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Friday, August 3, 2012

Frugal Homeschool Resources for your Personal Library

A couple of years ago, on a lazy Saturday my husband and I were out and about and spied a sign stuck in the ground at the stop light advertising a local library book sale. We had the little children in tow, and so we decided to juggled them as we perused the tables and aisles to eventually congratulated ourselves with the golden nuggets we had retrieved for the tidy sum of $5.75!  

The types of books we buy are real books--no textbooks here! Why waste a child's time with books that have been so regurgitated by committees and "think-tanks" that the heart of all the knowledge contained has been cut out or re-engineered to fit a liberal minded agenda? Children want to know about real things that truly matter, at least if their natural inclination and love of learning hasn't been snuffed out entirely.  

Here are some of the titles:

The Splendid Wayfaring; the Exploits and Adventures of Jedediah Smith and the Ashley-Henry Men 1822-1831, John G. Neihardt I just love the story of Jedediah Smith and have always wanted to own a biography of this godly mountain man--a quick perusal of this one told me that I had found a great treasure!

Reader's Digest ABC's of Nature, A Family Answer Book This was a wonderful addition to our collection of nature books and guides. Published in 1984, it contains some of the myths of evolution (our children know better), but it still includes plenty of information about animal and plant life that must be powerfully intriguing, judging by the way it has been disappearing throughout the house. 

The American Heritage Junior Library--Cowboys and Cattle Country The books in this series are fascinating to my 16 year-old son. These are written in narrative form with plenty of period illustrations to guarantee many hours of interest. We also own the one about clipper ships. The series contains many more titles and is worth collecting. 

QPB Treasury of North American Folktales This is a fairly recently published book, and therefore is an exception to our rule of thumb, which is to avoid contemporary publishing--for a myriad of reasons, including quality of writing, but mostly for moral content. This is not the best collection of this type, but it contains historical folklore like Paul Bunyan, Pecos Bill, etc. 

Indians of the Americas 1947--although not a politically correct title (can this be a plus?), this is a fascinating book filled with illustrations and facts about native Americans--from the Arctic circle to the Antarctic continent. 

American Geographical Society: Around the World Program, including booklets for Holland, Israel, South Africa, Bolivia, Germany, Australia, and Denmark. Published in 1970--gives an interesting perspective on the geography and history of these areas some forty years ago.

The King's Rangers, John Brick A tale of the Revolutionary War written from the loyalist point of view--we're sorry we bought this one--oh well, at about .25 a book, you don't feel bad about having just one stinker in the group!

And if you don't have a good library system nearby, or a lot of cash in order to invest in quality books, even good history and reading books, then I would suggest you keep your eyes open for two very good series of books written expressly for children: The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls and Child-craft Books of How and Why. I'm not sure how the newer publishing of these books appear--I haven't been able to find any good reviews, etc. 

I do know how the older versions have been a blessing to our family. My older children and I used up a set of the Child-craft books until they were in pieces. These were published in the 1950's and we all have happy memories of hours and hours spent reading the stories and poems, singing the American folk songs, and even trying some of the crafts and recipes. 

We currently own a set of the Bookshelf for Boys and Girls published in 1972. We found these at our local thrift store for a dollar a piece--and they are worth their weight in gold (I found one used set advertised on the Internet for more than $100.)!  

These are filled with nursery rhymes, baby play, baby and preschool classics, fairy stories, stories from around the world, classic stories such as "Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel," excerpts from popular children's books, and even some quite thorough American history that is well-written and mostly from a biographical viewpoint.  

There is a volume on science and one on nature. My children have almost used up the one on crafting! I especially love that there are many references to faith in Christ--poems, prayers, even a whole section on Christmas that is full of reference to the birth of Christ.

I love to take a volume with me as my little ones are drifting off to sleep and reading from it until their eyelids close--they fight sleep and beg for more! These "real" books can be used for all sorts of language study, especially for the younger set. Just enjoying and discussing these can lead to all kinds of formal as well as informal learning. These are bereft of political correctness, and often even mention "spanking" (Oh, me, oh my!)--how refreshing!

I also often copy a story or two at a time and give it to my struggling writers so that we can all write and revise together, while we all learn something interesting.

Although I own many children's books which I have collected over the years, I could actually throw most of them out and never miss them if I still owned a couple of these sets (there may be other types from other publishers, I just haven't come across). Actually, I believe they contain just the right amount of illustration, unlike the titles common for purchase or check out at the library. The emphasis is on the stories themselves, not the "fantabulous" pictures.

This makes for better readers in the long run. If you can't find these at a garage sale or thrift store near you, you can try to find them at Free-cycle or Craigslist--and there is always eBay (Child-craft is here, Bookshelf is here), or other Internet sources.

In fact, in researching for this post I have found some pretty wonderful older books that are in the public domain and absolutely free. Here are a few for your enjoyment: Boys' and Girls' Bookshelf: Historic Tales and Golden Deeds Stories for Little Children This one is especially charming for little ones--how about this little snippet:
Kindergarten Prayer
Two little eyes to look to God,
Two little ears to hear his word,
Two little lips to sing his praise,
Two little feet to walk his ways,
Two little hands to do his will,
And one little heart to love him still.

Boys' and Girls' Bookshelf: Book of Nature and Outdoor Life Gutenberg has a number of Boys' and Girls' Bookshelf titles in eBook form--the illustrations in these are amazing!  

Boys' and Girls' Bookshelf: volume 1 of 17  The illustrations and directions for teaching finger and toe play with babies in this one are priceless!  


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