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 She has ambitions to become a decent gardener, hiker, and nature journaler.

6 thoughts to “Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula – Does it belong in an LDS Charlotte Mason curriculum?”

  1. I’m not quite sure why Richard chooses to champion “Reformers” alone after the Middle Ages. Many great Catholic and Orthodox Christians, and still are ours today. Curious to how he defines Arians as heretics for going against Church Fathers but gives a different title to Calvin et al. Arians, Nestorians, Gnostics et al all championed The Lord but taught falsely handed on Truths. Funny how that works. I’m thinking he would not include LDS with “reformers”

  2. Thank you for this post. I am in my 4th year of using AO and decided to go ahead and try to use Trial and Triumph this year. Preach My Gospel mentions several of the reformers and I was wishing I knew more about them. So far we’ve studied Martin Luther, and I am disappointed. The quality of writing is not nearly on par with other books recommended on AO, in fact, I don’t think I could call it a living book. Dangling modifiers, exaggerated descriptions, poor narrative flow, etc. That combined with the unabashedly evangelistic statements peppered throughout (nearly always stating that faith in Christ is all that is necessary for salvation) have made me decide to continue my search for a good source to learn about the reformers.
    I am grateful for the checkmarked list from your dad. That will help me decide which are most important to focus on!

      1. I have. All are good quality, though some have some content that may not be suitable for every family. The website has notes about these books and if you join the AO forum there are lots of discussions there about substitutions.

      2. Thank you! I have been on a the forum a bit, and have joined the Facebook group also which ive found to be a good place for answers. I’ve used a few AO selections in the past and loved them, and this year is the first year we are using the full program. I’ve always hesitated on trial and triumph though, and would like to find a better replacement or replacements. I can’t ask lds oriented questions on the forum or fb group though. Are there any other programs/book lists that you have found helpful? This is my first year going fully CM.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *