Tuesday, January 19, 2010

5 Books Every Homeschool Should Have

I am Ginny's oldest daughter Amy, who recently reluctantly began blogging after overcoming my fears that it would take over my life. My personal blog about homeschooling and rearing children, inspired by the Suzuki Method of learning instruments, is http://www.mothertonguehomeschooling.blogspot.com.

A couple of months ago I read a list online of "5 Books Every Cook Should Have," which got me thinking about what types of books each homeschool should have.

5 Books Every Homeschool Should Have
  1. A history book that reads like a collection of stories. This year we are reading Abraham Lincoln's World by Genevieve Foster for a class taught by my mom. By telling stories from around the world during Lincoln's lifetime, Foster brings history to life and helps the reader feel the spirit of the times. To know history is to better understand humanity if the book depicts it well.
  2. The complete works of William Shakespeare. Through her character Crawford in Mansfield Park, Jane Austen expressed the importance of Shakespeare so eloquently that I will not attempt to improve upon it. Crawford said: "But Shakespeare one gets acquainted with without knowing how. It is part of an Englishman's constitution. His thoughts and beauties are so spread abroad that one touches them everywhere; one is intimate with him by instinct." We owe so many words, metaphors and similes to Shakespeare; to know Shakespeare is to know English.
  3. A science book that reads like a collection of stories. In my opinion, all good writers are primarily storytellers. Science can be a pageturner, too. Last year we worked in The Joy of Chemistry by Cathy Cobb, with me doing the reading and then sharing it with my children. Now I know that chemistry affects me every day, running my car, cooking my food, even making post-it notes sticky. To know science should be to gain a greater understanding of how the world works.
  4. A math textbook that uses literature, comics, stories and puzzles to show the relevance of math to everything. When my mom told me to use Algebra by Harold Jacobs, I complied. In no time, though, as my daughter and I anticipated the next lesson each day, I found myself wishing that he had written more than Algebra, Geometry, and Mathematics: a Human Endeavor. If math at all levels were taught in the Jacobs way, everyone would know that to know math is to be able to quantify, measure, and analyze the world. Numbers surround us every day, and we need to know how to manage them.
  5. A classic novel your child returns to repeatedly throughout their childhood. I hope every homeschooling parent can assist each of their children in finding a book they have a strong personal affinity for. Mine as an adolescent was Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt. My oldest daughter Karina's is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and my second daughter Katie's is Watership Down by Richard Adams. I am currently hunting for the right book for my oldest son, Tommy (10). To read should be to communicate with a book on a personal level, to fall in love with a story and feel its resonance in your life. Education would be empty without this.