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.)
Amazon has amazing deals on Sundays. Check out today’s nonfiction deals!
Rise of the Rocket Girls, by Nathalia Holt, $2.99. The original computers weren't machines, they were people—specifically women who, armed with slide rules and sharpened pencils, performed the complex calculations needed to get the space program (literally) off the ground. This book shines a long overdue spotlight on the women scientists and mathematicians who contributed to the early work of the space program, and it's a great read on its own or as part of a larger study with The Glass Universe and Hidden Figures.
Beyond the Pale, by Emily Urquhart, $1.99. When Emily Urquhart’s daughter is born with albinism, a rare genetic condition resulting in no pigmentation, she is eager to discover all she can. Her deep dive into cultural history and folklore finds tales of magical powers and tragic stories of mistreatment. Simultaneously, she explores the scientific causes and implications of this genetic disorder. If you like your science with a bit of history and social science, this book is for you.
Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy, by Karen Abbott, $2.99. I am not a Civil War buff, but this is the kind of subject matter I can get behind. Karen Abbott, in her signature thriller style, introduces us to four intrepid women working as spies. You’ll learn about the woman who posed as a soldier to get battlefield details, the widow who used her feminine charms to wring details from politicians, and more. This glimpse at untold history is also a pageturner.
Prairie Fires, by Caroline Fraser, $3.99. Little House on the Prairie was a definitive part of my early reading life. I loved following Laura Ingalls Wilder as she moved from her cabin in the Big Woods to Plum Creek to her own adult home. In those children’s books, the hardships her family faced were intense but always surmountable. The series is still considered a classic of American children’s literature, but the racial issues have not aged well and many historians have questioned the rose-colored wash on many of the stories. Prairie Fires is the Pulitzer Prize-winning, unsanitized version of Wilder’s story. This book will spark excellent discussion about the nature of memoir and the history of Western expansion.
Still On Sale
Watch Us Rise, by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan, $2.99. I haven’t read this yet, but the concept is great and so many of my favorite authors have blurbed it! When Jasmine and Chelsea are unhappy with situations at their NYC high school, they start a Women’s Rights Club. School Library Journal says, “this thought-provoking novel explores ideas of body-shaming, racial stereotypes, and gender inequality.” The story unfolds in prose, poetry, blog articles, and more. I can’t wait to read it.
State by State, by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey, $1.99. This book has an excellent concept — find excellent, famous writers and have them write about a state that they know. You’ll hear from Jhumpa Lahiri, Jonathan Franzen, Alison Bechdel, and more. The stories are funny, touching, odd, and wonderful, and they come together to create a unique snapshot of the US. Note: not all of the stories are suitable for all ages, so don’t just hand this over to a tween.
One Summer: America, 1927, by Bill Bryson, $1.99. I’m still new to this recommendation gig, so you haven’t gotten sick of my praise of Bill Bryson yet. You’ll be hearing about him often; his conversational tone makes his densely packed nonfiction seem like a casual chat with your smartest friend. In One Summer, Bryson shows a snapshot of all the things happening in 1927, many of which still impact our lives today. You’ll visit with Babe Ruth, Charles Lindbergh, Al Capone, and many more.
The Mystery of Black Hollow Lane, by Julia Nobel, $1.99. Amy really liked this one when she read it earlier this year. Here’s her review: Emmy’s dad is MIA, and her mom is so busy explaining how other people can be great parents that she never has time to just be Emmy’s parent. Emmy is crushed when her mom ships her off to a fancy British boarding school — until she gets pulled into a mystery involving a super-secret order that may involve her long-missing father. It’s true that I’m a sucker for a boarding school book, but this is the kind of middle grades book I like best: It assumes a smart reader who can connect the pieces, and there’s plenty of action to keep the plot moving and mostly likable, individual characters who make you care about what’s happening. I recommend this one!
The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal, $2.99. I am so excited to share this book with you! The Calculating Stars is a story of the early space program, but it takes place in a slightly alternate universe where a meteoroid strike is rapidly changing the environment and NASA is rapidly trying to colonize space. The biggest change? In the rush, it’s all hands on deck and women are active participants in all fields. This thrilling novel is the story of Elma York, a former WASP pilot and mathematician who has a shot to become the first woman in space. Readers will appreciate the diverse characters, who represent races, religions, and disabilities not always found in modern sci fi.
The Philosophy Book, by Will Buckingham, $1.99. Philosophy isn’t always an easy subject to get into. Trying to understand the finer points of stoicism vs. essentialism can be overwhelming. DK has stepped in to provide a basic overview of the history of major philosophical movements. In typical DK fashion, the book is crammed with illustrations and pull quotes. There’s a lot of material here, but it is broken down into eye-catching and manageable chunks.
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, trans. Edith Grossman, $1.99. I’m sure there are free versions out there, but this translation by Edith Grossman is the best I’ve read. Try it with your middle schooler, and you may be surprised — Suzanne’s middle school literature class totally fell in love with this funny, tragic tale of a self-created knight and his faithful squire.
Countdown, by Deborah Wiles, $1.99. Most history classes run out of time before they get to the last 50 years or so. This interesting novel tells the story of a tween living near D.C. during the Cuban Missile Crisis. She is navigating family and school issues while also worrying and wondering about the likelihood of a Russian attack. What really makes this book great is the “documentary” style: it is peppered with magazine clips, news quotes, and song lyrics that will bring the ‘60s to life for your upper elementary or middle school reader.
How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, by Ken Ludwig, $4.99. I’ll be perfectly honest. I’m an English major who skillfully avoided Shakespeare for all four years of her undergraduate degree. He’s not my favorite. That said, Shakespeare is an important part of the literary landscape, both in unique language and important plot references. When we are ready to work Shakespeare into our language studies (beyond a discussion of The Lion King being a retelling of Hamlet), this is my go-to book. Carrie Pomeroy mentions the book in her article about trying to share her love for the Bard with her kids.
I Scream! Ice Cream!, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, $1.99. What’s a wordle, you ask? A wordle is a set of words that sound exactly the same but have different meanings. “Heroes” and “he rows,” “reindeer” and “rain, dear.” The puns only get more elaborate from there. The hilarious wordplay and adorable illustrations will entertain readers of all ages.
I Contain Multitudes, by Ed Yong, $2.99. This book absolutely fascinated and disturbed me. Ed Yong’s extensive book is a guide to the millions of microbes that live in and on all creatures. You will learn about how microorganisms improve the lives of their hosts — making squid invisible, leading mice right to the cats who want to eat them, and defending humans from disease. This will change your outlook on the many lives around you.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: Cosmic Avengers, by Brian Michael Bendis, $3.99. As a culture, we may have reached peak Avengers, but I still have a special place in my heart for the Guardians of the Galaxy. This comic collection finds the Guardians (and Iron Man) fighting off bad guys and quipping their way around the universe. The first in a new series, this book provides useful backstory for new comic readers.
York: The Shadow Cipher, by Laura Ruby, $1.99. This book is smoldering on my daughter’s shelf, just waiting for one or both of us to pick it up. Set in an alternate history New York, three kids must search the city to find clues to a mysterious cipher that will prevent developers from destroying the city as they know it. The book is packed with steampunk details, tantalizing puzzles, and engaging characters. The sequel was just released this summer, so there’ll be no anxious waiting for the next installment.
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.
The Witch’s Boy, by Kelly Barnill, $4.51. 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 $5.31, 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, $3.49. 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, $2.99, 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.
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 neighor. 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.