Books About Homeschooling

These are books about homeschooling that either I or my friends have read and highly recommend.



Teaching From Rest
I listen to this at least yearly. It calms the anxiety of feeling like I’m not doing enough. It brings peace to my heart. It helps me refocus on the most important things. This is the most commonly mentioned book when new homeschoolers ask for suggestions!

Rethinking School
This book would be especially good for those of you who plan to put your kids back in school next year. It is not a homeschooling book but is written to everyone with children. Some really good information here.

The Call of the Wild and Free
If you are a new homeschooler, this book will help open your eyes to the possibilities of a freer, richer education.

Brave Learner
How to make education an exciting, enchanting experience for your kids. (Some advice here leans a little too close to the unparenting side of unschooling for my tastes, so use discernment as you read. Don’t let that dissuade you, though! This is a very popular book and will help inspire you and loosen you up if you are an anxious, Type A person!)

The Read Aloud Family
Inspiring book that will convince you of the benefits of reading aloud to your kids. This one always gets high praise.

Better Together
A guide to what Morning Time is and how it can enrich your family life.

Homeschooling Gifted Kids
Great guide for those new to homeschooling and raising bright, intense, asynchronous kiddos.



For the Children’s Sake
The most often recommended book for people who are curious about the Charlotte Mason method. This is the book that started the movement in the United States. It feels a bit dated now, but very inspirational. It will give you a new vision for your family. This is my Goodreads review: “A ‘must read’ for every Christian parent, no matter where your children go to school. This will give you a vision for what a good education and a good childhood can and should look like.”

Know and Tell
THE book about narration from Kindergarten through graduation.

The Living Page
All about the various notebooks in a Charlotte Mason education. Enlightening.

Consider This
One of my tippy top favorite homeschooling books. This discusses Classical and Charlotte Mason education. Enlightening. Convincing. Paradigm-shifting. This is the book that convinced me to use the Charlotte Mason method and allowed me to ALSO call myself a Classical educator.

A Philosophy of Education
If you are only going to read one book by Charlotte Mason, let this be the one. This one was written last and lays out her philosophy, going over each subject individually. This would be a fascinating read for any schoolteachers out there! Your mind will be blown! I basically underlined the whole thing.



Last Child in the Woods
The power of nature in a child’s life.

Mere Motherhood
A view from the other side of the trenches. Written by a mom of 8 boys and 1 girl who has become an inspiration to thousands of homeschooling moms around the world.

A Thomas Jefferson Education
If you are looking for a mix of classical and unschooling, this is your book!

Books for Moms

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief
by Francis S. Collins

A scientist gives his reasons for believing in God and in evolution. This book was the first that helped relieve me of some extremely intense cognitive dissonance. Highly recommended if you are struggling with this topic.
The Spark: A Mother’s Story of Nurturing Genius
by Kristine Barnett

Such an interesting story! Both my husband and my preteen daughter thought so, too. This might even make a good family Read Aloud for teens.
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
by Brene Brown

Helpful book about vulnerability – not the most comfortable topic but well worth reading!
Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World
by Henry J.M. Nouwen

A simple yet beautiful book, the first I’ve read by this author. I loved his humility. Though it is a different genre, this book reminded me of the book Gilead by Marilynn Robinson. Both are from the perspective of an elderly spiritual father speaking of the deepest truths he has learned during his life. Both made me feel like I just wanted to curl up and listen, learn, and soak in the wisdom. Beautiful writing, beautiful thoughts in both books.
Ethics: A History Of Moral Thought
by Peter Kreeft

This is an excellent, succinct, clear introduction to the history of ethics. Highly recommended for anyone interested in both history and philosophy. I found it helpful during my first time listening through these lectures to listen to each one twice before going on. I was very new to studying philosophy and needed the extra time to sort through everything. In my second time listening through I’m enjoying it even more than the first time. Perfect to listen to while exercising!
How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture
by Francis A. Schaeffer

