Social Sundays: Essential Book Series for the Social Studies Classroom

I will start by admitting that I am completely biased when it comes to using books  in my non-ELA classroom. I love to read, so for me the fantastic resources out there to bring concepts and events to life is a fantastic addition.

I write here often about books for specific units of study, but today's Social Sunday is about what I consider the Essential Book Series to have in a Social Studies Classroom (in no particular order):

  • Horrible Histories:  these books are funny, full of facts, and be warned, a bit gory. Many kids connect with the wit and humor that fill these books along with all kinds of facts and stories. Most of the titles in the series focus on British history but they have recently expanded to include other areas such as the Rotten Romans and Angry Aztecs. For more details on the Horrible Histories, you can read my previous post about them here.

  • You wouldn't want to...these fact-filled picture books tend to focus on what it was like to live in a period or during an event. Topics range from Sailing with Marco Polo to  Climbing Mount Everest to Being Sick in the 16th Century. They are a great addition to classrooms and tend to be easy to find at local libraries.

  • If you lived...these aren't quite chapter books but are definitely longer than picture books. The If you lived series tends to provide an overview of a period with interesting parts of daily life such as if you were a child and where people lived. The series provides additional context for a period beyond just the wars and big events, which tend to be emphasized in textbooks.

  • Biographies (I'm lumping 2 biography series here)

    • Who or what was...these are middle elementary level readers on famous people and events. The books tend to tell a pretty good story from the facts and can be great for differentiating when you are doing role play  or biography projects.
    • DK has a decent biography series. They are a little more challenging than the Who Was series.  Whenever possible I like to have different biography series available, because I find that different series appeal to different kids.

    I consider these the essential series for the social studies classroom. Of course, there are many other wonderful books when teaching a specific unit, come back for more ideas or check out the archives

    What are some of your favorite books to add to your social studies classroom?  Write your favorite book recommendations with the appropriate area of study, if applicable, in the comments section below and I'll publish a list here. And of course, checkout some great social studies lessons in the Social Sunday link up below.

    Social Sundays is a weekly post sharing tips, ideas, resources, and products for teaching social studies.  If you have questions or think there is something I should share, you can leave me a message on Facebook or at the store in the question and answer section.



    1. I love the Horrible Histories books and so do my students! Thanks for hosting the link up! ~Addie

    2. My students love those "Who was..." and "If you lived in...." series, but I've never heard of the "Horrible Histories" or "You wouldn't want to..." series. I'm gonna have to check these out. Thanks for the suggestions!! #TpTCATribe

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    3. My students LOVE the Horrible Histories. They are "gross" which of course makes them fun. And You wouldn't want to are great fun. Using the You wouldn't Want to be a colonist right now for my enrichment class. It's very entertaining! Thanks for joining the discussion.


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