Grades 9-12 World History

Resources | Books for Students |Reference Books for Teachers | Multimedia


For high school lesson plans on Geography, History, Current Events/Politics, Economics, and other subjects, click on  the following links: HS lesson plans 

Conflict in Iraq: Searching for Solutions
The Choices Program
Produced by the Watson Institute for International Studies
Conflict in Iraq: Search for Solutions draws students into the policy debate on the role of the United States in Iraq. Readings and activities provide students with an overview of the history of Iraq, help students understand events surrounding the U.S.-led invasion, and explore the current situation.

Country Themed Culture Kits
Each kit comes with artifacts and activities for teaching about a specific country.  Check out our Morocco culture kit....

Food and Agriculture Unit
“The Arab World” series. Slides, pictures, and projects on Arab food.

Introduction (to the Arab World)
This Lesson plan is from “The Arab World” series. Slides, lessons, artifacts
(including headgear) to teach about the Arabs and their culture.

Iran Through the Looking Glass: History, Reform, and Revolution
One of the Choices program’s curriculum units put out by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University, this contains reproducible historical sections and student handouts. Students analyze documents and take on the role of Iranians in 1979 (Iranian Revolution) making plans for their country’s political future. (This lesson works well as a political comparison for Constitution classes or as a key to understanding the current situation of Iran in current issues classes.)

Middle East: Physical Geography
A CD of maps and charts put out by the Arizona Geographic Alliance.

Music and Dance Unit
This Lesson plan is from “The Arab World” series. Slides, pictures, cassette, and explanations of Arab music and instruments. The unit itself is designed for a higher level (maybe high school), but it can be easily adapted for a Middle School classroom.

Persepolis Recreated
An amazing photo/picture book and DVD set that recreates the ancient Persian city of Persepolis, one of the greatest cities of the ancient world until it was burned by Alexander the Great. It would give students a feel for the glories of an ancient civilization while countering some of the negative (and totally false) images in the movie “The 300” of the Persians as barbaric and subhuman.

Sarajevo Haggadah
See this beautiful facsimile of the 14th-century Jewish book that was brought to Bosnia (then part of the Ottoman Empire) when the Jews fled Spain during the Inquisition.  A booklet details the book's incredible history (eg. surviving three major wars during the 20th century).  You can also use the work of historical fiction based on the story of the Sarajevo Haggadah: Geraldine Brooks' "People of the Book" (which you can also borrow from the center).

Silk Road Encounters
Teachers’ guide, sourcebook, CD of lesson plans and other materials to help your students explore the Silk Road.

Books for Students

Click here for a list of: books/films on modern issues 

Click here for a list of: literature/literary films

Al-Kindi: The Father of Arab Philosophy
By Tony Abboud
This book is part of a 6-volume series "Great Muslim Philosophers and Scientists of the Middle Ages."

Suleyman and the Ottoman Empire
By John Addison
A brief overview of the subject along with a series of short, primary source documents.

Afghanistan: The Land
By Erinn Banting
A book with pictures and descriptions of Afghanistan.

Al-Khwarizmi: The Inventor of Algebra
By Corona Brezina
This book is part of a 6-volume series "Great Muslim Philosophers and Scientists of the Middle Ages."

The Essential Koran
Translated and edited by Thomas Cleary
This is an introductory selection of readings from the Muslim holy book.

Muhammad and the Arab Empire
By John Duckworth
A brief overview of the subject along with a series of short, primary source documents.

Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II
By Norman H. Gershman
Real life accounts of Muslims who intervened during World War II in order to save the lives of Jews. This book contains photos of each individual interviewed and their word for word account of what happened.

The Middle East and the Islamic World Reader
Edited by Marvin E. Gettleman and Stuart Schaar
This collection of documents spans Islam and Middle Eastern history. (Over half the book is on 20th century conflicts and issues.)

