Two things keep me from really knowing how well each month’s history books go over with their intended audience: my absence five days a week and seven-year-old S’s reticence when it comes to talking about books he’s read.

If I ask directly, “Did you read such-and-such?” or “What did you think of that book about so-and-so?” he clams up. (Parental moment of clarity: So that’s what it takes…) Not only that, but I think I can hear the thought form in his noggin, “Ah, this book must be important to Dad — now I’m definitely not going to talk to him about it.”

For all of us, reading is a private act — and for some, it’s more private than for others. That’s not so say that it can’t also be a public, community, family act, but we’re all entitled to our privacy, to read what we want to read, to read into those things what we want to read into them, and to hold close our thoughts about those things we read. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

Still, occasionally I tease out some insight into what, if anything, S got out of a particular book by bringing up a related topic at the dinner table and seeing what he chimes in with. But at least as frequently I won’t know if he even read a certain book until he brings up some minor point about it weeks or even months after I brought it home.

Anyway, all of this is a roundabout way of saying that, of the books I brought home for 1850-1900, the only ones I know were hits with S were the books about Teddy Roosevelt and the Brooklyn Bridge, both of which he requested for his bedtime story — the clearest giveaway.


I’ve been at this for nearly a year now. For you newcomers, here are links to my previous posts on U.S. history reading, which is my main contribution to the homeschooling of our two sons.

Prehistory-1621: The List and The Wrap-Up
1622-1750: The List and The Wrap-Up
1750-1800: The List and The Wrap-Up
1775-1825: The List and The Wrap-Up
1800-1850: The List and The Wrap-Up
1825-1875: The List and The Wrap-Up
1850-1900: The List
1875-1925: Stay tuned.
1900-1950: The List and The Wrap-Up
1925-1975: The List and The Wrap-Up
1950-2000: The List and The Wrap-Up
1975-present: The List and The Wrap-Up