Books for the home educator

Books of interest to homeschooling parents abound: books on how to educate your child at home, books on learning styles, on teaching methods, on parenting... there are countless titles in all categories. We have listed some recommended titles below, with a brief description for some of them. Let us know if you've discovered a gem of a book not yet listed!

For books to teach or enhance your child's curriculum, see our list of books for the home learner.

Where can I find these books?

Your library may have some of these and other books on homeschooling, as will your local bookstore. We've also provided some links and addresses of publishers and distributors to help you locate the titles you wish to read.


Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason by Alfie Kohn

New as of Spring 2005. Alfie Kohn has written extensively about education. Now he turns his focus to parenting itself. In this book he challenges conventional notions about discipline and child development, citing the research that points to the damage caused by conditional parenting and common discipline techniques. Unconditional Parenting is a work of social criticism but it is also an accessible guide for parents, with suggestions about what to do. Kohn points out that it is not enough for us as parents that we know that we love and accept our children unconditionally. What matters for their wellbeing and healthy development is that they experience our love as unconditional. We can help that happen when we shift our approach from one of control (getting children to behave properly) to one of support.

The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff

This important book is about Liedloff's experience with the Yequana Indians, who raise their infants with almost constant human contact, keeping them in arms until they are ready to explore on their own. Liedloff's thoughts about helping children participate in their culture, and about lessening the conflict between children and adults, are crucial reading for any parent. In a way, this book provides the best answer to the socialization question that everyone asks of homeschoolers. "As important a book as any I have ever read."~John Holt (Perseus Publishing, Original Edition Copyright 1975, Revised Edition Copyright 1977 Introduction Copyright 1985, 172 Pages, Paperback: ISBN 0-201-05071-4)

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish ~~ In its 20th anniversary edition, this now classic work about communication in families is written by two mothers who are deeply respectful of children and equally compassionate toward parents. They talk about how to accept rather than deny children's feelings, how to work toward solutions together, and how to erase the negative messages many of us heard when we were growing up and learn to offer something very different to children now. There are shared families' experiences, cartoons, exercises to do, many conversations reproduced and analyzed. (Avon Books, Copyright 1999, 272 Pages, ISBN 0380811960)

Child's Work: Taking Children's Choices Seriously by Nancy Wallace

Kids Are Worth It!, by Barbara Coloroso; Somerville House Publishing, Toronto, 1995. For parenting "with wisdom and wit" - in a non-violent, non-alienating way that respects everyone's dignity and teaches tools for self-discipline.

Knights Without Armor - A Practical Guide for Men in Quest of Masculine Soul , by Aaron R. Kipnis, PhD; Jeremy P. Tarcher, New York, 1991. This book is something for parents of boys to read: although it isn't written as a parenting book, it may give you insight into what it's like to grow up male in our culture.

Growing Up Creative: Nurturing a Lifetime of Creativity by Teresa M. Amabile..a wonderful book about children's creativity and motivation and how parents attitudes can stimulate creativity.

Learning styles and teaching methods

Learning Tools Publishing — books on how to teach reading and math to children and adults with "learning difficulties" ("learning disabilities," e.g. dyslexia) by teaching orientation and focus to help them harness their gift of 3-dimensional processing. Books include Magic Glasses, Touch the Sky (for teaching native learners), and Three Dimensional Learning. The methods taught in the books are also the subject of the author's tutoring services and programs for parents as teachers.

In Their Own Way: Discovering and Encouraging Your Child's Multiple Intelligences by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.

How to respond to children's different needs and learning styles, rather than classifying them as learning disabled or slow. Important arguments against standardized testing. Based on Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, it includes many practical suggestions for teaching any subject in multiple ways. (Penguin Putnam Inc., Revised and Updated Copyright 2000, 290 Pages, Paperback: ISBN 1-58542-051-4)

Awakening Your Child's Genius by Thomas Armstrong (don't be mislead by the title, this is an excellent book about appealing to different types of intelligence).

Frames Of Mind by Howard Gardiner....describes seven models of intelligence, this book is often quoted in other books concerning the overemphasis on mathematical and linguistic skills and not recognizing others just as important..kinesthetic, musical, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal.

