After twenty years of homeschooling, there’s one thing I can say. We had plenty of books. Books lined shelves, often double deep with more stacked on top. Plenty lay mounded in piles. Additional ones were squeezed into nooks and crannies. We loved books. My daughters and I roamed the tables and shelves at garage sales, library sales, and book fairs. Our eyes remained on the look-out for children’s books in particular, first and foremost the classics which, sadly, most libraries were disposing of for lack of use by their patrons. It was a treasure trove for us.
Books rounded out our studies of American history, world history and geography, science, and just plain recreational reading. We scouted for books that were historically accurate and that espoused and defended patriotism, respect, heroism, and family. If they were humorous or gave us a cozy feeling, well, all the better. And I looked for well-written books as good examples for our budding writers.
Whew. Tall order. But we discovered many such books. I have listed a few you may enjoy if you are looking for quality children’s literature, too.
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The Little House books are widely known but worth a mention here. We loved the glimpses into another time, true life before technology erupted. Humor and tears filled the pages. A family that loved each other. Great reading.
Stories about the author’s grandmother, a spirited young girl in the 1860s. What fun to peek into pioneer life through the eyes of a feisty lass!
Elizabeth George Speare is one of our favorite authors. The Sign of the Beaver is taken from a true account of a pioneer boy and his father who build a cabin in the wilderness. The son, Matt, is left alone to guard their home while his father returns for his wife and the rest of the family. When they are delayed, Matt must survive on his own. He is befriended by a Native American boy and his grandfather, who step in to help him.
Another of our favorite writers was Marguerite Henry. The Misty of Chincoteague series takes place on Chincoteague Island off the coast of Virginia and is packed with horses, horses, horses. Need I say more?
New to me is The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall. Four sisters with very different personalities yet who share a strong family bond set off with their father for a summer holiday. They encounter troubles and adventures head-on. The first in a four book series is The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy. I am reading it now and look forward to completing the series.
Another new one for me, The Gardener is set during the Depression-era, this delightful book follows a young girl who loves to garden. She comes to stay for a while with her grumpy uncle in the big city, carrying seeds in her suitcase. With her flowers and charming nature she brightens the lives of those she meets. The combination of letters she writes to her family back home and David Small’s wonderful illustrations tell this enchanting story of a determined young gardener.
I include this because my girls loved it. My husband read this book aloud to the family on cold winter evenings while we sat snug and warm before the fire. This 1864 science fiction novel portrays a German professor who is convinced volcanic tubes descend far below the surface. After much ridicule from scientists, friends, and family, he finally persuades a select few to join him as he tests his fascinating theory. He and his fellow travelers encounter adventures, dangers, and wonders as they journey to the center of the earth.
This middle grade historical fiction novel takes place in 1924. Eleven-year-old Mary Elisabeth’s life will never be the same. Her mother has contracted tuberculosis, her father takes a grueling at the shipyards to pay for her treatment, Mary Elisabeth must travel 350 miles from home to live on her uncle’s farm. Her only contact with her parents is through letters. Though the characters are pure fiction, the adventures Mary Elisabeth faces are true–accounts from my own father’s childhood growing up on the family farm.
Whether you homeschool or not, I encourage you to make literature a part of your family’s life.
Open up to your children a new world of historical and fictional characters who can stretch their imaginations.
Provide them with adventures showing sacrifice, humor, bravery, wisdom–as they sit in the safety and comfort of their homes.
And enjoy the many stories with them. They love it when you share the adventure.
Photographs by Gretchen Louise