This is a “framework” book. It gives a lens, model, framework with which to view past, present, and future within the western world. It is clear enough that I will most likely have each of my children read it in the last year or two of high school. I feel like my eyes were opened and I have a greater understanding of the world I live in. I love books that do that! I have a feeling that when I reread this book in the future I’ll find things to disagree with (I’m unsure about his analysis of the medievals and Thomas Aquinas as well as Soren Kierkegaard.) But this first read through was very helpful!
For the Children’s Sake
by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

A “must read” for every Christian parent, no matter where your children go to school. This will give you a vision for what a good education and a good childhood can and should look like.
How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cylons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World
by Robert J. Joustra, Alissa Wilkinson
4.5 stars.
Excellent introduction to the works of Charles Taylor (A Secular Age, The Malaise of Modernity), James K.A. Smith, and others as they relate to the apocalyptic and dystopian stories we find in current media. I haven’t seen or read the media mentioned but was still able to follow the authors’ points. This is a more academic book than the title would lead you to believe.
Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace
by Sarah Mackenzie

This is a yearly read for me now. Any time I feel anxious about homeschooling I listen to this book and get peace back again. Highly recommended!
Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition
by Karen Glass

Favorite homeschooling book of 2017. I am in love with the idea of a synthetic approach to knowledge. This is also an excellent resource to show where the classical and Charlotte Mason methods overlap and work together. I’ve always been drawn to both but never could fully commit to either (especially since what I thought was Classical was actually neo-Classical and didn’t have the *heart* in it that CM seemed to have). This is an excellent resource for those interested in both methods. It may have won for most Commonplace passages this year!
How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor
by James K.A. Smith

Click here to read my full review of this book!
by Marilynne Robinson

John Ames is now one of my favorite literary characters. I kept thinking as I read that I wish he were a real person that I could get to know. He is just so GOOD – but not perfect, which makes him even more likable. I love his love for his family, his sincerity, his love for God, and his quest to live rightly. He reminds me of my husband in some ways which may be why I like him so much!This is a quiet, gentle, thoughtful book. My favorite of the series.
How Do We Know?: An Introduction to Epistemology
by Mark W. Foreman

One of my favorite reads of 2017. I wish there were more popular level books available about epistemology (how we know what we know). This was an excellent introduction although probably too academic for the average reader to pick up. It was exactly what I needed to read, though. I practically underlined the whole book!
The Philosophy of Tolkien: The Worldview Behind the Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien

I liked this book, but my favorite part was the introduction where he writes about the intersection of philosophy and literature. Really good stuff!A few Commonplace entries:“Philosophy and literature belong together. They can work like the two lenses of a pair of binoculars. Philosophy argues abstractly. Literature argues too – it persuaded, it changes the reader – but concretely. Philosophy says truth, literature shows truth.”“Literature not only incarnates philosophy; it also tests it by verifying of falsifying it. One way literature tests philosophy is by putting different philosophies into the laboratory of life, incarnating them in different characters and then seeing what happens. Life does exactly the same thing. Literature also tests philosophy in a more fundamental way. It can be expressed by this rule: a philosophy that cannot be translated into a good story cannot be a good philosophy.”
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative
by Florence Williams

Well, if I wasn’t convinced before I firmly am now that I need copious amounts of time in nature for my mental health. When the Covid-19 crisis hit, I began spending several hours outside every day in my hammock by the water and trees or swimming. It helped ground, center and calm me. This book helps explain the scientific research happening to confirm and explain this type of phenomenon.I had my 16 year old read this. She’s not a nature person, but I wanted her to at least know how good it is for us humans. This is a great book for teens with a logical, analytical bent. Lots of stats thrown in amidst the narrative. FYI, there is swearing throughout the book, including the f-word. One mention of sex. Mild stuff compared to what most teens are exposed to. I think it’s a great book for 14+.
Postmodern Times
by Gene Edward Veith, Jr.

