I love to keep a record of the books I read, and share them with others. We have a large library in our home, and also a large Audible library. I use both about equally. Our homeschool history is a combination of books I read aloud to all of my kids and books that they read to themselves. (You can read more about that here.) This will explain my book selection.
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Oh, and this was the year of the reading glasses. I’m 47 and have used them on occasion to read fine print, but this year they became actual reading glasses. Sigh…
Let’s get to the list:
As usual, I read many books that pertain to the history I teach my kids in our homeschool. We continued on through the 19th century in American and World history, with a large focus on the Civil War, and moved into the 20th century and made it to 1930.
The Autobiography of George Meuller If you want a book that spends its entirety on the goodness of God, this is it. Mueller kept a journal of his life of absolute faith and dependence on God’s provision as he gave his life to ministry in preaching and caring for orphans in England. It’s a history book and an inspirational book.
By the Great Horn Spoon This is one of those books that had my kids asking me to read “just one more chapter, Mom!” It’s about a young boy and his butler on the way to the California gold fields, and is full of hilarious adventures. I love it when we find a book that is this much fun!
Civil War Reflections of James Lemuel Clark I picked this book up at a library sale (and found that it was signed by the author!) I live in Cooke County, Texas, where the author lived and where the Great Hanging took place. This book is a good look at one family’s life during the Civil War in Texas and how secession affected them. Absolutely wonderful primary source for history.
The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman “This is a novel in the guise of the tape-recorded recollections of a black woman who has lived 110 years, who has been both a slave and a witness to the black militancy of the 1960’s. In this woman Ernest Gaines has created a legendary figure…” Her story is gripping. I read it in just two days. An absolute must for anyone interested in or studying slavery, Civil War history, or the Civil Rights movement in America.
Abraham Lincoln. I’ve said before how much I love these biographies in the Sower Series. And what study of the Civil War could be complete without studying the life of Lincoln? I read this to my kids (this is the second or third time in my years as a homeschool mom) alongside the story of Harriet Tubman’s life. It was a really interesting contrast.
Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman I read this to my kids for school, and everyone enjoyed it. We looked up Negro spirituals on YouTube, learned to locate the North Star at night, and looked at quilt patterns that gave signals to escaped slaves on the Underground Railroad (my favorite part, as I’m a quilter).
Rifles for Watie A great book about the Western Theater of the Civil War. I read this aloud to all of my school-aged children. It’s a true story with some fictional characters. Very interesting take on the war.
Infantryman Pettit This is one of my favorite types of history books: a journal by someone who lived the history we read about. Petit wrote many letters back home during his service in the Union Army, and his sister preserved them carefully. He was a great writer and included so many interesting details. I think he knew his letters would be valuable to posterity.
With Lee in Virginia. This is one of G. A. Henty’s classic historic novels and an excellent one on the Civil War. Henty lived at the time the Civil War happened, and his knowledge of the issues and battles on both sides is amazing. I listened to the audio version.
A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War. This one merited a review of its own. It was so good that as soon as I listened to it on Audible, I ordered the print version and read it again (marking up my favorite parts). It is both a history of the 20th century and a commentary on Tolkien and Lewis and their impact on that century. Read my full review here.
Rascal. I read this aloud to the kids for school as we began our study of the 1900s. It’s a great book for kids (boys will especially love it). The author tells the true story of his childhood with his pet racoon. But it’s so much more than that. It’s a wonderful snapshot of rural life in America during WW1.
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My daily stack. . Mornings: Bible, Mere Christianity, something for mothers. . School: reading about the Civil War with the kids. . Free time: Education (review coming this weekend!) . Bedtime: Bible with the whole family. . What’s in your stack? . #onmybookshelf #bookstack #motherhood #education #homeschoolmom #homeschool #biblestudy #biblestudymoments #cslewis
The Lonely Men is one of the Sackett novels, and it’s a good one (aren’t they all??). Tell Sackett is probably my favorite of all of L’amour’s characters, and he is the central figure in this book. What’s more, he serves as a great role model for boys and young men.
Kingdom’s Dawn. “Swords, knights, and battles define these captivating tales that parallel biblical events from Genesis to Revelation!” We bought this series for my son to read, and then downloaded the first one on Audible. I started listening and loved it! Excellent series for boys and girls and anyone who loves medieval history (me!) and historic fiction (me!) and the Bible (me!).
True Grit. This is a classic that just happens to follow up on the Civil War, and goes nicely after reading Rifles for Watie. Most of the story takes place in “Indian Territory” (Oklahoma) and Arkansas. It’s about a teenage girl in search of her father’s killer. I have the Audible version and I really love the narrator. (The movies follow the book very closely, too.)
The Silmarillion. We are reading Tolkien for our literature selections as we study 20th century history right now, so I’m reading the Silmarillion aloud to the kids, and following that with The Lord of the Rings. The Silmarillion is a bit daunting, but so worth the read. The good new is, it’s finally available on Audible!