The Myth of the A.D.D. Child by Thomas Armstrong

An astute challenge to the accepted understanding of Attention Deficit Disorder. Armstrong does not deny that some kids have a harder time keeping still or paying attention, but he looks carefully at all possible explanations for this behaviour. Even more important, it's an extremely useful handbook, offering 50 ways to help children without drugs, labels or coercion. Read more about Thomas Armstrong and his thoughts on children and learning at (Penguin Books of Canada, Copyright 1997, 320 pages, ISBN 0452275474)

The Power of Mindful Learning by Ellen Langer

Practice makes perfect? Wrong answers are bad? Ellen Langer doesn't think so. In fact, she challenges so many of society's most accepted notions about learning. Langer praises doubt and uncertainty, thinks people have fun when they are learning something new and thinks kids with attention-deficit disorder aren't distracted, they are just paying attention to something else. This book will have you thinking, talking, and seeing things in new ways. (Perseus Publishing, Copyright 1998, 167 Pages, ISBN 0201339919)

How Children Learn by John Holt

How Children Learn is an insightful look at the way children learn and challenges traditional assumptions. (Dell Publishing, Copyright 1967, Revised 1983, 303 pages, ISBN 0-440-55051-3)

Learning All The Time by John Holt

This book describes how children, without being coerced or manipulated, can learn how to do "the basics" from the world around them. Holt suggests simple ways we can give slight assistance to children, as needed, to learn reading, writing, math, science and music. (Addison-Wesley Publishing, Copyright 1989, 169 pages, Paperback: ISBN 0-201-55091-1)

Freedom and Beyond and Escape From Childhood by John Holt

I Learn Better When I Teach Myself and Still Teaching Ourselves by Agnes Leistico

This new edition combines two popular books under one cover. How a homeschooling mother learned to trust her children--and herself--to learn in new ways from elementary school to high school. These books are especially good for anyone wrestling with the question of "how much structure?" I Learn Better By Teaching Myself--"The underlying message in this book is trust in your child. Just as we needed to look at the breastfeeding child to know his needs to nurse, we can trust that our children can direct their own education." (Holt Associates, Copyright 1997, 304 Pages, ISBN 0913677124)

The Lives of Children: The Story of the First Street School by George Dennison

A new edition with a new foreword by Mabel Dennison, and previously unpublished writing by George Dennison. A deeply inspiring story of a school that worked for kids whom everyone else had given up on. John Holt wrote, "For while I hope that in years to come we may learn much about human growth and development that we do not now know, I doubt that any one book will advance our understanding as much as this one." Don't miss this beautifully written, classic work. (Boynton/Cook Publishers, Copyright 1999, 308 pages, ISBN 0867094834)

No Contest: The Case Against Competition by Alfie Kohn
Kohn takes an in-depth look at competition, highlights what is wrong with it and shows that cooperation gives much better results. The revised edition includes: (1) detailed accounts of how students can learn more effectively by working cooperatively in the classroom instead of struggling to be Number One; and (2) a personal afterword that assesses shifts in thinking about competition and describes reactions to his message. (Houghton Mifflin Company, Copyright 1986, Revised Edition 1992, 324 Pages, Paperback: ISBN 0-395-63125-4)

Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn

Kohn states that children are intrinsically motivated to make sense of their world. However, we undermine that with the use of approval/disapproval, grades and fear of punishment. What makes the book so valuable is that after demonstrating the harmful effects of rewards (at home, school and the workplace), Kohn describes, very concretely, the many other alternatives available. (Houghton Mifflin Company, Copyright 1993, 398 pages, Paperback: ISBN 0-395-71090-1)

The Schools Our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards" by Alfie Kohn

Kohn offers a comprehensive critique of the traditional educational paradigm. It's clear, well-reasoned, and supported by many contemporary examples and much research, making it useful to (1) homeschooling parents who recognize that their own assumptions about education are their biggest obstacle to overcome; (2) spouses or other relatives and friends who want hard evidence, and persuasive analysis to show why the old model doesn't work and what we can do instead; (3) parents, teachers and anyone else in a community seeking real and concrete ways to agitate for change. (Houghton Mifflin Company, Copyright 1999, 344 pages, Hardcover: ISBN 0-395-94039-7, Paperback: ISBN 0-618-08345-6)

