One of the most attractive aspects of homeschooling is the ability to spend time together reading. Whether it’s reading the Bible together in the living room after dinner or tackling a major work of literature, such as Little Women or The Lord of the Rings trilogy, memories of reading exceptional books together will be cherished. Your children will quickly grow to love this family time with everyone involved in active listening as you explore new worlds, learn about great moments of the past, and share the hopes, dreams, and struggles of others who have gone before us.

When I first learned about homeschooling, more than ten years ago, a friend handed me several homeschooling catalogs and described the joy she had in educating her children. The catalogs were the equivalent of receiving a map to a buried treasure! I couldn’t wait to embark upon the journey of reading with our children, especially the classics and books about history and the people who lived before us. Reading together continues to be a blessing today as our oldest is entering eighth grade and the youngest two are entering sixth grade.

What will reading do for your family? It will improve vocabulary, memory skills, analytical thinking, and listening and writing skills. Filling your child’s mind with well-formulated sentences and descriptive words creates a reservoir from which he or she can draw in the future. The benefits will show up in your children’s ability to express themselves through writing or speech. The research of Jane Healy suggests that linguistic stimulation is especially critical as a child’s brain develops (from preschool through middle school).  

A father who reads with his family is giving them a priceless gift. Children learn from example and will enjoy having a special time with their father, especially if he is away from home during the day and unable to participate in the daily routine. Before he was diagnosed with brain cancer three years ago, my husband would come home from work and lead everyone in a Bible study and continue on with the book we were reading. Today we are thankful that he is able to sit with us during this time and pray with us. No matter what your situation, reading with the whole family builds bonds that will last a lifetime.  

One of the best ways to develop an interest in history is to learn about the people who came before us. Read about their lives. Understand their struggles. Appreciate your own life. A number of wonderful historical fiction and nonfiction books are available to supplement your history lessons with biographies of people and descriptions of events from the time period you are studying. The Landmark and World Landmark series of books first published by Random House in the 1950s contains more than a hundred books covering United States and world history. Many of the books are out of print but are still available through the public library, either locally or through interlibrary loan. Use the Resource link (in the sidebar) to see the full list of Landmark and World Landmark titles.

The Childhood of Famous Americans series by Augusta Stevenson, originally published by Bobbs-Merrill and now partially reissued in paperback by Simon and Schuster, is a series that introduces younger readers to famous Americans during their childhoods. The We Were There (various authors, published by Grosset & Dunlap) and The Immortals of Science (various authors, published by Franklin Watts, Inc.) are both series that are out of print but also available through your library, interlibrary loan, used bookstores, and online retailers.

Bethlehem Book’s Living History Library series has several titles from various time periods. Joy Hakim’s series, A History of US, is one of the most complete volumes describing the history of our country. You may also enjoy The Landmark History of the American People. Scholastic’s If You series includes several volumes of fact-filled historical nonfiction from the early history of the United States for younger readers. The Lamplighter collection and books by G. A. Henty are based on true stories and historic events that will inspire your family.