American History Through Literature

(12 customer reviews)

From: $76.00 / month for 8 months

Grades: 7th–8th

Live class: Mondays 4:00-5:00 p.m. EST

Course dates: August 24th–April 30th

Price: $525

Instructor:  Beverly Graybill

Instructor email:

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Course Description

See Reviews of Instructor Bev Graybill

This literature-based history class integrates American history with English for middle school students: a “two-for-one” approach that fulfills requirements for both English and social studies in one class. Rather than relying on a traditional history text, students will read numerous biographies, historical fiction, and nonfiction works, along with an engaging reference work from National Geographic. Lessons will begin with Columbus and other early explorers and continue through the 20th century to World War II. English grammar will be covered so that this is a complete English course; some vocabulary will also be covered and parents have the option of purchasing a Wordly Wise vocabulary workbook for additional lessons.

Students will:

  • Learn the people and events important in American history from Columbus to World War II.
  • Write four essays: descriptive (eyewitness report), narrative (recalling a historic moment), expository (compare/contrast), and persuasive (defending a position).
  • Complete four major projects: a visual project (such as a power point presentation or display board); a creative short story; a research report; and an informative speech).
  • Read fourteen books (biographies, historical fiction, or nonfiction) covering various people and events in United States history, including three novels all students will read.
  • Identify the elements and techniques of literature through novels read.
  • Appreciate poems and song lyrics about American historical events, analyzing the elements of poetry; also write one historical poem.
  • Take regular tests covering historical content, as well as English concepts.
  • Improve skills in English grammar including the parts of speech, the functions of nouns, sentence structure, punctuation, and “using the right word” (homonyms and word usage).
  • Learn historical vocabulary and vocabulary words in context from our three novels read together.
  • Optional: learn additional vocabulary words through the Wordly Wise vocabulary curriculum.

Course Structure

Students spend 2-3 weeks on each novel, with a history lecture, passage from the text, and review exercise each week. Three shorter essays and a creative (visual) project are done during the first 8 weeks; then students complete three major projects (research paper, creative story, speech or oral presentation). We end the year with a persuasive essay. Grammar and vocabulary exercises are assigned each week (optional).

Who should apply?

No course prerequisites are required, but students that previously have taken English Foundations 1 or 2 or an equivalent English class are ready for this course. Guidelines for new students include being able to read a 200-300 page novel in 2-3 weeks, able to write a strong paragraph with an opening and closing sentence, and a basic understanding of English grammar. Students should expect to spend more time completing assignments each week than in Mrs. Graybill’s English classes since we are covering two subjects in one class, but certainly less time than what would be spent on two separate subjects.

Technology Requirements:

  • High speed, broadband Internet
  • headset and microphone (for live sessions)
  • Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
  • Microsoft Word and Power Point is very helpful. If a different word processing program is used, students will need to save or export documents to a pdf.

Evaluation and Feedback

Canvas will automatically grade history review exercises as well as vocabulary quizzes. Rubrics are provided for all writing assignments and extensive feedback is given with an option to further revise all compositions. Communication with students takes place through Canvas and during the live class time. I give challenging unit tests so that students can get a sense whether they might be able to do AP American History in high school, but my tests are just a small percentage of the overall grade so they won’t prevent a student from doing well in the class if everything else is done with good effort.


Parents are welcome to contact me before registering with questions. Once I know a student has registered, the family will receive a welcome packet with additional information about the course. I will contact parents if there is a concern with students not keeping up with the work or frequently turning in late assignments.

View Course Syllabus


Required Texts

Course Materials:

Parents must purchase:

  • The Making of America: The History of the United States from 1492 to the Present by Robert D. Johnston (National Geographic), Revised Edition, 2010. ISBN: 9781426306631
  • The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation by Jane Strauss, 2014. ISBN: 978-1118785560

Novels (Any version is fine):

(Parents may decide to purchase these or use your local library, if you can keep the book for at least 3 weeks and have it at the needed time.)

  • My Brother Sam Is Dead by James and Christopher Collier
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  • Code Talkers: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War II by Joseph Bruchac

The other 11 books (biographies, historical fiction, or nonfiction) should be chosen from a list of suggested titles for each event or time period we cover. I will email this list to the parent once the student is registered for the class.  You are most welcome to use library books, rather than purchasing all of these books.

Optional: If you would like more vocabulary to be part of the English work, you may purchase ONE of the following:

  • Wordly Wise 3000 Student Book 7 Fourth Edition

Educators Publishing Service Fourth Edition, 2017      ISBN: 978-08388-7707-4


  • Wordly Wise 3000 Student Book 8 Fourth Edition

Educators Publishing Service Fourth edition, 2017      ISBN: 978-08388-7708-1



12 reviews for American History Through Literature

  1. Parent

    We have been thrilled with this class. I really wanted my daughter to have another teacher other than myself before entering high school and other online classes. This class gave her a safe place for that transition to happen. She was challenged, guided, and encouraged. I feel like the class helped to strengthen some of the areas where I did not know how to teach/grade and gave her confidence in some areas we didn’t know she was strong in. My daughter has struggled with confidence with schooling and was so scared to go into a different learning situation (which was one reason I really pushed for this) and Mrs. Graybill did such a great job of making her feel comfortable and confident. Her thorough evaluations on the writing assignments were so helpful. If you put in the effort, you will succeed in this class. We are so thrilled she took this class and had this opportunity to learn and grow in her language arts skills.

