How to Study American Literature with U.S. History


I received this American Literature book set from Apologia in exchange for a review and I was compensated for my time. All opinions of the product are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.

I can picture it so clearly.

Tenth grade. Survey of American Literature.

A large anthology for a text.

And some of my first introductions to classic American Literature. Mrs. Burns.

Same year, different period,

United States History. And another big text. Mr. Mish.

I always thought, what a missed opportunity!

What if they didn’t have to be separate classes?

Some of my long time readers know I like to mix things up.

Even in high school.

When I opened this gorgeous text book,

I knew.

This was a perfect companion to our study of U.S. History.

Benefits of American Literature

The American Literature text and student workbook from Apologia is a stand alone high school literature program. The course is worth one credit of English.

If you include much of the writing in the course, you can also give a credit of writing in addition to literature.

Though truthfully, they are usually one course for my high schoolers.

Because we do both together each year.

There are a lot of wins with this text:

  • Large anthology– with most of the text necessary included in the volume
  • Vocabulary in the margin– helps to highlight more uncommon or difficult words. My 10th grader was so jazzed about these. He’s not a huge fan of the dictionary.
  • Tests included– in the workbook there are unit tests
  • Questions in the text– you can use the questions right in the text book for discussion (unit tests are not in the text)
  • Essay opportunities– throughout the questions at the end of each piece of literature and the end of each unit
  • Instruction on literary analysis– provided in the student notebook
  • Divided by age– the text book is organized by time periods in American History. Kind of perfect for lining up the literature with the history you are studying. With no extra work.
  • Daily lessons– daily lesson outline is available for free
  • Extensive answer key– is also available for free. Perfect for those not familiar with American Literature or who have not seen it in a long time.
  • Biblical worldview– while tackling difficult topics and texts.

The text is easy to follow.

High schoolers can work independently throughout the book.

Both in reading and writing.

The questions provide talking points.

Engaging your teens with books.

A hallmark of your highschooler’s education.

Combining American Literature with History Studies

The James Fenimore Cooper novel in the text is the Deerslayer which comes before The Last of the Mohicans and is considered to be the prequel to the rest of the series in the Leatherstocking Tales.

The American Literature text book is broken down into five time periods.

  • The Colonial Age
  • The Age of Reason & Revolution
  • The Romantic Age
  • The Age of Realism
  • The Modern Age

The breakdown of categories for the ages of literature make a perfect outline for teaching United States History with American Literature. We’ve been taking full advantage of this feature.

There are 90 works included in the text.

Some are in full.

Some are excerpts.

And some are novels that you provide such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Old Man and the Sea.

Each age includes a description of the time period.

Each unit features a profile of the author

and a context for their writing.

Another connection to history.

My 10th grader enjoys the vocabulary help built in, even if the text is a little unwieldy to handle!

You don’t have to do every one of the 90 options in American Literature for it to be a worthwhile experience.

Think of it as a curated literature list.

For United States History.

  • Choose the time periods in U.S. History you will focus on.
  • Decide how many works your student can reasonably handle in a school year.
  • Pick the titles you want them to read for sure- based on what you want to discuss with your teen or what resonates most with your study of history
  • Add in titles that would be bonuses to the year if you had time for them
  • Use a variety– of short and long works. Include poetry, short stories, and novels.
  • Read together– either in parallel or together aloud
  • Discuss the story– use the questions to get your teen thinking and to help you focus your thoughts on the characters, the things they learn, and their connection to a time in American History.

The text book and it’s companion student workbook offer an easy way

to customize your course.

Connect with Apologia

There are many ways to connect with Apologia. And American Literature.

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Freebies– Sign up for two free ebooks, a free monthly printable, and Apologia coupons.
  • Apologia Book Extras– site and log in information is found in your text book. Find answer keys and daily lesson outlines here.

The author of the textbook Dr. Whit Jones is the 2017 Recipient of the Educator of the Year Award from Bryan College, where is is a professor. Dr. Jones is a homeschooling father and has taught his American Literature courses to homeschool students.

If you want to learn more about the author’s perspective on the text, I encourage you to listen to this short video.

It will tell you more about his intent in writing it.

And what made him choose particular pieces.

I appreciate reading literature with my teens that is not specifically Christian with a worldview that is.

More High School Posts at Blog, She Wrote

  • How to Engage Your Teens with Books– Still not sure how to get your teen excited about reading? This post addresses how to communicate with your teen through books. If you subscribe to this blog, you’ll get a free eBook on the topic.
  • History Quests– History Quests are meant to be an exploration of ideas, facts, and people from throughout history. You don’t have to treat it like a formal study unless you’d like to.
  • How to Make a Four Year Homeschool High School Plan– for those of you still trying to decide how to navigate your high schooler’s early course schedule.
  • Strategies for Scheduling High School– How do you know how much or how little to schedule into a high schooler’s day or week?

There are early historical records.

Founding documents

Humorous short stories

Thought provoking poems

Gothic tales

Historic narratives

Fiction depicting the times

All of them provide a perspective of United States History

through the voices of American authors.

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