What history books do I need?


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  • Jenna

    I have been scouring the posts for an answer to my question, and I am just getting more confused! I am new to many of the names of curriculum and the terminology and I am confused about what I need to have to use the history modules. From reading some of the threads, it would seem that I would need the SCM lesson plan book, a “commentary” type book like Truthquest or Beautiful Feet, and a “spine” – is that really true? Do all 3 of those resources fulfill a different purpose, and if so, what purpose does each one fulfill?

    Thank you!

    I can see how you would be confused. 🙂 I think the safest bet would be to use one of Sonya’s SCM lesson plan books and find or buy the books listed in the beginning as required resources for your children’s ages. She has the spines already laid out for you. Things like TQ or BF are not necessary, but if you already own them they can be helpful.

    Not to throw another wrench in, but Christine Miller at Nothing New Press has “spines” with Christian commentary, but again, it is not at all necessary. I think Sonya has done a wonderful job of interweaving copious amounts of bible to temper any pagan or mythical stories.


    Thank you for responding. So, do the spine, Sonya’s lesson plan and TQ or BF overlap in what they cover? What exactly does each one of those provide?


    Jenna, I’ll try to tackle this although I’ve never used BF, I’ve just looked briefly at the booklets.

    OK. Sonya’s lesson plan books. These are very nicely done; they have readings, assignments, projects, etc. all in a daily schedule format. You open them up, and do what is scheduled to do that day. They do use the recommended books here at SCM so you’ll need those books, also, to complete the plans.

    Truthquest is completely different. It is a list of books by historical topic, accompanied by commentary. NO daily lesson plans. There are LOTS and lots of books listed, and the idea is that you choose one or more for each topic, read the relevant commentary and read the books, but you are pretty much on your own as to which book, how long to take reading it, etc.

    Beautiful Feet has chosen certain books, and then built some simple teacher booklets around them. You read the books and there is some material in the TG but it is pretty simple, at least the ones I’ve seen–some questions, etc. If you really wanted to use the books in the BF program, that would be good to also use the entire program, but if you aren’t totally wedded to the thought of THOSE books and no others, then I would just not worry about it.

    Now. You do NOT need to use more than one of these. In fact, unless you had a very specific reason for wanting to combine them, I would not recommend it. No need to unnecessarily complicate your life. There are threads here from people who go about educating CM style in various ways and using various resources; just because it’s talked about here doesn’t mean everyone needs it! Some people just really, really want to use, say , TQ. I don’t at the moment, I don’t use BF, and while I’ve used Sonya’s nicely done booklets, I don’t use those all the time either. I have books I like for most history periods, already, after our several years of homeschooling, and I have notes on what I’ve done previously so I just mostly use those and the books I already have. Beware of Curriculum Envy Syndrome, the odd desire to use every curriculum you hear someone talking about. 🙂 Better to prayerfully pick one thing, use it a while, and only tinker if you really feel led to do so.


    I agree wholeheartedly with Bookworm! She is such a fount of wisdom and I love her posts, too.

    It is easy to be overwhelmed and then overloaded with too many choices. I’ve felt that way in the past, but have much more peace about our program after committing it all to the Lord and simplifying.

    We are using the SCM Curriculum guide as our framework and adding in some books that I want – more nature stories, some other literature, some missionary stories, but nothing that would amount to combining 2 curricula. Many here combine things, but there are many who like simplicity, too.



    I wholeheartedly agree with Bookworm and missceegee too. I think the SCM modules are the easiest way to go. When I weed through my mountain of books I will do just that. 🙂


    Thank you ladies! That brought clarity. I am all for simplicity, but was suddenly feeling like I was missing something that I never realized I needed : )!! It makes more sense to see that not everyone is choosing to use several resources at once. I have been praying about this, and I will wait on the Lord.

    Sonya Shafer

    Jenna, let me just clarify a “spine” for you too. A spine is like an overview book of a historical period that works its way through chronologically. Many moms like to have a spine that they read, then they add in biographies and other more in-depth books as they fit into the spine’s chronology. You don’t have to use a spine; you can just read the biographies and other books in chronological order.

    My handbooks recommend a spine that is read along with other books. I believe TQ recommends a couple of spine options that you can use as you work through a time period. I’m sorry I’m not sure whether BF recommends and uses a spine in their guides. Anybody know?


    As I’m planning for the new school year, the Lord has led me down a specific path. As I continue to take out curriculum that’s been on my shelf, I feel like I’m riding on a vicious curriculum merry-go-round and it’s going faster and faster. Too many choices, so little time!

    Thank you so much for the words of wisdom. I’m back on track to the original starting point the Lord had me on.

    P.S. I’m selling my extra curriculum on my shelf!

    God bless!



    Amen and amen:) I too have been thinning the shelves. I got to the point after 5 kids, 20+years of hschooling and review materials that I had way to many options The result was that I froze! I was overwhelmed and over anxious. The Lord led me to SCM and my heart and mind have been learning to relax for the first time in many years. I still feel pulled to get on the curriculum treadmill again and again, but I am learning to recongnize the signs of the enemy and my own feelings of inferiority. I just choose to keep praying, and stick with the plan. Sonyas CM planner ( I used the book version) has been a Godsend. Now even when I feel pulled to add ‘one more book’ I just look at my plan and try to walk away. LOL, kinda like a 12 step plan for over curricula moms:)

    Good luck and again, thanks to this group for all you do:)


    Missy OH

    Same here.  I have also been selling off all my curriculum that I have collected through the years.  It is so freeing!



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