Top Ten Tuesday: Materials to Complement History Classes

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. Today is technically a Back to School Freebie so I’ve decided to talk about 10 books, movies, etc. that you can use to complement your history classes!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah // I know this is a fairly obvious pick, but I couldn’t leave it out. This would obviously supplement classes on World War II, and I think it would be interesting because you’re reading from the perspective of 2 women in France. Women’s roles in the war are highly overlooked, and you get two very different ones here. The quiet rebellion, and the “obvious” rebellion.

The Emperor’s Spy (Rome #1) by M.C. Scott // I think this would be an interesting book for classes on The Roman Empire because it doesn’t just focus on Rome. It also includes Boadicea and her legacy, it follows Judaism and Christianity in the Roman Empire, etc. It has a broader focus than only the Roman citizens themselves.

The Moon in the Palace (Empress of Bright Moon #1) by Weina Dai Randel // Unfortunately, growing up in Belgium I didn’t get much of Chinese history in class. But if you’re looking for a book that is incredible and will teach you something about the Tang and Zhou dynasties -and a Chinese empress- than this is the one for you.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller // I think this could be an interesting addition to classes on Ancient Greece. This retelling of the Iliad tells us a lot about Achilles’ life, but it also allows you to talk about LGBTQ+ people in history (and in the Iliad). 

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys // I didn’t want to pick two WWII novels, but I did. I chose this one in particular because I think the event this book is centered around has been forgotten by most of us. I certainly was never taught about the Wilhem Gustloff, one of the biggest maritime disasters ever. 

Outlander // I know I probably should’ve put the books here. But in all honesty, I think if you were teaching Scottish history, your students will be far more likely to watch a few episodes than to try and tackle those huge books. If you don’t know, this is about Claire who accidentally ends up in Scotland in 1743 -instead of the year 1945 she was in before.

Munich // If you’re talking more recent history, this is a great film to watch -and an interesting way to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is set in 1972 when 11 Israeli athletes are taken hostage and murdered during the Olympic Games in Munich by a Palestinian terrorist group. 

The Help // Another one in which I probably should’ve gone with the book. BUT I haven’t actually read the book. I did watch the movie, which was incredible. This is set in the 1960s in Jackson and it’s the tale of the African-American maids working for the rich white families. I know that this film isn’t perfect. It fails to mention many aspects of the inequalities, and it also has a bit of the white-savior trope. But I do think it’s still a film worth watching. This is recent history, and while we have come quite a way, there is still such a long journey ahead of us.

The Prince of Egypt  // Shout out to one of my favorite animated movies ever. This is the story of Moses -or the Exodus story if you will. Now, I am not religious. But I think this would be a great movie to watch when talking about religion and history, no?

Reign // Warning: I have only seen the first two seasons. Please, do not spoil me. But this is a really fun series about Mary Queen of Scots and her rise to power!

Which historical books, movies and shows would you recommend? 

13 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Materials to Complement History Classes

  1. Some great choices on here! I love Ruta Sepetys’ books, she’s so good about taking lesser known historical events for her books. Song of Achilles sounds great, I might have to add that one to my TBR. I agree students would be much more likely to watch Outlander than read it (though it probably wouldn’t be suitable for school age students!). I love Reign, it’s so much fun, if not always historically accurate!
    My TTT:


  2. Re: The Help… the book is INCREDIBLY good. I think the issues in the film are sufficient for discussion of high-school aged students, but there are a few additional racial insights in the book that are worthy of note for more mature students.

    Great suggestions!


  3. The Help is brilliant. I loved both the book and the movie. I hope that you will enjoy the book when you get a chance to read it. I also need to read The Nightingale. I have heard great things abut it.


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