The Homeschool Reference Library

You may have books you’d add to the Homeschooling Reference Library, but I leaned heavily on these five books: The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Heart of Homeschooling, The Well-Trained Mind, Streams of Civilization, and The Time Chart of History of the World. 

I homeschooled my three children from kindergarten through high school and these foundational books enabled me to chart the course. I used different curricula for subject areas which required a systematic and logical path – Saxon for Math and Apologia for Science in middle and high school. But for all other subjects, I depended heavily on guidance from Susan Wise Bauer’s Well-Trained Mind and The Heart of Homeschooling.

These references provided a structure from which I created our unique home school. Each year I began with a plan, but circumstances and the individual character of my own children usually altered the plan significantly. When it began to dissolve, I admit I often panicked. But re-focusing on Jesus Christ and trusting him with the hearts and minds of my children, usually got me back into the game. I soon came up with more realistic objectives for the year and all ended well.

We used reference books and text books in our home school, but they never controlled our homeschooling experience. If they were ineffective or unhelpful, we set them aside and went back to the basics. There were, for example, books which provided repetitive practice of grammar and spelling rules we used for a couple of years. I had to scrap them when I realized my children were completing the pages with no comprehension of the skills being taught. At that point, I pulled out the white board we went through the language skills until I was convinced my children understood them.

As my last child prepares to graduate from college in May, I realize an emphasis on academics is necessary for college and perhaps their career. But, in retrospect, I urge you to focus on the heart and character of your children while you have them at home. A genuine foundation of faith in Jesus Christ has a far greater impact on future joy and success in the lives of our children. Trust God with the academics and the hearts of your children, you will never regret it.

What reference books do you recommend?

Bible Characters Through the Ages


A review by Janice C. Garey

This book takes children back into the Bible story of Adam in the Garden of Eden via a homemade time machine. The story, nicely paced, can be either read alone by the child, or a parent or sibling could read it to younger children.

I believe it would be best to first build a foundation for the child in the true Bible story before reading this story in case a child might have trouble discerning what are the facts and what part is fictional. This applies more, of course, to younger children than to older ones. The story is really good to help the child consider what it would have been like to experience the Bible story personally.

It seems some children have a jumble of Bible stories in their head, perhaps from sporadic attendance at church, so this book series is perfect to dispel confusion as to sequence of the Bible stories if the books are read in order. A timeline project could be set up to give more learning value and hands on experience with the series.

Click to buy: Bible Characters Through the Ages

Path of a Novice

Book Review by writer Sierra Peterson

A fantastic read! The characters in this story are well thought out and believable. I fell in love with them instantly.
R.K. Lander did a brilliant job having her main character, Fel’annar, deal with racism and self-worth throughout the story. Readers can relate to these issues and are easily drawn into her struggle.
My only criticism has to do with the names of the characters. They were difficult to pronounce and some were given additional names which was confusing.
The plot is original and engaging from the start. The first chapter throws readers right into the action along with the warriors of the kingdom.
A wonderful and exciting read. I give Path of a Novice 4.5 out of 5 stars and am looking forward to the sequel.
Lander, R. K. Path of a Novice. 2017.
IMG_20180319_171325_548Sierra Peterson loves to dive into books, whether reading or writing them and can often be found in her book corner with a hot cup of coffee. But when she’s not there, she can be found playing guitar, having coffee with friends, or planting flowers in the greenhouse where she works part-time.  


Katherine Applegate’s Crenshaw surprised me. The cover image made me think I was going to read a children’s fantasy novel, but instead I went on an emotional journey with Jackson and his family.

Crenshaw, an imaginary cat-friend, reappears in Jackson’s life as his family experiences chronic illness, unemployment and homelessness.

Applegate adeptly takes us into the heart and mind of a child facing difficult living situations, while undergirding it with humor and loving family relationships.

For children in the middle grades at over two-hundred pages, I highly recommend Crenshaw. Be sure to have a box of tissues nearby.

Many Waters

In light of the new Wrinkle in Time movie opening this weekend, I’m reviewing Many Waters, the fifth book in the Wrinkle In Time series by Madeleine L’Engle.

Meg and Charles Wallace’s twin brothers, Sandy and Dennys, accidentally end up in one of their father’s experiments in Many Waters. Instead of finding cocoa for their hot chocolate, the twins are tessered back in time and space to the days of Noah.

Sandy and Dennys get caught in the cosmic conflict between good and evil, defying the nephilim, listening to stars and seraphim, riding unicorns who appear only when you believe in them, and helping Noah and his family build the ark. When the first drops of water fall, they must find their way home.

Madeleine L’Engle respectfully takes on one of the Bible’s most widely known histories and adds her bit of fantasy. Many Waters takes readers on a wild ride where love always triumphs.

Earlier books in the Murray-O’Keefes series:

A Wrinkle in Time  – Meg and Charles Wallace transcend the limits of time and space to save their father.

A Wind in the Door – To save her brother, Meg travels inside Charles Wallace.

A Swiftly Tilting Planet – When nuclear disaster threatens the earth, unicorns and the Murray family come to the rescue.

L’Engle, Madeleine. Many Waters. Square Fish, 2007.