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.)
Beauty, by Robin McKinley, $1.99, is a perennial HSL favorite. Amy talked about it in some detail earlier this year. Amy says: This retelling of Beauty and the Beast is the book that got me hooked on Robin McKinley — I’m pretty sure I got it through a Scholastic book order form — and a recent rereading with my high schooler reminded me how much I love it. McKinley keeps the old-fashioned fairy tale setting with this story of a not-so-beautiful youngest daughter who volunteers to live in an enchanted castle to save her father. This would be great to read with a bunch of other Beauty and the Beast adaptations as a comparative literature project.
Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot, by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, $1.99, is in multiple wheelhouses for me. This is the first in a series of epistolary novels set in an early 19th century England where magic is real. Amy loves it, too. The language is fairly true to the Jane Austen vibe, but the adventures are madcap and unique. You’ll be excited to discover what’s next for Cecelia and Kate as they take on rogue wizards and the hazards of Regency fashion.
Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt, $2.99, is a classic of my childhood. When Winnie Foster discovers a literal fountain of youth and a family that has been living off the water for decades, she has to consider what immortality would mean for her own life. This book is certain to foster interesting family discussion. There’s a adaptation starring Alexis Bledel of the Gilmore Girls if you’d like to do a lesson comparing the book and movie.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Volume 1, by Brandon Montclare, is $3.99. I have high hopes for this Marvel comic series. Luna is a tween with an “Inhuman” gene that allows her to swap bodies with a giant dinosaur. Together the pair combat neanderthals and others who have teleported to the modern world. I’m excited to see a minority heroine, and the fact that she’s a STEM-loving genius make this a home run for me. School Library Journal calls the series “a much-needed, well-done, inclusive comic series that deserves a place in all libraries.”
Still On Sale
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
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.
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.
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.