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.)
Swing, by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess, is only $0.99 today! This YA novel in free verse is the story of best friends Walt and Noah, who are trying to make the world a better place and become cool in the process. It’s a story of baseball, jazz, love, and racial issues. The nontraditional storytelling may hook some more reluctant readers. The book’s message, “You can either uphold the status quo, or you can see what’s wrong and try to change it,” is something we all need to hear.
HSL loves The Sisters Grimm! We have featured the series in our What to Read After Harry Potter list. Sisters Sabrina and Daphne navigate the world of Ferryport, where all the familiar fairy tale characters are real and sometimes up to no good. The series companion book, filled with maps, timelines, behind-the-scenes journal entries, and other goodies, is on sale today for $2.99.
Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes, is $2.99 today only. Amy says: I still remember trying not to cry when we were reading it in my 8th grade lit class. (Pretty sure I wasn’t the only one.) Charlie undergoes an experimental brain surgery designed to increase human intelligence, and it works better than anyone could have expected. Charlie’s IQ leaps from 68 to 185, but being smarter doesn’t make Charlie’s life better. Keyes raises meaningful questions about emotion, intelligence, and science in this novel. (It’s one of our must-reads for middle school.)
I love science, but I’m also a social science person; I applied to college as a biochemistry major and graduated with an English degree. Periodic Tales, by Hugh Aldersey-Wiliams, $1.99, is the best of both world. Aldersley-Williams explains not just what an element does, but how it got discovered and what roles it has played in history and modern society. This is a great companion for a high school chemistry course. The writing feels like Bill Bryson’s A Brief History of Nearly Everything, another science book that I can’t recommend enough.
Still On Sale
I’ve been looking forward to reading How to Talk so Teens will Listen, by Faber and Mazlish, $2.99. Their original book, How to Talk so Kids will Listen, gave me some great communication and parenting advice that I put into practice regularly at home and in the co-op I lead. I particularly like their focus on meeting kids on their emotional level. A few simple words that let a kid know you are hearing them can make a huge difference in working through tough issues. My daughter is (gasp!) moving into the tween/teen years, so it is time to check out what these two have to say about teenagers.
The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare, is $2.99 this week. We featured it in our Favorite Campfire Readalouds, and it is part of Build Your Library and Brave Writer’s Arrow curricula. This is the story of a 13-year-old in the Colonial era who is left home alone to defend his cabin. When he meets a Native American boy, he learns to see the conflict between settlers and indigenous people in a new light. This Newberry honor book could be a valuable addition to your library.
You can’t read as many books as I do without unlimited funds or a deep appreciation for libraries. I love the hard work librarians do, so I was surprised when my daughter fell in love with Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson, $2.99. In this five-book series, the Librarians are part of a cult that is dedicated to taking over the world through the spread of misinformation and chaos. This darkly funny and over-the-top novel is a good fit for kids who enjoy Lemony Snicket.
When a book is blurbed by both Barack Obama and Bob Dole, you know it is off to a good start. What You Should Know About Politics… But Don’t, by Jessamyn Conrad, $1.99, was created in the run up to the 2016 election to provide a nonpartisan guide to some of the bigger issues. As we enter a new election season, this book may be a good starting point for an exploration of American government.
How to Write a Sentence, by Stanley Fish, $1.99, was featured in our Making the Shift to Middle School article. It is great introduction to thinking carefully about writing, a little more basic than Strunk and White. Fish focuses on how each sentence builds on the logic of the larger work The sentences used for examples come from a variety of authors and genres.
Nothing goes with writing better than a little literary analysis. How to Read Novels Like a Professor, by Thomas C. Foster, is $1.99 this week. Foster is an English professor who has also written about capital L literature, but this book focuses on more popular novels and what they share with literary classics. Teens will appreciate the conversational tone. As Amy describes, Foster theorizes that you can tell most of what you need to know about a book from the first page, which you may or may not agree with but which is a fun way to spend a sunny front porch kind of afternoon.
The Odyssey is also on sale today for $1.99. This Lattimore translation is near and dear to my heart; it’s the very first book freshmen read in Columbia’s core curriculum. Not the easiest read, as it stays fairly close to the original Greek, but the ultimate in epic poetry and a great choice for flexing those literary analysis skills.
Tooth and Nail, by Charles Harrington Elster, $2.99, is a nontraditional test prep book. Instead of tedious lists of root words and vocabulary to memorize, this book presents SAT words integrated into a suspenseful narrative. Put this in the hand of your teen who needs a bit of word work.
The For Kids series is great for elementary and middle school students, and your young physicists will love Albert Einstein and Relativity for Kids, by Jerome Pohlen, $1.99. My family has really enjoyed the creative projects and extensive reading guides each book in the series has to offer. This book provides a nice introduction to Einstein’s research through thought experiments and hands on activities. Perfect for families ready to dive down a quantum rabbit hole.
A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn, $2.99, is a classic. Zinn reframes American History to include more from marginalized populations and the social movements that have shaped the modern world. Consider this book an important contrast to the traditional narrative of the US, from the pre-Columbian era to the late 1990s. Amy says she would never teach a history course without this book.
Maker Dad, $0.99, is an awesome book of projects that are fun and easy to accomplish without lots of specialty tools. We own this one in print and have looked to it for inspiration many times. All of the projects are well illustrated and feel accessible for people who are not especially handy. We particularly enjoyed the Drawbot!
My daughter can’t get enough of the Vanderbeeker family! The second book in the series, The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden, is on sale today for $2.99. You’ll enjoy getting to know the large and somewhat chaotic Vanderbeeker family in their Harlem brownstone. In this book, the girls are working to create a secret garden for a beloved neighbor. This series has hints of the All-Of-A-Kind family series and is perfect for Penderwicks fans.
Think Like a Freak, $2.99, is kind of a self-help book for people who hate self help. You may know Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner from the excellent Freakonomics podcast. They take economic principles and apply them to everyday situations. This is a great read for an older teen who wants to know more about why the world is the way it is, or for a parent to pick and choose sections to share with younger kids. There are a few heavier topics.
Sabriel, $1.99, is the first book in the Abhorsen trilogy by Garth Nix. This is a fantasy classic featuring a strong female lead, an epic quest to save the world, and a feline companion who is more than it seems. Get ready to dig deep into Nix’s impressive world building. I devoured these in my late teens.
One Crazy Summer, $1.99, has been featured in our 28 Great Books for Black History Month list. Suzanne raved about it in her 2017 Library Chicken Roundup: In 1968, three sisters travel from New York to California to spend the summer with the mother who left them to follow her own dreams. Instead of visiting Disneyland, they find themselves at a Black Panther day camp. After reading the first book, I couldn’t wait to read more about this amazing, loving, complicated family in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy in Alabama. My only complaint is that there aren’t more books in the series, as I’d happily follow these sisters from pre-teens to 40-somethings. (As an extra bonus, the covers of all three books are gorgeous.)
Look! Look! Look!, $0.99, is an adorable picture book that is also a great introduction to looking at art. Three tiny mice have discovered a fine art postcard. Follow them as the discover patterns, textures, and shapes. Don’t miss the activity guide at the end! Note, you’ll want to read this one on a color screen or you will lose out on some of the details.