Tuesday, May 14, 2019

New book: Read Yourself an Education, Vol. 1

Calling all homeschool moms!

I am looking for volunteer testers for my new book series, "Read Yourself an Education - Volume 1: Country by Country Around the Globe", to be released later this year.

I would like to get feedback on the overall concept, layout, content, user-friendliness etc. from real homeschool moms.

The book is intended for literature-based unit studies. This means that all students, regardless of grade level, study a common topic (in this case geography-based), each at their own learning level. Books (rather than textbooks) are used as the primary source of learning.

My book is a compilation of extensive book suggestions for each chapter, complete with short descriptions, and the catalog number for public libraries in the US to make locating the books fast and easy.

I have six different chapters available for review:

From the section "The World (general)":

- Basic geography: The continents and oceans
- World exploration and using a map
- Global perspective: Life in other countries

From the section "Asia":

- China
- Koreas
- Japan

Each chapter covers enough material for about 2 weeks of learning, tying in history, geography, social studies, science, literature, and related activities. Resources are included for all grades K-12. (The only thing not included is grade-specific Math and English.)

For your reference, I will also include the book introduction in each section being reviewed. 

If you are interested, 
- have at least one child in 3rd grade or higher 
- with at least 2 years of homeschool experience, 
- have access to a local library with an average or better selection,
- would be available to give one of the chapters a trial run during the weeks of May 20 - June 1st, and then 
- share your feedback with me, 
please comment below (will not be published) or message me on Facebook to let me know which chapter you would like to try out. Please choose only one so you can really put it to the test. You would need to take a trip to your library to locate the suggested books. If I do not know you in real life, please include a couple of sentences about yourself and your homeschool in your message to me. IMPORTANT: Please include your email address to send the pdf file of your chosen chapter to.

Disclaimer: The first chapter, "Basic geography: The continents and oceans," has limited book suggestions of books available at public libraries due to the fact that library books tend to be steeped in evolution. There are suggestions for books to purchase, which you are under no obligation to do for your chapter review. The chapter does contain topic-related picture and other fiction books.

Future volumes, Lord willing, will follow the same general concept and layout, each covering material for 2 years: 

Volume 2: State by state around the US
Volume 3: World History
Volume 4: US History
Volume 5: Companion book that will contain lists of fiction books sorted by age group and author

I am hoping to release one new volume per year. 


  1. By "catalog number for public libraries in the US" do you mean ISBN number? Listing the ISBN number would be the most useful way of directing people to the book you are recommending.

    1. No, I mean the cataloging system used almost universally across public libaries across the US, based on the Dewey Decimal System.

      The point of giving the catalog number is to make locating the books in any library fast and easy. Giving the ISBN would offer virtually zero benefits since books are not shelved based on ISBN.

    2. I realize you have no reason to know this, having grown up in Europe and not living many places in the US, but Dewey Decimal is not "almost universal," merely more common. Most of my local public library systems (I live in an area where three counties meet, so three different library systems) use Library of Congress. Also, even though the two I use are both LoC, one shelves biographies in the general non-fiction, and one shelves them in their own section. My local library's catalog does let me search by ISBN, as do online stores, so I'm with Christy. ISBN is the most universal and useful.

    3. I realize you don't know this, likely never having home educated and checked out hundreds of library books every year from a half dozen libraries, but every local public library in our area (Phoenix, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe, and Maricopa County) uses the exact same cataloging system, which is the one I reference in my book.

      If parents had to look up several dozen book ISBN's for each chapter to locate the books I recommend, that would add exactly the time I am trying to save them by including such information. Not to mention that I also list books in the order they are shelved (since it is based on that same system), which is like going through the grocery store with a list of groceries listed in the order they appear in the store. Between the two, it shaves about 2 hours off the work off locating books for each chapter.

      Should some unicorn library somewhere have a different system than the one used in my book, parents can then look up titles the way you suggest they do all along. Including call numbers for the majority of libraries will not take away that option from them.

      Virtually all books that make books suggestions such as mine list titles alphabetically by title, which makes zero sense whatsoever because every library lists alphabetically by author. They also mix in all levels of books (picture, beginning, juvenile, young adult). It makes for many trips back and forth across the library trying to locate books listed thus.

      Feel free to use whatever system you find best whenever you publish your book on this topic.

    4. Perhaps you could include the ISBN number as well as the Dewey Decimal call number. Dewey Decimal call numbers may be the same for a particular book within the library system that you use but I can assure you they are not universal throughout libraries within the US. I am a librarian at a public library in Minnesota and numerous times a day while cataloging books I am forced to make a decision between two or three choices in regard to assigning a Dewey Decimal call number to a particular book (it's a complicated classification system that I would gladly rattle on about for hours but I doubt you are interested or have time for that). The other person that commented also mentioned that libraries are increasingly using Library of Congress call numbers and she is absolutely correct, particularly in larger libraries. Obviously you are going to do what you think is best as it is your book, these comments are merely to add information for consideration.

    5. This is not quite correct. The Maricopa County Library District (MCLB) is moving away from the Dewey Decimal system (9 of the 17 libraries in the system are "deweyless"). The Gilbert, AZ library went "deweyless" in 2007, the first in the country to do so. Libraries are moving away from the Dewey system and moving towards more of a bookshop approach to shelving collections. Arizona is at the forefront of this movement, and other places are following. ISBN is the way to go for clarity, for specific book recommendations. This is just library science and theory. As collections go more and more digital, Dewey will become less and less common and useful.

    6. You're both right. DC is used more in public libraries and K-12 school libraries. LC is used more in academic libraries.

    7. Thank you for the info. I will most likely just leave off the call numbers then.

    8. ISBN would NOT be useful, as each edition has its own ISBN, and the books suggested are (permanent) titles, not (time-limited) specific editions.

    9. Your response to Anonymous on May 15, 2019 was rude considering she/he was trying to help. I look up all my books (18 year homeschooler) with a scanner and ISBN.

  2. I love the idea of it. I wouldn't be able to test it out due to travelling. History and Geography is really hard to find curriculum that doesn't teach garbage.

  3. Hi! I would love to review this, however like Christy above, my library system ( I live in one of the top 20 largest cities in the nation) does not use the same cataloging system as yours does. I'm wondering if perhaps it's a regional thing, as I do not live anywhere close to where you live. Obviously it's your book, so it's your system, but just wanted to point out that several mothers who would want to do this maybe can't. Best of luck!!

  4. How will your list be any better or more extensive than anything I could find on my own? I can get an inter-library loan from any county in my state and they would have the most up to date material. How can I be sure of the quality works you would pick? How is learning through reading fiction supposed to teach real history?

  5. What an ambitious project, it sounds like it will be a helpful resource!

    Just a note from a librarian - library catalog numbers at public libraries the US are not always as consistent as you might hope. For a myriad of reasons, public libraries often assign their call numbers in slightly (and sometimes wildly) different ways. Just as an example, and because I am a big library nerd, I looked up the book Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution in a couple of different library systems.

    J 951.056 J61R - Tempe Public Library
    951.05 JIAN - Live Oaks Public Library
    X 92 J595 - Los Angeles Public Library
    JUVENILE 951.05 JIANG - San Antonio Public Library
    DS778.7 .J53 1997D - Buffalo and Erie County Public Library
    951 JIA - Big Horn County Library

    I picked these at random, I didn't specifically go looking for different call numbers. The call numbers are often somewhat similar but sometimes quite different. I just thought this information would be helpful to you, as I know it is a lot of work to provide call numbers for books and you are very busy!

    As you pointed out above, ISBNs are not at all helpful at finding books on the shelf, but they would be helpful in searching in a library's catalog, although maybe not significantly more helpful than the title and the author.

    Either way, it sounds like a great project. Good luck with the rest of your writing!

  6. What types of assessments will you be creating for the curriculum?

    Will you include books on current events in the countries - say within the last 25 years or so?


  7. I'm interested in reviewing the World Exploration/Using a Map section. I'm a mom of eight, four of which are 3rd grade and up.

  8. Well, I thought this was a major bummer. I was looking forward to being spoonfed those call numbers which could be a huge timesaver (just walk into a library and start pulling books off shelves rather than spend time locating them in the catalog first) . But I was just thinking about how the other day I was looking a few of the China books up in the online catalogs to see what was available in my local library/ county/ neighboring county libraries to see if there was a better spot to go to find more of the books. I found several books scattered around several libraries in my county and neighboring County, so I'd be using the service to get the books to one location if possible. The point is that I just realized that I wouldn't likely set foot in the library not knowing if the books I needed were available. So if I'm thinking this through correctly... Needing to look them up in the catalog online at home to determine availability before setting off to library negates the time saving advantage of the call numbers being provided, right? I mean if I have to look them up anyway, jotting down the number isn't significantly more time. It's the whole process of looking them up that if eliminated would save a ton of time, right? (unless I'm missing something). But I don't see how I could avoid looking them up for availability. I can't imagine trekking off to the library with the nursling just to find out they have nothing I want available at the moment. I would imagine that most busy homeschool moms are in the same boat of needing to "scope out" the availability and plan their trip first. So since looking them up is likely necessary for most of us anyway, if you decide to leave call numbers off, it's actually not as disappointing as I thought. So then the opportunity for time saving comes down to the fastest possible way to search. I could see ISBN numbers being faster to search than Titles or Authors. Scanning the list of other books that sometimes pop up written by the author or with similar title is slightly distracting. I also find myself searching both ways, "just in case" it will find it the other way if it didn't locate it by searching one way. Ridiculous that I do this, but just wishful thinking and I actually think I remember this working sometimes. An ISBN may be simpler and faster to type with less room for error in the search results? I'm just thinking out loud I guess. Attempting to be helpful..�� Haha��

  9. Hi Zsuzsanna, have you heard of "Pureflix"? It's a clean Netflix with Christian and wholesome movies. Sermons, Biblical documentaries, and Christian / Biblical movies are streamed.


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