(Newest baby will be here any day so don't expect a lot of 'action' on the blog in the next several weeks or so; it's easiest if you sign up to be my "follower" and get notified of a new post.)
So I want to share with you my biggest influences in the homeschooling book world. I realize not all of you homeschool and I realize this has not a lot to do with children's literature directly. But I was thinking about it and really, the ideas and thoughts contained within the following books help to shape my views on what children's literature should do and be. Within the entire genre of non-fiction, I've probably read more books about homeschooling than any other specific topic over the past 9 years (yes, I was reading and passionate about homeschooling even while still pregnant with my first child!). There are literally dozens I could write about. And I've gained something from each one. That is why they are important books. Besides, it's my blog and I can write about whatever I want to. :o) In no particular order:
So I'm not a true hue, dipped in blue Charlotte Masonite, but if I had to identify myself with any one method out there, I would most closely fall into this realm: living books, avoiding twaddle, basic excercises in copywork, narration and dictation, lots of nature study. With A Charlotte Mason Companion, Karen Andreola has made Miss Mason's 6 volume series on education quite accessible and readable to the American reader. There are a couple other books about Charlotte Mason philosophy out there and really, they are all pretty good (espcially For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School). But this one is my favorite simply because of the depth and breadth into which it goes. I felt like I got a lot of bang for my buck.
Now, you really can't go wrong with any John Holt title. He will turn you upside down on your entire thinking about what the typical perceptions of children are. He has been a great influence on me. I think it was in Teach Your Own book that Holt explained the simple error people make in quickly labelling children as dyslexic. (By the way, I've been part of entire week-long workshops dedicated to learning about this 'disability' so I've a pretty good grasp on what we're talking about here.) For example, a banana is a banana whether you point it right or left or turn it upside down. To a child, the letter "b" is a b whether to circular part is facing the wrong way or not. Very few teachers take the time to explain that letters aren't tangible, interchangeable items... and instead we look at the writing in dismay and remark that Sally has dyslexia. Anyway, it's a great book.
Most homeschooling parents go through some kind of overload crisis: they look at what's working for this family or the great methods that family employs, or they get overwhelmed with all the curriculum choices out there and they start over-thinking every little decision they make. Ruth Beechik to the rescue. The Three R's is simply a reminder to reclaim simplicity as the best mode of learning. It is very encouraging and I try to re-read it every few years to remind myself that I'm not going to academically ruin my Kindergartener if he's not reading by age 5. Good, simple techniques in this book.
This book was the catalyst to my actual excitement to homeschool. Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss is all about inspiring you that you can do an excellent job educating your children at home; it is full of great resources, ideas and suggestions that'll make your life easier and help you realize that your education goals are attainable. I love this book and loaned it to someone and it's been missing ever since (can't remember who!)... a testament I suppose that the book was a good one.
This is pretty much a classic by now. I first got this book when I was doing some teaching with Mother of Divine Grace and I think the introduction alone makes this worth the read. While not necessarily espousing a traditionally "classic" education, some have called Mrs. Berquist's methods in Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum more "neo-classical"... and I happen to think they are great and many families utilize her curriculum ideas with great success.
A Little Way of Homeschooling is a very refreshing read indeed. This is my latest home education book I've read and I loved every word of it. In fact, I wrote an entire review of it in the upcoming Autumn issue of Soul Gardening... so read about it there! This book gives confidence and hope to overwhelmed mothers. It offers a fresh perspective on the education of children and I highly recommend it.
Finally I offer Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto if you are in need of convincing that government schools aren't all they're cracked up to be. This book is what really helped to get my husband 100% on board with homeschooling. Gatto was the New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year and upon receiving his award, he took the opportunity to rail on the entire public school system. You can read the text of that speech here. Gatto has written a couple other books giving a black eye to public schools as well. They are worth the read. Do note that I am a supporter of free public education! I think it is a hallmark of a great nation to offer this to its citizens. I do however think it's pretty much rotten to the core in regards to how it's set up and the beauracracy that's running the show. It makes me sick how we shortchange children. (Don't mistake me for blaming this on individual teachers and staff who are doing their best within the system to make a difference. They are to be commended for their efforts... the blame goes deeper.) But I digress.
Okay, thanks for indulging me on this little detour from children's literature. Enjoy these starter books and then I'll give you some more! Someday, I'll be thrilled to write a post about my favorite "Books about Books" someday... oh how juicy of a topic for a bibliozealot! But for now, back to your regularly scheduled program...