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About The Parallel Narrative

My name is Emily. I am the creator and curator of The Parallel Narrative.


I am a homeschooling mother of three young boys. One of my reasons for choosing to homeschool was so that I could teach my children history in a way that reflected my values. When I began researching history curricula I was disappointed with what was available. I started to build a curriculum for myself and realized that I couldn't find a resource that I desperately wanted and needed.


I wanted booklists organized chronologically focusing, not on the dominant characters of the mainstream narrative, but on the people around them. I wanted books focusing on the parallel narratives. The books are out there. The stories exist. But I was spending so much time finding them. I thought surely, there are other parents and teachers out there doing the same thing. Wouldnt it be nice if there was a website that just had all the books there? And in chronological order? I set out to do it myself. And here we are.


The purpose:


With these booklists, I hope to highlight the lesser known, and the lesser taught narratives of U.S. History. These narratives are not unknown, they are not forgotten. They are oftentimes left out of curricula or given very little voice in traditional classrooms, textbooks and history lessons. 


How did I choose these books?


Here are a few questions that I set to each book you will find here.


  • Does the material present females and people of color in a realistic, non-stereotyped way?


  • Does the material present and reflect a complete view of the past in terms of the contributions made by non-white, non-male individuals in American history?


  • Is there racism in the language? How is it used? Does it ask the reader to sympathize/empathize with the racist view? 


  • If the book is about Native Americans in U.S. history, is it tribally specific? Does it speak to the sovereignty of Native Nations? Does it relegate Indigenous people to the past? Is it written in the present tense? If the book is about Native Americans of the past, does it make connections to the present and the sovereign nations of today?


  • Is the story engaging? Will it pull a student into the past and give them a sense of the thoughts, ideas, and events of the time, helping them to engage with and remember people and events?


  • Is it a living book?


On Living Books:


For those of you unfamiliar with this term, it simply means a book written in a narrative style rather than a dry listing of facts. A good living book brings the subject to life through the element of story. Not every book on this website is a living book, but most of them are. 


My guides and perspective:


Currently, my curating of the books and the stories they tell are being guided mainly by two texts. They are Howard Zinn's A Peoples History of the United States and Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz's An Indigenous Peoples History of The United States. 


I am a big believer in self-education. As I continue to read books written on the subject of U.S. history, I expect these booklists and my understanding to grow. I am not an expert. I am not a historian. I am learning along the way, right alongside my boys. I hope you will too.




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