Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review of TruthQuest History Guides

Awhile back I discovered TruthQuest History Guides and I was very pleasantly surprised! I was thrilled, then, when (Disclaimer here!) I was given free TruthQuest's guide "Age of Revolution III: America/Europe 1865-2000" free in exchange for my honest review.

TruthQuest History Guides are more than just a list of sources, although they certainly are that! Actually, these guides do what I think most homeschooling moms would do if they had the time (but who does?): they narrow the field.  Perhaps it's because I have a degree in history.  Maybe it's because of my Type A personality.  When it comes to teaching history, I want to teach it ALL! How can you study the Civil War without hashing out every battle, meeting all of the generals, studying the effect of the war on civilians, etc? Heck, my study of the Civil War could well take more than a year.  For most of us, though, it is not realistic to spend that much time on one little part of history.  Most students will not get the chance to study any one part of history that in-depth until college.  For these years at home, though, it is more important to give our children a wonderful overview of history (I'll admit my bias in focusing on Western Civilization, but it is good to touch on the East as well).  TruthQuest History Guides allow you to do just that.

Each TruthQuest guide is hundreds of pages long.  Each section is preceded by an introduction which narrows the focus and sets the scene.  Then, in outline form, the topics for study are presented, each with a list of resources.  The resource list is composed of core texts (almost always living books), related fiction, and topic specific books.  It is stated vehemently that the books are suggestions and that one should not attempt to read everything! Best of all, you can choose which topics to study and which to skip.  In my daughter's case, we spent a couple of weeks on Queen Victoria, but less than a day on Disraeli and the Crimean War.  There were enough resources, though, that we could easily have devoted an entire week to Disraeli! There is just so much flexibility!

Everyone will use a TruthQuest guide differently, but in my case this is what I did. First, I downloaded the PDF format of the guide to my iPad and imported it into a program that will allow me to write on the PDF.  I then pulled up my library website to see which books were immediately available versus which could be ordered, noting all of the call numbers directly on the PDF.  Then, when I went to the library, the only thing I had to take with me was my iPad.  After I had the first couple of weeks' (according to my projections) books in hand, I sat down with my daughter to lesson plan.  Then, she knew what books to read on which days, and what her assignments would be.

The TruthQuest guides do not have assignments, per se. Instead they serve as broad outlines of periods in history with every outline bullet containing great books to read (along with grade level recommendations, making them perfect for large families).  Periodically throughout the book there are "ThinkWrites" - prompts for writing assignments.  They are nice to have, but the curriculum is great without them.

TruthQuest is known for its Christian orientation, but I think these guides would be just as useful for secular homeschoolers.  There are plenty of book choices for different worldviews.  As a Catholic, our focus (and our take on some periods in history - like the Reformation) sometimes differs from Protestants.  For instance, Protestants tend to study missionaries while Catholics often study Saints (many of whom were missionaries!).  Protestants, Catholics, and non-religious homeschoolers can all use TruthQuest equally successfully.  As a Catholic, it is very valuable to me to be able to say that.

We are loving using Age of Revolutions III.  In fact, at the same time, I started using American History for Young Students II with my younger children (yes, you absolutely can use one guide for all ages - I was just already doing American History with my younger kids).  I have already purchased additional TruthQuest guides for next year.  Even if all you use them for is the book lists, organized very specifically by topic, you will get your money's worth.  If you use them for the full history curriculum they are, you'll be getting a huge bargain.

TruthQuest Guides are available for the following areas:

You can view samples here.  The guides are available from TruthQuest for $24.95 - $34.95 for the printed book or $19.95-$24.95 for the PDF version.

We love TruthQuest! For other opinions, see the Crew blog!

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

1 comment:

  1. Would you still recommend these guides today with curriculum companies like Mother Of Divine Grace and RC History providing Catholic-appropriate book lists? I am seriously inquiring and not trying to be argumentative. I have Truthquest's American History III from prior to conversion and really love using it as a booklist. I assumed I could use Spines from Tan or Ignatius Press and supplement with Saint Stories and Truthquest.