Today's Best Book Deals for Your Homeschool
(Prices are correct as of the time of writing, but y'all know sales move fast — check before you click the buy button! These are Amazon links — read more about how we use affiliate links to help support some of the costs of the HSL blog here.)
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Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain, $2.99. Introverts may be overrepresented in the homeschool world. I was just having a discussion with my daughter about how many social norms are set up by and for extroverted people. This insightful book is a celebration of introverts, an analysis of their role in society, and a guide for ways that introverts can find success. This is an excellent book, whether you are an introvert or want to understand an introvert. There’s also a children’s version that I am looking forward to sharing with my family.
Making the Monster: The Science Behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, by Katheryn Harkup, $1.99. Another Halloween-related book for October! From the publisher: Making the Monster explores the scientific background behind Mary Shelley's book. Is there any science fact behind the science fiction? And how might a real-life Victor Frankenstein have gone about creating his monster? From tales of volcanic eruptions, artificial life and chemical revolutions, to experimental surgery, 'monsters' and electrical experiments on human cadavers, Kathryn Harkup examines the science and scientists that influenced Shelley, and inspired her most famous creation.”
Solo, by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess, $1.99. This YA novel in verse tells the story of Blade, the son of a washed up rock star. The only thing he shares in common with his dad is music. Booklist calls this “A rhythmic, impassioned ode to family, identity, and the history of rock and roll.”
STILL ON SALE
Because You Love to Hate Me, edited by Ameriie, $1.99. We continue our spooky October with the breezy short story collection of classic stories retold from the villains’ perspectives. The stories are told by some of the biggest authors in YA (Victoria Schwab, Marissa Meyer, and Nicola Yoon, to name a few). What makes this collection so unique is the commentary. Every story is followed by commentary and discussion from a Booktuber. What’s a Booktuber? There is a whole segment of YouTube devoted to books. This book will introduce you to several interesting new voices to follow.
Bad Girls Throughout History, by Ann Shen, $2.99. I love these collections of short biographies; we have several, and my daughter devours them. Bad Girls Throughout History focuses on women who challenged the status quo and didn’t follow the rules of their contemporary society. Women from every era make an appearance, from Cleopatra and Boudica to Harriet Beecher Stowe and Nelly Bly. Many names are familiar, but it’s very likely that you will discover a new “bad girl” to inspire you.
Corsets & Codpieces, by Karen Bowman, $1.99. How did 18th century women get their skirts to stick out to far? Why did medieval men accentuate their figure with over the top codpieces? This book explores the history of outrageous fashion. (Note: As you might expect from the title, sex comes up fairly often. This might be a good choice for teens and adults.)
Penny and Her Song, by Kevin Henkes, $1.99. Your beginning reader will love this series about Penny, an adorable and charming young mouse. Penny comes home with a new song that she is so eager to sing! However, her parents beg her to keep quiet while her twin siblings are sleeping. Will Penny ever be able to share her music? This is an excellent book for early readers ready to venture into short chapter books. It was one of my daughter’s favorite’s when she began reading on her own.
You Are Not So Smart, by David McRay, $1.99. We all like to believe that we know why we do the things we do, but what is the reality? David McRay breaks it down for you in the pithy guide to common ways your brain is tricking you. From the Dunning-Kruger Effect to the Straw Man Delusion, McRay patiently guides the reader through modern psychological research. The tone is fairly light, and the real world examples are plentiful. This book is broken down into 48 short sections ideal for quick dipping into for discussion around the dinner table.
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, by Christine Ammer, $1.99. Why do we talk about “the elephant in the room”? What on earth is a “dead cat bounce”? This comprehensive guide to American phrases will sort you out. There are explanatory paragraphs for many of the entries offering historical detail and social commentary. This is an excellent resource for readers and writers of all ages. The Kindle format makes it easily searchable.
American Trailblazers: 50 Remarkable People Who Shaped U.S. History, by Lisa Trusiani, $1.99. Yesterday was full of history deals, but they were all for older readers, so I was glad to find something for my younger historians today. American Trailblazers profiles men and women from many fields who have accomplished impressive things. I was pleased to see racial and gender diversity in the performers, scientists, writers, and other careers mentioned. Cute illustrations make this book inviting, and the lists of related people to investigate will let kids dig deep into their interests.
How to Knit: Learn the Basic Stitches and Techniques, by Lesley Ann Bestor, $2.99. There is finally, FINALLY, a chill in the air, and that means it is time to start planning cozy inside activities for the winter months. Maybe this is the year your family dabbles with fiber arts. How to Knit is a cheerful, basic guide to all you’ll need to make your first knitting projects. If you want something more substantial, The Knowledgeable Knitter leaves no stitch unturned. Not sure knitting is for you? How to Crochet is also on sale!
Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World, by Linda R. Hirshman, $2.99. At first glance, Ginsburg and O’Connor would seem to have little in common. Their backgrounds are different in virtually every particular. It was their career path, and the inherent struggles in trailblazing a path for women in the law, that brought them together and helped them to develop a warm working relationship and friendship. Sisters in Law is a biography of these two remarkable women and their work to improve women’s lives in America.
Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells, by Helen Scales, $1.99. Some scientists say we know more about space than we do about our oceans. When I look at mollusks, I definitely feel like they could be creatures from another planet. Some are tasty, some are deadly, all are fascinating. Spirals in Time is a collection of facts and tales of mollusks through history, from medical uses to trading in ancient cultures to all the uses of seashells after their hosts have abandoned them. Beautifully rendered line drawings enhance the descriptions.
In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories, by Alvin Schwartz, $1.99. Some kids just LOVE to be creeped out, and it’s never too early to get a delightfully spooky book into their hands. This is a collection of scary stories for beginning readers. Turn down the lights and let your child give a haunted story hour. The vibrant and twisted illustrations add to the fun.
Dear Martin, by Nic Stone, $1.99. From our 2017 Fall Book Guide: Teenage Justyce starts a journal writing to Martin Luther King, Jr., after a false arrest has him questioning racism and resistance in his world. When his worst fears are realized in a police shooting, Justyce has to confront the darkest parts of himself and the world he lives in.
Letters of Note, Volume 1, by Shaun Usher, $3.99. Letters can be surprising, meaningful, and just plain odd. Shaun Usher has collected more than 100 interesting letters to share in this volume. You can read a letter from Elvis to President Nixon which Elvis offers to become a Federal Agent. The letters cover a wide time period and topics from politics to art to food. Each letter includes a big of background information, and many include a photo of the letter itself. This is a fun book to dip into over and over again.
Coraline: The Graphic Novel, by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell, $1.99. Coraline is a classic creepy tale about a girl who discovers an alternate version of her reality when she moves to a new house. At first the new house and new family seems like all Coraline has ever wanted, but things are not as they seem. I will never look at a Lalaloopsy doll in the same way having read this book. The realistic drawings increase the creep factor, making it more unsettling than the movie adaptation.
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life, by Marta McDowell, $1.99. Beatrix Potter’s stories of sentient animals getting up to mischief have charmed children and parents for generations. Her beautiful watercolor illustrations really bring her characters to life. In this book, McDowell describes the events that shaped Potter’s love of the outdoors, then takes readers on a guided tour of the outdoor settings that are so crucial to Potter’s work. Gorgeous watercolors and photos enhance the reading experience.
Life in a Medieval Castle, by Frances and Joseph Gies, $1.99. Interest in the medieval period had a resurgence in popularity with the rise of Game of Thrones. But you don’t need to be a die-hard dragon fan to appreciate this comprehensive guide to medieval life. The Gieses cover everything from food to heating to knights’ training. The comprehensive index makes it easy to dip in for just the information you need, or you can curl up and dive deep into a world long past.
The Sky Below, by Scott Parazynski and Susy Flory, $0.99. Scott Parazynski’s memoir of the adventures and training that led him to become an astronaut is fascinating. What makes this book thrilling, though, is the Kindle in Motion feature. When you read this book on a Kindle Fire or the Kindle app on another tablet, you will marvel at the embedded video. The pages come to live with views of rockets launching, the earth from space, and more. This is a must have for anyone interested in space flight.
How to Draw Cool Things, by Rachel Goldstein, $2.99. When I was in school, every class had at least one kid who knew how to make cool lettering or designs in the margins of the paper. I felt like it was some kind of magical power. Now your kids can be in on the secrets with this fun guide to drawing optical illusions, 3D doodles, and more. Twelve-year-old me is so jealous.
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein, by Kiersten White, $1.99. Continuing our creepy theme for the day, we have this exciting and unsettling YA retelling of Frankenstein. Elizabeth is a neglected child who is brought into the Frankenstein family as a companion for the troubled Victor. She lives with the Frankensteins for years, her one task being to control Victor’s temper and dark impulses. But what must she do to keep him happy? Teens and adults with enjoy this “exquisitely disturbing” novel. The bonus copy of Mary Shelley’s original novel included in the ebook will make for an excellent comparative literature lesson.