A Free Range Childhood: Self-Regulation at Summerhill School by Matthew Appleton

Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Doug Wilson

Any Child Can Write and Any Child Can Read Better by Harvey S. Weiner


Unschooling to University
by Judy Arnall (2018)
ISBN-13: 978-0978050993
Professional Parenting
“Concise parenting advice that presents alternative ways to help children grow, learn, and get into college or work. Arnall's stage-by-stage descriptions, supporting documentation, and personal stories create a useful handbook for families interested in self-directed education.” — Patrick Farenga, John Holt/Growing Without Schooling

Teach Your Own by John Holt

This book discusses way in which we can allow children to learn outside of schools-whether it is at home, or in whatever places and situations we can make available to them. Holt provides advice to parents on how they can play a greater role in their child's education and how they can use the tools around them to educate their children. Holt shows a hopeful path for education in Teach Your Own. (Dell Publishing, Copyright 1981, 369 Pages, ISBN 0-440-55055-6)

School Free --The Home Schooling Handbook by Wendy Priesnitz (available from Natural Life)

This book provides answers to the many questions surrounding home-based education: is it legal?, what do you do all day? how do we know they're learning? socialization, the teenaged learner, etc. A lot of the information came from parents who are homeschooling their children.

Homeschooling on a Shoestring by Melissa Morgan and Judith Allee

The Homeschooling Handbook by Mary Griffith

Learning At Home: A Mother's Guide to Homeschooling, Newly Revised Edition by Marty Layne

This book is written by a Canadian mother with 25 years of homeschooling experience. Marty Layne provides practical advice about transforming your home and life into a balanced learning environment for your children. For more information, please visit:

Top Ten Home Education Books (from The Education Source)

Homeschooling For Excellence by David & Micki Colfax

Homeschooling gained national media attention in the 1980's when David and Micki's oldest son, Grant Colfax, was homeschooled into Harvard. The Colfaxes had embarked on a life-changing adventure by moving to a remote area of Northern California where together they built a house, farm and several businesses and homeschooled their children. Grant went on to graduate from Harvard University and then Harvard Medical School. All together, the Colfax brothers attended Harvard, Yale and Harvard Law School. (Warner Books, Copyright 1988, 128 Pages, ISBN 0446389862)

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn

Llewellyn presents good reasons for teens to "drop into life", by leaving school and reclaiming their natural ability to learn. The book is filled with great advice and personal stories like how to design a real-life education, how to find volunteer positions, and how to get into college without going to high school. The Handbook was written with teens in mind, yet its message is true for all ages of homeschoolers; self-taught and self-directed children are our future leaders and entrepreneurs. (Lowry House Publishers, Copyright 1991, 1998, 435 Pages, Paperback: ISBN 0-9629591-7-0)

Dumbing Us Down: The Invisible Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto

Several essays based on speeches by Gatto about schooling versus education, why we need less school and not more, the seven-lesson school teacher, his controversial Teacher of the Year acceptance speech before the New York State Senate and more. Gatto's rhetoric is incisive-at times cutting-and his unwavering advocacy for homeschooling and all other alternatives to government schools make him a broad-minded rarity in the current crop of school reformers. (New Society Publishers, Copyright 1992, 104 pages, Hardcover: ISBN 1-55092-174-6, Paperback: ISBN 1-55092-175-4)

The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child's Classroom by Mary Griffith

Griffith and thousands of other unschooling parents believe that learning is as natural to children as breathing. If allowed to pursue their own interests, children will cover all the subjects taught in school. And, more importantly, they will continue to love to learn and explore their world. Filled with advice from other unschooling families (parents and kids), (Prima Publishing, Copyright 1998, 230 pages, ISBN 0-7615-1276-4)

The Homeschooling Book of Answers: The 88 Most Important Questions Answered by Homeschooling's Most Respected Voices edited by Linda Dobson

Dobson enlisted the help of the most respected voices in the homeschooling community. Every question that new and veteran homeschoolers could ever have is answered in this book. What is genuinely interesting about this book is that while you look for answers about homeschooling, you will find that homeschooling is a way of life and that each family's journey is different. (Prima Publishing, Copyright 1998, 350 Pages, ISBN 0761513779)

Deschooling Our Lives edited by Matt Hern

Foreword by Ivan Illich. This book provides a terrific overview of all the things people are doing instead of sending their children to conventional schools. It is a collection of essays which challenge our assumptions about education. (New Society Publishers, Copyright 1996, 150 Pages, Hardcover: ISBN 1-55092-282-3, Paperback: ISBN 1-55092-283-1)

