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Three (or so) Books for the Homeschool Journey

Three or more books for the homeschool journey: Charlotte Mason and more.

Sometimes in the busy rush of family and homeschool, it can be hard to remember why you decided to homeschool in the first place. A good book is like a good friend, providing inspiration, purpose, and encouragement for the journey. Here are some of my favorite books for the homeschool journey. They will help you keep a clear vision of what a family is, and some of the reasons for homeschooling. I hope you’ll find them encouraging!

For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

My note in the front of For the Children’s Sake is simply “One of the most important books I’ve read on parenting and teaching.” Susan offers not only a gentle introduction to the Charlotte Mason method, but also a glimpse of life lived simply and joyously. For me, this book was comforting and inspiring– rather like sharing a cup of tea and good conversation with a wise friend. I think it’s the kind of book you’ll dip into again and again.

Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
How to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen

I find it hard to resist a great title, so I bought How to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child even through my boys are all grown, and was so glad I did. In the sharply funny, insightful tradition of G.K. Chesterton, Esolen skewers modern trends that flatten imagination, and offers a glimpse of a better way. There’s an excellent, detailed review of this book by Jason R. Edwards at The Imaginative Conservative. A look at the first three methods of destroying imagination will give you an idea of Esolen’s ironic style:

  • Method 1: Keep Your Children Indoors as Much as Possible or, They Used to Call It “Air”
  • Method 2: Never Leave Children to Themselves or, If Only We Had a Committee
  • Method 3: Keep Children Away from Machines and Machinists or, All Unauthorized Personnel Prohibited

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto

This little classic is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and it hasn’t lost any of its power. My inside cover comments are “1992: Truth” and “2000: Profound.” If you wonder why children struggle in schools and why many teachers are frustrated, Gatto offers his perspective as the 1991 New York State Teacher of the Year.

You’ll discover that the primary lessons of “The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher” don’t include history, literature, math, or science, but confusion, class position, indifference, emotional dependency, intellectual dependency, provisional self-esteem, and that one can’t hide. You may not agree with all of Gatto’s ideas, but I guarantee he’ll make you think.

And of course . . . Charlotte Mason herself

Beyond these three books are Charlotte Mason’s amazing six-volume education series. They are written in the language of the late nineteenth century, but after you have read enough, you will be able appreciate their wisdom and truth. These are backbone of any serious study of Charlotte Mason and her methods, and I recommend them highly — just not as an introductory course. You can see what’s in them at the wonderful AmblesideOnline.org, the amazing free site operated for the sheer love of Charlotte Mason and her work.

P. S. I know this is more than three, but I figure that Charlotte Mason’s books almost go without saying. Either that, or my math skills have finally caught up with me;-).

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1 Response

  1. September 25, 2012

    […] snuggled on their couch on a rainy, cool fall day, Janice Campbell edifies us with Three Books for the Homeschool Journey posted at Janice Campbell: Taking Time for Things that Matter. Janice notes homeschooling can be […]

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