Good Books for Schooling

October 19, 2008


A long time ago in this country, 90% of the population was literate. Most children began their school at home, learning to read and do basic math. Grammar schools, where available, educated the child until 8th grade. In the early 1900s, a new trend in education began: John Dewey’s “student-based” system. It emphasized learning from the perspective of the student. Whereas education used to be the memorization of skills to be applied in adult life, Dewey made education more of a social engineering tool, encouraging teachers to bring out a student’s opinions and feelings. Memorization and discipline went by the wayside. Children now work in group settings, think in group settings, and learn in group settings.

Parents wonder why public schools leave their childern so ill-equipped, and why students graduate with so few skills. This is why. The children are being taught to operate under social conditions, while independent critical thinking skills are thrown out the window. Of course, this doesn’t ALWAYS happen in EVERY school, but it is happening in more and more schools, everywhere.

We homeschool, and send our kids to an umbrella school for tests on what they have learned. It is the best kind of school, I think– I teach the kids from books distributed by the school (they use the excellent Abeka curriculum) and I can add my own stuff, too. They test the kids on the basics but the standards are extremely high (so the kids work hard and apply what they know). They also handle all the administrative paperwork. I just love the way the schooling works, and I love the education the kids are getting.

So we are free to pick and choose our own extra-curricular books. I love art and history, so we have a lot of those kinds of books. Here’s a little sampling of some really great books I’ve found through the years. Maybe it will help you if you are looking for some good books.

I combine social studies, history, civics, and “living” all together. The best history books I have found, by far, have been the Abeka books. I also really like “The Story of the Constitution” by Sol Bloom and Lar Johnson. It’s great for high schoolers. Comes with tests, too.


The Drive-Thru History series, by Dave Stotts, are DVDs, not books. But WOW these things are great!! We have almost worn them out. They are history-centered. Dave Stotts is a hilariously funny guy with a love for history and cool cars. He drives the neatest machines through Rome, Greece cities, places in Turkey, and more. He does a superb job, and we just love his stuff. He also has a great educational series on American founding history. LOVE these!


My kids are big into American history. Here are some of our favorites.


We prefer primary sources (books from the horses’ mouths, so to speak) and avoid most books written by historians, unless they are full of factual data. I have some blossoming history scholars in the house.

Most of my educational focus is toward the junior high-school and high-school student now. When the kids were little, and bright and colorful book that focused on the facts was good. As the kids get older, I am fussier about their books. But as they get older, you can really hone in on their interests, and that’s what makes it so much fun. Junior just isn’t in to microbiology? Fine. Give him the calculus books and let him explore to his heart’s content. I love homeschool for that.

When it comes to math books, it’s pretty easy. I mean, how can you go wrong with addition, right? The main thing is to keep the math books interesting and give the kids very short-term goals. I like the Doring-Kindersley books because they have 20 minute exercise sheets. The child can do a little bit every day, and stay sharp.


I have more books to showcase, but I think I’ll end here because this post is huge! I’ll have more about more books soon.


3 Responses to “Good Books for Schooling”

  1. Karen Says:

    Those descriptions have me wanting to go back to school and learn all this stuff again. I need a refresher course.


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