November Monthly Booklist: Top Ten Homeschooling Books (Thus Far)

November Monthly Booklist: Top Ten Homeschooling Books (Thus Far)

For the past year or so, I have been devouring every homeschooling book I can get my hands on.  There are so many more that I haven’t had a chance to get yet (even my library system doesn’t have everything!), but I thought I’d share the ones that have interested and inspired me thus far.  I’d love to hear your recommendations for more!

In no particular order:

Homeschooling for Success by Rebecca Kochenderfer and Elizabeth Kanna

This title is a few years old, and to be honest, I haven’t checked out many of the resources they recommend (particularly online ones) as they are somewhat dated.  However, it was one of the first books I read on homeschooling, and one I keep returning to.  Rather than being 90% anecdote (which many homeschooling books are), it focuses on presenting homeschooling options in a simple and straightforward manner.  Good for first timers, or those starting to consider homeschooling.

The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith

At times, this book seems a bit simplistic, but sometimes that is just what a person needs.  Particularly, when it comes to unschooling.  Covers the whole question of unschooling, how it works, and how it looks for various families.  Lots of anecdotes and ideas.  If you’re considering unschooling, it’s a great place to start.

The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling by Rachel Gathercole

Because most homeschoolers have long ago put to bed the question of “socialization,” but the rest of society hasn’t.  I recommend this book to those just starting out, especially those who think homeschoolers are “weird” with poor social skills.  Gathercole makes a great case as to why the exact opposite is the case.  I like how she frames homeschooling as a benefit, rather than simply trying to prove that homeschoolers are just like children who attend public school.  The book is a good blend of scientific study and engaging text.  A must-read.

Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto

At the outset, you may not be ready for this one.  It’s pretty radical.  But, as you go farther down the rabbit hole, eventually, you’ll run up against John Taylor Gatto, and want to see what he’s got to say.  Boldly presented, and strong in its approach, the book’s claims can seem a bit hard to believe.  Suspend your disbelief, and it starts to make an amazing amount of sense.  Gatto’s unique perspective as a celebrated public school teacher turned anti public school (in its current form) is intriguing, to put it mildly.  I think most homeschoolers owe it to themselves to see what is on the far end of the spectrum, and wonder at the number of times they nod in agreement.  Plus, what a title!

Beyond the Rainbow Bridge by Barbara J. Patterson and Pamela Bradley

I originally ordered this book because I wanted to know more about Waldorf education.  And it was a great introduction.  It’s easy to follow, and easy to find application in your own life.  It includes just enough of Rudolf Steiner’s theory for a person to get an idea of what he’s really all about, without being overwhelming.  Further reading would be required for a really solid understanding of the Waldorf philosophy, but this book got me thinking of child development, creativity and encouraging my children towards developing their whole selves.  If you have any interest in Waldorf education, this is a good starting place.

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling by John Holt and Pat Farenga

Although probably not the most heralded of John Holt’s books, it serves as overview of his life and thoughts of education and child development.  John Holt is another one of those homeschool gurus who you will run into at some point, and want to take a closer look.  The front-runner for child-led learning, and self-instruction, John Holt’s perspective is pretty inspiring and freeing.  It will open you up to the possibility of what life and learning can really look like.  I look forward to reading more of his work (sadly, my library has only this one title of his).

 Homeschooling and the Voyage of Self-Discovery by David Albert

Less of a how-to manual, and more of a love story to homeschooling.  David Albert’s books are always quirky, always heartfelt and often deep.  This one is no exception.  It isn’t the easiest book to dive right into, but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded.  You’ll get a picture for a man who loves his children, his experiences with homeschooling, and the exceptional life he has led.  With enough practical material to be of great use to parents, and enough personal anecdote to keep you reading, this is a fascinating journey through homeschooling lore.  Just come with your thinking cap on.

Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything by Laura Grace Weldon

A collection of stories and perspectives from homeschoolers and known homeschool voices, this book kind of hits the nail on the head for me.  It covers topics like, Nurturing the Learner, Connecting and Collaborating.  Inspiring and thought-provoking, it looks at the various aspects of home learning from a theoretic point of view, but it also covers the practical.  Tons of ideas for organizations and places to start connecting with others (home learners or not).  I’ll admit, the title had me sold.  But, this one really is the meat and potatoes of homeschooling.

Teach Me to Do It Myself: Montessori Activities for You and Your Child by Maja Pitamic

This one is best for younger children (it’s targeted at preschoolers), but it serves as a great introduction to Montessori education, and how it can be applied in our homes today.  The hands-on activities are useful and fun, and the focus on creating your own learning supplies is much appreciated (Montessori supplies can get pretty pricey!).  For anyone interested in Montessori, grabbing a copy of this one would be a good idea.

Hold on To Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate

Okay, this one is not actually a homeschooling book.  But, after reading it, the application to homeschooling will be pretty apparent.  This is up there (if not at the top) on my list of all-time best parenting books (although the authors claim it’s not really a parenting book, either).  It’s a book about education.  The effect of North American society and our current education system.  Essentially it makes the case that parents are no longer the guiding point for their children, being replaced by peers in the place of guidance.  The authors suggest ways to stay connected to your children, and stress the importance of doing so.  For anyone who is dabbling in homeschooling, reading this book through that lens should bring you some insight and encouragement.

Conspicuously absent from my list are books on Charlotte Mason, Classical and other homeschooling methods, as well as some of the best books by John Holt.  I can only say, perhaps I will publish part 2 of this list as these resources come to me.  I know there are gems I have left out.  Please do let me know what your favourites are, and I’ll be sure to check them out!  Happy reading.

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  1. Great list of books. I haven’t read any, but I have read books by the authors you mention. “Dumbing Us Down” by John Gatto and “Instead of Education” by John Holt. I was just about to order the “Hold On to Your Kids”, but life go busy and I forgot. Thanks for mentioning it. I will order it today.

    • Those two are on my “to read” list. I think you’ll enjoy Hold on to Your Kids. There is so much to get you thinking in it. Thanks for your comments!

  2. Awesome list, just starting out in the homeschooling world and have wanted to get my hands on some books. I love that you not only listed the books but gave a little write up about each- very helpful!

    • Enjoy! I love reading all of the different perspectives. Each one has insight to gain. Welcome to homeschooling! Sounds like your kids are close to mine in age. Looking forward to your insights, too!

  3. Thanks so much for including my book. I love that you called it the meat and potatoes of homeschooling. You made my day Kelly!

    • Wow! And your comments made mine. =) I love your book. It embodies everything I love about homeschooling, and is practical, too. Thanks for checking out my list! All the best, Kelly



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