Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool, also blogs about motherhood at Steady Mom
If it weren’t for the books I discovered back when I was considering homeschooling, I don’t think I would have had the courage to start down this path.
Without many real life homeschooling friends at the time, the books I read kindled my interest, answered my questions, and fueled the dream I was mentally crafting about what learning could look like for our family.
I love this quote by American journalist Edward P. Morgan:
“A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.”
Most of us have been significantly impacted by at least one homeschooling book. Here are a few of my favorites:
- A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille
- Leadership Education by Oliver and Rachel DeMille
- Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson
- Free Range Learning by Laura Grace Weldon
- How Children Fail & How Children Learn by John Holt
- Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
Now it’s your turn to share: Tell me the titles of one or more of your favorite homeschooling books. Let’s get a good list going that others can discover and browse when they need inspiration!
I loved Educating the Wholehearted Child by the Clarksons. I read the first edition back in the 1990’s, which really fleshed out what I had read in Ruth Beechick’s 3-Rs series even earlier than that. I also appreciated The Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, as well as the books Beyond Survival and Reaping the Harvest by Diana Waring.
I wrote two of my own books about home schooling years ago. Both have been updated and are now free on-line, at least for now:
Common Sense Excellence: Faith-Filled Education for Preschool to Fifth Grade: http://www.scribd.com/doc/122845972/Common-Sense-Excellence-Faith-Filled-Home-Education-for-Preschool-to-5th-Grade
The Real Life Home School Mom: It’s a Life in ReVision:
Virginia Knowles’s latest post: Duck and Friends: Dinosaur Bones by Donna McFarland (Early Reader Review)
I have a few that helped me as I started homeschooling and that I continue to go back to for reference: The Well Trained Mind, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.
A newer book that I enjoyed was The Core by Leigh Bortins about classical homeschooling.
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What I wish I had done is avoid a lot of reading about rigid expectations for home school families in the way they live every facet of life. There is a lot of legalistic bondage out there, and we need to be discerning because it can all sound so good. Be careful. Your family is *your* family. And keeping it simple really is a huge help. That’s why I like this blog.
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Becky, aka SimplyBurbs Mama
I wish that I had different books than the ones I had when I first started thinking about homeschooling. The books I read had a very structured approach to homeschooling, which would not be a a good fit for our family. it took me quite a while to find the books that seemed to better fit the model I had in mind; a mash between Unschooling and Waldorf (with a sprinkling of Montessori thrown into the pot for good measure!)
A couple that really helped me on my journey would be:
101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy
You Are Your Child’s First Teacher by Rahima Baldwin Dancy
Waldorf Education: A Family Guide by Pamela J. Fenner and Mary Beth Rapisardo
and The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith
I’m reading the last book right now, and I’m practically having an a-ha! moment on every page.
I would add though that blogs such as this one have really been as instrumental, if not more, than any book I’ve read. For me at least, it helps make homeschooling seem less daunting, more ‘do-able’ when I can read about the daily flow of normal homeschooling families.
Looking forward to reading other people’s suggestions!
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This isn’t necessarily a book just about homeschooling, but
Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate M.D
has been instrumental in directing the relationships I have with my children. Since so much of homeschooling is simply connecting and relating to one another, I find its suggestions to be vital to the health of my family. I particularly love their ideas for staying connected as my children age, and how simple things really do matter.
Great list, I’ve read many of those titles (and marked a couple to read now!).
For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay is my all-time favorite, and one I return to again and again.
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Catherine, I replied below since I didn’t see the reply button underneath your comment.
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I found Homeschooling the Early Years, Middle Years, and Teen years (3 separate books) to be extremely helpful. They helped me to realize that traditional homeschooling is not the only way and have helped me become more flexible- which has made our homeschooling experience much happier. Homeschooling 5 kids while having 3 preschoolers, plus one on the way, was becoming very stressful when I was determined to stick to the curriculum. The one about the teen years was a blessing because next year I’ll be homeschooling my 2 older children who are currently in public school.
The first homeschooling book that really spoke to me was Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves by Alison McKee. I really appreciated that the book took me from when their two children were young (k age) all the way through high school – I needed to see that whole journey for myself, to see what it could look like at different stages. I also appreciated how their two kids learned differently, and how that could look in the same house. I loved the sense that I was watching them figure it out, and she doesn’t make it all sound easy and simple, but definitely doable and worthwhile. They encouraged their kids passions, and I am definitely inspired to do the same. 🙂
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Laura Grace Weldon’s book, Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything, is the one that finally gave me the courage to pull my kids out of school and begin our home schooling journey. It’s still the one I keep by my bed and refer to whenever I’m wondering what to do or feeling like I’m in over my head. I love the books you chose!
Ooh, I’ve been wondering about this book. I’ll have to look for it. Thanks!
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Catherine, if you liked For the Children’s Sake, I think you will also enjoy For the Family’s Sake by the same author. Very warm-hearted and liberating.
Virginia Knowles’s latest post: Mindful in the Moment
Educating the Wholehearted Child completely changed the way I thought about homeschooling. I praise God for the Clarkson’s and that book!
The two most important books for me at the beginning of our homeschool adventure were “The Charlotte Mason Companion” by Karen Andreola, and “The Underground History of American Education” by John Taylor Gatto. Now that I have a high school student, I’ve enjoyed “The Teenage Liberation Handbook” by Grace Llewellyn. There are so many good books out there!
That Teenage liberation one is an interesting read, that is for sure!
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I’ve read about half of these titles, and my very first Oliver DeMille read will be in upcoming months. I received “Leadership Education” for Christmas, and I’m looking forward to it. I loved Ruth Beechick’s “Three R’s” , as well.
