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Homeschooling Books

Homeschooling books used to be something of a rarity. When I started researching homeschooling in 1991, there weren't many books on homeschooling. I spent weeks digging up the few that my library had, as the search terms "homeschooling" or "home school" or "home education" weren't recognized by computer catalog.

This was before the Internet, of course. Researching information took time and patience; I was blessed with an abundance of both. I was newly married, living in a strange city with no friends, working different shifts from my husband at a job I hated, and generally bored out of my mind. We had next to no money and we were afraid to use our heaters much (we'd never seen baseboard heat before and we heard horror stories about how much electricity they suck up), I had little to do that winter but hang out in apartment, wrapped in heavy blankets with my new kitten.

I don't remember how I discovered John Holt, though I do remember my delight at discovering the library had several of his books.

I can not exaggerate the impact John Holt's writings had on me. They truly changed the pathway of my life. I am a very different mother than I would have been otherwise. His writing changed my thinking about children, about schools, about learning (both children's and my own).

References in his work led me to Nancy Wallace (Better Than School, Child's Work), Joseph Chilton Pierce (Magical Child) and Jean Liedloff (The Continuum Concept).

In any case, as I started to say at the beginning, there are more homeschooling books than any one person could read, or would need to read. At the moment, I'm in no position to recommend "how to" homeschooling books, because I've never read any. I offer, instead, the homeschooling books that truly changed my life. Many of them are now out-of-print, but they are worth finding.

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And the Skylark Sings with Me
David H. Albert
ISBN: 0865714010, Published by New Society Pub, 240 pages

A detailed account of a family working together to find ways for the children to take charge of their own education.

Better Than School
Nancy Wallace
ISBN: 0943914051, Published by Larson Publications, 256 pages

This is a wonderful story of a woman's journey into homeschooling with her two children.

This title is out-of-print.

Child's Work
Nancy Wallace
ISBN: 091367706X, Published by Holt Associates, 156 pages

In this sequel to Better Than School, Nancy Wallace discusses her children's learning and work in their teen years.

This title is out-of-print.

Book Description

What happens when children are allowed to spend their growing years doing what they want to do rather than what others think they ought to do? What happens when they have the time and the opportunity to explore the world in their own ways? Nancy Wallace's first book, Better Than School, was the story of how the Wallaces fought for and won the right to teach their children, Vita and Ishmael. Now, in Child's Work, Nancy looks at what happened in the years that followed; how Vita and Ishmael explored and became skilled at music, mathematics, art, and writing, and how Nancy learned to trust their idiosyncratic ways of learning and to respond seriously and helpfully to the choices they made. Child's Work is about how children make knowledge and understadning out of what is available around them, and as such it is an important book for parents, teachers, and anyone interested in learning from and about children.

Dumbing Us Down
John Taylor Gatto
ISBN: 0865714487, Published by New Society Pub, 103 pages

A series of essays by an award-winning teacher exposing the ways that the structure of school destroys learning.

Book Description

This radical treatise on public education has been a New Society Publishers' bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years of award-winning teaching in New York City's public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory governmental schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders as cogs in the industrial machine. In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Dumbing Us Down and to keep this classic current, we are renewing the cover art, adding new material about John and the impact of the book, and a new Foreword.

Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery
David Albert
ISBN: 1567512321, Published by Common Courage Press, 224 pages

Book Description

Are children empty boxes into which we pour knowledge and wisdom? Or are they naturally predisposed to acquire these things? David H. Albert presents a collection of articles laden with gems, -including the single most important lesson to teach a child. -Topics include:

How children learn to read.
"Perfection" -- Why children are perfectionists and how to respond.
How to encourage your child to seek greater challenges and achievements.
Teens and what to do about them.
Why the testing is destroying our schools.

Homeschooling in Oregon : The 1998 Handbook
Ann Lahrson-Fisher
ISBN: 0964081385, Published by Nettlepatch Press, 398 pages

This book concentrates on Oregon, but also contains many helpful resources for homeschooling in general. There are two chapters on special needs students. Basic homeschool issues such as testing, finding your homeschool style and planning your curriculum, record-keeping, homeschooling older children, and handling criticism of your decision are covered thoroughly. An excellent resource.

If you live in Oregon, be aware that the laws have changed since this book was written. Annual registration and testing is no longer required.

Book Description

A comprehensive 400 page manual, the Handbook is jammed with "how-to" tips, useable curriculum resources, hundreds of local and national resources, and other key information. Helpful hints will facilitate curriculum planning and daily scheduling, and ease the registration and testing process for Oregon homeschoolers. All materials and resources are carefully selected by and for families who homeschool, and for others who are interested in homeschooling.

How Children Fail
John Holt
ISBN: 0201484021, Published by Perseus Publishing

A critical examination of the myriad ways that the structure of school sets children up for failure.

How Children Learn
John Holt
ISBN: 0201484048, Published by Perseus Publishing

A look at the strategies that children use to learn.


John Holt was the first to make clear that, for small children, learning is as natural as breathing. He looks at how we learn to talk, to read, to count, and to reason, and how we can nurture and encourage these natural abilities in children.