Essential reading for everyone. This will probably land in the list of my top ten favorite/most influential books because of its ability to reshape and organize how I view the world. This is the kind of book that helps me breathe a sigh of relief internally because it tames the chaos by bringing understanding. It’s not that any problems are solved, necessarily, but at least I can know what I’m looking at now. That is a step toward a solution.
84, Charring Cross Road
by Helene Hanff

Short and sweet. Unexpectedly delightful. The perfect feel-good read during difficult times. I even teared up at the end. I didn’t realize until halfway through that this was not fiction! That made it even better!
The Great Divorce
by C.S. Lewis

Read along with the Literary Life Podcast. Excellent.
Poetic Knowledge
by James S. Taylor

Click here to read my full review of this book!
The Teenage Liberation Handbook
by Grace Llewellyn

Click here to read my full review of this book!
Grammar Island
by Michael Clay Thompson

Click here to read my full review of this book!

Poetic Knowledge by James S. Taylor – Book Review

Poetic Knowledge
by James S. Taylor

Learning in the poetic mode is not about studying but about doing, participating. It is pre-scientific, for the beginner, not the specialist, so the specialist, if he was never allowed to play there first, must go back to it in order that he may know his subject at a deeper, more intuitive level. It is about connection with reality through the senses, both internal and external. It is a form of knowledge, it is intellectual, but it includes the emotions. It values the whole, living thing, not the dead parts. It is about concrete experiences with reality either in actuality or vicariously through some medium.

It is your little girl watching a frog in your backyard pond, not dissecting it to learn it’s parts. It is your teenager understanding intuitively about a lever because he played on a see-saw for hours in his childhood or used a pitchfork to move hay on your farm. It is knowing the nature and the essence of a horse because you spend countless hours with them, not memorizing it’s anatomy.

Poetic knowledge is learning a language by speaking it, not by picking apart every word in the sentence, parsing and diagramming. It is feeling music inside you, dancing to it, singing, understanding tempo and pitch because it’s a part of you, not memorizing sharps and flats and chords and scales. It is living the life of a historical figure vicariously through a high-quality, engaging book.

It’s why our kids should spend loads of time outdoors in nature, playing in trees, on swings, with building materials, watching living things, staring at the night sky. It’s why our kids should listen to, dance to, and sing all types of music, hear poetry daily, create their own works of art in imitation of what they’ve experienced, play pretend, and generally have the liberty to just BE in the real world.

Poetic knowledge seems to be the key to motivation because it is about what is REAL and we are all desperate for reality. Connection and wonder are the driving forces. Love is the anchor.

Poetic knowledge synthesizes, brings together, integrates. It looks at the whole, the essence, the nature. This type of knowledge was considered completely valid in the ancient and medieval world, but has lost its validity in the modern mind, replaced by the rigidity of the scientific method which has laid claim to be the king of all forms of knowledge.

What an excellent book! I would put it up there with Norms and Nobility by Hicks and A Philosophy of Education by Mason as the triad of top educational philosophy books I’ve read (With Consider This by Glass as a close runner-up!).

It was a hard slog at the beginning, but once he got to Descartes it really started picking up speed and the last couple chapters were a breeze. I do wish he would have given more concrete examples at the beginning of the book instead of the end in order to “ground” the abstraction. That seems like it would have been more in line with the thesis of the book!

Highly recommended for all educators, those interested in epistemology, or anyone dissatisfied with the reductionistic mindset we’re all swimming in. It’s an eye-opening book, and I’ll be thinking about the ideas for a very long time.

Some favorite quotes:

“This position of poetic knowledge has no quarrel with the realm of the expert – the opera star or the physician – but it does hold that there is a proper order of knowledge… beginning with the poetic; without the observance of this order, one can “produce” pianists who can perfectly play the notes of the great composers without playing the music, and doctors who treat diseases but not the whole person who is ill.”

“Of course, there is real effort required at some point in learning, and often great effort is required to learn something well. But this is a situation that arises after the experience of wonder – if it arises at all – and the exertion for this kind of learning is usually in the student on the way to becoming a specialist or expert. And, even in the case of the specialist, the true scientist for example, there would always be the memory of the original love of the thing about which he first wondered.”

“A large problem with [Descartes’s] Discourse is that not everything is known clearly and distinctly as the Method exclusively calls for. As a matter of fact, there are different kinds of certainty; one, for example, in ethics, another in mathematics. Even with the most rigorous application of deductive reasoning, certain subjects of human inquiry do not admit to the same degree of certitude. To know that 2 + 2 = 4, indubitably, is not the same kind of knowledge as in knowing that a definition of justice is giving to each his due; nor is either one of these like the certainty I have that someone loves me. To demand that each field of inquiry, that all knowledge, yield a high degree of demonstrative certainty is, finally, unreasonable. The subject (object) of study, of course, is the determinate factor, and only mathematics, as Descartes holds, is capable of demonstrative certainty; whereas common experience allows for much that is the result of probable reasoning.”

“Sooner or later, it is all reduced to “facts.” This [modern, reductionistic] approach bypasses the contemplative nature of knowledge, leaving the student disconnected from his nature and the nature out there. Alone, though armed with Facts, such a student is likely to become arrogant with a sense of dominance over nature when the universe is seen more and more as an obstacle and problem to be conquered instead of a companion reality to be learned from.”

“Lecture appeals mainly to the intellect and even more so, to the extent lecture is prepared and planned, relies less and less on the intuitive connections within the memory of the speaker. In the end, lecture of this kind eliminates the surprise and delight in learning. The analogy of a traditional jazz band, improvising on a familiar theme, was used by the professors [at the Integrated Humanities Program] to describe their spontaneous conversations.”

“Basically, then, scientific education explains; critical education dissects; poetic education, by way of the integrated senses, experiences. Therefore, the position of the teachers of the IHP was that in the order of knowledge, experience comes first, but experience of two kinds, direct and imaginatively participatory. Because Dewey and the more empirically minded educators denied or ignored the metaphysical and transcendental dimension of the senses and emotions, only actual experience of things for them brought knowledge, and even this had to be a direct experience that involved manipulating the environment in some way to wrench knowledge from it. But both direct and vicarious experience are poetic under the philosophy of IHP, insofar as they remain uncritical and content to begin to learn in ‘wise passiveness.’”

“When a sentence is broken into its parts for the purpose of learning how to read and write, a child may become a whiz at identifying nouns, verbs, and adjectives, but the integrity of the language as that living thing capable of communicating living ideas is violated. Scientific grammar is studied, if at all, at the end of years of exposure to the literature of one’s tradition.”

“Historically important dates and names are not only necessary to know when learning history, but for students these can also be enjoyable, if those precise things are left embedded in the stories of history…. Textbooks of history should be avoided, for these are far too abstract for young minds, books about books, usually, that merely summarize events.”

“When a flower is taken apart and examined as pistil, stamen, stem, and petals, each part is seen exactly and a certain curiosity is indeed satisfied; however, curiosity is not wonder, the former being the itch to take apart, the latter to gaze on things as they are. Curiosity belongs to the scientific impulse and would strive to dominate nature; whereas, wonder is poetic and is content to view things in their wholeness and full context, to pretty much leave them alone. Stated as simply as possible, science sees knowledge as power; poetic knowledge is admiratio, love. In other words, take the students outside, regularly, and turn even a backyard into a laboratory of the open fields. Once again, textbooks at this level are a burden, they get between the student and the things of admiration. Let them make their own notes and pictures, poems and stories, about what they have seen. Biology is the observation of living things, not dead things.”

“For the desire of the real to rise up, there must be something real to arouse it, and gadgets, computers, and gimmicks used to hold attention, all taking place in classroom environments technologically insulated from reality, are simply parts of the generally unlovable atmosphere of modern education – unlovable because they are all efficiency, utility, and no longer beautiful.”