethlehem Books/Ignatius Press

    ISBN 978-1883937898; 2004; 230 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 64 of The Mystery of History Volume II. 


  • Paula the Waldensian

    Medieval History

    by Eva Lecomte

    This delightful story follows the faith of a young Waldensian orphan who moves in with an uncle who refuses to hear about Christ or allow Bible reading in his home. Does this stop Paula from radiating the love of God? Hardly! I’ve read this book twice, and both times I finished with the desire to be more like Paula. This story is simple but will leave a lasting impression on all ages.

    Zinc Read

    ISBN 978-9360151997; 2023; 153 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 58 of The Mystery of History Volume II.

  • Beorn the Proud

    Medieval History

    by Madeline Polland

    In this upper elementary adventure, young Ness finds herself captive to a band of proud, pillaging Vikings. I chose this for the story’s drama, historical setting, Christian message, and surprise ending, which I won’t give away.

    Bethlehem Books/Ignatius Press

    ISBN 978-1883937089; 1999; 185 pp.

    Pair with Lessons 39–40 of The Mystery of History Volume II.

  • Son of Charlemagne

    Medieval History

    by Barbara Willard

    This is absolutely my top pick for our “Read-Aloud Favorites” of medieval times. Son of Charlemagne tells the true story of Charlemagne through the eyes of his son, Carl, who both loves and fears his famous father—the founder of the Holy Roman Empire. If you had to pick only one read-aloud for the entire school year, I would make it this one.

    Ignatius Books/Bethlehem Books

    ISBN 978-1883937300; 1998; 208 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 37 of The Mystery of History Volume II.

  • The Jeweled Astrolabe

    Medieval History

    by Jennifer Johnson Garrity

    This adventure novel (for ages 10 and up) delivers a rare view into Andalusia, Spain, through the eyes of a young Jewish boy named Gavriel. True to the time period, Gavriel befriends Muslim coworkers despite the growing persecution of the Jewish population.

    Brimwood Press

    ISBN 978-0-9770704-6-6; 2008; 154 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 33 of The Mystery of History Volume II. 

  • Augustine Came to Kent

    Medieval History

    by Barbara Willard

    If I were to aspire to write historical fiction, I would want to be like Barbara Willard. She is my favorite historical fiction author for leaning heavily toward history and light toward fiction. Augustine Came to Kent tells the true story of Augustine of Canterbury’s commission to evangelize Anglo-Saxons under the direction of Gregory the Great. (Augustine of Canterbury is commonly confused with Augustine of Hippo, a church father who lived two hundred years earlier.) This story of faith, travel, and family ties is well told through the eyes of a fictional boy named Wolf.

    Bethlehem Books

    ISBN 978-1883937218; 1996; 179 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 27 of The Mystery of History Volume II. 

  • Anna of Byzantium

    Medieval History

    by Tracy Barrett

    Based on the true story of Anna Comnena (a Byzantine princess), this memoir-style novel sheds light on the intricacies of power and politics in the Byzantine Empire. It’s very gripping. Students may choose to read Anna of Byzantium alongside Lesson 24, when I introduce the Byzantine Empire, or near Lesson 57, where the time period of the story matches the timeline of Volume II. (Events of the story take place from 1081 to 1118, about five hundred years after the rule of Justinian and Theodora.)

    Laurel Leaf

    ISBN 978-0440415367; 2000; 209 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 24 or 57 of The Mystery of History Volume II.

  • Legends of King Arthur and His Court

    Medieval History

    by Francis Nimmo Greene, revised by Shelley Noonan

    If you’re looking for one easy King Arthur read-aloud, I would choose Shelley Noonan’s revised edition. Noonan, a conservative homeschool mom (and friend of mine), offers a short, wholesome adaptation of King Arthur with less emphasis on the magical side of Merlin and more emphasis on the Christian virtue of the knights. In addition, her son, Jacob, developed a fabulous companion study guide (Lessons of King Arthur and His Court) and Shelley created a free Bible study (Legacy of King Arthur and His Court) to help you get the most out of your King Arthur studies.