 The Crusades: An Illustrated History
 By James Harpur
Also subtitled "the two hundred years war, the clash between the cross and the crescent in the Middle East 1096-1291," the book gives an overview of the Crusades.

Celebrate Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr with Praying Fasting, and
(National Geographic, “Holidays Around the World” series)
By Deborah Heiligman
Although it is at a low reading level, this book is even interesting to adults due to its great pictures and clear explanations. (It is National Geographic book, so the photography is amazing!)

By Shahrukh Husain
From the Holy Cities series, a basic introduction to the city of Mecca.

Understanding Islam and the Muslims
By Islamic Affairs Department of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia
An introduction to Islam in a brief booklet with bright photographs.

Understanding Islam and the Muslims
By the Islamic Affairs Department of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia
The introduction to Islam is in a brief booklet with bright photographs.

The Islamic Heritage
This is an overview of Islamic culture and history.

The Book of Jewish Belief
By Louis Jacobs
This well-organized, thorough book provides short descriptions of all aspects of Jewish beliefs.

The Book of Jewish Practice
By Louis Jacobs
This book provides short, clear descriptions of Jewish customs, holidays, and practices.

The Iranian Revolution
By Brendan January
This well-written book, part of the Pivotal Moments That Changed the World series, focuses on the Iranian revolution of 1979.

Avicenna (Ibn Sinna): Muslim Physician and Philosopher of the 11th Century
By Aishe Khan
This book is part of a 6-volume series "Great Muslim Philosophers and Scientists of the Middle Ages."

The Koran
This is the main religious texts for Muslims.

Islam: Faith, Culture, and History
By Paul Lunde
The book is an overview of Islamic religion, history, and culture.

By David Macaulay
If you liked his books/films about the building of a medieval cathedral or fortress, you’ll like this one about the construction of a 16th century Ottoman mosque.

Inside Story: A 16th Century Mosque
By Fiona MacDonald and Mark Bergin
Detailed illustrations and clear explanations make this a terrific resource book with information about the building, religious background, and history surrounding the construction of a mosque.

Extraordinary Women from the Muslim World
By Natalie Maydell and Sep Riahi
This book, introduces readers to 13 Muslim women in history who have lived extraordinary lives and influenced their communities in a positive way, often overcoming extreme hardship and inaccurate stereotypes that have been placed on the role of women in Islam. In addition to showing the impact these women have had throughout the years, Extraordinary Women from the Muslim World seeks to make a difference in the lives of Islamic women today, inspiring them to fervently pursue their goals. All proceeds from the special edition hardback series will be donated to Islamic Relief to benefit the women and children of Sudan.

The Ottomans: Empire of Faith
By Dr. David Nicolle
A comprehensive history of the Ottoman Empire with maps and illustrations.

By Saviour Pirotta
From the Holy Cities series, a basic introduction to the city of Jerusalem.

The African and Middle Eastern World, 600-1500
By Randall L.Pouwels
A history of medieval Africa and the Middle East with beautiful photographs and maps.

Albucasis (Abu Al-Qasim Al-Zahrawi): Renouned Muslim Surgeon of the 10th Century
By Fred Ramen
This book is part of a 6-volume series "Great Muslim Philosophers and Scientists of the Middle Ages."

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, Persepolis II: The Story of a Return
By Marjane Satrapi
A two-volume memoir in graphic novel style that describes the author’s childhood during the Iranian Revolution, her schooling abroad during the Iran-Iraq War, and eventual return to her homeland. (See the film - listed in the Multimedia section below.)

Al-Biruni: Master Astronomer and Muslim Scholar of the 11th Century
By Bill Scheppler
This book is part of a 6-volume series "Great Muslim Philosophers and Scientists of the Middle Ages."

Approaching the Qur'an
By Michael Sells
A copy of the Muslim holy book, it also comes with commentaries as well as an Audio CD of Qur’an readings.

Guru Nanak
By Rina Singh and Andree Pouliot
This beautifully illustrated book describes the life and teachings of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion.

