Great books are probably the only real thing I’d consider a homeschooling essential, but I haven’t always felt that way. I almost decided to write about curriculum, but if you read yesterday’s post you’ll see that I decided on just the three R’s instead. Even then, you don’t need a specific curriculum. But you will always need great books.
So, what constitutes a great books? Rich vocabulary, well-constructed sentences, something that pulls you in to the story emotionally. Those books that, years and decades later, you still remember. So, how do you know great books before you read them? Partly, I evaluate if a book is amongst the greats by finding it on lists of other great books. I enjoy using Listopia from Goodreads. I always recommend the Newbery book lists as well; there are always medal winners and honor recipients (runners-up for the medal). These books are always amazing!
“To encourage original creative work in the field of books for children. To emphasize to the public that contributions to the literature for children deserve similar recognition to poetry, plays, or novels. To give those librarians, who make it their life work to serve children’s reading interests, an opportunity to encourage good writing in this field.”
Are lists the only way to determine the “greatness” of any given book? I’m sure not, but for me it has made it easy to be sure that the selections I offer my children are, indeed, great books. I’ve also had them read books that I remember from my own childhood, because those books that stick with you tend to be the ones you’d like to share with your children.
When kids are little, Caldecott picture books are often a good choice. Now, admittedly, I’ve found some Caldecott books that I don’t like nearly as much as others. The Caldecott medal is about the artwork, and not so much about the literary content. But, it’s about cultivating a love of reading and of books in your young children. It’s about helping them recognize great books so that as they grow, they can choose those great books for themselves. Read to your young children as often as they will sit and let you do so. When they bring a book to you and ask for you to read it to them, stop within only a very few minutes and read it to them. Make a promise to yourself to do this every single time; even if that’s not a realistic possibility, the promise to yourself will ensure that it does happen more often than not. (Okay, you caught me. Doing this for myself – and my children, right this minute!)
As they get older, let them read good books that interest them, read great books to them, and let them get familiar with books. Use books for your learning in science, history, music, art, geography – almost anything. Read about MATH if you can figure out a way to do so. Older kids will devour many books. The greatest portion of them should be of great books, many of learning, much of biography, and a few of whatever they happen to pull off the shelf. With a cultivated love of great books, a little twaddled reading in the well-educated and well-disciplined child is certainly tolerable.
Why Do You Need Great Books?
With a love of reading and a great book, a child can learn anything. Anything they want to learn is open to them in a book. Cultivate a love of learning in them when they are young, and they will learn to turn to books for information, for enjoyment, and for edification. One of the most basic but maybe not obvious reasons to use great books is that a higher level of reading, a greater understanding of language and usage, and a better tolerance for the more difficult passages will make studying God’s Word much easier and more enjoyable for your children.
No matter what translation you use, one of your great books – from the very beginning – should be the Bible. Read it to them when they are little. Get them a version they can read when they are young. Get them a newer version when they are fluent readers. Then get them a study Bible by the time they are of middle school age.
Great books are an essential of homeschooling, if for no other reason than this. But – oh! – the joy of the story inside the great books, and the joy of cultivating that love in our children! There are few adventures that compare. God bless!
Don’t forget to visit my friends and see what they consider to be the essentials of homeschooling!
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Julie @ Nurturing Learning
Lisa @ Farm Fresh Adventures
Lori @ At Home: where life happens
Nicole @ Journey to Excellence
Adriana @ Homeschool Ways
Brandy @ Kingdom Academy Homeschool
Meg @ Adventures with Jude
Sarah @ Delivering Grace