We're just in love with All American History from Bright Ideas Press! I am always on the look out for quality material that is at least secular friendly. My husband and I recently had to return a product which was beautiful, but overtly indoctrinating and skewed history towards one belief set. The hopes were high that this one would be more neutral on that issue.
I am so glad to report that All American History is history, very honestly written. The writer brings up the societal issues of the time period being discussed, and this does on occasion include religion where relevant, but it is informational, and educational in its purpose. My husband is quite particular on that, because he's probably more tired of biased history than I am, given that he's the history student(addict). He studies it every single day, and is in the middle of WWI ... again. I think he could teach a college course on it if he wanted to. So when a history product gets my ultra-picky husband's seal of approval, it really is that good, and I am a happy camper!
The history many of us learned in school was dry and dull, full of names and dates, but nothing to make it personal, to help students connect to history in a meaningful way. We love All American History because the information is presented along with stories that help the kids connect to the people who made history.
The first impression of the set was that they are substantial, hefty books. They're all black and white on the inside, and built to last. With stitched binding in the student reader, it and the Teacher's Guide can be used over and over for multiple children. The Student Activity Book is consumable, and the publisher does allow for making copies for your family, but notes that it's probably more cost-effective to just purchase an additional copy - I would tend to agree! As much as I love to save money, I'm also not against spending a little if it saves a big enough chunk of time in exchange.
We are currently looking at Volume I of All American History, which covers early European exploration to the 1840s. There are plenty of pictures for the visual kids, cut & paste for the tactile and we spend a lot of time reading it aloud to each other. Each lesson has parts that are required, and options for further study. Some of these options have religious suggestions, both in the student text and the teacher guide, but they are optional. I'll add that a non-Christian family or blended religion family could even take those ideas and alter them to suit their faith.
One important(to me!) thing I have noticed in reading the set, is that where the facts are shrouded in mystery, or the documentation in existence is in disagreement, the author notes this. If there isn't an absolute fact, and it's what historians believe, it's noted. I love this. It brings an honesty to history that I don't see very often, and it's refreshing!
All American History is directed mostly at the 5th-8th grade levels, but can easily be adapted to both younger and older by using the included reading lists for the needed age group, and for the older kids, having them do additional study in most of the lessons.
Of various history curricula I've had the chance to look at, this has been the most objective of all. It definitely gets our vote of approval, and we're looking forward to seeing more from All American History. Volume I and II are priced at $68 per set, an extra activity book is $16.95 for either volume.
Disclaimer: we received All American History at no charge for our honest opinion. For our full disclosure policy, click here.