10 Homeschool Books You Should Read

10 homeschool books you should read

Everyone knows grandma can cook. No one beats grandma's cooking. It is hard to imagine that she has ever burned the rice or dried out the chicken. But once upon a time, she probably did. She has just been cooking for so long now she has mastered the art (and we all enjoy the results!). She has found the recipe hacks and knows all the secrets. But it wasn't always that way.

When you’re learning a new dish for the first time, it helps to have a recipe in front of you. Maybe you’ll try out several alternatives until you find the one that turns out just right.
Once you have mastered this recipe, you’ll start to tweak it and throw in new ingredients, until it transforms into your VERY OWN signature dish that no one else can out-do.

Discovering how to homeschool is like this dish you’re trying to make for the first time...
Go out there and read the recipe books on homeschool, education, and how children learn.
Use tried and tested recommendations from friends and make substitutes to please your palate.
Let those ideas and insights sink in and give yourself time to practice using them, adjusting and adapting to suit your family’s tastes.
What you’ll end up with is your own signature recipe for YOUR own perfect homeschool.

One thing I am a big believer in is to invest in our professional development as a home educator no matter what stage of the adventure we are in. Continuing to read about homeschool, education, and the science of learning helps us to grow as educators. And make no doubt, as a homeschool parent you are an educator.

I want to share a few of my favorite reads that I’ve benefited from over the last decade; however, there are far too many to put into one article. With so much information out there I also don't want to overwhelm.
So we’ll begin here with just ten recommendations that serve well as an introduction to home education if you're looking to get started or are in need of a reboot. I’ve also put together a second article with another ten homeschool books that I'd recommend to help develop your role as a parent and educator further.

Don’t be fooled to think you have to be a new home educator to benefit from these first ten reads. While they do serve as a brilliant home ed primer for anyone new to homeschool, they also offer a fantastic reboot to those of us who have been home educating a while and are in need of some inspiration after feeling stuck.

Each of these books has something unique to offer. While the contents naturally overlap somewhat, you'll find points that one book doesn't address, another does.

Before I continue, I need to put out my disclaimer. These are secular reads for secular education. It goes without saying that we may find some ideas within that are not applicable to us as Muslim families. However in generality, these offer some amazing insights into the life of home education from this worldly perspective, in the same way that Muslim teachers benefit from secular works to learn how to teach and adapt them to suit our own needs. The world of homeschool is largely unknown to us until we begin, so these books help to offer us a small glimmer of insight as we dive in.

The Call Of The Wild And Free by Ainsley Arment


The Call Of The Wild And Free homeschool book recommendation

This is a beautiful hardback book that offers an introduction to home education. I'd call it a homeschool primer that will give you a general overview of what home education can be.
If you've been home educating a while, before you skip this thinking it will be of little value to you....wait!

 I've been home educating a decade Alhamdulillah. We have gone through the whole of primary from reception class and currently mid-way through secondary as my eldest prepares to sit her first set of GCSEs next summer insha'Allah. So you can see, we are not beginners to homeschool. Yet with this in mind, I purchased The Call Of The Wild And Free earlier this year, and I have to tell you I benefited greatly from reading. I found within an unexpected homeschool reboot. I enjoyed it so much I sent a copy to a friend I knew just had to read it too!

The book gives you a gentle overview to understand educating without school. It explores play, wonder, curiosity, and looks at the popular concerns or homeschool myths that often cloud people's judgments to address the truth behind these. It walks you through a brief introduction to some of the popular homeschool styles including Classical, Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Reggio Emilia (project based), Unschooling, and Waldorf. (I just want to highlight a red flag for Muslim home educators at this point. Waldorf education was founded by Rudolf Steiner, who had some major issues of concern in his beliefs. His beliefs were rooted in clairvoyance - the ability to contact the spirit world, karma, reincarnation and had some super racist beliefs in relation to this. Any good you may find from the Waldorf approach, you can find in other methods without the danger of stumbling into teaching something that could cause the misguidance of your family.)

The book really does offer a lovely introduction to secular homeschool and shows you what it could be for your family. Just keep in mind what I mentioned about Waldorf education when you come across homeschool styles.

