A summer reading list — for moms.

summer reading list for moms shWritten by contributor Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy

For weary homeschooling parents, summer is a great time to rest, re-group, and remember why you chose to homeschool in the first place. I don’t know about you, but nothing kindles my enthusiasm for a subject more effectively than a good book.

Come July, my enthusiasm for homeschooling needs some kindling.

That’s why, every summer, I like to stock my bookshelves (and my beach bag) with books that remind we why we chose this homeschooling path, inspire me to do better, and encourage me for the upcoming school year.

I’ve found these 5 books extremely helpful at times when I needed to be reminded why we do what we do:

books took her places

1. The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.

Every time I re-read this modern classic, I have two thoughts:

1. This is the education I want my kids to have, and
2. This is the education I wish I had had.

(We don’t hew strictly to the guidelines set out in this book: we call our own philosophy “classical unschooling,” and it’s less structured than what’s set forth here. But nothing beats WTM for inspiration, in my book.)

2. Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, Anthony Esolen.

As a homeschooling family, we often feel like we’re swimming against the cultural tides.

This smart, witty, and encouraging book reminds me that’s not a bad thing, and will inspire you to thoughtfully evaluate the ways you educate your kids at home.

3. The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way, Amanda Ripley.

As a homeschooler, you may think a book about the public education system in three countries isn’t important to you.

But I found this journalistic account of three American exchange students who spend a year in the countries with the best public education systems today (Finland, South Korea and Poland) a fascinating way to examine how to create a culture that values education — whether that’s in a public school classroom, or my own home.

This book is about public school, but the takeaways for home educators are everywhere. (Spoiler alert: Ask your kids questions. Talk with them about books and science and the news. And weekly trips to the local bookstore won’t hurt.)

read good books

4. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How, Daniel Coyle.

Coyle examines how to help kids, athletes, business people, or anyone maximize their potential by focusing on 3 key elements: coaching, motivation and practice. Those abstract concepts spring to life with easy-to-grasp, easy-to-implement examples that will change the way you coach, parent and practice your own stuff.

If you want to skip the theory and cut to the how-to, go straight to the stand-alone companion book, The Little Book of Talent: 52 tips for improving your skills.

5. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, Jennifer Senior.

Homeschoolers experience the challenges of parenting plus the challenges of teaching, every day. Taking a step back to evaluate why parenting is hard — and why it’s worth it — can give you the steam you need to keep going, while helping you find the fun and the joy of parenting.

(For further reading, check out these 5 classic homeschool reads to encourage you. And for goodness sake, make time to read a book just for the fun of it. This list of breezy novels is a good place to start.)

What books fire YOU up to start another school year? Share your favorites in comments!

About Anne Bogel

Anne is a certified bookworm and homeschooling mom to 4 crazy kids. She loves Jane Austen, strong coffee, the social graces and social media. You can find her blogging at Modern Mrs Darcy.


  1. Honestly, though I love to read books and I’m a homeschool research junky, I usually find myself reading blogs and researching curriculum instead of picking up homeschooling books. However, I have read Holt’s How Children Learn. While the format was much different than I expected, I did enjoy it quite a bit. I guess when it comes to homeschooling books, I’m hesitant to commit to reading a whole book because so many of them are based around one philosophy and I’m quite eclectic. But some of your suggestions look really good so I may have to dive in.
    Steph’s latest post: Good Job Mama

  2. I love book lists! And I’m always ready for inspiration! I’ll definitely be checking these out!

  3. I just read The Teenage Liberation Handbook for the second time. (The first time was when my oldest was only 2 and I was devouring everything I could find on homeschooling.) That book makes me excited for what I’m calling our Jubilee Year of homeschool. Our goal this year is to read good books and do some traveling.
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  4. I knew you’d put WTM! I totally get what you write about this book. If only I’d had this kind of education…..but we can do it for our kids. 🙂 I love that I haven’t heard of most of these books. Good food for thought, Anne! Thanks!
    Anne’s latest post: Twitterature – July 2014

  5. I’m visiting from Modern Mrs. Darcy because I love Anne’s book lists! I am not a homeschooler, but I am always looking for tips for improving my interactions with my 9 year old twins. Are these books relevant for parents who don’t home school?

  6. The Talent Code sounds good. Thanks for the recommendations!
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  7. Margaret says:

    The book that became my summer favorite is “Maria Collins Way” – she always helped me remember to consider the individual child!


  8. I have loved reading “You are Your Child’s First Teacher” by Rahima Baldwin Dancy. This year I added “The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook”. I created our curriculum this year (only purchased the math block) and these were great. Oh yes, I would like to add “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne.
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  9. Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire by Rafe Esquith. He is a public school teacher and honestly I have yet to read anything that has inspired me so much or given me more ideas for activities for starting homeschooling this fall.

  10. I love Last Child in the Woods and a sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson and anything by Sharon Lovejoy and Jim Trelease.

    • I really enjoyed Last Child in the Woods too. It reminded me why I love having woods behind our home and allowing our children ample time to get outside and explore!

  11. It has the such as you read through my head! A person to figure out a whole lot somewhere around this specific, such as you published this guide in it or something like that. I find myself that you might utilize many pct to force the solution home a little, having said that in lieu of in which, this is exceptional blog site. An excellent study. I’m going to surely come back.

  12. I just re-read The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I have an older edition but the content is still so relevent (ok, maybe not the parts mentioning VHS tapes, kids wanting to watch “Family Ties” and “The Cosby Show” instead of reading, and saving up $500 for a set of Encyclopedias) but the drive-home point of how important reading aloud is to children. This book gets me fired up to add even more books to our reading list AND to find more times throughout our day for book time.

  13. Really mom is first teacher.

  14. I’m so glad to find you! We are also unschoolers. This looks like a great list of books and I will be sure to check them out 🙂

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