“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” ~Marcel Proust
When I was teacher in an elementary classroom, one of my favorite things to do was to seek out books that supported, encouraged, and related to my students’ lives. Holidays, special events, milestones, topics we were exploring…by tying these things to books, I felt it helped those parts of their world come alive.
Now as a homeschooling mom, I attempt to do the same. Back in September as the new school year was underway, I was on a hunt for picture books that emulate our lives as homeschoolers. Whereas in the classroom I would fill the shelves with back to school books, I wanted to be able to do the same for my boys, but with a story they could relate to their own lives and education path. It took a while to find just what I was looking for, but I have complied a collection of 5 books that my boys love and I think they all do a nice job of depicting an education path that is familiar to them.
Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino
This was probably my favorite of all that we read, although its message is more subtle than the rest. It is a story about a robot, Doug, who is plugged in every morning by his parents to a computer that fills him with information. As he is being loaded up with countless facts about the world, his focus starts to wander outside the window to realize that there is a huge world out there to explore. So Doug unplugs himself to strike out to learn about the world through real-world, first-hand experiences.
The message reminds me of the path that so many homeschoolers follow, particularly natural learners or unschoolers. Rather than reading about places in books, homeschoolers have the advantage of using the world as their classroom as they learn.
This Is My Home, This Is My School by Johnathan Bean
This is a window into a homeschool family’s routine. I really enjoyed how it depicted the connections of a school environment at home, for instance showing the “cafeteria” as their dining room or the “playground” as their backyard. This book also spoke to our family as a natural learners as it shows learning happening all day, every day through every day life, from star-gazing to cuddling up with a good book.
The author, Jonathan Bean, drew from his own life experiences as a homeschooler when creating this book, which adds to its authenticity.
A final piece to this books that I greatly appreciated was the chaotic feel at some points in the book. As a homeschooling mom, life is often pulling you in a billion directions, the house is often a mess because everyone is too busy living life, and things don’t always look picture perfect. The illustrations lovingly show this level of chaos in their lives. I found that to be reassuring and comforting.
Charlie Goes to School by Ree Drummond
Told from the perspective of the family dog, this book follows a more traditional homeschooling family as they sit down to the kitchen table with books and a chalkboard. Though our homeschooling life is not quite so scheduled and lead by direct instruction, there is a sweet element to the story of Charlie interacting with the children through their lessons and school day at home. Big Brother found Charlie to be a funny character and really enjoyed this book.
I Am Learning All the Time by Rain Perry Fordyce
Written by a homeschooling mother, this story follows two brothers through their homeschooling day. I liked how the story highlights the differences and similarities of homeschool life to those who go to school. This book really spoke to Big Brother as he has many friends who attend school and I think he found it comforting to see how his homeschool life compares to theirs.
As with many of the books we read, this family’s homeschool approach seems to lean more towards a natural learning or unschooled lifestyle. I also felt this book does a nice job of highlighting some of the benefits to a homeschooling lifestyle such as taking family vacations at any time of the year, having the freedom to play and explore any time of the day, and the opportunities to work with and learn from other homeschoolers (debunking the all-too-often assumed myth that homeschoolers lack socialization!)
Ippie Unschooled by Nicole Olson
Written by an unschooling mom, this book gives a peek inside the world of an unschooler, seen through a child’s eyes. This books does an excellent job of showing just how much learning takes place in an unschoolers life. What looks like an average day, is actually a wealth of learning opportunities from Math, Science and Technology to Language Arts, Performing Arts and Visual Art. It is as much a story to enjoy as it is a how-to or explanation book for parents who are considering an unschooling life for their kids. At the end of the book, the author goes a step further to share her family’s story, points out parts of Ippie’s day and what she was learning, defines unschooling and really helps to explain what unschooling looks like in real life. The books was illustrated by a group of unschooled kids ranging from 3-12 years old.
Hope you enjoy! I am always looking for more picture books focusing on homeschooling to share with my boys, so please feel free to share the ones your family loves!