In our homeschool experience, we have found that the best way to learn history is to read historical novels. Historical novels bring new life and meaning to history. Instead of learning boring facts, we read an interesting story, learn about the events of the times, the traditions and customs, and the geographical area. All of this information is integrated in an interesting story.
One of the best historical novels that we have read so far, has been Carolyn Meyer's book, "Mary, Bloody Mary". Recommended for ages 12 and up, it is a biographical story of Mary Tudor, the daughter of King Henry the VIII.
The first few pages of this 227 page book contain the family geneology. Set in the 1500's in Britain, Mary tells her story of being the princess of England and daughter of King Henry VIII, how she is stripped of her title as her father divorces her mother, marries another woman, Anne Boleyn, and has a daughter with his second wife. The daughter, Elizabeth, now takes Mary's place as the princess of England, and Mary is forced to be her serving maid.
This book portrays the struggles of life in this historical period through the hardships of various sicknesses, power struggles and dangers. This story kept our attention as we felt the struggles that Mary goes through. We found this to be very historically sound in the information presented, although not much is mentioned of the religious conflicts of this period of history.