I love to read and since one of the biggest parts of my life at present is homeschooling, I’ve read a LOT of homeschooling books.
Every year teachers are required to complete a large number of hours of teacher in-service, to keep their skills and knowledge up to date and expanding.
Just like school teachers, I believe it’s important to continually learn more about education and homeschooling.
There is always something more we can learn.
But choosing a book to start with can be overwhelming. There are almost as many homeschooling books as there are curriculum. And that’s a lot!
So I’d like to offer a list of recommendations that I’ve read and found valuable.
First I’d like to start with a book that isn’t purely a homeschooling book.
It’s Sarah Clarkson’s recent book, “Caught Up in a Story: Fostering a Storyformed Life of Great Books & Imagination with Your Children“.
This is a book for those who love to read to their children and those who may not love it but realise that it’s valuable.
In “Caught Up in a Story” Sarah talks about the ‘soul-forming’ power of a story and the role that books play in shaping our children ‘to love what is beautiful, pursue what is good and grasp what is true’.
It’s a beautiful and inspiring book.
But beware, when you try to take notes, you’ll end up wanting to write it all.
The most recent homeschooling book that I’ve read and loved is Karen Glass’ “Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition“.
This book is a must read for Classical Educators and people who follow Charlotte Mason’s approach.
In this book Karen Glass demonstrates the link between Classical Education and Charlotte Mason’s approach.
From this book I learned that you first need to understand the ‘why’ before you can assemble the ‘how’.
How many homeschoolers jump straight into wanting to first know ‘how to homeschool’.
I loved Anthony Esolen’s “Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child“.
I read it on my kindle and then had to go and order a paperback version as well!
The book is written in a tongue in cheek fashion but don’t let that fool you.
There is a lot to learn about the woes of contemporary parenting and educational trends in Esolen’s book.
If you do the opposite of all ten things, you’ll be on the right path.
Peter Brown’s “Make It Stick“ is a fascinating book.
I know. It’s yet another book that isn’t technically a homeschooling book
but we are educators so we need education books to inspire us as well.
This book contains current research about how children learn best. It’s a lot more interesting than it sounds.
And there’s lots that homeschoolers can glean from it.
Sadly schools aren’t too worried about current research. They just continue marching to the beat of their own drum.
is a book that was recommended by Andrew Pudewa (from IEW) in one of his audio talks.
It’s absolutely fascinating, especially for mothers of boys.
Modern thought would have us believe that girls and boys are the same and should be treated the same.
But Leonard Sax has the research that says otherwise.
Okay, here’s a homeschooling book.
It’s Lisa Whelchel’s “So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It“.
This is a good book for those just starting out.
It’s not too deep and not too light and it doesn’t follow any one particular homeschool philosophy.
I particularly loved that the book allowed me to peek into the homeschooling days of different families.
In the early days, I always wanted to be a fly on a homeschooler’s wall to see what homeschooling looked like.
Now if you are the kind of homeschooler who wants a hefty book with all the answers then you probably need
This book is chock full of insights and brilliant ideas for Christian homeschooling.
It’s massive and I’m pretty sure it says something about every homeschooling topic.
An important read is “Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling“, written by John Taylor Gatto.
After thirty years of teaching, Gatto gives a dismal review of public education in his acceptance speech for the New York State Teacher of the Year award.
(I bet that went down like a lump of lead. 🙂 )
If you or family members aren’t convinced about the evils of public education, then this is a must read.
“Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe” by Todd Wilson is a short, easy-to-read title that will have you laughing at the lies homeschooling mums tell themselves.
Todd reminds us that nobody else’s kids are better, their houses aren’t cleaner, their meals aren’t better, they aren’t more capable, they don’t always love homeschooling and they do not do it all.
In this book there’s lots of truth that you already know but you need to be reminded of it.
And it helps to laugh while you are doing it.
Now to a practical title – “The Three R’s” by Ruth Beechick.
This book shares a very practical and sensible approach to teaching in the early years.
If you have no idea how to teach Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, this book will lead you in the right direction
and give you the confidence to teach your own children.
“You Can Teach Your Child Successfully: Grades 4-8” is Ruth Beechick’s book for the older grades.
“Homeschool Supermom…NOT!: When Grace Meets Homeschooling” by Susan Kemmerer is one of my favourite homeschooling books.
This is a book that provides homeschoolers with hope, reassurance and a common sense view of homeschooling.
It’s an absolute must read, particularly if you are struggling…or ever going to struggle.