The Brave learner by Julie Bogart


The Brave Learner - homeschool book recommendation

Ignore the use of the word magic on the cover subtitle, the word is used to generate ideas of wonder, and doesn't reference actual magic (it is a shame they used this word but it has no bearing on the contents of the book although I dislike its use here).

It is another wonderful book that will help you to discover how awesome home education can be for your family and shows you how to build a homeschool that encourages wonder, curiosity and learning.

 If you want to see how learning without school can free you, and encourages your children to think, The Brave Learner will help you do just that.

It is another kind of homeschool primer than benefits both new and existing home educators, offering a way of homeschooling that Julie often refers to as the Brave Writer lifestyle. This book will show you how to instill homeschool habits that will help your children thrive and grow; with or without the use of a curriculum. It will help you to rest easy, bringing to you wisdoms that a veteran homeschooler can offer and clear guidance on finding a way to learn that doesn't look or feel like school.

Project Based Homeschooling by Lori Pickert


Project based homeschooling

I read Project Based Homeschooling pretty early in my own home education career and is one that I felt really helped to shape my early ideas around education for my family. If I think back, I'm sure it was this book that really allowed me to understand child-led learning. It has served me well with guidance of how learning benefits when our children have an interest and are able to pursue it.

If you want to see how you can capitalise on your children's natural interests to engage their learning, this book will help you to do that. It shows you how you can use self directed projects to ignite curiosity and invite meaningful learning experiences. It is literally a beginners guide, providing you with material lists and guidance on setting up your learning space to invite a desire to learn, create, make and do.

Unschooling To University by Judy Arnall


Unschooling To University - homeschool book recommendation

Unschooling is one of the least conventional methods of home education that you'll find. What comes to most people's minds when they hear unschool, is kids without rules; kids who don't learn; kids who can do what they want when they want without consequence.
This my sisters is not unschool, this is neglect.

Contrary to what is commonly believed (by those who have had no experience of unschool I might add), unschooling requires a great deal of parental support and guidance. Unschooling parents go to great lengths to facilitate an education that meets the interests, goals and needs of their children.

Unschooling To University shows you the benefits of unschooling and gives you a how-to introduction to it.
I'm not an unschooler, however my copy of the book is full of highlighted sections because so much of this spoke to me. If you are having difficulty moving yourself away from the school-comparison mindset as you home educate, this book will really help you to see how successful learning without school can be, and how very different it looks. It will help you believe in the capabilities of your children if you give them a little trust.

The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith


The Unschoolers Handbook - homeschool book recommendation

The Unschooling Handbook was one of the very first books I read when I started home educating. It is a fairly old book, published in 1998 way before I embarked upon home education with my family.

I'm looking back to my early days as a home educator, and how I taught my eldest to write. Young children have plenty to say but they don't always know how to articulate it in writing, or they dumb down what they do want to say so that it matches their spelling level. I've shared a number of times how I would ask my then 5 year old to narrate what she wanted to write, and I would transcribe word for word. She would then copy that transcription. She wrote when she was 5 a 3 or 4 A4 page long story in this way (over a number of days...not in one go!). I'm flipping through this book now to give a short review, and I completely forgot that I probably picked up this idea of transcription from this book.

This is a really simple but effective unschooling guide that packs a powerful punch. Even if you don't pursue unschooling as an education method (I haven't), it will provide you with a wealth of knowledge in how you can encourage natural learning with your children. With so many of us only knowing education through the school system, we need to be able to see how and where meaningful opportunities for learning show up naturally. This book helps to do that...even if it was published over twenty years ago. In fact I would even say there is a benefit to having a book written before the age of the internet because it shows you how to facilitate learning possibilities without it.....something many of us are forgetting.

Deschooling Gently by Tammy Takahashi


Deschooling Gently

Deschooling Gently is a current read so I haven't yet finished, however I felt it is an important one to add to this list of introductory homeschool books, since deschooling is something that is so so so important. I can not stress to you how much of an important process it is to go through.