Anthem. An excellent and short dystopian novel about communism written by Ayn Rand, who grew up in Russia before, during, and after communism was introduced. It’s a great one for high schoolers. (Read my full post on teaching your kids about communism here.)
Last of the Breed. In our theme of 20th century and communism, I re-read this non-western story by Louis L’amour about an American Indian air force piolot who was shot down over the Soviet Union in the 1980s. It tells of his capture and escape from soviet custody, and the harrowing journey through Siberia, trying to make it to the Bering Strait and America. It’s a great survival story with a bit of history and politics thrown in.
The Screwtape Letters. This was my first time to read Screwtape, and it won’t be my last. It’s an excellent sort-of-allegory (I guess) of a conversation between a certain demon an his master as the demon seeks to influence the life of one man in 1940’s England. As with all of C. S. Lewis’ works, it’s amazing how relevant it still is.
The Mission of Motherhood. I bought and read this years ago, but it was time for a re-read. It’s such a powerful and encouraging book for mothers. It’s feel-good and convicting all at the same time, but that’s how Sally Clarkson writes. A must-have for Christian mothers.
The Classical Unschooler. I really enjoyed this quick read. It surprised me the first time I heard of classical unschooling! The two terms don’t seem to go together at all. But Purva Brown does a great job of explaining how it works. It turns out, it’s a little bit like we educate in our home. But even without being a classical educator or an unschooler, any homeschool parent will find a lot of inspiration and common-sense wisdom in this book.
The Lost Tools of Learning I had read a lot of quotes from this short classic by Dorothy Sayers, and finally decided to read it for myself. It’s a great one for any parent’s bookshelf. Did you know that C. S. Lewis was both a fan and a friend of Sayers?
Expository Parenting I have quoted this book, re-read portions, and underlined it to death this year. Josh Niemi writes an in-depth book about teaching your children the Bible from beginning to end. You will be convicted and challenged to look at biblical discipleship in a whole new way with this one.
Rethinking School This new release by Susan Wise Bauer (The Well Trained Mind) is the perfect starting point for parents who are concerned about their child’s education and want to know all the options. She explains many of the issues parents and their children face (physical, mental, learning disabilities, etc.), how to get a diagnoses, how to treat them privately or professionally, how to be an advocate for your child at school, and how to get started if you choose home education.
The Duties of Parents. What a wonderful classic on parenting! J. C. Ryle lived in the 19th century. This short book is so unlike modern parenting books, and that’s a good thing. I read this one on Kindle and highlighted almost every page. The simple biblical wisdom is so encouraging and deep. It’s great for a yearly read.
Mama Bear Apologetics. One of my new favorite books. I read it quickly and then went back to peruse certain parts again. It’s a very informative handbook of current issues and how mothers can tackle them head-on with their children. Apologetics is more important than ever, and this book is a great place for concerned parents to start. Check out the podcast by the same name, also.
The Heart of Anger. I went back to this book after many years of childrearing to help me address some issues with my youngest. It’s an encouraging step-by-step manual for identifying and addressing the root of behavior issues in children. The counsel is wise and the advice is very practical. This should be a staple on every parent’s bookshelf.
Come, Ye Children. You can’t go wrong with Charles Spurgeon, and this short little book for parents and teachers of all kinds is excellent. It’s old-fashioned and straight to the heart of reaching children for Christ. It’s in my list of recommended books for all parents. Mine is highlighted and underlined all over!
The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. I got this for Christmas last year and only started reading it this fall. It’s a treasure trove of Tolkien goodness in the form of selected letters to friends, family, fans, and publishers. I have delighted in lines about his books-in-progress, his philosophical musings, real-time history during the mid 1900s, and his famous friendship with C. S. Lewis.
Of Other Worlds: Esays and Stories by C. S. Lewis. Everything by C. S. Lewis is worth my time, and this book of various speeches and essays was a gem. Many topics are covered here, but I especially enjoyed his thoughts on writing and story.
Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham. I have to say that this is probably now a classic, and one that has driven a generation of parents to be more biblical and intentional in their child-raising. It is worth a read every year. Everything Baucham does is solid.
The Life Giving Parent. Another book I have read and then gone back to for various repeats. Clay and Sally Clarkson never disappoint, and this is their first parenting book together since Educating the Wholehearted Child (one of my favorite books on homeschooling). The proof is in the pudding with the Clarksons: their four children are now grown and are thriving adults in the Christian community. When a family produces good fruit, it’s worth hanging out under their tree for wisdom. That’s exactly what you’ll get with this book!
There are always more books I want to read, and some that I start and don’t finish. (Shhhhhh!!!) How about you? Have you read any of these titles? Share in the comments below!
Check out my page devoted to BOOKS to see previous years’ reading lists and a lot more.
While you’re here, visit my Knowledge Keepers Bookstore! In it you’ll find the books and the stories that have shaped this great country, the books that influenced our founders and our ancestors, the books that Americans have mostly ignored or never heard of, but the good books that we should all read and protect. Join me in saving Western Civilization, one book at a time!
Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She is a homemaker at heart, and loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.