Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ category

Updated Edition of The Well-Trained Mind and Audiobook Versions of the Story of the World Series

September 9, 2009

One of our regular homeschooling patrons just alerted me that a new 10th anniversary edition of The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise was published in past May (ISBN: 9780393067088). This 814 page book explains the philosophy behind a Classical curriculum and provides a year-by-year outline on how to implement it. It’s a must-have for most collections. There are quite a number of homeschoolers using a Classical curriculum and even more who use some of it or are influenced by it.

This same patron also told me that there are audiobook versions of Susan Wise Bauer’s 4-volume The Story of the World series, a chronological history that takes readers (or, in this case, listeners) from ancient times through the present. If you can afford them, the books will be well-used in most collections, and I think the audiobooks will be a fine investment as well, something even some non-homeschooling families will find interesting.

For more information about Classical homeschooling, The Well-Trained Mind, and The Story of the World, visit The Well-Trained Mind website and Peace Hill Press.


HomeSchooling at the Speed of Life by Marilyn Rockett

December 27, 2008

Rockett, Marilyn. HomeSchooling at the Speed of Life: Balancing Home, School, and Family in the Real World. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2007. (PB: 9780805444858)

This book is much less about homeschooling per se than it is about maintaining one’s sanity while trying to take care of all the rest of what author Marilyn Rockett calls “the dailiness of life” while homeschooling. Nothing wrong with that. Most mothers struggle with balance on some level or another, and homeschooling mothers have some challenges other mothers they know might not—teaching long division, for instance, or fretting over their child’s seemingly inexplicable inability to learn how to read. Rockett comes from a Christian perspective, using her first chapter to connect God’s plans to orderliness in a family’s life. From there, she moves into chapters on dealing with clutter, dealing with paper, the importance of teaching children domestic skills, record keeping, and the like. Throughout, she includes quotes from the Bible as well as quotes from other writers. Chapters conclude with questions to help the reader discover areas of personal weakness and strategies for overcoming them as well as a few devotionals for inspiration. A CD-ROM that comes with the book includes numerous printable organizational aids.

Rockett is, without a doubt, a skilled and practiced organizer. She writes very specifically to Christian homeschooling mothers, but her advice is realistic and solid for anyone looking to get a little more organized. That said, the book is probably not going to connect with homeschooling fathers, non-Christian homeschoolers, and even some Christian homeschoolers who would prefer something with a lighter touch. It may, however, appeal to Christian mothers who aren’t homeschooling, since even non-homeschooling mothers still have plenty of school-related things to deal with on a daily basis. The book will appeal to the same audience that enjoys books by the likes of Carol Barnier and Christine M. Field. Recommended for mid-to-large library collections in communities with strong Christian homeschooling populations.

2008 Homeschooling Releases

December 13, 2008

Here is a quartet of 2008 homeschooling releases I’m looking into reading (and perhaps reviewing), along with links to information I could find on each.

Leppert, Michael and Mary. The Homeschooling Book of Lists. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008.

  • * One customer review and description on Amazon

Millman, Gregory and Martine. Homeschooling: A Family’s Journey. NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008. (HC: 9781585426614)

  • * Reviews from PW and Library Journal on
  • * Few customer reviews on Amazon

Orr, Tamra. Asking Questions Finding Answers: A Parent’s Journey Through Homeschooling. Tonasket, WA: Home Education Magazine, 2008. (PB: 9780945097310)

Rivero, Lisa. The Homeschooling Option: How to Decide When It’s Right for Your Family. NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. (HC: 9780230600706, PB: 9780230600683)

A Good Start: The Less-than-$150 Homeschooling Collection

April 28, 2008

Many librarians I speak to tell me that they don’t have much money to devote to serving homeschoolers and feel overwhelmed trying to figure out where to start. With that in mind, I offer you my Less-than-$150 Homeschooling Collection. These are books that span a wide variety of homeschooling needs and should circulate and prove useful for a good number of years. Prices are retail and links are to Amazon, although most of the books are available from several other sources.

Bailey, Guy. The Ultimate Homeschool Physical Education Game Book. Camas, WA: Educators Press, 2003. ISBN: 978-0966972740 ($19.95).

Bauer, Susan Wise, and Jessie Wise. The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. New York: WW Norton, 2004. ISBN: 978-0393059274 ($39.95).

Cohen, Cafi. Homeschoolers’ College Admissions Handbook: Preparing Your 12- to 18-Year-Old for a Smooth Transition. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000. ISBN: 978-0761527541 ($17.95).

Duffy, Cathy. 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child’s Learning Style. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005. ISBN: 978-0805431384 ($21.99).

Field, Christine M. Homeschooling the Challenging Child: A Practical Guide. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005. ISBN: 978-0805430783 ($14.99).

Gathercole, Rachel. The Well-Adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling. Denver: Mapletree Publishing Company, 2007. ISBN: 978-1600651076 ($14.95).

Holt, John. How Children Learn. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1995. ISBN: 978-0201484045 ($16.00).

Wittmann, Maureen. For the Love of Literature: Teaching Core Subjects with Literature. LaGrange, KY: Ecce Homo Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0979760907 ($12.95).

For the Love of Literature by Maureen Wittmann

January 6, 2008

For the Love of LiteratureWittmann, Maureen. For the Love of Literature: Teaching Core Subjects with Literature. La Grange, KY: Ecce Homo Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-9797609-9-7. (Available from Ecce Homo Press and Amazon.)

I know Maureen through cyberspace. I put her on my blogroll early in the process of researching and writing Helping Homeschoolers in the Library. I interviewed her here, and she’s also profiled in my book. One of the things I most enjoy about Maureen is that she is a READER who knows libraries and literature well. Among her many other activities, she moderates a Yahoo discussion group called Homeschool Library Connection that is devoted to encouraging homeschoolers to be proactive library users and gives excellent, realistic guidelines for homeschoolers who would like to submit titles for the library to consider purchasing.

Maureen’s passion for homeschooling, literature, libraries, and her faith are all on display in her new book, For the Love of Literature. The goal of the book is to provide homeschoolers who would like to incorporate literature–as Maureen and Charlotte Mason might say, “real books”–into their children’s studies. As such, the bulk of the book is devoted to literary guides broken down by subject: “Art and Music Appreciation,” “Math”, “History,” “Science,” and “Books about Books.” Each section includes books that can be tied into subject areas along with annotations and recommended age/grade levels. To make the guides even more useful, Maureen has organized the art and history sections chronologically, and she has subdivided the math and science sections by topic. Any youth services librarian who browses the lists will see a great number of library staples–for example, math books by Mitsumasa Anno, D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, biographies by Demi, and the Magic School Bus series. Librarians will also find less familiar books by some smaller, specialty Catholic presses–books about famous missionaries, for instance, and series about the saints.

In addition to the literature guides, Maureen has chapters devoted to using the library, building a home library, the value of reading aloud, information about teaching from a classical or Charlotte Mason perspective, and how to create unit studies. She encourages homeschoolers to get to know libraries with a summary of the Dewey Decimal System and information about what one can and can’t expect from a public library. She acknowledges, for example, that libraries can’t get titles that are out of print and that librarians will be most interested in purchasing materials they know will circulate. She talks about how the library ELF can help homeschoolers keep track of heavy borrowing and how LibraryThing can help homeschoolers organize and track their own libraries at home.

This book will be useful to libraries for a lot of reasons. Catholic homeschoolers are one of the fastest-growing segments of the homeschooling population, and there aren’t a great number of books that address their particular homeschooling needs. This is also a book that will prove useful beyond its originally intended audience. Teachers and librarians at parochial schools may find it useful when looking for materials to supplement their institutional curriculums. Open-minded homeschoolers of many faiths will find useful titles within these pages, and this is a book librarians can use to identify alternate selections from a homeschooling perspective when patrons are looking for books that the library can’t provide. Because Maureen made an effort to include titles that were in print when the book went to press, it can also serve as a collection development tool. Highly recommended.

NYLA Presentation: Powerpoint and Some of the Titles I Mentioned (With Links!)

October 27, 2007

In case any of you are interested, here is the PowerPoint I used in my presentation:

Helping Homeschoolers in the Library PowerPoint

Here are some of the titles I remember mentioning:

Carschooling by Diane Flynn Keith

April 23, 2007

Keith, Diane Flynn. Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities to Turn Travel Time into Learning Time. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2002.

Homeschooling mom, writer, and lecturer Diane Flynn Keith has decided that the hours families clock in the car shouldn’t be wasted ones. To this end, she lectures, has written a book, and maintains a web site and Yahoo group devoted to the topic of carschooling, her concept of turning travel time into learning time. While Carschooling mentions homeschoolers, the book is geared toward all busy families that are interested in enhancing their children’s learning experiences and spend a lot of time on the road. Like, the book isn’t a step-by-step guide as much as a mishmash of ideas some people will find inspiring and others will find overwhelming. Families who like order and routine and stick to a strict curriculum may not find this to their liking, but homeschoolers who take a more eclectic approach and are looking for fresh ideas will find them here. The ideas themselves range from simple and obvious — listen to audiobooks and a guided range of music CDs — to more elaborate activities, games, and experiments that may require special supplies and equipment or require a fair amount of attention from the driver, another adult, or an older child. This isn’t a first choice title, but it’s a solid enhancement for active parenting and/or homeschooling collections in many settings.