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AO Year 4, Basic -

AmblesideOnline - Year 4 Booklist, Basic Version

History studied in Year 4: 1640-1700's (French and American Revolutions)
Term 1: 1640-1720; Term 2: 1720-1773; Term 3: 1773-1780

Note: The AO curriculum is incomplete without a thorough understanding of Charlotte Mason's ideas and methods and requires that you invest time to familiarize yourself with her philosophy by reading her books. In addition, AO's FAQ addresses questions that people commonly ask about the curriculum.

Detailed weekly schedules for these books are available in various formats:
Html List; PDF; modifiable DOC; modifiable ODT

Table of Contents:


Book titles are linked to Project Gutenberg (which offers free etexts in a variety of formats) or other online text when no Project Gutenberg text is available.
β -, another free ebook site.
Δ - free etext at
K - free Kindle text from
($) - hard-copy book purchase from
(K) - Kindle purchase from
- free audiobook at Lit2Go
Ω - free audiobook at Librivox [Audio Note]
- other free audiobook source
[0] - Click the bracketed numeral to view a note about the book near the bottom of the page.
[0] - red footnotes indicate a heads-up for parents about the title. We are unable to foresee every incident that might potentially be an issue to every family, but we have red-flagged those that are commonly a concern.

Asterisks refer to which term the book is used:
      * Term 1
     ** Term 2
   *** Term 3

Note: If your child has completed Year 3 and is not quite ready for Year 4, you might consider Year 3.5 as a transitional step between Year 3 and 4. It can be started at any week during the first term, so if you get started on Year 4 and find that your child is struggling, you can switch mid-term.

In addition to the books, the following subjects should be scheduled daily or weekly.


Penmanship or Copywork
Foreign language
Musical Instrument Practice


Art Appreciation (see AO's scheduled rotation of picture study here.)
Grammar (AO's Language Arts Scope and Sequence for this level is here.) Year 4 exam questions will focus on subject/nouns and predicate/verbs.
Correspond history readings with a timeline or century book [tl] and map
Music Appreciation, including a composer, folksongs and hymns
Nature Study
One Life from Plutarch per term (see AO's scheduled Plutarch rotation here)
A Shakespeare play each term (see AO's scheduled Shakespeare rotation here)


This site has many versions. [1]

History: 1700's up to the French and American Revolutions

This Country of Ours, by H.E. Marshall β Δ ($ K) Ω [2]
** *** George Washington's World, by Genevieve Foster ($) [5]

History Tales and/or Biography

* Poor Richard, by James Daugherty ($) [6a]
** *** Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution, by Natalie S. Bober ($ K) [7]
Optional:: Trial and Triumph, by Richard Hannula ($ K) [6]


Minn of the Mississippi, by Holling C. Holling ($) [8]
Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel ($) [w]
What the World Eats by Faith D'Aluisio and Peter Menzel ($) [w]
Ten minutes of map drills each week [geo]
Locate places from the day's reading on a map

In addition, these geography concepts should be explained and taught this year: [Geo]

      Term 1: Earth's surface is mostly water
            Highlands are cooler, lowlands are warmer
            Mountains (foot, slope, summit) and valleys

      Term 2: The water cycle:
            clouds, rain, rivers, ocean, evaporation (vapor); dew, snow

      Term 3: Rivers and waterways
            Rivers start at a mountain spring and flow to the sea
            A river's source, mouth, bed, two banks, tributary (branch), rapids, cataract, waterfall.
            Oceans and their parts
            Why rivers wind, work of rivers (fertile after flooding, pebbles, gravel, sand)

Natural History/Science

       The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock Δ ($),
            as scheduled for Nature Study.

       Supplies for Nature Study:
              Nature notebook and pencils or paint for each student
              Begin to build a library of regional field guides
              Plenty of time to allow Nature Study to be a fun learning experience for both parent and child

Madam How and Lady Why, by Charles Kingsley β Δ ($) Ω Κ [9]
The Storybook of Science, by Jean-Henri Fabre Δ ($ K) Ω
Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas, by Cheryl Bardoe and Jos. Smith (a picture book; $)
The Ocean Of Truth by Joyce McPherson or other biography of Isaac Newton; ($)
Optional: Physics Lab in the Home, by Robert Friedhoffer (K) (search [10]


A curriculum or program for handwriting is not necessary, but if you want to use one, these are some we've used and can suggest:

              A Reason for Writing (Level A: $) (Level B: $)
              Getty Dubay Italic Handwriting Series ($)

AO's Language Arts Scope and Sequence for this level is here.


Select a program that meets your family's needs from our page of Math Options.

Foreign Language



Purchase all 3 Terms of Year 4's Poetry for Kindle (K)
* Alfred Lord Tennyson (K)
** Emily Dickinson (K)
*** William Wordsworth (K)


The Age of Fable, by Thomas Bulfinch β Δ ($ K) Ω Κ Ω [12]
* ** The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe β Δ ($) Free Audio Podcast; Ω [11]
** *** Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson β Δ ($) Ω
*** The Incredible Journey, by Sheila Burnford ($ K)

*** The following short works(K):
      The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving β ($) Ω
      Paul Revere's Ride, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ($) Ω
      Rip Van Winkle, by Washington Irving (or here $) Ω

Additional Books for Free Reading [13]

Black Beauty β, by Anna Sewell ($ K) Ω
Pollyanna β, by Eleanor Porter ($ K) Ω
The Secret Garden β, by Frances Hodgson Burnett ($ K) Ω
The Railway Children β, by Edith Nesbit ($ K) Ω
A Book of Golden Deeds β, by Charlotte Yonge ($)
Bambi, by Felix Salten ($ K)
The Chronicles of Narnia series ($ $), by C.S. Lewis
     The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (K)
     The Magician's Nephew (K)
     The Horse and His Boy (K)
     Prince Caspian (K)
     The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (K)
     The Silver Chair (K)
     The Last Battle (K)
Little Britches series, by Ralph Moody ($) (some language; please preview)
The Borrowers, by Mary Norton ($ $ K)
Lassie Come Home, by Eric Knight ($)
Gentle Ben, by Walt Morey ($)
Gone Away Lake, by Elizabeth Enright ($)
Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright ($)
Return To Gone Away, by Elizabeth Enright ($)
By the Shores of Silver Lake, by Laura Ingalls Wilder ($)
The Peterkin Papers, by Lucretia Hale β Δ ($); 22 chapters; The Complete Peterkin Papers has a few additional chapters, but each chapter can stand alone. These were originally printed as serials in a magazine. Ω Ω
** Calico Captive (girl interest; $ K) or The Sign of the Beaver (boy interest; $ K), by Elizabeth George Speare
*** Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes ($ K)
Tree of Freedom, by Rebecca Caudill ($)
Amos Fortune, Free Man, by Elizabeth Yates ($)
*** The Reb and the Redcoats, by Constance Savery (British view of revolution) ($)
Justin Morgan had a Horse, by Marguerite Henry ($)

If you would like some easier, but still excellent, living books, for a year 3/4 student to read independently for free reading, consider choosing from this list:

       The Matchlock Gun by Walter D. Edmonds ($)
       The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh ($)
       The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander ($)
       Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop ($)
       Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson ($)
       The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois ($)
       My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George ($)

       Sarah Plain and Tall series by Patricia MacLachlan
                  Sarah Plain and Tall ($)
                  Skylark ($)
                  Caleb's Story ($)
                  More Perfect than the Moon ($)
                  Grandfather's Dance ($)

If your students in years 4-6 could benefit from some easier, but still excellent living books for free reading, consider choosing four or five books from this list:

       Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien ($)
       The Rescuers by Margery Sharp ($) (and others in the series)
       The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden ($)
       Homer Price by Robert McCloskey ($)
       Centerburg Tales by Robert McCloskey ($)
       The Great Brain by John D. Fitzgerald (particularly interesting to boys; $)

       Noel Streatfeild books (appealing to girls in particular)
                  Ballet Shoes ($), Skating Shoes ($)
                  Dancing Shoes ($)
                  Theater Shoes ($)

       Kate Seredy books, including:
                  The Good Master ($)
                  The White Stag ($)
                  The Singing Tree ($)
                  The Chestry Oak ($)

(Purchase a Kindle)


Note on Audiobooks: While links to audio books are added as a courtesy, Miss Mason's approach to grammar and composition is heavily dependent upon the children receiving an immense amount of visual exposure to the written word over many years, so parents should exercise extreme caution in how many audiobooks they use each year. Our brains just work differently when we see the words. For children who have difficulty reading, one solution is to have them follow the audio version along in a written text. (Back)

Timeline: At this age, students should be keeping a simple, single-page timeline of major events and a Book of Centuries. Instructions for making your own timelines and charts are included in these Parents' Review articles: Book of the Centuries; Teaching Chronology; The Correlation of Lessons. For more details about the why, when, how of keeping CM timelines (and other notebooks), we recommend Laurie Bestvater's book, The Living Page ($). (Back)

1. It is preferable for a child to become accustomed to the language and flow of the King James Version of the Bible, as a familiarity with King James English will make other literature more accessible. Please read Lynn Bruce's article on the King James Version by clicking here.
The weekly schedule lists readings taken from J. Paterson Smyth's commentaries, with Old Testament readings focusing on Joshua and the Judges, and New Testament in Mark and the beginning of Acts. (see AO's Bible plan) Charlotte Mason taught both with commentaries, reading the Bible passage first, then narration, then reading the commentary, but Smyth's commentaries may reflect the doctrine of his era and denomination; they are not necessary to follow the Bible schedule.
Optional Bible Resources: Timeline; Study questions with maps. (Back)

2. This Country of Ours: Charles I-George III this year.
Term 1: ch 29-40 (Charles I-Charles II/Anne, 1636-1680)
Term 2: ch 41-50 (George I-George III 1723-1766)
Term 3: ch 51-63, p 344-418, 74 pages (George III, 1765-1782)
Be aware that the edition for sale from Wilder Publications has no Table of Contents or chapter numbers. Public domain texts are available for anyone to copy, paste and publish, and many new companies are springing up publishing and selling these texts without editing for typos.
For planning purposes, there is a Table of Contents with dates for This Country of Ours here. (Back)

5. An alternate schedule for George Washington's World is here. (Back)

6. Trial and Triumph: Descriptions of some trials of the Christians may be intense; parents should preview chapters to determine suitablity based on their children's sensitivities. If you prefer, you can skip this book and cover church history in Years 7-9 with a different book, Saints and Heroes, by George Hodges.
This book tells church history from a definite Protestant perspective; some families may wish to skip this book or find an alternative.
Trial and Triumph used to be online, but now only a sample of the book is available online. This is what we used to post about the online posting: Google Books does have permission from Canon Press to have Trial and Triumph in full online. Here is a statement from Canon Press: "I believe we have extended permission to them to display that title. Obviously we would love for folks to purchase hard copies but we understand the limitations of many folks. If they do benefit from the online version though, we would be grateful for some sort of review whether it be on a blog, on Amazon, or on our own website. Thanks for contacting us to check. We really appreicate it." - David Hoos, Canon Press - Customer Service (Back)

6a. Poor Richard: No, your book is probably not missing a page. ;-) The books ends on page 158 with the words "He remembered something he had written long ago about" and then the following page has an image of a historical document, which ends the book. (Back)

7. Chapter 3, p. 17 of the Abigail Adams book contains this paragraph - 'Their love was growing giddy and passionate. Increasingly their meetings started with conversation, but quickly turned to lovemaking that pushed hard against the bounds of prudence. Both had so much -- yearning, called 'excessive sensibility,' that they actually became ill from anxiety and anticipation as the years of courtship continued.' The word 'lovemaking' is used in the old context of courting, but today's Hollywood movies have changed our perspective on the word. Members of the AmblesideOnline email list can read discussion that was posted about this here. Read down through the messages, though, for good insights into the value of that passage and why you might want to think twice before you leave it out. If you're using the 36-week schedule posted, this chapter is scheduled in week 15. (Back)

Geography. Geosafari (available now on CD-rom) would be sufficient. ($ purchase basic geography card set) SeterraOnline offers Free Map Quiz Games. If you have an iPad or iPhone, TapQuiz is a free map quiz app. (Back)

8. These links have information and/or maps about the Mississippi River Page: The Great River; Map; Wikipedia. Beautiful Feet Books sells a set of maps for the Holling books; click on the link and then do a search for Holling Maps. (Back)

Material World/What the World Eats - How to use these books:
Leave them laying out, preferably near a globe or world map, and browse through them together from time to time.
Leave them laying out, browse through them and maybe once a month pick a country that especially interests your child. Look it up (briefly) on Wikipedia or in a good Atlas. Read a little bit more about it. Find it on a map or globe.
If your child is interested, he can pursue additional research in his free time and learn more about countries that particularly interest him, but this should be his own delight directed study or hobby.
How not to use these books: as the basis of a unit study or a burdensome checklist of additional tasks to fulfill.
Note: Material World: pg 16 and pg 70 have some National Geographic types of photos that parents may want to screen.
Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio looks similar to What the World Eats; we think it could be used interchangeably. ($) (Back)

The Following geography concepts should be explained and taught this year; a book is not necessary as these can be explained informally during walks and outings. AO's complete list of geography topics is here.
   Term 1: Earth's surface is mostly water; highlands (cooler), lowlands (warmer), mountains (foot, slope, summit) and valleys
          These topics are covered in these chapters:
          Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography: The Surface of the Earth Part I
          Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography: The Surface of the Earth Part II
          Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography: Highlands and Lowlands
          Long's Home Geography Δ 11. Plains
          Long's Home Geography Δ 12. Hills, Mountains, Valleys

   Term 2: The water cycle: clouds, rain, rivers, ocean, evaporation (vapor); dew, snow
          These topics are covered in these chapters:
          Long's Home Geography Δ 13. Rain, Wind, and Snow
          Long's Home Geography Δ 14. How Water is Changed to vapor
          Long's Home Geography Δ 15. How Vapor is Changed to Water
          Long's Home Geography Δ 16. Dew, Clouds and rain
          Long's Home Geography Δ 18. How Rivers are Made
          Long's Home Geography Δ 19. More About Rivers
          Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography: Rivers

   Term 3: Rivers and waterways; rivers start at a mountain spring and flow to the sea; a river's source, mouth, bed, two banks, tributary (branch), rapids, cataract, waterfall. Oceans and their parts, why rivers wind, work of rivers (fertile after flooding, pebbles, gravel, sand)
          These topics are covered in these chapters:
          Long's Home Geography Δ 21. Work of Flowing Rivers
          Long's Home Geography Δ 22. Waterdrop's Story
          Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography: Countries
          Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography: The Waters of the Earth Part I
          Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography: The Waters of the Earth Part II
          Charlotte Mason's Elementary Geography: The Oceans and Their Parts

9. Of what value is an old science book like Madam How and Lady Why? Apart from the superior writing quality, the best thing you can get out of old science books is a strong sense that science is a constantly changing thing, and that the "scientific evidence/theory/conclusion" of today can be debunked in a year, or two, or ten. Children should learn to take the words "Scientists think..." for exactly what they are worth (always worth considering, but never to be considered the final word). Reading older books will help you develop that sense.
Note on Kingsley's "old earth" comments: During the era when Madam How and Lady Why was written, there was no "young earth" discussion out there: evidence seemed to show an old earth, and the Church of England (Charles Kingsley was a clergyman), by and large, accepted a kind of theistic evolution.
Katie Barr has written a Study Guide with links for Madam How and Lady Why. The book has been scheduled slowly over two years. Madam How and Lady Why is an earth science book; if you use the study guide, you'll see that it takes time to adequately cover the subject matter. Researching the topics is what makes this useful as a science book. Cindy Gould has collected resource links.
This year, the first half of the book is covered:
Term 1: The Glen, Earthquakes;
Term 2: Volcanos, Transformations of a Grain of Soil
Term 3: The Ice-Plough, The True Fairy-Tale, The Chalk Carts (Back)

10. Friedhoffer's "Physics Lab in a . . ." books are a great resource, but they're out of print; don't spend more than $10 on a used copy. (Back)

11. Robinson Crusoe Book II, The Further Adventures, in which Crusoe returns to the island and goes to Madagascar, Asia and Siberia, is not scheduled and is not included in most versions of the book. Robinson Crusoe will be difficult for most students; we recommend that it be read aloud, or an audiobook be used. The book starts slow, but most students end up loving it. Robinson Crusoe was worked into the 36-week AO schedule using an edition that had 24 chapters. If you use the Project Gutenberg etext or an edition that has no chapters, you may find this breakdown more useful. (Back)

12. Age of Fable, used over three years, is a book about Greek mythology, and some editions use illustrations of nudes, which some families might find objectionable. This year: Preface to ch 14 (Minerva-Niobe)
Term 1: Preface to ch 4 (Diana and Actaeon)
Term 2: ch 4 (Latona and the rustics) to ch 8 (Apollo and Hyacinthus)
Term 3: ch 9 (Ceyx and Halcyone) to ch 14 (Niobe) (Back)

13. Free Reading books are books that no child should miss, but rather than overloading school time, these can be read during free time. No narrations need be required from these books. Advisory member Wendi C. suggests, "How you handle these is up to you . . ." (more) Parents should also explain to students that historical fiction, while often well-researched, is still fiction, and contains the author's ideas of how things might have happened. Books with asterisks pertain to that term's historical studies. (Back)

For those on a strict budget, recommended purchases are:

Handbook of Nature Study, by Anna Botsford Comstock (used for 6 years; ($) - online, but would be cumbersome to utilize that way.)
a math program
George Washington's World, by Genevieve Foster (check library) ($)
Poor Richard, by James Daugherty ($)
Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution, by Natalie S. Bober ($ K)
Minn of the Mississippi if your library doesn't have it ($)
a Latin/foreign language program
The Incredible Jouney, by Sheila Burnford if your library doesn't have it ($ K)
Chronicles of Narnia, by CS Lewis if your library doesn't have them
Elizabeth Enright books are nice if you can find them cheap (but not worth high collector prices) ($)
Other books can be read online or borrowed from the library.

Madam How and Lady Why Links

Chapter 2 Earthquakes - has a map with current and recent earthquakes in CA & NV.

Chapter 3 Volcanoes

Chapter 5 The Ice-Plough (glaciers and the ice age)
Also, another book that goes along well with this topic is Life in the Great Ice Age sold by Answers in Genesis,4327,185.aspx
and has lesson plans available (scroll down to the bottom of the page for lesson plans for this book)

(Thanks to Cindy Gould for many of these Madam How and Lady Why resources)

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Last update July 30, 2014