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.)
Hoot, by Carl Hiassen, $1.99. Carl Hiassen writes some memorable characters in odd situations. In Hoot, a boy named Roy and his tough new friend Beatrice take on corporate developers who are trying to build a new pancake restaurant on a lot that is home to adorable burrowing owls. This funny and engaging story encourage great discussions about ecology. We’ve featured Hoot in our Birds Unit Study. You can also compare the book with the 2006 movie (excellent for shots of the super cute owls).
Crenshaw, by Katherine Applegate, $2.99. Crenshaw is the magical story of an imaginary friend helping a boy through a very tough family situation. Jackson had an imaginary friend when he was younger, but he hasn’t seen Crenshaw in years. But when his dad is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, money gets really tight and the family is in danger of losing their home. Jackson’s not sure whether Crenshaw’s reappearance is a good thing, but it might be just what he needs. This sweet book tackles some tough topics. We have a more detailed review here.
Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, $1.99. I haven’t read this one, but it’s a Bravewriter Boomerang pick for this year, and the description sounds exactly like something I’d love. When a new girl arrives at Leo’s high school, everything shifts. Stargirl Caraway is not like anyone he’s ever met. Formerly homeschooled, Stargirl dresses eccentrically, carries around a ukelele to serenade students on their birthdays, and doesn’t seem to care what others think. As Stargirl struggles to fit in while remaining true to herself, she profoundly changes the school’s culture.
Still On Sale
The City of Ember, by Jeanne DuPrau, $1.99. Two hundred years ago, a catastrophic event changed the world, driving people into a subterranean bunker city.. The city was well designed, but after all this time, things are starting to go wrong. When twelve-year-olds Lina and Doon discover a mysterious note left by the founders, it’s up to them to find their way out from underground. This thrilling adventure will especially appeal to kids who love tinkering and solving puzzles for themselves. Also made into an entertaining 2008 movie starring Bill Murray and a young Saoirse Ronan.
The Canon, by Natalie Angier, $2.99. This is another science book that is great for humanities Like Bill Bryson, people. Angier covers major developments in all branches of science with a playful humor. Amy felt like the book takes the word play a little too far, but it didn’t bother me. From big topics like astrophysics to small topics like why ice cream melts, Angier packs her books full of interesting details that will keep you turning the pages. Everyone from middle school on up will find something to enjoy.
The Monster at the End of this Book, by Jon Stone, $3.03. Beware! Grover doesn’t want you to read this book! There’s a monster at the end! The delightful illustrations bring the Sesame Street characters to life. You’ll want to make sure you have a color display to get the most out of this charming read aloud.
Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly, by Gail Carson Levine, $1.99. You probably know Gail Carson Levine from her most famous book, Ella Enchanted. In Writing Magic, she shares the secret sauce for making unforgettable writing. This book will help writers of all ages find their unique voice through tips, exercises, and encouragement. We featured it as one of the Great Books to Inspire Young Writers.
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Normal Juster, $1.99. We’ve talked about books to read if you love The Phantom Tollbooth, and today the original is on sale! The book defies easy description. It’s a fantasy quest story filled with word play, a tinge of mathematics, and memorably odd characters. Join Milo on his journey to escape the Doldrums.
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein, $1.99, was part of my daughter’s mystery book club last year, and she was a huge fan. HSL has featured it as a readaloud of the week, and say this is why you’ll love it: Libraries! Puzzles to solve! Witty book references! While you shouldn’t look for nuanced character development, you’ll be so busy running around the library with Kyle and his allies to crack codes and unpuzzle puzzles, you will hardly miss it.
The Witch’s Boy, by Kelly Barnill, $1.99. Kelly Barnhill’s modern fairy tales are effortlessly complex, and I love them all. From the publisher: “When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. Across the forest that borders Ned’s village, Áine, the daughter of the Bandit King, is haunted by her mother’s last words: “The wrong boy will save your life, and you will save his.” When the Bandit King comes to steal the magic Ned’s mother, a witch, is meant to protect, Áine and Ned meet. Can they trust each other long enough to cross a dangerous enchanted forest and stop the war about to boil over between their two kingdoms?
Magical Miniature Gardens & Homes, by Donni Webber, $2.99, is a great book for adding a little bit of enchantment to your homeschool this fall. Webber gives you all the details you need to make your own fairy gardens. The gorgeous projects include a fairly rendition of Hobbiton, for the Tolkien fans among us. The projects use fairly basic crafting materials (definitely have a glue gun handy) and natural objects. Start spreading that pixie dust!
”The four book Mary Poppins set, by P.L. Travers, is now $5.61, which is still a pretty good deal for a set. These books are delightful, but take a very different tone from the Disney movies. Mary is ascerbic, and the stories take some darker twists. You could do a fascinating study comparing the books to Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Returns, and Saving Mr. Banks.
The Princess Bride, by Williams Golding, $2.99. This book is in our Middle School Reading List and our Summer Reading list for fans of The Phantom Tollbooth. Golding’s novel might poke fun at some of the traditional fairy-tale elements in epic adventures, but the story of Buttercup and her Westley is an unabashed literary delight. (Golding was inserting wry narrator notes long before the trend took off in children’s literature.)
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.
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.
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.