When the idea of homeschooling landed in my brain, I headed to library to gather books. I grabbed Gatto, Holt, Clarkson, Wise-Bauer, and anything that mentioned Charlotte Mason.
Talk about variety.
It took some time and some actual homeschooling my real children to get our grove and to experience a homeschooling life that was uniquely US. I needed to make our own way—mistakes and all—and not feel pigeon-holed into a certain method or philosophy.
Fast forward a few years and I now have nearly a decade under my belt (well, under my yoga pants band—do people wear belts?) and I’ve curated a stack of homeschooling-ish books that I am always recommending and also going back to for encouragement, ideas and connection.
I present, in no particular order, my top five books.
At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider
I came across Tsh in late 2016 via a friend’s recommendation. I quickly searched her blog and found her on Instagram. I loved everything she wrote. I loved her wit and her honesty. When her book At Home in the World came out in mid-2017, I stalked my mailbox for the Amazon delivery. I remember taking it to the back deck, iced tea in hand, and cracking open the cover. I was tearing up by the end of chapter one.
Tsh’s story drew me in and had me imaging what could be. Her book also came to me at a time where I wasn’t feeling settled in our new home in a new state. I was feeling blown around and not sure what home meant.
Her family’s adventures around the globe and how they tackled world-schooling and life was remarkable. What resonated with me, however, was her search for the feeling and meaning of home. I love how she sparked curiosity in my heart. I journaled and reflected on how I wanted our home and homeschooling to be intertwined and how I could make this happen. I planned trips in my head.
Her book is one that I've gone back to a few times, especially the end, when I need gentle reminders and when I want to travel the world in my own head for a bit.
A Gracious Space (Spring, Fall and Winter editions) by Julie Bogart
A homeschooling friend and mentor first mentioned Julie and Brave Writer to me when I was looking for a fun writing program to do with my then three elementary-aged kids. I perused the Brave Writer website, saw a phone number, and called it.
A woman named Julie picked up immediately. When I asked her if she was THE Julie she laughed and said, “Yes! It’s me! I’m standing in my kitchen.” From that moment on, I was hooked. She spent nearly an hour answering my questions and sharing stories.
I was thrilled when she released her Gracious Space book collection: Spring, Fall, and Winter editions. Beautiful and encouraging essays about life, homeschooling, and relationships. Each day is a breath of fresh air that takes a few moments to read, but leaves a lasting impression. I have read each book at least two times.
One night, I was reading a page and nodding my head along to everything she was saying. I turned the page and was happily surprised to see my name appear in the comment section. I felt like a rock star. True story.
Each time I read a passage, something new jumps out at me. As our homeschool has changed and grown, so has my perspective. When I need warm Julie hug, I turn to my Gracious Space books.
Differently Wired by Deborah Reber
While Differently Wired is not technically a homeschoolers-only book, Debbie, a homeschooling mother, has opened my eyes on how to parent and guide a differently-wired child. I was already a fan of her podcast, Tilt Parenting, so when I found out she was publishing a book, I immediately preordered it.
Debbie's book shares her family's story of raising a differently wired child. She is open and honest with their struggles. She shares what has worked and what hasn't in terms of therapies, school choices, lifestyle and more. Her book helps parents see their differently wired kids in a different light--something that is desperately needed.
This book helped me feel connected to a larger community. It can feel lonely when you're worrying about your quirky child or in the midst of a meltdown or sensory overload. It made me feel so blessed to be able to home educate and tweak things for him and to back off when needed. It made me reconsider my frustrations and also gave me the courage to keep connecting with my kid.
Minimalist Homeschooling by Zara Fagen, PhD
Minimalist Homeschooling came onto my radar in summer 2018 when a few other homeschooling friends and I began chatting about setting up our homeschooling plans. This easy-to-read book is packed with fantastic information! I love how the author breaks down a process of decluttering our homeschools: products, schedules, curricula, and anything that doesn't serve our family's visions. Each chapter has "Let's Do It" section where you can brainstorm and plan.
Going through this book really helped me assess our current homeschooling needs. I was no longer planning for elementary ages. I knew my kids would need more outside classes and activities and connections with peers. I had to plan for being intentionally busy and also tweak my expectations. I took some time to research curriculum and talk to each of my kids so I could gather their input.
I also enjoyed her "Minimalist Mindset Homeschool Hacks" through the book. This will be a book I go back to again and again. I recommend getting a group of homeschooling friends together—either in person or online—to discuss the chapters and exercises. Our group was so helpful to have and to bounce ideas off each other.
The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart
(Disclosure: I received this book to review in advance. I also preordered it and paid for a copy)
Yes, Julie Bogart is appearing two times on my list. And, if you're a fan of Julie, you GET IT. If you aren't familiar with Julie Bogart or her Brave Writer lifestyle and programs, then stop what you're doing and go check her out. Right now.
As I mentioned above, Julie has been a guiding light in our homeschool. I am blessed to know her in person and am always learning from her nuggets of wisdom.
The Brave Learner is a powerhouse book that takes her concepts and passions and puts them into a step-by-step guide to cultivating a lifestyle that celebrates curiosity, enchantment, personalities and passions. She has simple, easy-to-do ideas that can turn your homeschool days around into something that everyone can enjoy.
What I truly appreciate, however, is Julie's boldness in tackling topics that many homeschooling books ignore or gloss over. She gets real about family issues, parenting struggles, and, as she puts it—telling the freaking truth.
This book is a gold mine and is for both the newbie homeschooler and the seasoned one. I've been carrying this book around in my purse and reading chapters (out of order, as I do) when I can. It's made me see all the awesome things I've done and am currently doing and has also inspired me to dig deeper into relationships as my kids get older.
Julie also has a FREE companion guide to go with her book. You can get the companion guide here: https://thebravelearner.com/
I love books. I love holding them in my hands. Turning the pages. Snuggling up with a cup of hot tea (or lukewarm tea, who am I kidding?) and getting lost in the words.
A good book is a treasured friend. Dog-eared pages, highlighted passages, tea-stained edges—all the signs of a beloved and trusted book. I love to read about what people think about homeschooling, how they homeschool, or how to approach homeschooling from a different point of view.
It’s okay to have one or two favorites—homeschooling books that just “get” you and what you’re trying to create in your own homeschool. Those are the books you will read and reread time and time again. A homeschooling book that can grow with you and inspire you is the best kind of book.
Share your favorite homeschooling books with me in the comments—I’d love to hear from you!