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When a friend pulled her kids out of public school to homeschool them last November, the first thing I did was gather a stack of books about homeschooling to loan her. But what I really wish I’d added to the pile is a few picture books about homeschooling for her kids.
That was pre-pandemic. Now school looks different for a lot of us this year. You might be doing school at home through distance learning—or jumping into full-fledged homeschooling for the very first time. Maybe you’re a veteran homeschooler facing changes to your routine of co-op and other activities—or a second-generation homeschooler trying to determine what homeschooling will look like in your home.
From My Mommy, My Teacher to This Is My Home, This Is My School, my children and I review our favorites below. While most of these picture books feature ages four and five and are aimed at young audiences, every homeschooler knows that picture books are for big kids, too. My big kids are enjoying these books perhaps even more than their little sister as we anticipate a new—and different—homeschool year.
The next time a friend texts me the news that they are homeschooling this year, I’ll make sure to put a few picture books on top of the stack of books I loan her. Because while Mommy is reading Teaching from Rest and Better Together, what better way to introduce the children to their new adventure than by reading them picture books about homeschooling?
“Picture books aren’t just for young kids… They’re companions for our children, and they’re powerful tools that we can use to connect with our kids.”-Sarah Mackenzie in Read-Aloud Revival Episode #45
Our Favorite Picture Books About Homeschooling
This beautiful hardback book by celebrated illustrator Jonathan Bean belongs in every homeschool library. In short sentences, the student explains how his mom and his sisters are also his teacher and his classmates. The “grumpy cafeteria lady” looks familiar. And then comes the substitute teacher! From field trips to art, shop class to astronomy class, Bean captures the essence of homeschooling in this delightful picture book. (Also available on Kindle, but this is a hardcover that belongs on every homeschool bookshelf!)
Don’t judge this book by its cover. Inside My Learning Adventure Begins is a treasure of 20+ years of homeschooling experience. It may be a children’s story, but it’s filled with gentle encouragement for the homeschool mom. Carol Hookham views all of life as learning, and in this story she reminds us that there is so much more to education than just textbooks and academics. Whether you’re just introducing your family to the idea of homeschooling, or you’ve been homeschooling for years, I think you’ll enjoy this glimpse into one little boy’s first year of homeschooling. With scenes from the co-op to the library sale, reading aloud and opening that box full of new curriculum, My Learning Adventure Begins illustrates a combination of different homeschooling styles (particularly the Charlotte Mason style). A great gift for families new to homeschooling!
“I love My Learning Adventure Begins! A little boy tells his story. Planet models, bread dough letters, and pine cone math, all are part of his amazing adventure!”-Ruth Anne, age 12
“We all live in the little yellow house near the running brook…” Daddy is a farmer who works in the fields and Mommy stays at home to take care of them and teach them their lessons. This story from the perspective of a seven-year-old little girl never mentions the word “homeschool” but tells of an education rich in literature, geography, history, and music. Farm chores, cooking, handicrafts, Scripture reading, prayer, and meals together as a family round out a very full day on the farm. (In all practicality, the story represents more delightful activities than most mothers could fit into one day, excepting perhaps Ma Ingalls, but it’s nonetheless delightful.) An idyllic Little House on the Prairie-like story with charming illustrations reminiscent of Tasha Tudor, this 48-page hardback book with easy-to-read type will make a charming addition to your family’s library. (The book is expensive at most used outlets, but in addition to ChristianBook.com, it is also available from the publisher, Trivium Pursuit.)
Did you know The Pioneer Woman homeschools her children? Learn about their school day from Charlie the Ranch Dog. “My family goes to school at home. It’s lots and lots of fun,” he says. Charlie loves math, reading time, and recess, but best of all snack time. Then Charlie decides to start his own school for the other animals on the ranch and chaos ensues! I think Charlie’s feelings at the end of the book accurately represent the feelings of many a homeschool mom at the end of many a school day. A fun book, especially for the little ones in your home! (Also available as a 5-minute audiobook on Audible!)
More Picture Books Featuring Homeschooling & Unschooling
Five-year-old Hugh and his big brother Chas walk to the park to meet friends, and the man at the bus stop asks them, “Why are you boys not in school today?” Hugh begins to ask questions about why he doesn’t go to school. And he thinks about the answers as he listens and learns from the situations around him. This book then compares Hugh’s homeschool experience with that of his friends at school, painting them in equally positive perspectives: “Whatever we’re doing, we always have fun. School sounds like fun, too.” Featuring a five-year-old, this book focuses primarily on learning through games, projects, and play. I especially liked the closing when Hugh reveals his new answer when people ask him why he is not in school! This eco-friendly book was printed on recycled paper with vegetable ink. (Content note: includes a reference to an imaginary dinosaur having survived seventy million years.)
Lily just turned four years old. She gets to go to summer camp with friends from church while their moms learn about homeschooling. Then, the first day of school is here: one day a week, Lily and her brother go to a homeschool group where they learn science, grammar, Latin, math, and a timeline song. “The next morning, they do school at home…” Families who homeschool in the classical tradition will appreciate the references to Latin, chanting facts, and memory work; families who are part of a Classical Conversations community will recognize the references to Practicum (summer camp) and enjoy the inclusion of all the little details of a CC community day (but the only actual mention of Classical Conversations is the welcome banner in one illustration). A delightful board book—a must for CC families! (Published by Classical Conversations and available through their bookstore.) (Lily Stays for School is the only book on this list that features ethnically diverse illustrations!)