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Top 100 picks for homeschooling curriculum by Cathy Duffy. (now there is a top 101). It has reviews on curriculum, charts/info that help you figure out what curriculum to use based on your philosophy of education, your teaching style, kids’ learning styles, the time and money you have to spend, etc. it breaks it all down so that its easy to figure all this out.
Also for Charlotte Mason, I like the book A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. I’ve read a few others but this is the easiest to read I’ve found and most life applicable. I found it do-able and inspiring.
I have read some of the above titles, but right now I am in the middle of “boys adrift”, by Dr. Leonard Sax, and I am finding it truly fascinating. The difference that you always thought there was between boys and girls is there, you were right. He explains it in way the layperson can understand. That difference should also make a difference in how we educate boys and girls. Boys do better when a competition is involved, even academically. Great book, it has already changed how I look at all my sons, not just the one I an hs.
Thanks for so many good recommendations. I loved The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole. I wasn’t worried so much about socialization, but everyone else was (of course) and I found this book gave me extra confidence. It also insured me and got me excited about many elements of homeschooling.
I haven’t yet read all the books I plan to read about homeschooling, but there are two that have rocked my world in a great way: Laying Down the Rails: A Charlotte Mason Habits Handbook and Secrets of a Sucessful Homeschool Mom (by Jamie)! Laying Down the Rails just resonated so deeply with me because I saw my own faults and weaknesses in the ideals that are laid out. It gave me lots of areas to work on in myself, so I can learn myself as I am teaching my kids. I will reread it again and again. Secrets of a Sucessful Homeschool Mom came at such an important time for me. It was really perfect. When I read it I felt a freedom to homeschool the way that is most natural to me and it just confirmed a lot of the things I had in my heart but wasn’t quite sure about. Because of the timing and the way it kind of completed the puzzle in my mind, it became one of the most impactful books of my life. When I read both of these books I felt like a key was turned in my mind – missing ingredients were supplied that made me certain I wanted to homeschool.
I definitely wanted to read Educating The Whole Hearted Child – that’s next on my list!
So many of the books already mentioned have inspired me, and I’m currently reading Project Based Homeschooling. It’s wonderful so far.
The Christian HomeSchool by Ed Harris was instrumental in defining my motivation to homeschool. And I love and adore Susan Wise Bauer’s Well-trained and Well-Educated Minds, those books revive me and inspire me every time I am in a lull. Those are the classics…
But by far the most outstanding, life-changing book out that shouldn’t be touted as a home-school book at all, but as a “life-style of learning” book… Is Project Based Homeschooling… this book should be a must read for every parent let alone homeschoolers, if it doesn’t nothing else it will inspire you to let your children follow their hearts and love the learning and discovering as they explore the thinks that they are most curious about.
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I love Home Sweet Homeschool by Sue Maakestad. It is a great book. I reread it for inspiration and also recommend it to new homeschool moms.
I love Project Based Homeschooling for my six year old son. It is like the book was written for him….. Fits his personality to a T. It is one of those books I started highlighting and couldn’t stop! I also really like Simplicity Parenting and am about to start Free Range Learning. Love reading others’ suggestions as we are just starting this journey!
I commented above but I wanted to add in case anyone doesn’t know: getting homeschool books through interlibrary loan. I have a small budget and like to read. Also this way I don’t have to buy books that I then discover don’t work for me. I wasn’t aware for a long time about interlibrary loan- getting books from other libraries (even ones that aren’t connected to your local area). Its free just ask at your library. I am amazed at the books I have been able to get about homeschooling through this system. I thought that libraries wouldn’t have them as our local library doesn’t really have much for homeschooling, but I have been able to get some of the above mentioned titles that way.
Probaley Apologia’s The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens. I homeschooled all my kids through high school now 24, 21 and 18. My 18 year old will graduated in 3 weeks.
The Homeschooling Option by Lisa Rivero is the first book I read, and before I started it, I remembering thinking this book will make me realize I’m crazy for thinking I could do this. But the opposite happened! I wasn’t overwhelmed by the thought if homeschooling- I was excited! then I went on to read The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child by Laura Dobson, and Home Learning by Rebecca Rupp.
I’ve read many of the books already mentioned, and there are some good ones. One that wasn’t mentioned that I absolutely LOVED is Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense by David Guterson.
Besides so many good ones already mentioned, I must add this oldie but goodie:
Homeschooling: A Family’s Journey by Gregory and Martine Millman
When I was a new homeschooler learning to listen to my children and to trust my instinct, it helped me to be brave. I recommend it to everyone.
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I am a new prospective homeschooler and grateful for the suggestions but still overwhelmed and short on reading time. I’ve read 101 Picks (really helpful) and browsed Wholehearted Child (which was a bit overwhelming at this stage). Not quite sure where to go from here.
There are bunch of great titles mentioned here! When I started out, I was dealing with four very active little boys, and started reading Teaching the Trivium and The Well Trained Mind and started crying. I thought there was no way I was ever going to do this.
Someone took pity on me and sent me a little book called Easy Homeschooling Techniques by Lorraine Curry. It really helped me to get to the basics and not stress over other things. (I have read another book by her that I totally did not like, but this one was good).
Also, Homeschooling your struggling Learner by Kathy Kuhl was really good. Another one was Homeschooling at the speed of life- Balancing Home, school and Family by Marilyn Rockett.
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I echo most of what everyone else has listed, but I also have some oldies-but-goodies I’m still very fond of. A few I still like because they influenced my Mom back when she was homeschooling me in the 80’s and 90’s: “Homeschooling for Excellence” by the Colfax family and all the books by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. When I was a homeschooled teen I was deeply influenced by “The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education” by Grace Llewellyn. And now as a second-generation homeschooling mom, I love “And the Skylark Sings With Me” by David Albert.
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