How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace,
who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."
Beautiful Feet Books proclaims the good news that history doesn't need to be dull. For over twenty years, the Berg family has guided families away from dry textbooks toward excellent literature. This approach imparts a genuine love of history and a regard for the writings of brilliant men and women. Their hope is that home school families can expose their children to the very best literature to improve their minds, expand their vocabularies, and "form their palate" for the noble and enduring.
The question is often asked, "How do I teach a comprehensive course in history using just children's books?" BFB responds with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson—"There is properly no history, only biography." When we realize history is the stories of people and we learn about their fascinating lives, learning history becomes painless, even joyful! As Christians, understanding the sovereign hand of God over the affairs of men, the study of history becomes part of our heritage, given to us by those who have gone before. By simply arranging the stories of people in chronological order, a study of history can be very rewarding.
How Do These Work?
Beautiful Feet has designed fifteen courses (as of 2015) covering different topics. There are ten about U.S. and world history, from the ancient world through the Clinton presidency. And there arefive individual guides covering the history of science, classical music, character, geography, and the horse. All of them are a little differently layed out, but they are all similar in that each works through a particular group of books, offering a loose reading schedule, questions for comprehension and discussion, and an answer key. Also scattered throughout the guides are additional reading, referrals to websites, suggestions for movies to watch, vocabulary study, timeline and map work, and a variety of other activities.
The defined reading list is both the advantage and disadvantage of this curriculum. The main advantage is that for planning purposes, it is very user friendly: you know exactly which books you need and when you need them. BFB has made a point of choosing books you can find, and have even reprinted some fantastic books themselves so they can guarantee their availability. And they really have chosen some great books: we're confident you would enjoy reading them.
The disadvantage of the reading list is twofold. First, because there is so little "excellent" literature covering ancient and medieval history for young children, BFB defaults to early American history, for which plenty of books are available. It is only in the junior and senior high grades that they cover the ancient and medieval times. Most people won't have a problem with this, but those who prefer the model of a chronological sequence even in the early grades would find this unacceptable. They would argue that studying American history first makes it a little bit harder to understand the flow of history, and America's place in it. The second disadvantage is that the guides offer study questions only for the required reading list. They offer ideas for other books to read or things to study, but don't cover it in depth. This allows for plenty of flexibility, but there is the potential to miss large portions of history. The additional recommended reading is therefore really valuable.
Our Honest Opinion:
We've heard a good number of arguments for teaching history chronologically, but Beautiful Feet has convinced us we'd rather go where the good literature is. We don't believe their guides are thorough enough to be considered a full history overview, but there are plenty of textbooks and other reference materials available to help fill in important gaps, and the guides are excellent for fleshing out particular periods of history. If you're looking for something more fun than a textbook, want a fair amount of structure, but don't need a daily schedule, Beautiful Feet is worth looking into. It's best for readers who don't need or want many hands-on activities.
Even if you don't want to use their guides, keep in mind their excellent reprints of biographies and histories by authors like Edgar and Ingri D'Aulaire, Genevieve Foster, James Daugherty, and Albert Marrin.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do you have sample pages for the BFB Study Guides?
Yes, you can see samples and the required reading lists by clicking on each individual guide.
Should I follow a particular order if I use BFB?
Sort of. You can view BFB's Suggested Study Sequence by clicking here (PDF file).
How many lessons are in each study guide?
You can view a list by clicking here (PDF file).
What credits am I able to award my high school student if he uses BFB?
You can view a list by clicking here (PDF file).
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