How to Lie with Statistics, by Darrell Huff, $5.69. This short guide to statistics has been in print for more than 50 years, and with good reason. This book explains, with style and good humor, how scientists and the media can manipulate or misunderstand data. All the numbers in the examples are charmingly low ($15,000 as a high annual salary), but the analysis is spot on. Cartoons pepper the text and keep the feel light.
Stopping for a Spell, by Diana Wynne Jones, $2.99. You may know Diana Wynne Jones from her excellent Howl’s Moving Castle and Chrestomanci series. She is a master of immersive fantasy for young readers. Stopping for a Spell is a collection of three shorter stories designed for slightly younger readers. Set in a mostly familiar 20th century England with only a few magical differences, these tales will delight middle grade readers. Furniture comes to life, mysterious grannies come to stay, and more. Charming and detailed illustrations round out an enjoyable reading experience that will be a great introduction to the author’s work for new readers.
Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise?, by David Feldman, $2.99. Do you have that kid who always wants to know the answers to weird questions? Are you the grown-up version of that kid? David Feldman’s Imponderables series is just the thing for you. He answers such questions as “why do dogs circle before lying down?” and “why is a telephone keypad arranged differently from a calculator?” Feldman tracks down experts to get to the bottom of many strange questions. The short sections make this book appealing to casual readers who might not pick up a novel.
The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, $4.08. This thrilling tale of adventure tells the story of Despereaux, a brave young mouse who takes on an extraordinary quest This moving story will delight readers young and old, though it is somewhat darker than you might expect from the cover art. Beautiful illustrations set the tone.
Ultimate Book of Adventure, by Scott McNeely, $1.99. Have you ever looked at someone’s Instagram feed and wished you could be off having wild and memorable adventures? This book is the perfect guide to actually making those adventures happen. Activities are rated on money, brag factor, fitness, and danger. Whether you want to swim with humpback whales, surf a volcano, or join the French Foreign Legion, this book will walk you through all the needed steps. There are adventures recommended for gap year students, families with kids, and solo adults. Go live the adventure!
Princess Academy, by Shannon Hale, $4.53. You may be starting to get the impression that I love Shannon Hale, and you would be right. Princess Academy is the first in a middle grade series about a land where a rich urban royal class benefits from the poorly paid labor of all the surrounding towns. When it is decided that the Prince’s wife should come from Miri’s village, all the teen girls are rounded up and sent to a school where they will be taught the ways of court. Booklist says, “Hale nicely interweaves feminist sensibilities in this quest-for-a-prince-charming, historical-fantasy tale. Strong suspense and plot drive the action as the girls outwit would-be kidnappers and explore the boundaries of leadership, competition, and friendship.” If you are looking for books with strong heroines who overcome difficulties to make a difference in their world, this is the book for you.
Enchantress of Numbers, by Jennifer Chiaverini, $4.99. Do you know about Ada Lovelace, pioneer of computing and daughter of Lord Byron? You should! This historical fiction novel follows Ada through the period when she is creating the difference engine, the world’s first computing device, with Charles Babbage. The prose is excellent, and the details really bring a fascinating piece of history to life.
Founding Mothers, by Cokie Roberts, $4.99. Sadly, veteran reporter and historian Cokie Roberts died recently. Founding Mothers is a biography of the women who influenced Colonial and Revolutionary America. From names you likely know well (Abigail Adams and Martha Washington) to those less familiar (Mercy Otis Warren, Sarah Livingston Jay), this book is filled with details that provide depth to the stories typically taught in history texts. The charming illustrations bring the characters to life. Older readers will appreciate the adult version of Founding Mothers.
200 Women, by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Holiday, $1.99. This book’s concept is simple but powerful. The creators asked 200 women the same five questions, and the questions are really great: “What would you change in the world if you could?” “What brings you happiness?” The women come from many countries, ethnicities, and backgrounds. You’ll definitely recognize some famous faces (looking at you, RBG), but you’ll also meet some inspiring women you’ve never heard from before.
Mrs. Millie Goes to Philly, by Judy Cox, $3.99. Mrs. Millie could be Amelia Bedelia’s cousin. She is forever getting confused by words. What makes her very different, though, is how she gets confused — she always has animals on the brain and swaps animal words for real life items. When she takes her kindergarten class on a field trip to Philadelphia, chaos ensues! They encounter “The Liberty Bull” a “picnic basset” and more. The adorable and imaginative illustrations will delight young readers.
The International Cookbook for Kids, by Matthew Locricchio, $3.99. What’s better than getting your kids to make dinner? Getting your kids to learn something while making the dinner, of course! This cookbook is full of simple and authentic recipes from four different countries, Mexico, France, Italy, and China. Let your tween serve you some French Onion Soup or Ginger Beef with Green Beans!
