Friday 9 August 2013

Reference books for use in home education

Welcome back to the last day of Five days of Booklists.

This is a short list of books that are useful to have around whilst home educating. 

  • The Bible. We use the Authorised (King James) version in a family Bible size plus copies of the Psalms and Gospel of Matthew as large print versions. I'm not sure that the Authorised Version translation Gospel of Matthew is still available as a large print version but the Gospel of John can be obtained with large print. Realistically, a tablet could be used for children who need a large print Bible.
  • Dictionary. I'm going to be a heretic and say that using is more useful that buying a large dictionary. We do use a junior dictionary (Oxford Junior Dictionary) to practise dictionary use and alphabetical order.
  • Atlas-I don't find on-line versions of maps as useful as a proper, up to date atlas. An atlas is not something to buy second hand as countries alter. We have a large atlas (Collin's World atlas) and a children's atlas (DK Children's world atlas). It is invaluable to have a world map on the wall. My younger children enjoy the Usborne Jigsaw World atlas although, I'm afraid that this is slightly dated and appears to be out of print.
The three books above are the real essentials but also useful are
  • a poetry anthology. We use the Macmillan treasury of poetry for children edited by Susie Gibbs and 100 best poems for children edited by Roger McGough. The Macmillan treasury appears to be out of print but is available second hand at a reasonable price.
  • a reference book about classical music. We like the Story of the Orchestra by Robert Levine.
  • a reference book about the history of art. In this house, our favourite for little people is the Usborne book of Famous Artists but we also supplement this with the Usborne cards of Famous Paintings.
  • a historical atlas-our choice is Muir's historical atlas.
  • a hymn book. We use our church hymn book so that the children can become familiar with some of the hymns.
In many ways, it is useful to have access to many books and I often raid our bookshelves for information books.

 One thing that has changed since my childhood is the loss of the encyclopaedia. My Mother would tell us to look something up in the encyclopaedia: I tell the children to use Google. Of course, the encyclopaedia was sometimes wrong or out of date and similarly the internet can prove wrong or misleading information. It is part of learning to be aware of this.

Do you have any other recommended reference books for learning at home?

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  1. I love The Story of the Orchestra! It is a fabulous book!

  2. All great choices on your part. I was at the library a couple of days ago and my eye caught a newer edition of encyclopaedias and I was thinking the same thing as you. I couldn't remember the last time I actually looked through one.

  3. I love the Orchestra book as well. Some of my favorites have been the Usborne encyclopedias. They have some amazing resources!!

  4. I agree with your list. I highly recommend the Usborne Illustrated Thesaurus. I ♥♥♥ mine. So much easier to use than the traditional one.

    I still have an old Encyclopedia set that we use. I find it helps children to understand the storage of information which in the long term helps them use Google better.

    1. Thanks for the Thesaurus recommendation. I will look at that.