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Heritage Curriculum FAQs

This set of FAQs contains questions having to do with the Heritage Classical Curriculum. For general questions about the Heritage History website and library, see the Heritage History FAQs. For questions relating specifically to the online Academy, see the Academy FAQs.

Using the Heritage Curriculum

  1. What do you mean by "Living Books?"
  2. Does it matter in what order you study the Heritage Curriculum subjects?
  3. What do you recommend for students younger than 4th grade?
  4. Do you need to start with Young Readers if your student is older?
  5. Does the Heritage Curriculum go all the way through high school?
  6. How do you know what the right reading level is for your student?
  7. Do you recommend one or two units per year?
  8. Can you use these books with Tapestry of Grace or Story of the World?
  9. How much reading should students be expected to do?

  10. If there are no tests, how do you track progress?
For More questions about Methodology, see the Heritage Curriculum User's Guide page.

Ebooks and Copyright Status

  1. Will your e-books work on my (Nook, Kinde, iPad, etc.) ?
  2. My e-Reader reads PDF files. Why do I also need EPUB and MOBI versions?
  3. Why aren't the books in the Heritage Libraries protected by copyright?
  4. Are the illustrations as well as the text copyright clear?
  5. May I post the images from the Heritage Curriculum CD on my website?
For More questions about Electronic Texts, see the Heritage Electronic Texts Guide page.

For More questions about Copyright Status, see the Heritage Terms and Condition of Use page.

Using the Heritage Curriculum

1. What do you mean by "Living Books?"

History textbooks tend to be dry and condense a great deal of information into a relatively small space. The History books selected by Heritage history are story-based; that is, they are narrative instead of analytical and present the most important stories from history rather than condensed facts. This means that students are expected to read many books instead of one. The books in the Heritage collection however, are much more interesting and easier to read than most textbooks. By "living books", we mean books that were meant to be read for interest and pleasure, rather than analyzed and memorized.

2. Does it matter in what order you study the Heritage Curriculum subjects?

We have a recommended sequence that begins with the Young Readers collection in about fourth or fifth grade, and then proceeds to with Ancient History in early middle school. However, each Curriculum CD includes books for all ages, and can be studied in any order.

While students are still in the early grammar years, we recommend that they read a wide variety of short children's histories, in no particular order. Once a student is ready for comprehensive, systematic history, (somewhere around 5th-6th grade) we begin with Ancient Greece, and move on to Ancient Rome, British Middle Ages, and British Empire. We believe that Ancient and British histories are necessary foundations for understanding both American and Modern European history in later years.

3. What do you recommend for students younger than 4th grade?

Students who are reading well can begin reading books from the Young Readers library at any time. The books in that collection are all appropriate for read-aloud to younger students so parents who are interested in reading history with their younger students will have a terrific selections of materials. However, the Heritage Curriculum is a reading-based program. We don't expect students to be able to make significant progress working independently until they can read at a "chapter book" level. For some students this can be in second or third grade, for others it is not until fifth or sixth grade.

4. Do you need to start with the Young Readers collection if your student is already an advanced reader?

Some students read very well at a young age, but still may not be ready for comprehensive history. For those students, spending a year or two reading the type of general, easy-to-understand histories provided by Young Readers, is probably still a good idea. If your student is already in 6th grade or above, however, you should probably start right in with Greek or Roman history. It is helpful to have the good foundation the Young Readers collection provides, but it is not necessary.

5. Does the Heritage curriculum go all the way through high school?

The books in the Heritage History library range from about fourth grade reading level to high school. The curriculum libraries were designed for life-long learning, so they have books in them of interest to all ages. Most of the books recommended for high school are very appropriate for a general interest adult. In other words, they may be of interest to a high school student or any moderately educated, non-specialist. It is hoped that parents as well as students can enjoy some of these books. We certainly have!

6. How do you know what the right reading level is for your student?

Each Curriculum CD includes books at three levels: beginner (green), intermediate (brown), and advanced (red). If your student is struggling with a particular book or having difficulty getting through it, he should make another selection at a lower reading level. All the books in the Heritage collection, even those recommended for beginners, are informative and can hold the interest of older students so there is no reason to overwhelm your student. In most cases it is better to start off with books that are too easy rather than books that are too challenging. Students will retain more information if they are engaged than if they are overwhelmed. No one should have to "struggle" with history—it can be an enjoyable subject for students of all abilities.

7. Do you recommend one or two Curriculum units per year?

The program is self-paced so you can do it as slowly or as quickly as you would like. We recommend taking plenty of time to study each unit, especially for younger students, because there is so much interesting material in each library. The age and ability of the student, therefore, may determine the best strategy. We usually take a year each for Greek and Roman history when teaching a class for 5th or 6th graders, but cover the same material in a semester for older students.

