Biographies as Living Books for Homeschool History...And a Review of an Amazing Biography Collection



When I'm asked what kinds of living books are best for teaching history, one of my first answers is always- biographies. A biography is perfect for getting a glimpse of what life was like for a person who lived in the time period. It can provide a narrow but deep look at life in a particular historical time.

As a reader, I love to read biographies and autobiographies, and as a homeschool mom I love to read and discuss them with my kids as well. Reading biographies out loud to the kids is especially great because talking about people and the contributions they've made, the decisions they faced, and the impact they have had on history is so meaningful- and so much fun!

I recently had the opportunity to review a collection of seventeen biographies, biographies of men and women from the 1500s to the 1900s. As a biography lover, I was thrilled. And as a homeschool mom, I hurriedly began planning the accompanying history lessons.

Biographies for homeschool history

Disclosure: I received a free book and compensation for this review. All opinions are always my own.

We received for review Eternity through the Rearview Mirror: How Simple Faith Changes Everything- Seventeen Extraordinary Lives by author Annette Hubbell. This book is a collection of seventeen short biographies from Galileo in the 1500s to Johnny Cash in the 1900s. And what do all of these diverse characters from across history have common? Each life was influenced by that person's relationship with God.

How is Eternity through the Rearview Mirror a unique sort of biography?


In the introduction the author explains how she came to choose the seventeen people represented by the biographies in this book. Every one of them publicly acknowledged the role that God played in their various accomplishments. Although each is probably known, many are not well-known. But each has been shaped and influenced by God at work in his or her life. 

The author has presented each short biography in the first person, as if the person is relating his or her own story from a heavenly perspective. I enjoyed this and thought it made the readings more personable and more interesting. The stories weren't lengthy but included main details of each person's life and occasionally actual quotes from the person. As each person lays out his or her life story, readers can really see the influence that each one's relationship with Christ had.

The author of the book also includes a number of footnotes, linked to sources at the end of the book, and often some website links that lead to more information or something special to watch or listen to at the end of the chapter. Because I am the person who always wants to look up the "real history" when I read a book like this, I greatly appreciated all of these notes and links!

Why do you need this book as a part of your homeschool history curricula?


Let me be clear. As a homeschool mama, I often find myself turning everything into homeschool curricula. In some ways that's a good thing- learning through real life, real books, real activities. But it's truly okay to read and enjoy a good book just because it's a good book. And this one definitely is.

But if you just can't resist the temptation- and I know I couldn't- here are some ways you can use this book as part of your history curricula.

~ The people whose stories are told in this book range from the 1500s to 1900s in history. That covers lots of ground! So no matter what time period you're studying, you're likely to find a character that will fit in. Use that character's story to flesh out what kids are learning about that time in history.

~ There are some excellent research notes included. You can read a biography and use it as a jumping off point to research a character/time in history more in depth.

~ Read through the biographies together and have kids pick a person to research more thoroughly for a research paper. Again, you'll have all of the detailed notes to help.

~ Several Scripture verses that are relevant to the person's life are given at the end of each biography. Use the book as a Bible study, discussing how the person's life was influenced by his or her faith and diving into the Scripture verses and their context.

~ You can also just enjoy reading the book together as a lunch time or morning time read aloud. 

Biographies for homeschool history

Where can you find out more about the author and purchase this book for your homeschool?


The author of Eternity through the Rearview Mirror is Annette Hubbell. She's an author, actress, and historian. This is actually the second book that she's written, and I received a copy of her first book- A Spoonful of Grace: Mealtime Blessings in Bite-sized Pieces as well. This is a book that I would have loved when my kids were little, but I can still enjoy it now. It has a short Scripture, some notes, and prayer in each reading, and it's meant to be used at mealtime with your family. I love the idea of having something like this to spark some great and meaningful conversations at supper time!

When you are ready to purchase Eternity through the Rearview Mirror for your homeschool, you can find it here. (It would make a great gift for graduates!) If you purchase the book from Annette's site, you can get free shipping- no coupon code needed.

You can also enter the giveaway below to win a paperback and Kindle copy of the book. But if you want to go ahead and purchase, shop away. Because if you win, you'll be refunded the cost of the book. So you can't lose!

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