Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula – Does it belong in an LDS Charlotte Mason curriculum?

Many Charlotte Mason homeschoolers use the resources available at AmblesideOnline. This curriculum was created by a group of wonderful, faithful Christian women and they have offered it free of charge to everyone. The curriculum is designed from a Protestant worldview and the recommended books reflect that.

Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula is a book about forty-six men and women, among them missionaries, martyrs, reformers, theologians and other faithful people. The volume begins with Polycarp (born 69 AD) and continues through the centuries right up until our own. The Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who use AmblesideOnline generally skip this book, as it focuses on the Protestant reformation. So where does this book fit into a Latter-day Saint homeschool?

If you search the LDS Charlotte Mason Homeschoolers Facebook group, you can find arguments both for and against the book. The conversations generally revolve around two points of view: those who have used it and love it, and those who felt strongly they shouldn’t use it and haven’t. As with most curriculum decisions in homeschooling, prayer is always the best idea, but for those of you who prefer to “study it out in your mind” a little more, read on.

I am the daughter of Daniel K Judd, Associate Dean of Religious Education and Professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU. I asked him to go through the table of contents of Trial and Triumph and mark which people he would want his grandchildren to learn about from the book. I was surprised by how many he marked! I’ve posted his response below, with the caveat that he wasn’t familiar with most of the women in the book, so he didn’t mark them. Were he to read about them, he thinks he would probably recommend them as well.

Trial and Triumph Recommendations

There are a few other things that need to be taken into consideration with this book. Most of the people did not come to peaceful ends. For a sensitive child, the impalings, burnings, slayings, etc. could be too much. Pre-reading is a must. The first chapter on Polycarp is available for free. It gives a good idea of what the rest of the book is like. This is one of the few books AmblesideOnline recommends that is not public domain. It costs about $20 (lowest I’ve seen is $15) and is rarely available in used condition. It is used from AmblesideOnline’s Year  1 through Year 6 and proceeds in chronological order through the book, although the Polycarp chapter is read in both years 1 and 6.

I myself have vacillated about this book. Now that I have purchased a copy, I think I will use it. I see no good reason not to use it as long as my children won’t be too sensitive to the gore. My son doesn’t turn six for another year and a half though, so I may change my mind yet again! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences. I welcome your comments!


Jessi Vandagriff loves learning, teaching, and spending time with her husband and two young children. She runs a variety of websites, including this one. Her free, Charlotte-Mason-inspired website for teaching children to sing can be found at www.singsolfa.com. She has ambitions to become a decent gardener, hiker, and nature journaler.

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