Many curriculum programs work on a three or four year rotating basis and the resources in the Heritage Curriculum can be easily adapted to such a program. Because there are a wide variety of reading selections for every age, a student could study the "Ancient World" or "Middle Ages" once in grammar school, and then four years later in middle school or high school.

8. Can you use these books with Tapestry of Grace or Story of the World?

Books from the Heritage History library can be used to supplement many other traditional history curriculums, including Tapestry of Grace, Ambleside, and Story of the World. A general discussion of the possibilities for using Heritage resources with other curriculums is available here.

9. How much reading should students be expected to do?

In terms of contents, we believe that students (middle school and above) should read two "core" comprehensive histories as an absolute minimum and also supplement with three to five additional biographies or episodic histories. There are plenty of short, easy-to-read supplemental texts in each library, so everyone should be able to find a few books of interest, and reading at least some in depth history is very important for understanding the character of a historical era. We also recommend students read a minimum of two to three hours of history per week over the course of the school term. At this rate, most students should be able to read six to twelve histories, and gain a great deal of insight into the subject civilization.

10. If there are no tests, how do you track progress?

The Heritage History Academy was created to help students track their reading progress and take knowledge tests. However, if you are unable to use the Academy, or if the historical era you are currently studying is not supported, there are several other effective ways to monitor student progress. These methods, which include ad hoc testing, and written and oral reports, are outlined in the Review and Retention section of the Heritage Curriculum User Guide.

Ebooks and Copyright Status

11. Will the books work on my Nook, Kindle, iPad?

The electronic-reader format in which the Heritage books are presented is compatible with all currently available electronic readers. The entire library can be downloaded to any e-Reader without having to make any additional purchases. Instructions for uploading Heritage libraries to various e-Readers is found in the Electronic Text User Guide.

12. My e-Reader reads PDF files. Why do I also need EPUB and MOBI versions?

It is true that most e-Readers can read the text of PDF files. Depending on the particular book however, the PDF conversion sometimes does a poor job with images, captions, verse, and other unusual formatting options. The EPUB and MOBI versions of the books, on the other hand, have been optimized to deal effectively with many formatting irregularities. Since a great many of the books in the Heritage library include interesting illustrations, tables, poems, quoted letters, itemized lists, and a variety of other features, we thought e-Reader users would prefer to use versions that preserved as much of the original formatting as possible.

Unfortunately, the e-Reader market has not yet converged on one, single e-Reader format. The MOBI and EPUB formats are very similar, but not identical. We want to provide users of any e-Reader with a compatible, ready-to-use format. At this time the easiest way to do this is to simply provide both e-Reader formats to all customers, even though most will likely use one or the other. On the other hand, by providing both e-Reader formats, Heritage customers can be assured that if they do switch e-Reader technology in the future, they will still have access to their entire Heritage library.

13. Why aren't the books in the Heritage Libraries protected by copyright?

As laws currently stand, any book published in the United States before 1923 is considered to be in the "public domain" and can be reproduced without paying a royalty to the copyright holder. Until 1998, American copyright law provided that 75 years after a book was published its contents became the property of the "public domain". In 1998, however, all U.S. Copyrights were extended for another 20 years, meaning that no more books can enter the public domain until 2018. At the time the new law was passed, however, everything published before 1923 was already deemed to be public domain.

Books published after 1923 can also be public domain if the copyright holder failed to renew their copyright, or if the copyright holder explicitly renounced their copyright claim. Heritage History currently concerns itself only with pre-1923 texts. We have pre-1923 copies of each of the books in our collection physically in our possession to avert any potential conflict.

14. Are the illustrations as well as the text copyright clear?

Yes and no. Whenever a visual image is reproduced, the new image is copyright protected. For example, photographs of great works of art are copyright protected, even if the work itself is hundreds of years old. Any image that was published in a book prior to 1923 can be scanned or re-photographed, but if it is, then the new image is copyright protected. Since Heritage History actually owns original, pre-1923 copies of almost all of our books, we are able to make digital images of the illustrations therein. Those images, however, are the property of Heritage History and are not, themselves, in the public domain.

Since virtually all of the books in our Compact Libraries employ electronic images, they cannot be freely reproduced without the permission of Heritage History. However, Heritage History does in fact grant generous usage and reproduction permission. See the Conditions and Terms of Use page, for more details.

15. May I post the images from the Heritage Curriculum CD on my website?

For copyright information about the usage of Heritage History images, refer to the Conditions and Terms of Use page. In short, the image directories on our compact libraries are intended to be used for personal and education purposes, such as slide-shows, projects, or illustrating papers. We do not grant usage of our images for commercial or public usage, including the internet, without special permission. We do, however, allow owners of independent websites unlimited rights to "source" the images on www.heritage-history.com—that is, to instantiate an image within html, which references an object in our online libraries. All of the images on the Heritage History website are accessible and we have search tools available to help locate images of interest.