A savvy homeschool teacher with a library of good books (at home or in the public one down the street) has the potential to teach almost anything. And with your or your library’s collection of excellent children’s literature, it’s even better. Using real books has the power to transform your kids’ lives. This is why you should teach using real books in your homeschool.
Note that this post contains affiliate links. That means if you buy a book using one of the links, we might make a few cents in affiliate commission, at no extra cost to you. We spend this on coffee.
My adult children still remember several of the hundreds of incredible stories we read during their homeschool years. From the nail-biting true story, The Courage of Sarah Noble, to the hysterical wordplay in The Phantom Tollbooth, to the harrowing, heart-rending but ultimately redemptive WWII story Enemy Brothers, our individual and family read-aloud time was our favorite part of homeschooling.
And you may not realize it, but gripping, emotional stories have a huge impact on memory. When you add an emotional component to learning, it helps make it stick! Excellent literature is essential to learning.
Not only can real books whisk your kids away on unforgettable adventures, but excellent books teach us so much more.
- Show your kids how to feel empathy, understanding, and build good character as they “walk” beside the hero in a novel who is suffering yet choosing to do the right thing.
- Vastly improve your child’s focus and concentration. (Think about a time you were so immersed in an exciting story that you were completely unaware of anything going on around you.)
- Greatly help your children’s social and emotional learning as they see many examples of social interactions in their stories. Especially during read-alouds that you discuss a little afterward. Helping your kids learn to identify and label emotions is gold. (How do you think he felt when she said that? How would you have felt if that happened to you? What did he do next? Would you have handled it that way? Why or why not? What would you have done instead?)
- Lead to better reading fluency, improved comprehension, and ultimately, a passion for reading. When you carefully select and bring home books that are in your children’s areas of interest but are redeeming stories… and then let them pick the ones they want to read. If they choose; they’re committed. And this regular reading practice, even if it’s “fun” reading, is what makes excellent readers.
And these days when so many kids keep better company with their screens than with flesh and blood people, kids need all the help they can get learning how people think and why they do what they do. This is called social intelligence.
Now that we’ve covered the crucial stuff, why should you use real books to teach academics? In other words, why should you choose a literature-based homeschool curriculum?
Why you should use real books (and literature-based curriculum) to teach academics
Real books, also called living books, are books written by authors with knowledge and passion for their subjects. This includes nonfiction as well as fiction books. And there’s room for both fiction and non-fiction when you’re teaching academics.
What’s unique about these books is that they are full of stories. And stories are what we remember, not facts and dates!
An excellent history book, full of stories about real people and events, can burst your children’s worlds wide open. A good story can transport them to faraway lands and long ago places. It can immerse your kids in a different culture much more effectively than any textbook.
The same goes for a living science book. Your child can experience the excitement of Benjamin Franklin’s kite experiment with electricity during a thunderstorm. Or be a virtual part of Lewis and Clark’s incredible journey of discovery of strange new plants and animals and different tribes of Native Americans across the western United States.
Not to mention how much top-notch activity books can add fascinating hands-on activities making these subjects come alive to your learners.
How about using real books to teach language arts?
No matter what age your children are, using history, science, and other academic books to teach language arts is a winning combination.
Yes, phonics readers certainly have their place to help your child learn to read. But as soon as you can, work in attention-grabbing stories at your children’s level that will draw them in emotionally and intellectually.
And did you know that your kids’ history and science books could do double-duty and be used for teaching reading, spelling, vocabulary, copy work, handwriting, grammar, and composition? There are many creative ways to use books to teach language arts.
There’s something about using a published book of well put together words that screams authenticity and meaning to kids. As opposed to slapping down endless grammar worksheets to easily check grammar off your list.
Not only are books more effective for teaching language arts than dull worksheets, but there’s also another fantastic benefit to using history and science books to teach language arts.
Using academic books for language arts is a painless way to review
Using history and science books for language arts gives you the chance to review what you have read and learned about in history and science. Typical language arts assignments using history and science books could include the following:
- Simple narration after reading ( This could be oral or written, depending upon the age of your child.)
- Assigning copy work over one or more paragraphs
- Having your student take book notes as s/he reads, writing down the main point(s) of each paragraph or section
- Asking your child to Make a lapbook on a topic s/he is learning about in history or science
Typical topics from history and science that would be perfect for language arts assignments:
- What happened during each of the seven days of Creation (history)
- The lifecycle of a butterfly or frog (science)
- The 13 Original U.S. colonies (history)
- How the Bubonic Plague traveled around the world (history and science)
- The fascinating Samurai code of ethics: Bushido (history and character)
- The Causes and Effects of World War II (history)
So not only can using real books to teach help you bring your kids’ homeschool education to life, you maximize your homeschooling time doing it! So start using real books to teach, bring your kids’ education to life, and still have time to get your other stuff done!