Alternative Ways to Study WV History

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Articles, Golden Horseshoe Series

In West Virginia, students, including many homeschooled students, study West Virginia History in their 8th grade year. Here are a few alternative resources homeschoolers may find useful and creative, many of which may be found at your local library!

WV Traditional Cooking Cookbooks

  • More than Beans and Cornbread by Barbara Beury McCallum
  • Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants, Mushrooms, Fruits and Nuts by Katie Letcher Lyle
  • West Virginia Hometown Cookbook by Sheila Simmons and Kent Whitaker

WV Nature Studies

  • Hunting, Fishing and Family from the Hills of West Virginia by Chris Ellis
    • This book will take you up the hills and hollers and down the rivers of West Virginia. It is a collection of stories written by one of West Virginia’s finest outdoorsmen.
  • Wildflowers and Trees of West Virginia by Christopher M. Gatens
  • The Butterflies of West Virginia and Their Caterpillars by Thomas J. Allen
  • Birds of West Virginia Field Guide by Stan Tekiela
  • Wild and Wonderful: The Wildlife of West Virginia by Steve Shaluta and Dr. Edwin Michael

WV fiction

  • Shadow of the Alleghenies by Edwin Daryl Michael
    • In Shadow of the Alleghenies, we learn about the Allegheny region as it was being settled: the wildlife, the Indians, the climate and the natural resources. Today’s armchair adventurers can get a real idea about the habits and habitats of wolves, buffalo, mountain lions, beavers and poisonous snakes. However, the best part of Edwin Daryl Michael’s special piece of historical fiction is its two unforgettable characters. The adventures, joys and perils of the tall Scotsman named Angus McCallendar become our own. But the real thief of our affection and attention is Schatto, (German for shadow) the newborn wolf pup that Angus rescues from certain death, and with whom he becomes inseparable.


  • Front Porch Old-Time Songs, Jokes & Stories by Wayne Erbsen
    • This popular book starts with an edict from the author that those with bad voices should definitely sing these songs. Next, he gives the major categories for Old Time Songs. How about a Civil War Song or a Murder Ballad? Why not try an Animal Song or the Songs of Rascals, Ornery Cusses, and Wild Women? Included are 48 favorite melodies of the past that have traveled along with the pioneers in covered wagons through the Civil War period and up to today! It’s a treasure trove of 19th century songs, hilarious jokes, wild stories, vintage photos, and even a recipe for cooking groundhog! Get this book for your next family get-together.


  • West Virginia Farm Stories by Mary Cordelia Riffee Figgatt
    • Cordelia reminds us what self-sufficiency really meant: making all your own soap, jam, baby cradles, and bed sheets. She tells about attending, and then teaching, in one-room schoolhouses. Chapters on gardening, farm animals, and working in the kitchen come alive with funny stories, and remind us about the once inherent necessity of growing and raising your own food. Creative inventions came along that made cooking and housekeeping easier, and some simple things we take for granted—such as screen doors—were first looked at with a dubious eye.
  • Laughter From the Hills by Alyce Faye Bragg
    • Mrs. Bragg, who has many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, is a keen and honest observer of family and nature in the hills of West Virginia. Often her observations are funny, but unaffected and down-to-earth. Easygoing, she and her family can laugh at themselves as much as anything. This comes in handy when an account of an embarrassing moment appears in the newspaper or one of her books!
  • Shawnee Captive: The Story of Mary Draper Ingles by Mary Rodd Furbee
    • One day while the men were at harvest, a band of Shawnee warriors stormed Draper’s Meadow, killing some settlers and burning the settlement to the ground. Taken captive were Mary, pregnant with her third child, her two young sons, and her injured sister-in-law. Through intuition and courage Mary impressed her kidnappers almost immediately. The captives were marched 800 miles over mountains to a Shawnee village on the Ohio River, presumably to spend the rest of their lives among the Shawnee tribe. But Mary vowed to escape and return to her husband and her people. The story of this remarkable woman’s harrowing and courageous trip home places Mary Ingles at the pinnacle of American frontier heroes.
  • October Sky by Homer Hickam
    • October Sky is the touching and inspiring true story of a group of boys growing up in the mining town of Coalwood, West Virginia.
  • Don’t Tell’em You’re Cold: A Memoir of Poverty and Resilience by Katherine P. Manley
    • This is an uplifting story of survival from abject poverty, set in the hills and coal camps of southern West Virginia. Katherine Manley and her family faced extreme challenges and struggles with ingenuity and traditional Appalachian stoicism. Beyond the poverty, other obstacles compounded Katherine’s life: a severely disabled father and a mother who struggled with the day-to-day survival. On a cool October morning, she left in a taxi and never returned, leaving 14-year-old Katherine to take care of her father and raise her siblings in her mother’s stead. Katherine went on to become an award-winning teacher, paying forward her hard-learned lessons to thousands of lucky students. This is a story of triumph that encourages everyone to never give up.
  • Katie’s Story Let God’s Light Shine In Me by Sarah J. Cobb and Katie Cobb
    • Katie’s Story is the true story of Katie Cobb – who she was, how she fought cancer, and the depth of her faith. The story alternates between the voice of Katie, a 14-year-old girl who battled Hodgkin Lymphoma, and the voice of her mother, Sarah. Instead of just knowing about Katie, you will come to really know her through their words. You will read from the pages of her journals as you walk through her difficult journey, and you will witness a relationship with God that brings hope. The story of Katie’s life is revealed in her own words: Let God’s light shine in me.
  • John Brown’s Raid on Harpers Ferry by Jason Glaser
    • The story of abolitionist John Brown comes alive for young readers in this wonderfully illustrated graphic novel. See John as a young man outraged by the injustices leveled at the slaves and his first stand against slavery in Kansas. Then later on to Harper’s Ferry where he planned to seize guns from a military installation to give to the slaves to use in the uprising he hoped would end slavery.
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