Thursday, October 13, 2016

Our 2016-2017 Homeschool Booklist

When we first began homeschooling I was very concerned about finding the perfect book list.  I knew pretty early that I resonated most with Charlotte Mason's (CM) methods of education, so all that remained was to implement it.  I thought for a long time that if we weren't reading from "the perfect book list," we wouldn't be "doing" CM.

However, the perfect list of books is not out there.  (Well, maybe it is, but we can't read every book, unfortunately.)  What matters is the methods and principles:  narration, the use of living books, recognizing that children are born persons and all that comes with that, and many, many other things.  And I've also come to the conclusion that what matters especially in the first few years of a child's education, i.e. grades one through three, are the skills and habits that are being honed.
"This period of a child's life between his sixth and his ninth year should be used to lay the basis of a liberal education, and of the habit of reading for instruction.  During these years the child should enter upon the domain of knowledge, in a good many directions, in a reposeful, consecutive way, which is not to be attained through the somewhat exciting medium of oral lessons." (Charlotte Mason, Home Education, p.11)
"...the child of six has begun the serious business of his education, that it does not matter much whether he understands this word or that, but that it matters a great deal that he should learn to deal directly with books.  Whatever a child or grown-up person can tell, that we may be sure he knows, and what he cannot tell, he does not know."  (Charlotte Mason, Towards a Philosophy of Education, p.172,173) 
So, in the early years we are to provide the child a feast of books on a wide variety of subjects in a gentle manner.  The term 'gentle' I don't think means that the schooling is necessarily easy, but instead should be non-stressful for the child; we shouldn't be cramming information down his throat, demanding that he learn this or that by this time or that time.  The process of learning from a variety of whole, living books should be a delightful experience.

And let me say that I was so relieved - and that it brought to me a sense of rest - to read CM's words about how it doesn't matter in these early years whether the child understands everything that's read.  What matters is that "he should learn to deal directly with books."  I'm understanding this more and more as I educate my firstborn, that right now it's about my child learning to attend, learning that knowledge comes from books, that narration is the act of knowing, that I (the teacher) am not to interfere with the child's dealing with the book - I am not to spoon-feed the child.  As a result, it's not as important that the child read this book, or that book, as it is that he is learning how to learn and how to think.

So!  Here are the books that our family has chosen for this school year.  My oldest, who is seven, is a second-grader and the only one who is formally schooled right now.  Our second, the five-year old, joins in most of the time.  The one-year old roams around and makes messes and demands attention, which we are only too happy to give :)

*This list of books are the books from which Izzy narrates.  We also read Bible stories and poetry everyday, as well as other free reads and picture books.


I'm going to keep a "live" list of history books that we're reading as the year goes on, so I'll be updating as we add new books.  This year we're beginning at the beginning of American History.  Here's what we've read so far:

Leif the Lucky by D'Aulaire
Columbus by D'Aulaire
A Child's History of the World by Hillyer (I'm picking and choosing chapters to correlate with our study.  So far we've read about other explorers after Columbus.)

Natural History

Among the Pond People by Clara Dillingham Pierson
Wild Animals of Africa

This year I asked Izzy (7) what she was interested in learning about as far as natural history goes, and she said "ponds".  So, we're reading from Among the Pond People.  We'll probably finish this before the year's end, in that case we'll pick another book.  We're also reading Wild Animals of Africa, something a little different that I haven't seen on any book lists.  I noticed that a book about zoo animals was incorporated in the PNEU curriculum, so I thought this one about African animals would be fun and interesting.


Seabird by Holling

This is all we're doing so far.  I'm saving Mason's Elementary Geography and Long's Home Geography for next year so that I can combine my two older girls. 


Little Pilgrim's Progress by Taylor
My Book House series

As far as the My Book House series (which my awesome mother so generously bought for us!!), I'm choosing stories from the first six books for Izzy to narrate (except from the first one, as that's just nursery rhymes).

And there you have it!