She Has Her Mother’s Laugh, by Carl Zimmer, $5.49. Go ahead and buy this book, because it is a long one that I kept having to return to the library before I was finished with it. It’s also so jammed packed with information that you’ll want the ability to use the digital search function. Science writer Carl Zimmer explains heredity, not just as passed down from parent to child, but within the cells of our own bodies, and in our culture as a whole. This fantastically informative book was on at least half a dozen “best books of 2018” lists. Add it to your digital shelf ASAP!
Last Chance to See, by Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine, $1.99. The world is full of amazing creatures, but many of them are in danger of going extinct. Before he died, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams went on a trip around the world to visit endangered animals in their natural habitats. He brings his hilarious writing style to the serious topics of environmentalism and ecology.
Joan of Arc, by Demi, $3.99. I’ve praised Demi’s historical biographies before, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Demi has created a beautiful biography of Joan of Arc in the style of a medieval illuminated manuscript. Readers of any age will return to the pictures over and over to check out the tiny details.
Rumi: Whirling Dervish, by Demi, $3.99. This beautifully illustrated picture book is a biography of Rumi, founder of the Whirling Dervishes. It’s an excellent addition to a study of the late medieval period or of Islamic history.
Professor Whiskerton Presents Steampunk ABC, by Lisa Falkenstern, $3.99. If you have young kids in your life, you’ve probably read a lot of boring alphabet books. This is not one of them. in Steampunk ABC, L is for level, A is for anvil, and G is for gear. Lots of interesting vocabulary is combined with detailed and, frankly, adorable illustrations of mice building a mysterious contraption.
Olivia Twist, by Lorie Langdon, $1.99. Amy wrote a great review of this last year: “OK, so just go with it: Oliver Twist is actually a girl, who’s pretended to be a boy because her old nurse warned her the world was no safe place for a pretty girl. When she’s picked up for stealing and serendipitously reunited with her upper class family, Olivia happily adjusts to having enough to eat and a safe place to sleep, but she still pulls on her old cap to help street urchins who, like she once was, are struggling to make it on the London streets. She also does a little thieving to keep the family budget going strong. Then, one night at a party, she runs into the Artful Dodger, all grown up and posing as an Irish lord. He knows there’s something familiar about Olivia, but he doesn’t connect the elegant young lady with the little boy who used to run with his gang. Sparks fly, but there’s plenty of danger lurking in the shadows for Olivia and Dodger both. I mean, either this is your kind of book and you have already stopped reading this and gone to put it on your library hold list, or this is not your kind of book and you are rolling your eyes at the premise.”
Nature Play at Home, by Nancy Striniste, $1.99. This colorful guide will help families find ways to enjoy nature. This book is filled with great ideas for setting up natural play areas that make use of the outdoor resources around your home. There are loads of beautiful color photos for inspiration and helpful instructions to get you started.
The Familiars, by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, $3.99. If you’ve ever wondered what Harry Potter books would look like if told from Hedwig’s perspective, this is the series for you. When their young wizard companions are captured, three animal “familiars” must find a way to save them. This is the first in a middle-grade series, so be prepared to track down the sequels.
Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo, $3.22. Kate DiCamillo is back with a middle grades novel about a Little Miss pageant that forges a bond between three lonely girls. The New York Times Book Review said it better than I can: “With its short, vibrant chapters and clear, gentle prose, this triumphant and necessary book conjures the enchantments of childhood without shying away from the fraught realities of abandonment, abuse and neglect.”
Hemingway Didn’t Say That, by Garson O’Toole, $3.99. Are you a person who likes to know stuff and be right? Garson O’Toole is such a person (as am I). O’Toole discovered that many quotations are attributed to the wrong people or are remembered incorrectly. With the help of extensive internet searches and lots of patience, he has tracked down the origins of phrases you have likely heard. Each section includes a portion about his process and about how the errors came to be. This book will thrill word nerds and anyone who enjoys a little literary detective work.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, $4.27. We studied this book as part of Brave Writer’s Arrow program last year, and it’s the kind of lyrical, moving book that lingers in your mind. From Amy’s review: “I thought this little middle grades fantasy was just lovely—a worthy precursor to authors like Gaiman and LeGuin. Barnhill has a knack for telling a complex story in deceptively simple, lyrical fairy tale language, and the way she teases the individual threads of this story together—the brave boy, the magical girl, the witch’s forgotten history, the mad mother—is brilliant. The characters—minor and major—live and breathe; the world of the story feels sturdy enough to stand on its own.”