I think most homeschoolers look for bargains when it comes to buying curriculum. That’s why the market for used curriculum material is so hot.
I ran across this post this morning for free educational books you can download for your Kindle. You don’t own a Kindle? No worries…you can download Kindle apps for your browser, smartphone, or tablet here. This means you can download and use these books even if you don’t own a Kindle. All you need is an Amazon account.
Since our homeschool 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 category to help kids grow through the challenges they face.
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 similar title, Turning Back the Pages of Time by Kathy Keller is also out of print but still available used. 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.
My husband and children often tease me about how many books I have out from the library (sometimes over 100!). They also find it strange that I am usually reading several books at the same time. But that doesn’t really seem all that odd to me. After all, when I was in college, taking several courses at once, didn’t I read more than one book at a time then? I just tell them that they should try it too, maybe they could actually keep up with me!
I thought I’d share what I’ve been reading lately. There is usually no real pattern to what I read at any given time. I just follow my interests moment by moment. Here is what I have going at the moment.
I just finished a book called How to Find Selfless Joy in a Me-First World by Leslie Vernick. This book challenges the current cultural focus on self-centered living. It was a refreshing call to make some changes in my life that would help move me toward personal, relational and spiritual growth. I highly recommend it to anyone who is tired of the “looking out for number one” mentality.
I am also currently reading a book called Boys Should Be Boys: 7 Secrets to Raising Healthy Sons by Meg Meeker, M.D. This book looks at how we as parents can help our boys to truly enjoy just being boys. The author offers practical ways to teach our sons to become responsible, caring men of integrity in a world that often portrays men as weak and stupid. Just watch some prime time TV and you will see plenty of examples of men being made to look foolish. This book is a real encouragement to return to some of the old-fashioned forms of play for boys and turn away from the offerings of the current culture that seeks to make them less than they were created to be. Great book!
Another book I am reading is calledFiction is Folksby Robert Newton Peck. This is a sort of laid back textbook on creating fiction. If you are interested in learning the craft of writing stories or have a teen who is interested in writing, this is a great book to help you create memorable characters. This is the third time I’ve read this title which is out of print but still available used at Amazon.com.
I just picked up a new book from the library last week called Simple Food for Busy Families: The Whole Life Nutrition Approach by Jeannette Bessinger and Tracee Yablon-Brenner. I have only read the first few chapters but these two authors have already given me some great ideas about making healthier choices when it comes to feeding my family. The book is loaded with nutritional information, tips, and recipes that will help you find the confidence to try a new healthier way of eating.
Finally, I always have a fiction title in the works as well as all the others. Right now I am reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I’ve read this book before, probably 8 or 9 years ago. It is definitely worth reading more than once. I love this story because if reminds me that no one is ever beyond God’s reach. A great story based on the Old Testament story of Gomer in the book of Hosea.
Well, that’s it for the moment. In another post I’ll tell you about the genealogy books and the quilting books and the cookbooks…maybe I’ll make this a regular monthly post. I know I’d never run out of material!
From a homeschooler’s perspective, it goes without saying that the library is a vital part of daily life — at least at our house. I don’t know about you, but for our family, the library is actually our main source of curriculum. I use the word “curriculum” loosely. It isn’t uncommon for me to have more than 100 books signed out on my library card at one time. Fortunately for me, my library has no limit to the number of books you can take home!
Years ago, when I began homeschooling I spent hours with the curriculum catalogs and then spent more hours in the vendor hall of our state homeschool convention in search of the perfect curriculum. I collected boxes of different programs all designed to be the perfect means by which to educate my children.
Now, eighteen years later, I have tossed most of those texts and also tossed the concept that we need some sort of canned program at all. These days you will find us on any given school day, reading a variety of books — most, if not all, from the public library.
At this moment, because of the current economic challenges we are all facing, libraries are becoming endangered. Many state and local governments are considering cutting funding for libraries at a time when the resources available there are more important than ever.
As homeschoolers, we are quite familiar with the need to make our voices heard about issues of importance. This is another cause that we can get behind wholeheartedly. Institutions like the public library are part of what makes our country a great place. Let’s get informed and get the word out that we need our libraries to be a priority.
You can start by visiting GeekTheLibrary.org and sending the link to anyone you feel would be interested. No one will know that we think this is important unless we tell them.