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Readers Share Most Inspiring Homeschooling Books

By Heather Idoni

Added Friday, June 27, 2008

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 9 No 51 June 27, 2008
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2008 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!
If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!




Notes from Heather
-- Homeschooling Book Picks
Helpful Tip
-- Independent Reading/Writing
Winning Website
-- Math Maven's Mysteries
Reader Question
-- How to Choose Good Books?
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

Reader Feedback on Really GREAT Books about Homeschooling


"Thanks for asking our input on books that inspire. Early on in
my homeschooling career I was a research fanatic. I read and
researched all types of methods, authors, and movements. Ones
from the traditional homeschooling movement included: John Taylor
Gatto, Karen Andreola, John Holt, David H.Albert, Susan Wise Brown,
and others. I even got to meet many of those folks. I also read
anyone with a pedagogy of what learning is and how to achieve the
status 'educated'. Ones from the educational ideals at large
included: Maria Montesorri, Charlotte Mason, E. Christian Koppf
(Why America Needs the Classical Tradition), Rudolph Steiner
(Waldorf), Friedrich Frobel (founder of Kindergarten), Romalda
Spalding, Jean Piaget, and others. As well, I studied school
curriculum from public schools to private schools, from progres-
sive to classical. As I did, themes emerged. My personal
philosophy of education began to develop. I saw on the one hand,
how pivotal a solid classical tradition of education was for
right thinking and solid foundations, and at the same time, the
beauty of natural development along the lines of an individual's
gifts and talents was obvious as well. There too was the need
to follow a child's heart of curiosity, desire for competent
independence, natural motivators of self sufficiency and the
thrill of learning. How to give them the goods without squelch-
ing the spirit? I asked and found in the book I recommend, a
wonderful balance of both. My favorite book on homeschooling
is: 'Teaching the Trivium' by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn.

These two lovely parents raised 5 children into adulthood using
classical techniques, including Latin, Greek, Hebrew, the Great
Books (their version of these), and solid logic and rhetoric.
However, they suggest that until 10 you just read to your child,
teach the children to read, and spend much time exploring ideas
in fun childlike ways (math is games, science is outdoor time,
etc). I loved it. Here was what I was looking for. Give the
children the freedom to be children, guiding them toward good
behavior and good hearts while they are young, with little
intensity in curriculum. Always introduce them to quality
literature of thought as well as wording, and give them the
tools to begin reading on their own. Then, as the children
enter the age of young adulthood, as they begin to require more
in the way of ideas and understanding, intensify the workload
to match their educational curiosity.

So I would encourage anyone who is considering, or has been in
the trenches of homeschooling, to read the Bluedorn's book.
Though the first two chapters on their religious reasoning for
homeschooling differ from mine, I just skipped right into chapter
three through fifteen and found immense help and guidance, as
well as much encouragement for homeschooling." -- Mary Robin G.


"My all time favorite homeschooling book is 'The Survivor's Guide
to Homeschooling' by Luanne Shakleford and Susan White."
-- Martha H.


"My favorite is 'A Charlotte Mason Companion' by Karen Andreola."
-- Laurel S.


"I am finishing my 9th year of teaching my children at home, so
I do get asked quite often about homeschooling, especially by
parents who are wanting to 'get started' or plan for the future.
I always tell them that they should start by reading 'When You
Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling' by R.C. Sproul,
Jr. This is an incredible book, in my opinion, and if I could
only have one book on my shelf to either offer to new homeschool-
ing parents, or to give to veterans who need to be inspired all
over again, this would definitely be it. I re-read it myself
during the summer to remind myself why we do this! I highly
recommend it!" -- Mindy


"'Beyond Survival' and 'Reaping the Harvest' by Diana Waring."


"I would recommend reading 'Educating the WholeHearted Child'
by Clay and Sally Clarkson - it is an excellent book." -- Michelle


Do you have comments to share? Please do!
Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net



Helpful Tip

Independent Reading and Writing

"I started a shared journal with my middle son. He was a reluctant
reader/writer. At first I wrote how my day had gone and asked him
how his was. He wrote very little the first few times. I had to
remind him it didn't matter whether he spelled words right or not --
it was just for fun. Eventually I started the beginning of a story
and then passed it on to him. He added to it and passed it back.
We continued back and forth. Now he writes on his own voluntarily
and I encourage him to draw pictures after he finishes each story.

I also let him pick out his own books. I give him a list that he
HAS to pick two from -- and then he can pick other books to read.
Even if his books are several grades lower, I let him pick them.
Reading easy books over and over gives him more confidence. He
can read one of his first, then mine, then more of his picks."

-- Kristie - HomeschoolingBOYS.com email group member


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

Math Maven's Mysteries

Calling all math detectives! Mysteries are popping all over town,
and our chief sleuth needs your help to crack each case. Varying
degrees of difficulty make this site great for kids grades 3 – 8.

-- Cindy, www.HomeschoolingFromTheHeart.com

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I was recently at the beach this past week and I went into
several of the old and used bookstores, having just read about
how libraries toss books away, and I thought 'I have no idea
what I am looking for!'

So my question is -- how do all of you know which books to look
for, which to buy, what author, what category -- basically, how
do I get started in collecting?

My girls and I read a lot, so I have some that we have purchased
from our packaged curriculum, but as for stores and sales I am
a bit lost. Thanks!" -- Michelle L. in Oregon

Our Readers' Responses

"I once heard a joke that said husbands of homeschooling women
shouldn't buy their wives diamonds -- they would rather have book
shelves! I know that's definitely true in my case! Probably my
biggest weakness in life is BOOKS! As a result, we really have
a large, wonderful collection of books. I have them organized by
subject matter with a typed 'guide' up on the wall for my kids to
follow when they're looking for a book about a certain subject.
I have two different methods to suggest to you when searching for
books. First, you could look at the books you have to see where
you might be most lacking. Do you have several good history books?
Maybe you could look for some great science books -- animals,
nature, etc. Do you have a good collection of non-fiction already?
Maybe you could look for quality fiction for your children to read.
Another way I've added to my collection is to buy books on subjects
my children are currently studying to supplement or add to their
knowledge. If one of your girls is learning about American history,
get some good books on that area. If another is learning about
birds, get some bird books!

Usually a quick perusal of a book will tell you whether or not it
has quality information and is worth adding to your collection.
Take stock of what you have, and go from there." -- Mindy


"As a personal owner of over 4,000 books, think QUALITY not
QUANTITY. I have been 'collecting' books since I was a child
(over 20 years ago). Do not expect to have a perfect, full library
in a span of a year or even 5. Shop as you would for any item.
Purchase books on things you enjoy. I was a Pre-med student in
college and I love anything in the biological sciences. My husband
and I are big history buffs, so I will pick up books I know will
interest him (like WWII). One of my daughters likes cook books;
another likes horses and animals in general. I like the author
Max Lucado -- you get the picture. Do not waste time on 'academic'
books that you think will make you look smart. Of what value is
having a book you really have no interest in reading? Leave it
for someone else. Buy what you or your family like; what you are
interested in. If you see a good book on Egypt and you know you
are going to do a unit study in the next year or so, pick it up.

As their mothers and teachers, it is our job to spark interest
in these things. No one knows what each member of your family is
interested in better than you. And most of all, RELAX. There
are few things I and my children enjoy more than looking through
a pile of used books. Browse through them like you would any
gift shop. (Also try what I affectionately call junk stores --
many times they will have incredible books for a dime!)"
-- Mrs. Dani


"The first thing I would do is get a copy of the Sonlight catalog
https://www.sonlight.com/request-catalog.html. Many of the books
they recommend are by authors from different generations and
cultural backgrounds who can actually write. Once I became
familiar with the author's names, finding treasures became much
easier. Many times while scanning rows of books at a thrift shop
a name will practically jump out at me. This is helpful when I'm
just browsing for something good, but not sure what I might find.

Secondly, look up the less-current winners of the Newbery Award at
http://www.ucalgary.ca/~dKbrown/newb_hon.html. Most of them have
written multiple books of high quality.

And thirdly, try to get in touch with some 'unschoolers' (sometimes
called 'life learners'). These are homeschoolers who, for the
most part, don't use a structured curriculum, but learn as life
presents opportunities. While a workbook or textbook may be used
if it's the only option for learning something, unschoolers rely
heavily on real books and most will not be current recommendations
at the library. My kids literally read at least a book a day so
we've gone through a lot! Some of my finds go right back to the
thrift store after one reading, but others have become well-worn
friends we read again and again." -- Prajna in CA


"Ask yourself 'What am I trying to accomplish by purchasing used
books?' Are you looking for books to supplement your curriculum?
Are you building a home library -- and do you have enough room for
this? Or are you just buying great books for your family to read?
I recommend the public library for all books that are used for a
short time and then not read again. No point in keeping books you
will not use again. If your public library does not have them,
check the church library or inter-library loan through your public
library. I would check reading lists provided by your favorite
curriculum, or by curricula that are literature heavy, like Sonlight
or Beautiful Feet, for great titles or authors. If you or your
child keeps checking the same book out of the library, invest in
a copy. Ask your favorite librarian to recommend age-appropriate
authors or titles for your children. Put all these suggestions
on a list that you carry with you for those impromptu forays into
used book stores. Find out what your children are interested in
and buy books that feed their interest. Give your children plenty
of time to explore in the library or the local book store. Model
browsing for them; let them see you looking for books -- taking
them off the shelf, reading the covers, the first page, etc. One
of the greatest gifts you can give your child is a love of books
and a sense of wonder. Do this and you will foster a life-long
learner who never lacks for enjoyment." -- Cindy D.


"Library sales are the best. Because we operate on a budget, I
usually go in when the afternoon deals start. At 2 pm our library
has a '$2 per grocery bag of books' sale to finish off their
remaining books. I still find so much and it is a great deal.

In picking out, I usually choose older over newer. Pretty pic-
tures and nice covers never make up for rich vocabulary and quality
writing. Also, watch out for abridged versions; get the unabridged!

Once I have picked up a book, I flip to the inside cover for a
description, or just a random page from any chapter after the
first few. Skim the first pages of this chapter, and see if the
narrative is inviting and appropriate in material for your children.
If you approve of the content and style, ask your children to
listen to you read. I read one page to them and ask them if they
feel they can comprehend the ideas and if they find the book inter-
esting. If they approve, I plop that book in my cache and continue
on until I have two grocery bags full and I am done. Such a fun
process. Happy hunting!" -- Mary Robin G.


"I'll let someone else tell you WHICH books to find, but I wanted
to share a nifty e-mail alert which alerts you to used books sales
(mostly library book sales, but also AAUW, etc.). You type in
your zip code and how far you are willing to travel and each week
this services (free) sends you a list of used booksales in your
area! Fun, fun fun!

Book Sale Finder - Your Online Guide to Used Book Sales

From a former professional-librarian-turned-homeschooler!"

-- Debbie in MI

Answer our NEW Question

"I read your ezine all the time and have gotten a lot of informa-
tion from it over the years. I have been homeschooling for six
years, but I now have to return to work full time. I did put my
boys (13 and 10) in public school in February and they did very
well. I am not sure public school is the right thing for them
to do next year. If they do stay home I would need a self-taught
curriculum and I am not sure how to do that. I have always been
a very hands-on homeschooler. I was hoping that there were other
full-time working homeschool families that might have some insight
on this. Thanks." -- Michelle S.


Do you have suggestions and/or practical advice for Michelle?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
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