When I started homeschooling, I read every book I could find on the subject. I also devoured books on teaching theories, family and child development, and, well, anything I could find that would give me a little more insight on how to create an experience for my kids that would be worth it. I learned a TON from all of my readings. My continued, focused reading created a base of knowledge that gave me tools to do and be the teacher mom I wanted and needed to be. It also showed my kids by example that continued learning and loving to read contributed to our amazing daily life. Reading awesome books continues to be the way I get into the zone and provide what my kids really need.
These are the 10 books that over the years I have found add the juice and excitement into our homeschooling/unschooling process. The list includes the 10 books I would recommend any homeschooling mother to read. As my children grow, I find that rereading a favorite can provide me with new, needed answers. As you may know, after homeschooling for 15 year,s we have tried it all and eclectic unschooling became our primary method. These books contain the best info on why we choose, what we choose, and when we choose it.
1- Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families
Wow. This book is what confirmed everything I had been thinking about and set me on this homeschooling path. It is not actually a homeschooling book, but it specifically describes everything you need to be an awesome homeschooling family. To me, these 7 habits allowed everything else to fall into place.
John Holt is one of the grandfathers of homeschooling and unschooling. Though he passed in 1985, his books created the foundation for the homeschooling movement and are a great place to get a firm understanding of why we really need to be doing what we are doing.
I had the honor of seeing John Taylor Gatto speak at a homeschooling conference years ago. What he had to say really got me thinking. He was an award winning, New York City public school teacher who now supports homeschooling/unschooling. His books describe the purpose behind the public schools, why they were created, and what their big picture goals are in our society. It is not what you think! Worth the read for sure.
4- Peter Grey, Free to Learn
Unlike many on my list, this book was written recently. It discusses the psychology about why we should allow children to educate themselves. It is interestingly written and gives a lot to think about. He also has an excellent blog.
5- Raymond and Dorothy Moore, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook
Dr. Raymond Moore and his wife Dorothy are also founding contributors to the homeschooling movement. His methods have a little more structure than many I have put on this list, but I do believe it is worth the read to include into your ideas about how to run things in your home. His percentages of focus have stuck with me as a bench mark. If you have kids that need structure (I had one) and you are trying unschooling, elements of this book will help meld those together.
This book is focused toward teens and how to unschool the high school years. Not only is it great for you as a parent, but your teen will find it interesting too. It was influenced by John Holt's ideas. Grace Llewellyn includes stories from real teens who opted to take this path. She also discusses lots of ideas on how teens can have a rich, full education without high school and still have an awesome college career. This is a classic must read for the unschooled high schooler.
7- David Colfax, Homeschooling for Excellence
Here is another of those classic homeschool books that shows the roots of the homeschooling movement and what we can achieve when we are connected to why we are doing this. In the 80's, this family received a lot of media attention by having their group of kids attend Ivy League schools after homeschooling. This family put homeschooling as an excellent option on the map. I couldn't put it down.
8- Rebecca Rupp, Home Learning Year by Year
I love this book! For the part of me that needs a structured base to build from, this book provided a guideline from which I could see where we stood and what might be missing. This book gives a breakdown year by year of what kids should be learning and reading. We didn't follow it, but I used it to make sure we weren't missing anything big in the big picture.
9- Jay Niblick, What's Your Genius?
This is another not-your–typical-homeschooling-book, but I think that is part of its value! Jay Niblick starts from the beginning talking about how we are trying to stuff our kids into learning the same things as a base line for everyone. Instead, we should do what we have done for thousands of years, take a person's strengths, and have them focus in that direction and stop forcing knowledge that doesn't fit. This book gets me excited every time I go into it!
10- Maria Chelsey Fisk, Teach Your Kids to Think!
This book is written for parents of kids in public school, showing them how to teach thinking skills. Many of these skills come naturally to unschoolers, but there is always something to learn! If you are just starting on this homeschooling journey or if you are worried that your own schooling experience could get in the way, this could be an excellent read for you. It is always a benefit to have more information and this book provides that!