Though the clothing and hairstyles in the tinted photographs hints at the fact that this book was published circa 1995, the story could just as easily have been published last year. The first-person account of the author’s daughter Teigen—a 9-year-old girl homeschooled on a farm in Washington state—includes chores, hay forts, dress-up, and gardening which round out her homeschool days. I appreciated how this book highlighted co-op activities and having teachers for some subjects like art and music. I Am a Homeschooler was very true to life, explaining that, “Days don’t always go just as we planned,” and you don’t get any schoolwork done when a sibling spends the day in the ER. It also showed how homeschooling gives families the flexibility to school at different times of year and take educational family vacations when other kids are back at school in the fall. (If you know how I met my husband, you’ll know why I enjoyed this tidbit!) My oldest particularly loved this book, even the dated photos.
“I love the pictures, I love the story, and I love Teigen in I am a Home Schooler. Sincere I am a co-op goer, I love the fact that Teigen does co-op. I can relate to the fact that days don’t always go as planned, considering that I live on a farm. I love, love, love this book!”-Ruth Anne, age 12
A simple rhyming book celebrating one family’s first day of homeschooling. A special breakfast of cinnamon rolls and a mid-morning snack highlight the importance of food in the homeschool routine! I appreciated the references to what homeschool looks like for a more active student: “Sitting can be hard for a fun kid like me, so I jumped around the house like a wallaby!” (Also available on Kindle Unlimited!)
“‘Twas the first day of homeschool! I rose with the dawn…” begins this homeschooling take on “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” “Mom peeked from the kitchen, Hot coffee in hand…” before a cheery breakfast. But watch out for Homeschool Elf hiding on each page—he just might make off with the homeschool books and supplies! A short and simple rhyming tale that’s an upbeat celebration of the first day of homeschool. (Also available on Kindle, but it’s a bit hard to spot Homeschool Elf on the screen.)
“Why do kangaroos have tails? Where do rocking chairs come from?” Little Kangaroo is so full of questions that Mrs. K. decides it’s time to start their own school in their home. When the little kangaroo worries whether or not she will be able to learn to read and write, Mrs. K. reminds her daughter what the Bible says about God giving us strength. Mrs. K. decides to call her “Kandoo Kangaroo” because of her can-do attitude. From a trip to the bookstore to a homeschool kick-off picnic with lettuce-and-kiwi sandwiches, this book about Mr. and Mrs. K. and little Kandoo is not only a fun celebration of homeschooling, but also a good reminder that we can do all things through Christ’s strength. (While many books in this post are written by Christian authors, this is the only one that directly quotes Scripture.) (Published by Master Books in 2000, this book is out of print and hard to find. Add it to your eBay watchlist or Thrift Books wishlist and snatch it up if you see a good price!)
Little Ippie rolls down the stairs, bundled in her pink blanket, after a good night’s sleep. Over breakfast, Ippie and her brother read lines for their play. Soon, Ippie and her sister are outside, discovering feathers, watching ants, having scooter races, and drawing chalk art. A conversation with the neighbor lady turns into a history lesson—then it’s time for a geography lesson with Mom. The girls race next door when they hear the sound of the school bus, bringing home their friend Emma—whose favorite part of her own school day is recess. Illustrated by a 12-year-old unschooler (a fact that delighted my own 12-year-old!), Ippie Unschooled is a colorful glimpse into the unschooling approach. As Ippie describes it, “…unschooled…means you learn just by living. My mom says that when you’re busy doing what you love the whole world is your classroom.” (Content note: Some reviews note the negative portrayal of Emma’s school classroom both in the illustration—where everyone is wearing a uniform and has the same shade of hair—and in the girls’ discussion regarding the fact that Ippie didn’t have to practice spelling words or math facts. I thought it was a fairly appropriate comparison of unschooling vs. traditional schooling for young girls of that age, but unschooling is definitely portrayed as the more fun and colorful option of the two!)
“I love the story of Ippie Unschooled, but I think the illustrations are my favorite! It’s cool the pictures are done by unschoolers and homeschoolers. I LOVE this book!! (But my mom won’t agree to let us be unschooled.)”-Ruth Anne, age 12
Six-year-old Hope doesn’t go to school. Every day, she chooses what she wants to learn–her family calls it Freeschoolin’. Science and math with Daddy in the kitchen. Dress-up at home and adventures at the beach. “I love learning because life is my school!” With an emphasis on choices, joy, and freedom, Freeschoolin’ will likely delight any young unschoolers. (Content note: In several illustrations, the little girl is shown topless and/or in undies. Homeschool dads may relate to this book as there was no mention of Mommy.) (Also available on Kindle Unlimited!)
Based on the author’s childhood, this book tells of the year she was seven years old when she traveled to Italy with her family of puppeteers. While it doesn’t use the word “homeschooling,” The Year I Didn’t Go to School is a glimpse into the vast and varied education to be had while traveling as a family. The inside of the front and back cover feature bits from the author’s own childhood journal. A great book to inspire your children to keep a journal and a good example of personal narrative.
More ideas for your bookshelf:
- A Must-Have Picture Book about Homeschooling from House Full of Bookworms
- Big ol’ List of Kids Books By and About Homeschoolers from The Unlikely Homeschool
- Stories About Us, By Us, & For Us! from Homeschool Literature
- My Goodreads Shelf: Homeschool Themed Picture Books
- Homeschooling This Year? The Best Books to Read for Encouragement from Club31Women (for homeschool moms!)