Averroes (Ibn Rushd): Muslim Scholar, Philosopher, and Physician of the 12th Century
By Liz Sonneborn
This book is part of a 6-volume series "Great Muslim Philosophers and Scientists of the Middle Ages."

Early Islam
By Desmond Stewart
Part of the "Great Ages of Man" series, this book has vivid pictures and maps to illustrate the history of Islam during medieval times.

Medieval Cuisine of the Islamic World
By Lilia Zaouali
This book gives a culinary history of the Islamic world and provides recipes.

Historical Fiction for Students

Bridge on the Drina
By Ivo Andric
This award-winning Bosnian novel describes (as a series of short stories set in different time periods) a small town in Bosnia during the years of Ottoman rule.  (You can easily read one chapter or two apart from the others.)

Forgotten Fire
By Adam Bagdasarian
Although the book is a work of fiction, it is based on the true experiences of the author's great-uncle, who was a teenager during the Armenian genocide.

The Apprentice's Masterpiece: A Story of Medieval Spain
By Melanie Little
A young adult novel set in 14th-century Spain, tells the story of a family with a secret at a time when the Inquisition brings intolerance and torture. Written in elegant free verse this is a dramatic story set in a troubling time.

On the Other Side of Mount Ararat: A Story of a Vanished City
By Mariam and Louise Manoukian
A girl grows up in the last days of the Ottoman Empire and experiences the Armenian genocide.

Dawn and Dusk
By Alice Mead
A story of a 13-year-old Kurdish boy during the time of the Iran-Iraq War (and the Iraqi poison gas attack on some Kurdish villages).

Reference Books for Teachers

Approaching the Qur’an
The Muslim holy book with commentaries. There is also an Audio CD of Qur’an readers.

Picturing Iran: Art, Society and Revolution
By Shiva Balaghi and Lynn Gumpert, eds.
A book showing modern Iranian visual culture of the 1960s and 1970s (just before and during the revolution). Some of the posters shown in the book would be useful in helping your students to understand the reasons behind the revolution.

A History of the Muslim World to 1405
By Vernon O. Egger

The Essential Koran
An introductory selection of readings from the Muslim holy book.

Moorish Spain
By Richard Fletcher

The Modern Middle East: A History
By James L. Gelvin

Trading Tastes: Commodity and Cultural Exchange to 1750
By Erik Gilbert and Jonathan Reynolds
A short reference book on medieval international trade in salt, slaves, silk, and spices.

The main religious text of Muslims.

The Middle East and Islamic World Reader
Edited by Marvin E. Gettleman and Stuart Schaar
A collection of documents on Islam and Middle Eastern history. (Over half the book is on 20th century conflicts and issues.)

Essential Judaism: A Complete Guide to Beliefs, Customs, and Rituals
By George Robinson
This wonderfully detailed reference book makes it easy to look up anything you want to know about Judaism.

Historical Atlas of Islam
By Malise Ruthven and Azim Nanji
This includes discussions of modern topics, such as Muslim cinema, internet use in the Muslim world, and human rights. There is also a map that shows the countries of origin of North American Muslims.


Al-Nakba: The Palestinian Catastrophe 1948 (1997)
 This documentary describes how and why 750,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees after the first Arab-Israeli War. It attempts to view the reality, not the propaganda, of the issue.
VHS format. 56 minuntes.

America Held Hostage: The Iran Crisis (1998)
This is an ABC news special. 
VHS format.  60 minutes.

Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust in Arab Lands
This PBS documentary describes how some North African Arabs helped Jews during the Holocaust.
DVD format.

Anatomy of Tragedy: Massacre at Hebron (1990)
This Nightline special discusses the massacre in the Ibrahim Mosque perpetrated by an Israeli extremist. This is particularly interesting as students are familiar with Palestinian suicide bombers but rarely see the atrocities perpetrated by the other side.
VHS format.