    Pumpkin Seed Press; Available on The Mystery of History website.

    ISBN 978-1933150253; 2015; 92 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 23 of The Mystery of History Volume II.

  • Spring Tide

    Medieval History

     by Mary Ray

    Of all the read-alouds I previewed, this one had special appeal for the rare blend of faith, fiction, and fact. Spring Tide offers action, courage, escape, friendship, and a feel for Christianity in Britain under the Roman Empire. The exciting scenes take place just prior to the issuing of the Edict of Milan.

    Bethlehem Books/Ignatius Press

    ISBN 978-1932350340); 2011; 200 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 14 of The Mystery of History Volume II. 

  • The Bronze Bow

    Ancient History

    By Elizabeth Speare

    This Newbery Award Winner, set in the time of Christ, follows the heartache and healing of a Jewish boy named Daniel. Jews, Romans, rebels, and redemption are all contained in this classic.

    Clarion Books

    ISBN 978-0395137192; 1997; 254 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 103 of The Mystery of History Volume I. 

  • Archimedes and the Door of Science

    Ancient History

    By Jeanne Bendick

    This non-fiction gem will be very satisfying to young historians and budding scientists. With illustrations, diagrams, and a little bit of humor, students will learn a thing or two about the scientific ideas of Archimedes.

    Bethlehem Books

    ISBN 978-1883937126; 1995; 160 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 87 of The Mystery of History Volume I.

  • Victory on the Walls

    Ancient History

    By Frieda C. Hyman

    As a great example of leadership, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian Captivity. Frieda Clark Hyman uses a blend of fact and fiction to shine a bright light on the faith and heritage of this Bible character.

    Bethlehem Books

    ISBN 978-1883937966; 2005; 182 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 79 of The Mystery of History Volume I.

  • Illustrated Stories from Aesop

    Ancient History

    By Susann Davidson

    Aesop’s Fables are readily accessible through numerous publishers.  But we think this illustrated version by Usborne would make a nice addition to any home library.

    Usborne Publishing Ltd

    ISBN 978-1409538875; 2013; 272 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 60 of The Mystery of History Volume I.

  • Classic Myths to Read Aloud: The Great Stories of Greek and Roman Mythology

    Ancient History

     by William F. Russell

    Staying true to Bible history and world history, The Mystery of History doesn’t delve into a great deal of mythology. But for those wanting to be more familiar with Greek and Roman myths, we recommend this collection of classics for children.

    Three Rivers Press

    ISBN 978-0517588376; 1992; 272 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 49 of The Mystery of History Volume I. 

  • The Children’s Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy

    Ancient History

    By Padraic Colum

    The exciting story of the Trojan Horse is sure to grab students of all ages, but The Children’s Homer will help bring the original classic down to an enjoyable level for younger and middle students.

    Aladdin Paperbacks

    ISBN 0689868839; 2004; 256 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 25 of The Mystery of History Volume I.

  • God King

    Ancient History

    By Joanne Williamson

    From the author of Hittite Warrior, the biblical story of Hezekiah and Sennacherib is brought to life through a young Kushite prince who is torn between the cultures of Egypt, Assyria, and Judea.

    Bethelehem Books

    ISBN 978-1883937737; 2002; 212 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 47 of They Mystery of History Volume I.

  • Adara

    Ancient History

    By Beatrice Gormley

    Set in the historical period of II Kings, readers learn the true story of King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, Naaman, and Elisha through young Adara, a fictional Aramean girl who is introduced to the God of the Israelites.

    Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

    ISBN 978-0802852168; 2002; 160 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 37 of The Mystery of History Volume I.

  • Tirzah

    Ancient History

    By Lucille Travis

    Students may know the Bible story of the Hebrews in slavery in Egypt. But in Tirzah, they will live the story through the eyes of a brother and sister who pray for deliverance. With simple language, this is a good choice for a younger audience.

    Herald Press

    ISBN 978-0836135466; 1991; 160 pp.

    Pair with Lesson 19 of The Mystery of History Volume I.