I advised the sisters on my Homeschool With Confidence course that an element of deschooling needs to be done throughout our whole homeschool careers as mums no matter how experienced we may become. I know for sure, I have to. Whenever I get that niggling doubt that makes me question am I doing the right thing? or are we doing enough? I have to go back and do some deep reflective work to get myself back on track and escape the school voice that bites me.

This book will show how to deschool (get rid of the school comparison baggage) and guides you with self-discovery questions to help you figure out what you want for your homeschool and family. It will show you how to move away from the school mindset so many of us are ingrained with, and let you see the freedom you can experience without it.
This is for sure a book I could have done with ten years ago, but even today ten years in, I'm finding benefit with it.

Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids To School? by Blake Boles


Why are you still sending your kids to school? homeschool book recommendation

If you're worried about how opting out of the conventional education path will impact university and career opportunities, Why Are You Still Sending Your Kids To School? is the book that will help shed some light on this.
The overall message of this book isn't to bash schools, but to let you know that if school is not the right fit for your child, there are other options.

It is a highly secular book, so some of the career fields it discusses we may not entertain as Muslim families, however it helps to open your eyes to show you that there is a way to still attain success even without attending a brick and mortar school.
While it is an American author intended for American audiences, as a Brit I still found immense value in this. It has helped to shape my thinking in the way of how I can help my children to find opportunities for themselves as they grow towards adulthood. To think outside the box so to speak.

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor gatto


Dumbing Us Down

John Taylor Gatto was a teacher in the US for thirty years and a huge advocate for education reform. This book is a fascinating read to see into the mind of a teacher and the school system. I've met both Muslim and Christian homeschool mums who are professionally trained teachers, however chose homeschool because having been directly in the school system, they realised they wanted something more for their own family.

If you wanted to explore the idea of school and what it does, Dumbing Us Down will be eye-opening. This isn't a book that advocates home education per se, but advocates change to education and encourages parents whether their children are in school or not, to wake up and do something more to prevent their own children getting lost in the system.

Teach Your Own by John Holt & Pat Farenga


teach your own - homeschool book recommendation

I'm pretty sure Teach Your Own was among the first set of homeschool books I ordered after we started this path of educating without school. It provides snippets of accounts from different homeschooling families about their experiences while discussing the concept of home learning without school.

I wouldn't start with this book if you are completely new to the idea of homeschool and looking for something to help you get started or understand it. I feel I missed a lot of the fascinating points this book makes the first time I read it. As a completely new homeschooling Mum...a clueless homeschooling mum I should add, who knew nothing of pedagogy or education, I gained a lot more from it when I flipped through years later. The Call Of The Wild And Free or The Brave Learner would be better for that. However this does offer many valuable insights that will help you see that your children can learn amazing things and shows you the freedom you have as a home educator to encourage them.

Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elane Mazlish


siblings without rivalry

Okay, so this is not exactly a homeschool book. However, I want to be real with you. While the books I have listed above will help to develop the picture of home education, they are all quite rather positive. The picture painted in each book while may not be perfect, they all certainly offer an idealised vision.

If you have more than one child, you are likely to run into squabbling siblings. Homeschoolers are not protected or immune from squabbles. So I wanted to slip this book into the list, because if you are taking the home education road, you better be prepared for everything. And one of the questions I hear often from mums, is one which relates to dealing with kids who fight, bicker, squabble and send mum loopy (or is that just me?).

Siblings Without Rivalry is an excellent book that shows you how to manage this effectively through the way you communicate. Like all the other books, I'm not saying everything here will suit us as Muslims. However in generality, the examples provided are beneficial and will help you to develop a better understanding of how you can deal with kids at war more effectively and keep your homeschool running smooth.

Advice For The Muslim Homeschooler - free eBook


Advice For The Muslim Homeschooler free ebook

I have an extra 11th book I want to share with you, bumping our list of 10 up to 11.
 Advice For The Muslim Homeschooler is a free eBook that I compiled a few years ago and updated earlier this year. It is a collection of supporting short essays to help inspire and provide momentum to my sisters that I hope you will find benefit in.
Download your free copy {HERE} and start reading now.

11 homeschool book recommendations


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