This next book “102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum Paperback” by Cathy Duffy – is more of a helpful guide.
I often lend out my copy of this book to new homeschoolers who are trying to get their head around homeschooling curriculum.
There is so much curriculum out there that it’s helpful to have a guide to walk you through it.
(All of these curriculums are American though.)
“Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School” by Rebecca Rupp is another handy guide.
It is one of my most used reference books.
It’s list goals and suggestions for each grade level and subject area.
Of course, I don’t strictly follow it, preferring instead to let it make suggestions about things I might have missed.
It’s rather handy…but once again American.
I admit that “A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on The Gentle Art of Learning” by Karen Andreola, is an odd recommendation for a general homeschooling list.
But quite frankly I would recommend that everyone read something about Charlotte Mason’s approach to education.
You might not want to utilise all of her methodologies,
but whatever you borrow from her will be gold.
All of the Charlotte Mason books I’ve read were wonderful so you can’t go wrong with your choice.
If you want the simplest summary of Charlotte Mason’s methods then you need to read,
” A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual“ and “More Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual“, both by Catherine Levison.
These books are short and sweet and quickly get to the practicalities of a Charlotte Mason Education.
And now for a title that you can download for free (or buy in hard copy)
It’s Leigh Bortins’ “Echo in Celebration: A Call to Home-Centered Education“.
This is the first of Leigh’s books that I read and I remember loving it.
It’s about time that I re-read it actually.
(Leigh Bortins is the creator of the large US homeschool co-op, “Classical Conversations. She’s also written “The Core” and “The Question”.)
“Bringing Them Home” by Elizabeth Wiens is one of my all time favourite homeschooling books.
It’s not an information book like the rest of the books on this list.
Instead it’s a novel about homeschooling that walks you through the early days as though you were experiencing them alongside the main character.
I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing homeschooling in this way.
I wish there were more books like it.
The very first homeschooling book that I read was “Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days – Share a Day With 30 Homeschooling Families” by Nancy Lande.
I remember it fondly.
It’s a book that shares descriptions of 30 different homeschoolers’ days.
I enjoy these kinds of books.
It helps me realise the kind of homeschooler I want to be and the kind that I don’t want to be.
“How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and On to Learning” by Carol Barnier gives you ideas for how to homeschool without needing to sit at a desk all day.
Carol has several books in the same vein.
If you are looking for alternate teaching methods, this book might help.
We can’t have a homeschooling book list without a book on socialisation.
Of course, us homeschoolers don’t need to read it.
You know that your children are well socialised
but, for those naysayers in your life,
you need to pick up a copy of “The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling“ by Rachel Gathercole.
My personal favourite book on socialisation is Rick Boyer’s, “The Socialization Trap“.
It says what I believe about the myth of socialisation
– that there is more social danger in allowing our children to spend all day in age-segregated schools away from their family.
Now how can I have a homeschooling book list with hardly any Classical Education books on it?!
Well it’s tough to find Classical Education books that aren’t neoclassical and yet are suitable for beginning homeschoolers.
A lot of them are so deep and meaty that they would scare the living daylights out of a newbie.
“What’s the difference between neoclassical and classical education?”, you ask.
Very crudely, the neoclassical proponents have turned the trivium into something it never was.
Books such as “The Well-Trained Mind” and “Teaching the Trivium” are guilty of this.
They also have different goals.
Neoclassical educators seek excellence of the intellect
and traditional Classical Educators seek to cultivate wisdom and virtue (and get excellence of the intellect thrown in for free)
It’s a lengthy debate which I won’t go into
But if you are interested, start your search at CIRCE.
Check out their audios first and then their bookstore.
But here are two Classical books that I would definitely recommend:
“Simply Classical: A Beautiful Education for Any Child” by Cheryl Swope
As a Classical Educator I’ve been told many times that Classical Education is elitist and not achievable for children with special needs.
Well this book proves otherwise.
The author has two special needs children that she has classically educated.
This book explains what she did,
while also giving a great explanation of Classical Education.
And finally, for those who really want to get their teeth into Classical Education,
there is “Norms and Nobility: A Treatise on Education” by David Hicks.
This book isn’t for the faint of heart and you’ll know if you’re ready to read it if you don’t faint at the price.
This is a book that is considered a must-read by hard core Classical Edders.
But I warn you, it’s a really really hard slog.
I’m still wading through it, one tiny bite at a time.
And that, my friends, is my recommended list of books.
Mind you, any book is a good choice if it stretches you and makes you think.
The key is to pick up something and just start reading.