A Homeschooler's Guide to Choosing the "Best" Books
You know you're a homeschooling parent when... you're totally and unabashedly obsessed with books. Homeschooler... book hoarder...is there really a difference?
Didn't think so.
But all books are not created equal. And there's a lot out there to sort through! So I've decided to do a little round-up of the resources I use to help me find quality living books for our home. This is a multifaceted process... but it's fun!
First, I browse the following book lists in the general age range I'm looking for. As you skim these lists, you'll see some repeat titles. That's a good indicator it's a must-have book! If you're nerdy enough, you could enter them into a spreadsheet or list-making app. I use Trello for this. I am nerdy enough.
A Few Great Lists
To use Ambleside Online for book suggestions, click on the approximate grade level (books in this curriculum are at a pretty high level, so if you look at year 3 for a 3rd grader it might be ok but don't ignore the years below year 3!). Look under History, Geography, Natural History, Poetry, Literature, and Additional Reading. Ambleside does a good job of linking to any free online versions of the book. This is a great way to read a few pages yourself before you decide if it's something you want to purchase in hard copy form.
To use Sonlight for book suggestions, shop by grade and choose your grade. Click on complete package / learn more to see everything in that level. Now click on the what's included tab which gives you a breakdown of everything in the package, including the books with book cover images all sorted by subject. Go to town writing down any that sound interesting to you!
Mensa for Kids
You don't have to be gifted to use these excellent book lists! Mensa for Kids has created a program called Excellence in Reading which includes book lists for grades K-12. The lists are free, downloadable, and printable. I recommend downloading all of them, and using them for yourself as well as your kids!
Read-Aloud Revival is an awesome resource for all parents who love reading with their kids. To gain access to her main book lists, subscribe to her email list! It's worth it. Many other smaller more topical book lists are published all the time, so I recommend staying subscribed or following the facebook page for updates.
There are obviously many other sources for finding great books! But this gives you so much to wade through, that I think less is more here. Even if you only printed the Mensa for Kids lists and worked off of that, you would have enough to read every single day and never get bored.
Shopping For Books
The other thing I wanted to touch on is actually acquiring the books. It can be hard to hunt down these books at used book stores, but it's worth a search depending on where you live. Skim the shelves, and if you don't see anything familiar from your lists - oh well! The same thing with attending library book sales. They can be a gold mine or they can be nothing but junk, and you don't know until you try. Just don't put too much emphasis on it, but have fun looking! Websites like Thrift Books and Better World Books sometimes have what I'm looking for, and sometimes the prices plus shipping aren't good enough compared to just buying it new, or used on Amazon. It's always good to check, first, just to be sure!
Book Outlet (I'm Obsessed)
Book Outlet is my favorite resource to go to first because I've found so many gorgeous classics there for amazing prices. They don't have the selection of Amazon, but if you search by author's last name for the books on your list, you might be surprised at what they have! Their Scratch & Dent books are so affordable, as cheap as used books, but in almost perfect condition. I can't say enough good things about this place so I implore you to look there first!
They've got a nice rewards program too, so you can earn points for each dollar spent, which adds up to a discount on a future purchase. I've even got a coupon for you to use! It's for $10 off of your first order of $25.
I hope this little guide will be helpful to you on your journey to filling your home with beautiful books! Now... how to store and organize them all?!