The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook: A Creative and Stress-Free Approach to Homeschooling by Raymond & Dorothy Moore

The Moores, who are considered to be the "Grandparents" of the homeschooling movement, use personal experience and extensive research to show readers how to educate their children at home with low stress, low cost and great success. (Thomas Nelson, Copyright 1994, 300 pages, ISBN 0785281754)

The Big Book of Home Learning: Volume 1, Getting Started by Mary Pride

Mary Pride writes from a Christian perspective. The Big Book of Home Learning is a four-volume set, but Volume #1 is the real keeper. This book introduces you to all the major homeschooling methods and answers your most frequently asked questions. (Alpha Omega Publications, Copyright 2000)

Home Educating With Confidence by Rick & Marilyn Boyer

Written from a Christian perspective, the Boyers' book is filled with the wisdom of over seventeen years of homeschooling experience. From why they started homeschooling to what their grown children are doing now, the Boyers write with love and an incredible respect for their children. The best reason to read this book is the message it leaves you with - ordinary parents can produce extraordinary children. (The Learning Parent, Copyright 1996, 260 pages, ISBN 0964539632)

The Complete Home Learning Source Book by Rebecca Rupp

This is a very comprehensive and complete source book for Homeschoolers, Parents, and Educators. It covers not only basic academic subjects, but also many other areas your child could be interested in (as the book says it covers every subject from Arithmetic to Zoology). The book is laid out in an easy to use format providing: (1) age guidelines - indicating what materials are appropriate for what age ranges; (2) Format Guidelines - indicating the format that the resource is available in such as audio, games, on-line resource, hands-on activity, curriculum, kit, video, book, software, magazine, catalogue. (Three Rivers Press, Copyright 1998, 865 pages, ISBN 0-609-80109-0)

Critiques of the school system

Challenging Assumptions In Education by Wendy Priesnitz (available from Natural Life)

So, what's wrong with our current industrial model of education?.......lots! Wendy Priesnitz, a Canadian deschooling pioneer, reviews how we got the current education system and why we need to demolish it and move to a "new educational paradigm"--a learning society. A society in which children can participate more fully in their communities and take charge of their own learning.

Rituals of Failure: What Schools Really Teach by Sandro Contenta ~~ Contenta gives a detailed examination of how Canadian schools are failing not just children but society as a whole.Through portraits of life in schools, Contenta shows how the "hidden curriculum" is slowly breaking the spirits of many children and destroying their years of education. Rituals of Failure proposes ways in which our schools can be restructured for the better. (Between The Lines, Copyright 1993, 225 Pages, Hardcover: ISBN 0-921284-71-3, Paperback: ISBN 0-921284-70-5)

Creating Learning Communities--Models, Resources, and New Ways of Thinking About Teaching and Learning edited by Ron Miller

This book is a collection of essays and resource listings from a variety of international authors with diverse backgrounds such as school teachers, homeschoolers, autodidacts, education philosophers, etc. They have come together for a common goal--the creation of learning communities. This book provides ways in which we can replace schools with learning communities. (Copyright 2000)

A Sense of Self: Listening to Homeschooled Girls by Susannah Sheffer

In today's society many girls lose their sense of self in their teenage years. Since the general assumption is made that "all girls go to school" no one has researched whether school could be part of the problem. Sheffer interviewed 55 homeschooled girls and discovered that they were able to retain their voices and resist challenges to their sense of self. (Boynton/Cook Publishers, Copyright 1995, 191 pages, ISBN 0-86709-367-9)

Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense by David Guterson

Guterson is a homeschooling father, author and a high school English teacher. He addresses issues such as socialization, competition, the importance of relationships between children and adults, how we got the schools we have today, what does education mean, the affordability of homeschooling, and much more. A key element of his book is that "parents are crucial to the education of children, and family life is fundamental to academic success." (A Harvest Book, Harcourt Brace & Company, Copyright 1992, 254 pages, ISBN 0-15-630000-1)

The Art of Education: Reclaiming Your Family, Community, and Self by Linda Dobson

