Books such as a dictionary, a thesaurus, an encyclopedia, a dictionary of quotations, foreign language dictionaries, wildlife guides, and atlases – while not used daily – may still form an important element of a homeschooler’s resources. This type of book may both answer questions from various fields, as well as be the subject of lessons in and of itself, as students learn about alphabetization, locating information, map reading, etc.
The fact that textbooks are used in many public and private schools doesn’t mean that they’re not also homeschooling books. Textbooks, often set up with a pupil’s and teacher’s edition and ancillary materials to help review and assess learning can be very valuable to homeschoolers.
Textbooks that are published by standard textbook publishers may have the benefits of having state adoptions, so that you know they are approved by your state to meet the curriculum. In addition, such books go through a standard and multi-faceted editorial process that may (we may hope, anyway) make them less prone to errors than free materials found on the Internet, which may have been reviewed or checked by no one.
Many homeschool programs of many types as well as public and private schools use literature in one form or another. Sometimes they are reprinted or excerpted in literature anthologies, and sometimes they are sold individually. Homeschoolers sometimes buy them in sets accompanied by an instructional guide or other material, and sometimes individually, book, by book. Even in unschooling books – albeit books chosen by the student – may have a significant role in education.
Books Specific to a Particular Philosophy or Approach
Some homeschooling books are made only for one particular form of homeschooling approach or philosophy. This includes any sort of homeschooling book that would only be used by avowed followers of a particular approach to homeschooling. In this category we would include books such as the following:
- Live Education curriculum is explicitly Waldorf-based and most likely to be chosen by those who endorse that educational philosophy.
- The Original Homeschooling series by Charlotte Mason is virtually always used by proponents of the Charlotte Mason approach.
- Archive Book’s reprinted books by Latter Day Saints leaders are intended for, and most likely to be used by LDS homeschoolers.
- The Neumann Press homeschool books are for Catholic homeschooling, and will be of most, if not exclusive, interest to Catholic families who are homeschooling.
- Saxon secular math and phonics homeschool materials – some of the very few homeschool focused materials published by a major textbook company, in this case, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Supplemental Publishers.
Other Kinds of Homeschooling Books
Homeschooling books may also include several other kinds of books. One is books that the student writes him or herself. Such books are used in whole language classes, and also may be the result of creative writing assignments or exercises, poetry collections, etc. Photograph albums recording the child’s life or observations are another type of homeschooling book that might be of use and importance.
Another type of homeschooling book is the guide to homeschooling. Typically written by one or more experienced homeschoolers, these guides give advice, share resources, and provide examples of approaches and activities that have been found to work well in a homeschooling environment. And among these are also works by homeschooling experts and “gurus” who have been leaders and guides in the homeschool movement and have a special place in the development of homeschool philosophy and the changes in legislation that have allowed the growth of homeschooling in the United States.