Arab World: The Arabs and the West (1997)
Bill Moyers talks with Charles Issawi about the roots of Arab resentment toward the West.
VHS format. 30 minutes.

Arab World: The Bonds of Pride (1997)
This film explores Arab cultural ties (language, religion, literature, history).
VHS format. 28 minutes.

This is a biography of the founder of modern Turkey.
VHS format. 80 minutes.

Cities of Light
This documentary is an interesting look at Muslim, Jewish, and Christian interrelationships in medieval Spain.
DVD format. 

Crusades: The Four Volumes (1985)
This is a documentary about the Crusades.
HS format. 50 min. each - 4 videotapes.

Desperate Hours
This production by Shendoah Films describes how Turks aided Jews during the Holocaust.
DVD format.

“Egypt: Mummy Autopsy,” “Egypt: Mysterious Death of Cleopatra,” “Egypt: Pharaoh’s Revenge,” “Egypt: Ramses,” “Egypt: The Sphinx.”
This is a series of Discovery Channel specials.
DVD format. 60 minutes each.

The Glories of Islamic Art
This comprises three 45-minute videos with beautiful cinematography and descriptions of the place of art within the Muslim tradition. Part 1: The Umayyads and Their Capital Damascus,” Part 2: “The Ottomans and Their Capital Istanbul,” Part 3: “Two Islamic Regimes in Cairo.”

Good Kurds, Bad Kurds
U.S. foreign policy towards the Kurds in the time of Saddam Hussein and the Turkish Kurds of the same period were radically different.
VHS format.

Hidden Wars of Desert Storm
This rather shocking films critiques U. S. policies during and after the First Gulf War.
VHS format.

I Will Not Be Sad in This World (2001).
Portrait of a 94-year-old Armenian woman’s life from the genocide through her childhood in a Lebanese orphanage through her life in America.
56 min. VHS and DVD formats available.

Inside Mecca
 This National Geographic special  takes you on a journey through the Muslim pilgrimage and its rituals.
60 minutes.

Islam: A Pictorial Essay in Four Parts
This documentary about the Muslim religion comprises four sections: “The Doctrine,” “The Life of the Prophet and the Faith,” “The History and Culture,” “The Arts and Sciences.”
VHS format. 90 min.

Islam: Empire of Faith (2000)
This is a PBS special about the Muslim religion.
VHS and DVD formats. 180 minutes.

This describes the history of the city of Jerusalem.
VHS format. 19 minutes.

Lawrence of Arabia: The Battle for the Arab World (2004)
An excellent PBS documentary, this film examines the life of Lawrence of Arabia.
VHS and DVD formats. 120 minutes.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
This film is a Hollywood production (to compare to the documentary).
DVD format. 227 minutes.

The Message: The Story of Islam (1996)
This film shows the emergence and beliefs of the Muslim religion.
VHS format. 172 minutes.

Persepolis Recreated
This DVD/book combination shows how the city of Persepolis looked in the time of the ancient Persian Empire (before the destruction of the city by Alexander the Great.
DVD format.

Prince among Slaves
This is a true story of an African (Muslim) slave brought to the U.S. and then discovered to be a prince.
DVD format. 

Reel Bad Arabs
If you are doing a lesson on propaganda or on different points of view, this DVD is wonderful. Be sure you preview it in advance to be sure some of the film clips aren’t too violent for your school’s regulations.
DVD format.

Secrets of Lost Empires: Pyramid (2007)
This Nova special intersperces a documentary style with an animated story telling of the building of the great pyramid at Giza.
VHS format. 60 min.

The Siege of Constantinople
 One of the History’s Turning Points series, this documentary is a vivid recreation of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople.
VHS format. 27 minutes.

Story of Islam
VHS format. 120 minutes

Um Kulthum: A Voice Like Egypt
 This is a documentary about a famous Middle Eastern singer.
VHS format.


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