A homeschooling mother's analysis of schooling with many different solutions to help parents personalize their children's education. This book looks at ways in which families can exchange conformity and dependency for personal fulfillment through natural learning and living. (Holt Associates, Copyright 1998, 256 pages, ISBN 0913677140)

How Children Fail by John Holt

How Children Fail looks at what school is actually like for children and how it prevents, rather than encourages, real learning. (Addison Wesley Longman, Copyright 1995, 320 Pages, ISBN 0201484021)

The Underground History of American Education: A Schoolteacher's Intimate Investigation Into The Problem of Modern Schooling by John Taylor Gatto

This book was seven years in the making. Gatto shows how events in history helped to create the modern schools of today. This book will challenge many of your ideas about education as well as confirm many of your suspicions. A passionate and well researched book (The Oxford Village Press, Copyright 2000/2001, 412 Pages, Hardcover: ISBN 0-945-70005-9, Paperback: ISBN 0-945-70004-0)

The Exhausted School: The First National Grassroots Speakout on the Right to School Choice by John Taylor Gatto

Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk by David Elkind..will provide you with many examples of society trying to create superchildren: too much, too soon. In this same theme are The Hurried Child also by David Elkind

Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich

The Right Choice: the Incredible Failure of Public Education
and the Rising Hope of Home Schooling
by Chris Klicka

Is Public Education Necessary? by Samuel Blumenfeld

For the Children's Sake by Susan Schaeffer

The Disappearance of Childhood by Neil Postman

Home learning experiences

Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America
by Janet LoSole (former OFTP member)
ISBN-13: 978-1532684869
Resource Publications (2019)
"Helping children learn without school is always an adventure. Doing it while backpacking and adjusting to and respecting foreign cultures makes it an epic adventure. This family's story will keep you spellbound. It will make you laugh, cry, and hold your breath in fear, and help you appreciate both the value and joy of learning from life." --Wendy Priesnitz, editor of Life Learning Magazine

Hard Times in Paradise by David and Micki Colfax

The Painted Window by Betty Baldry

Where Can I Find These Books?

On-Line Book Sellers

Kids Can Press
29 Birch Avenue, Toronto Ontario M4V 1E2
In Toronto: (416) 925-5437, Outside Toronto: 1-800-265-0884,
Fax: (416) 960-5437
-- literature for many age ranges; books about Canada and its history, poetry, nature, science, sports, how-to and crafts; homeschool unit studies available; call and ask for a catalogue; can download catalogue from website.

New Society Publishers

P.O. Box 189
Gabriola Island BC V0R 1X0
Toll Free Call: 1-800-567-6772
Toll Free Fax: 1-800-567-7311
Can view their on-line catalogue; can purchase books on-line.

FUN Books
1688 Belhaven Woods Ct.
Pasadena MD 21122-3727
Voice Mail/Fax: 1-888-FUN-7020 OR (410) 360-7330

Request a catalogue and/or purchase their books on-line.

John Holt's Bookstore

John Holt's Bookstore operations have been transferred to FUN Books. All books currently available through the John Holt's Bookstore can be purchased from FUN Books.

Genius Tribe

P.O. Box 1014
Eugene, Oregon 97440-1014

This catalogue contains a wide array of books and other resources on education, simplicity, alternative ways of thinking and living, adolescence, curriculum and much more. Produced and distributed by Grace Llewellyn, author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook.

Natural Life General Store
Box 340,
St. George, Ontario N0E 1N0
Telephone: 1-800-215-9574

Can purchase Challenging Assumptions In Education and School Free plus many others books

Chapters/Indigo Stores

Many of these books can be purchased from a Chapters/Indigo Store. Also visit their website to view the books they have available and to purchase on-line. In the past, OFTP members have been able to get a teacher's discount on the Chapters/Indigo iREWARDS program. Just present your OFTP membership card at any Chapters, Indigo or Coles store when you sign up for iREWARDS and ask if they still offer the educator discount. It used to be $5 off when the cost was $20, but the cost has risen since then, so perhaps the discount has as well. iREWARDS members get 10% off all books, gain points for every dollar spent to earn vouchers for future purchases, and enjoy exclusive events and promotions. For more details, visit the website. (They also have a free program called Plum Rewards, through which you earn points on purchases to be redeemed on future purchases.)

Local Library

Some of these books may be available at your local library or through inter-library loan.


Here are some other websites with lists of recommended books: