A couple of months ago I wrote a post about the Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I hope you have had a chance to take a look at this excellent resource. Now that it’s August, I am looking at what we will use for school this year. I have consulted several other resources similar to the Read Aloud Handbook that I think are also well worth a look.
Since our homeshool method is pretty relaxed, I usually use mostly library books for history. No dry textbooks for us. We’d rather find a story, be it fiction or biography, that helps us imagine what it was really like to live in a particular time period. So I am always looking for interesting titles that I can read aloud to my younger boys or recommend as independent reading to the older ones. I try not to assign them specific books but rather allow them the freedom to choose titles that they find interesting.
There are many resources available that help you choose a variety of books to interest your children. Since I have all boys, I have found a book called Great Books for Boys by Kathleen Odean particularly helpful. The author has organized her recommendations first by reading level and then by genre. She gives short summaries of each book and the age group recommended.
Another general title is What to Read When by Pam Allyn. This resource begins with a section of ideas to get your child motivated to read and then she gives a list of books recommended by age group. Finally, she lists suggestions of books that relate to 50 different topics that she has chosen to address. Some of the topics she deals with include adoption, death, divorce, siblings and loneliness. All the topics are things many children are going to face in their lives and the author has given several books in each catagory to help kids grow through the challenges they face.
Several other titles that offer help with finding good books for children are Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt, Books Children Love: A Guide to the Best Children’s Literature by Elizabeth Laraway Wilson and Susan Schaeffer Macaulay and Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Children Moral Values through Stories by William Kilpartrick.
I have also found a couple of more specific resources helpful. As I said, I often rely on historical fiction when I am talking about history with my children. A couple of resources have been designed to make this easier. One is Let the Authors Speak by Carolyn Hatcher. This book goes through the eras of history with recommendations for books that are sorted by setting. The author has noted the reading age and type of book as well as a comment to help you in your search. There are hundreds of titles that you might not ever run across on your own. This book has been a valuable resource for us for many years. It is out of print now and available used at a pretty high price. The best way to get your hands on this book might be through inter-library loan. Check with your local library.
Another similiar title, Turning Back the Pages of Time by Kathy Keller is also out of print but available used at Amazon.com. This is just a small, 35-page booklet but it is packed with great reading suggestions sorted by era and then by reading ability. It is worth finding if you are using fiction to teach history.
That’s all I have for now. If you have come across other resources of a similar nature I would love to hear about them. Feel free to add a comment to this post with your recommendations.