How to DIY Your Child’s Homeschooling Curriculum Part 2: BOOKS!

Image: Thought Catalog


In Part 1, I talked about “my process” for designing my child’s homeschooling curriculum.

Because we’ve been homeschooling for roughly 18 years now, my go-to resources will look a little different from a new homeschooler’s, so if you’re new to this, don’t worry. You’ll build up your own arsenal as you go along, gathering and discarding references and resources as needed.

My go-to’s in order of priority:

  1. our own bookshelves
  2. books, materials, curricula our other children used before and loved
  3. recommendations from other homeschoolers for specific grade or subject or whether it’s for a boy or a girl

After that I’m quite flexible and adventurous about the other books and materials we allow into the house. I have booklists upon booklists, and every now and then I peruse them to see if there are titles that jump out at me: maybe something that matches a child’s current interests, or a certain place we’re visiting, or an author that we haven’t read yet, etc.

As you homeschool through the years, you’ll familiarize yourself with authors and titles popular among homeschoolers, e.g., Tomie de Paola or CS Lewis, such that on a trip to the library or used book store, they will begin to catch your eye.

My favorite references, in no particular order:

Books about books:

A Landscape with Dragons — Michael O’Brien put together a wonderful book list in the latter half of this book. Many of the books on the list are classics. Some can be hard to find or are now so rare as to be considered collectibles, but some can still be found at a bargain price (try eBay). Check amazon or BookFinder. One quibble: the booklists are arranged by author instead of by recommended age or grade, though he does make age/grade recommendations beside some of the titles.

Books Children Love

The Paideia Program — from philosopher and educator Mortimer Adler — with an extensive booklist at the end, and this time it’s arranged by recommended age/grade.

The Read-Aloud Handbook

Homeschooling Curriculum Providers’ Booklists:

RC History, Kolbe, Angelicum Academy, Mother of Divine Grace, Seton

Recommendations from fellow homeschooling mamas and other Catholic educators:

This one’s a classic. Reading Your Way Through History from Alicia Van Hecke.

The Picture Book History List that Mary Machado put together for the 4Real Forums.

Mater Amabilis — A Charlotte Mason Style Curriculum for Catholics

Cardinal Newman Society Catholic Curriculum Standards

Honey for a Child’s Heart

Give Your Child the World

Elizabeth Foss’ Real Learning Book List

Designing Your Own Curriculum by Laura Berquist, founder and director of Mother of Divine Grace School

Cay Gibson’s Catholic Mosaic (actually a 2-in-1 book — it combines Literature Study and the Liturgical Year)

Favorite book sellers/publishers:

Tips to save money on books:

Most of us homeschool on a budget, so besides visiting the usual places (in Manila) like Book Sale and Books for Less, as well as the annual Manila Book Fair, you might want to join FB groups like PH Homeschool Marketplace and Preloved Buy & Sell for Homeschoolers Only.

(In the US, join Cathswap, and look for used book sales via

If you’ve got access to a good library, take advantage of it. You’ll save money, and you’ll help keep library systems going.

E-books, of course, are indispensable in today’s digital age. Some favorites:

Gutenberg, The Baldwin Project, Open Culture.

One last tip: Get on Goodreads and build up your friends list. Install the goodreads app on your phone so you can scan books while you’re out and about, to see what other homeschooling moms think of a particular book and make it easier to make decisions. I also rely on Amazon ratings to get a feel for what other parents love to read to their kids.

Do remember that it’s not possible to consult and cross-check every book list there is, and you’ll drive yourself crazy if you try to do that. (Yep, happened to me.) So pick one or two of the above and work off of those. Save the others for subsequent years. The beauty of homeschooling is that you don’t have to do everything right here right now.






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