Year 7 Books

by Wendi Capehart

Wendi responds to a question from a list member about which Year 7 books a new-to-homeschooling student might read over the summer in preparation for Year 8.

Wendi: I'm going to include most of the year 7 list in my post and just add my comments after each title, explaining why that title was chosen. I'll also designate which titles I think are especially foundational to year 8.


Wendi's comments: Obviously, while all our suggestions are merely recommendations and parents are expected to make the final decisions, this is doubly or triply true for Bible. I will just say that if a youngster has not had much experience with reading the Bible, the above arrangement seems to me particularly well suited for introductory reading- John and Luke are great companion gospels, particularly, I think, for gentiles, since Luke was especially written for the non-Jewish reader. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the synoptic gospels, meaning their accounts very much parallel each other. John takes a different approach altogether, seeming to me to focus more on the philosophical underpinnings of the gospel story, the deeper theological questions (not that the others don't address these issues, it's just that John does it more)- So if you were only going to be able to read two gospel accounts, I'd suggest John and one of the other three gospels for the fuller treatment (unless you were Jewish, then I'd suggest Matthew and John specifically, and for younger readers, Mark, because he is more direct).

Luke wrote Luke and Acts both to the same person, and so they are good companion books, foundational to understanding the rest of the New Testament as Acts is the account of the doings, teachings, practices and personalities of the first century church.

Charlotte Mason had her students reading a commentary. We suggest you use what fits best with your family's belief system, keeping in mind that this year should be a bit meatier than previous years.::

Wendi: What my own children/students did in year 7 is read through the chronological Bible by F. LaGuard Smith, focusing on the gospels and early church. Smith introduces each section with a very small amount of commentary, primarily giving the setting and circumstances of the reading to come, with an occasional thoughtful question or comment.


The Birth of Britain by Winston Churchill, which is Volume 1 of his 4 volume set, The History of the English Speaking Peoples.

Wendi: I think some understanding, or at least familiarity, of this period of history is foundational to the later years, but it can be gotten other places if you are crunched for time. One suggestion of reading the corresponding chapters of Island Story is a fun one (and easier to accomplish in a shorter amount of time). Another option would be Dickens' A Child's History of England, which AO used before the Great Revision, and which is not used now primarily because we moved English history to the earlier years. It's still a very good book, and available online for free. [editor's note: the Dickens book was removed for its anti-Catholic bias.]

* Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People - Selections.
* William of Malmesbury's account of the Battle of Hastings

Wendi: All of the above were included primarily to give some solid sense of the flavor and thought of the time. They are all early chronicles, a la CM. The Battle of Hastings was a pivotal event in English (and our own) history, but Malmesbury isn't the only way to get this (there is a lovely picture book by C. Hodges that I used with my younger children). I love Malmesbury. He is a great historian, one of the best of the best of the early chroniclers, very careful in his historical standards, and rich in his prose. I would have used more of his work if more of it were online- But, if you are crunched for time, I think all of these could be skipped although it makes me weep.

** The Magna Carta

Wendi: Foundational, in my opinion. Not reading this would be like studying American history without reading the Declaration of Independence.

** In Freedom's Cause by G.A. Henty

Wendi: Historically this may be dispensable, but thematically I think it is important. To hide my answer to Anne's very good question in the midst of this post, I would say that some themes in year 8 would be a continuance of the government/authority discussion, and also freedom, responsibility, personal strength and courage, integrity and commitment- all covered in this book

*** History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea by William Tyre A first-hand account of the Crusades

Wendi: included for more local color--a sense of the thoughts, ideas, attitudes of the time. You don't know the middle ages without knowing something of the Crusades, but you can get that elsewhere, so you could omit this if necessary.

*** The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

Wendi: Must read. It's fiction, but embedded in the fiction is a lot of good information about Richard III, and more importantly, excellent messages on how history is transmitted to us, why some healthy skepticism or an open mind is necessary, how viewpoint changes the history we are transmitted, very applicable to many life areas. That said, you could get this from reading Daughter of Time at any point. It's not necessary as background for year 8 specifically, so if you were trying to squeeze things into the summer, this could wait until the summer after year 8, or be added to year 8, or done later. But you really don't want to miss it altogether.


 * The Life of King Alfred by Asser, selected passages
** *** Joan of Arc by Mark Twain

Wendi: I would hate to miss either of these. I do not think a student can ever know too much about King Alfred, one of the greatest men of all time, in my opinion. Admirable, admirable man--and we need to put our students in touch with worthy, admirable leaders. The account by Asser as the advantage of serving dual duty--it's by a contemporary, so students will get a sense of the thought and writings of the time.


* **The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin
***How the Heather Looks by Joan Bodger

Wendi: These are both great books. The Brendan Voyage is an exciting tale of Severin's attempt to recreate the legendary journey of medieval St. Brendan in Ireland. Will appeal to both boys and girls. If it weren't the occasional language and bawdy detail, I would have added How the Irish Saved Civilization as a companion read to this one, and some parents may still wish to do that.

Heather - a lovely story of one family's visit to England to see all the places related to some of their best loved children's books, and will be especially meaningful to those who have read those books (most of them already included in AO's lower years). However lovely and worthy these books, neither of them could be strictly said to be absolutely foundational to year 8 and above, so if particularly crunched for time, you could skip them, although my fingers are reluctant to type such heresy.


* Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard

Wendi: You. Must. Read. This. Book.


 Ourselves by Charlotte Mason
Plutarch's Lives - follow the schedule posted at AmblesideOnline.

Wendi: Must reads, however, you needn't 'catch up' if you're starting later. Simply begin Plutarch wherever we are and continue, and begin Ourselves at the beginning and work through it at the pace that works best for your family.


* Watership Down by Richard Adams.
The Once and Future King by T. H. White

Wendi: Neither of these are precisely foundational for understanding year 8, but you really, really, really, want your student to read them at some point, and soon.

The History of English Literature for Girls and Boys by H.E. Marshall ch 1-31

Wendi: I suppose if crunched for time, one could simply begin year 8 at chapter 32.

The Age of Chivalry by Bulfinch

Wendi: Foundational in a broader sense- not necessarily a must read for understanding year 8, but there will be references and allusions to the stories in these pages all your students' lives, so they ought to know them from somewhere, and this is one good source.

 * ** Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott

Wendi: The Walter Scott books go in more or less chronological order. I think you might skip this one without losing much information necessary to a fuller understanding of year 8, but Ivanhoe is one of my favorite Scott novels, so it makes me cringe (have you noticed I am not very good at eliminating titles?)

 ** *** A Taste of Chaucer by Anne Malcolmson

Wendi: Well, really your student ought to have met Chaucer, although Chaucer isn't well behaved enough, in my opinion, for the meeting to be unchaperoned. Check your library, you might have another good introduction if you don't wish to buy this one. Do pre-read.


 * Follow this time-line of English Poetry and do an anthology of sorts this term OR: The Oxford Book of English Verse is a poetry anthology Charlotte Mason used
 ** Tennyson, especially Idylls of the King
 *** Keats, especially The Eve of St. Agnes

Wendi: since I'm making my suggestions based on an assumption that the student will be very pressed for time, I'll regretfully say that these poetry recommendations might be omitted.


Wendi: Grammar is a subject you must begin where you are, so you could skip this and just continue what you are doing, or start using this or any other good resource wherever you need to start.

The Grammar of Poetry by Matt Whitling,

Wendi: Likewise, poetry--you begin with where you are. The jury is still out, I think, on whether The Roar on the Other Side might be used entirely and this work omitted. See the shared files of this group for some lesson plans and links for the first half of this book and you can decide what you want to do with it.


 Apologia science materials by Dr. Jay Wile.

Wendi: When you are ready for year 8, look at the Apologia website and begin with the science text that looks most suitable to you

 ** *** The Life of the Spider by Fabre

Wendi: This is not foundational for further studies in the upper years, but it *was* a big favorite with the Advisory children.

*Lay of the Land by Dallas Lore Sharp  OR the nature writings of Edwin Way OR Rural Hours by Susan Fenimore Cooper

Wendi: you do not need to have read any of these to continue in year 8


How To Read a Book by Mortimer Adler

Wendi: This is a difficult book to get through, but it is a worthy book, very helpful. We do it as a read aloud and will continue to do so. I don't think you need to have read it before year 8, but I would start at the beginning and read through parts one and two during year 8, applying the ideas you read about to the books you are reading.


The Story of Painting by H.W. Janson - chapters 1-3 this year

Wendi: Well, chronologically, these chapters precede the later chapters, but they are short, easy enough reading, and you could simply start year 8 by reading the first four chapters in the first term.


Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Paul Brand

Wendi: Terrific book about the human body, pain, and the church family and how we support each other and what it means to be diseased or healthy in our interactions one with another. A good book to read, but not necessarily foundational to understanding year 8.


Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien

Wendi: These are must reads, I think.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain
When the Tripods Came; The White Mountains; City of Gold and Lead; and Pool of Fire, by John Christopher
Legends of Charlemagne by Thomas Bulfinch
The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill
The Knight's Fee by Rosemary Sutcliff
The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall
Rolf and The Viking Bow
The Lost Prince by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (its prequel is Sir Nigel)

Wendi: All of the above are very good reads, and should be added to the free reading of the upper years, but I don't think they are necessary for an understanding of year 8. They each speak to the themes of law, order, freedom, responsibility, duty, and liberty.

Beowulf version by Burton Raffel

Wendi: Foundational

Wendi: The remaining books might profitably be added to free reading throughout the upper years. I would probably read David Copperfield before I read the other Dickens books in the upper years, because it's semi-autobiographical, but it really doesn't make that much difference.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson
Hereward the Wake Originally Published in Robin Hood and Other Outlaw Tales
The Story of the Volsungs (Volsunga Saga
The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott or other of the Waverly novels
Penrod and Sam by Booth Tarkington
Alhambra by Washington Irving
Feats on the Fiord also online here

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