  2. Kristy Stoll

    Excellent class! Super interesting and educational, while still fun and entertaining! Literature and History are (honestly) my least favorite topics, but Bev made them super interesting and easy. 10/10!

  3. Zainab Mohammed

    Taking this class has improved my knowledge of History and my writing skills. Mrs. Graybill has been a great teacher. She always responded whenever I needed help. When she came to my city, I had the great pleasure of meeting her. She is awesome in person and behind a computer screen. I would highly Recommend this class to other homeschoolers who are looking to take English and History.

  4. Kiersten Todd

    Mrs. Graybill is a very nice teacher. She cares about how I am doing on my schoolwork and helps me improve. I really enjoy having her as a teacher and would definitely recommend this class to other homeschoolers. Also, the assignments are doable but not too easy.

  5. Ying-ya Shey (verified owner)

    The above review is from Nicholas Shey.

  6. Ying-ya Shey (verified owner)

    American History through Literature is a very interesting class that I would definitely recommend to other students. It helped me with my grammar and my punctuation, and I also learned about literature. I especially enjoyed the papers, as I could learn how to write better while also learning history. Mrs. Graybill is very friendly and engaging. Overall, I am glad that this class exists so that I can learn several subjects in only one class.

  7. Rebecca Klabunde (verified owner)

    I love that this “2-for-1” class exists at AIM, allowing my student to cover two courses at once! Mrs Graybill is a very thoughtful, engaging teacher who really wants to see her students succeed. She is also very approachable and prompt in all communication. (I especially recommend her class for any students who are new to online learning as she is very understanding of her students’ needs and highly encourages them along the way!)

  8. Ligia Qahoush (verified owner)

    This is my 13-year-old son’s first on-line class and he is loving it. Mrs. Graybill is a great teacher and my son looks forward to attending her class every Monday. He wouldn’t even miss it when we were living overseas a couple of months ago and the class started at 11 pm for us because of the fall Daylight Saving Time. The class is rigorous and challenging but not overwhelming. She has been prompt in answering any questions that we had, especially when we registered for the class about one year ago. She was also flexible and helpful regarding our particular situation and I really appreciated that about Mrs. Graybill. It is wonderful that this class is literature based; I love to see my son reading all the books, and enjoying them and being challenged by them. He has also learned from the special projects and writing assignments that have been assigned throughout the year. This class has been a blessing to us and I definitely recommend it to others.

  9. Aaron Shey (student) (verified owner)

    This class expanded my knowledge of both history, vocabulary and grammar very much, and the live lectures were both educational and captivating. The quizzes helped me remember all the knowledge, and the creative assignments made this class much more then rote memorization of facts. Overall, I think American History through Literature prepared me very well for future classes and I highly recommend this class for other students.

  10. Ying-ya Shey (parent) (verified owner)

    This class is a true blessing to our family and contribute greatly to my son’s knowledge in both History and Writing. At the beginning of the class, he was having a challenging time adjusting to the rigor of the material. After some hard work and great support from Mrs. Graybill, he began to blossom and truly took pride of his work and learning. The lecture is always very informative and tests/quizzes enables the student to reach new height of his understanding. The assignments are creative and serves as a spring board for further studying such as the poetry assignment. He has since composed 70 poems more. We highly recommend this class, it is definitely worth the tuition and I consider it a bargain.

  11. Lynnea Hameloth

    Our family has been blessed by being taught by Mrs. Graybill for many years and she always makes the classes fun and also very “meaty” in what the kids learn. My kids have learned so much from her style of teaching and she does a fabulous job making history “come alive” and makes it interesting. She is great at communicating what needs done and what books you will need for the classes. Having a combined history and english together is just awesome.

  12. Carrie Clarke

    While my child has not taken this particular class through AIM, he has taken similar classes from Mrs.Graybill through a “live” co-op. In fact, my son has taken classes from Bev Graybill for four years in a row because we have found her teaching to be outstanding. Her classes are rigorous, but her explanations and expectations are clear and well communicated. The assignments are creative, and we love the fact that history and English are combined so effectively. She is one of our favorite teachers from our 20+ years of homeschooling experience.

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Instructor Bio

Bev Graybill

I attended Millersville University, earning a B.S. in Special Education, a M.S. in Elementary Education, and a Reading Certificate. After teaching for several years in both public and private schools, I left the world of teaching to start my own family, discovering the amazing world of home schooling! I serve as a home school evaluator in Pennsylvania and have spent more than 20 years teaching at several home school co-ops and successfully graduating all four of my children. Currently, I also teach 4th-5th graders in a small private school. I love teaching middle school students that writing, literature, and even grammar can be fun!


English Foundations 1
English Foundations 2
American History Through Literature
U.S. Presidents and Fifty States


All classes taught by Bev Graybill