Learning All the Time
John Holt
ISBN: 0201550911, Published by Perseus Publishing Editorial Review

If John Holt had his way, today's primers would be replaced with the large-print edition of The New York Times, cursive handwriting would fade into disuse, and talking "cutesy-wootsy" to children would be considered a criminal act. This highly opinionated former teacher and original thinker spent the last half of his life challenging widely accepted classroom practices. The author of 10 books that concentrate on early child development and education, Holt is widely considered the father of the modern-day homeschooling movement because he grew to believe that schools stifle the learning process. In this, his final book--compiled by colleagues from drafts, letters, and magazine essays written by Holt before he died in 1985--he strings together his own observations and philosophies to show how young children can be encouraged to learn everything from reading and math to music and science.

Holt's thoughts carry the power of common sense. One of his pet peeves: the silly, nonsensical rules of phonics drilled into schoolchildren today. One of those adages, found on the walls of many an elementary school classroom, goes, "When two vowels go out walking, the first one does the talking." Holt points out that two pairs of vowels in the sentence violate the rule. This is not only confusing to some children, but simply "dumb," he complains. He dismisses picture books and primers, with their small, simple vocabularies. In their place, Holt urges parents to expose children to the Yellow Pages, warranties, letters, ticket stubs, and newspapers--the print trappings that adults rely upon for everyday life. Holt's call for context amid learning is delivered in a sensible, delightful writing style. He even includes several graphics and number games that can easily be used at home. Anyone who comes in contact with a small child would benefit from--and enjoy--reading these last words from a man who clearly adored and remained mesmerized by children and their inquisitive minds. - Jodi Mailander Farrell

Teach Your Own
John Holt
ISBN: 0738206946, Published by Perseus Publishing, 352 pages

This is the original sourcebook/how to for homeschooling.

Book Description The classic work on teaching children at home, updated for today's new laws, new lifestyles, and a new generation of homeschooling parents. Today more than one and a half million children are being taught at home by their own parents. In this expanded edition of the book that helped launch the whole movement, Pat Farenga has distilled John Holt's timeless understanding of the ways children come to understand the world and added up-to-the-moment practical advice. Rather than proposing that parents turn their homes into miniature schools, Holt and Farenga demonstrate how ordinary parents can help children grow as social, active learners. Chapters on living with children, "serious play," children and work, and learning difficulties will be of interest to all parents, whether homeschooling or not, as well as to teachers. This new edition is supplemented with legal advice as well as a guide to cooperating with schools and facing the common objections to homeschooling. Teach Your Own not only has all the vital information necessary to be the definitive reference for parents teaching their own children, it also conveys John Holt's wise and passionate belief in every child's ability to learn from the world that has made his wonderful books into enduring classics.

The Teenage Liberation Handbook
Grace Llewellyn
ISBN: 0962959170, Published by Lowry House Pub, 448 pages

Written as a source for teens who want to teach themselves, this book offers many suggestions of things to do. Editorial Review

You won't find this book on a school library shelf--it's pure teenage anarchy. While many homeschooling authors hem and haw that learning at home isn't for everyone, this manifesto practically tells kids they're losers if they do otherwise. With the exception of a forwarding note to parents, this book is written entirely for teenagers, and the first 75 pages explain why school is a waste of time. Grace Llewellyn insists that people learn better when they are self-motivated and not confined by school walls. Instead of homeschooling, which connotes setting up a school at home, Llewellyn prefers "unschooling," a learning method with no structure or formal curriculum. There are tips here you won't hear from a school guidance counselor. Llewellyn urges kids to take a vacation--at least for a week--after quitting school to purge its influence. "Throw darts at a picture of your school" or "Make a bonfire of old worksheets," she advises. She spends an entire chapter on the gentle art of persuading parents that this is a good idea. Then she gets serious. Llewellyn urges teens to turn off the TV, get outside, and turn to their local libraries, museums, the Internet, and other resources for information. She devotes many chapters to books and suggestions for teaching yourself science, math, social sciences, English, foreign languages, and the arts. She also includes advice on jobs and getting into college, assuring teens that, contrary to what they've been told in school, they won't be flipping burgers for the rest of their days if they drop out.

Llewellyn is a former middle-school English teacher, and she knows her audience well. Her formula for making the transition from traditional school to unschooling is accompanied by quotes on freedom and free thought from radical thinkers such as Steve Biko and Ralph Waldo Emerson. And Llewellyn is not above using slang. She capitalizes words to add emphasis, as in the "Mainstream American Suburbia-Think" she blames most schools for perpetuating. Some of her attempts to appeal to young minds ring a bit corny. She weaves through several chapters an allegory about a baby whose enthusiasm is squashed by a sterile, unnatural environment, and tells readers to "learn to be a human bean and not a mashed potato." But her underlying theme--think for yourself--should appeal to many teenagers. - Jodi Mailander Farrell

Fat Books for Sophisticated Teen Readers
A list of good books for mature teen readers who like really thick books.

Highschool Drama
An extensive list of plays recommended for preparation for college.

Highschool Fiction
An extensive list of fiction books recommended for preparation for college.

Highschool Non-Fiction
An extensive list of non-fiction books recommended for preparation for college.

Homeschooling Magazines
A list of homeschool magazines.

Like every one else, I am apt to read in streaks. If I get interested in any subject I read different books connected with it, and probably also read books on subjects suggested by it. - Theodore Roosevelt

©2000-2013 Barbara L.M. Handley
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