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.)
BIG NEWS! We now have an email list to send you a reminder each time we post new deals to the website. If you’d like to make sure you never miss a deal, sign up here.
Professor Whiskerton Presents Steampunk ABC, by Lisa Falkenstern, $0.99. 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.
When You Grow Up to Vote, by Eleanor Roosevelt, $2.99. Beloved First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote this thorough and engaging civics guide for children in the 1930s. It has been updated for the 21st century with text additions by Michelle Markel and some lovely illustrations by Grace Lin.
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.”
STILL ON SALE
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.
Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere, by Elise Gravel, $1.99. This is one of my daughter’s absolute favorites. She has been trying to get me to knit her a Meh for at least a year. Here’s what she has to say: This funny and easy to read book about a introverted girl finding an alien in her back yard will appeal to anyone who likes animals. This is a book that makes you want to read more and is full of twists you will not expect. The funny illustrations and fast pace make this book accessible to readers new to long chapter books, but the humor will attract kids of all ages.
Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Won’t-Walk-the-Dog-Cure, by Ann. M. Martin and Annie Parnell, $2.99. Today’s parents grew up with the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories about a magical woman who helped parents solve their kids’ behavioral problems with some very funny and unusual methods. Missy Piggle-Wiggle, the great-niece of the original Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, reinvigorates the franchise for a modern reader. Here’s what my favorite 9-year-old girl has to say about Missy: This book includes fresh illustrations and modern technologies with the same type of cures that people who read the old books will remember and love.
Dumplin’, by Julie Murphy, $2.99. This feel-good story of a plus-sized teen entering a beauty pageant will win over girls and moms alike. The Netflix adaptation is also pretty entertaining.
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.
Visit Sunny Chernobyl, by Andrew Blackwell, $4.99. My husband and I found this on vacation (don’t worry, we weren’t actually in Chernobyl) and we were fascinated by this grim travelogue of places you probably wouldn’t want to go. Blackwell travels the globe in search of the most disgusting and disheartening locations, from the great Pacific garbage patch to India’s most polluted river. The gritty facts are balanced with a satisfying dark humor. This is a really interesting, disturbing, and fun read.
The History of the Medieval World, by Susan Wise Bauer, $2.99. You probably know Bauer’s name from her popular Story of the World history curricula. This book is part of her history series designed for adults. The text is more dense, and the topics are sometimes more brutal, but the writing still feels conversational. Best of all, Bauer maintains the truly global scope of Story of the World. Many medieval histories focus only on Europe and the Crusades, but this book includes chapters on India, China, and more.
The Confidence Code for Girls, by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, $2.99. This is another book that had me hopping up and down. My daughter LOVES this book. She has highlighted portions, rereads certain chapters when she is having a rough time, and recommends it to all the kids in her age bracket. This book aims to stop the cycle of self-doubt in tweens and teens by encouraging them to embrace their whole selves and try things even when success is not guaranteed. The text is broken up with fun illustrations, quizzes, and more. My favorite 9 year old says, “Basically this book has become my bible. It has helped me through emotional and physical problems with friends, screentime, puberty, overthinking, not taking risks, and more. I strongly recommend this book for girls who need a source to help them with these struggles.”
Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo, $4.55. 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.”
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert, $2.99. In addition to being a “compelling and enlightening report [that] forthrightly addresses the most significant topic of our lives” (that’s what Booklist says!), it’s part of the spine of Build Your Library’s 9th grade reading list.
Hemingway Didn’t Say That, by Garson O’Toole, $0.99. 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.
Stuff Matters, by Mark Miodownik, $2.99. This is one of my favorite types of books — the ones that provide explanations for all the elements of everyday life. Why is glass see-through? Why is metal reflective? Miodownik is a materials scientist who can discuss each of the 11 topics with scientific detail and a good deal of humor. Occasional illustrations help make the science more accessible.
Moxie, by Jennifer Mathieu, $2.99. Amy adored this book about a girl whose underground zine accidentally starts a feminist revolution at her Texas high school. (It was one of our favorite books of 2017!)
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, by Kate DiCamillo, $2.94. This book is heartbreakingly beautiful, both in story and in the illustrations. Edward Tulane is an emotionally distant china rabbit who falls overboard on an ocean journey. This begins his tremendous adventure, from the bottom of the ocean to a hobo’s pack to a sick child’s bedside. I’m not going to lie, this book is really sad in parts (there are parallels to The Velveteen Rabbit), but the story is worth it.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill, $3.66. 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.”
The Complete Poetry, by Maya Angelou, $4.99. Maya Angelou is one of the greatest writers in American history. This comprehensive collection of her poetry includes Still I Rise, On the Pulse of Morning (recited at the Clinton inauguration), and Amazement Awaits (commissioned for the 2008 Olympics).
And Then You’re Dead, by Cody Cassidy and Paul Doherty, $4.99. This book is fascinatingly morbid. There are so many things that can kill you, but HOW do they kill you? If you get swallowed by a whale, do you die from stomach acid, being crushed, asphyxiation? These nightmare scenarios are explained with lots of dark humor and solid scientific information. My daughter and several of her tween/teen friends can’t get enough of this book, and it’s easy to see why. Don’t you also need to know what would actually happen if you were sacrificed to a volcano?
The Cloudspotter’s Guide, by Gavin Pretor-Pinney, $4.99. Learn more about morning glory, cumulus, nimbostratus, and all those other clouds in this odd but awesome little book about the science, history, art, and pop culture significance of clouds.
The Game of Silence, by Louise Erdrich, $2.99. My daughter has listened to the audiobook of The Birchbark House (oddly, not available on Kindle) more times than I can count. We’ve loved hearing about Omakayas’s adventures in her Anishinabeg, or Ojibwe tribe. The Game of Silence picks up shortly after that book. Omakayas’s family meets a group of fellow tribespeople who have been displaced by white settlers. Over the course of the book, she discovers that she, too, will have to move away from her home. Erdrich’s deft touch makes this an enjoyable read, even through some tough subject matter.
Jackaby, by William Ritter, $3.59. I was so taken by Amy’s review last year that I immediately bought the whole series. Here’s what she had to say: This first in the series (of which I am a fan) introduces the supernatural Sherlock Holmes and his new assistant, runaway young lady (who’d rather be a paleontologist) Abigail Rook. Amy says, “Abigail, who’s very much a Watson in the Martin Freeman vein — smart, stout-hearted, and adventurous — needs a job, and R.F. Jackaby, supernatural consulting detective, needs an assistant. Abigail is not put off by the fact that Jackaby’s former assistant is now a duck living on the mysterious third floor of his haunted mansion, and she determinedly follows her new boss on his investigation of a mysterious serial killer, matching her keen observation and logic skills to Jackaby’s otherworldly knowledge. The serial killer plot is fine, but the real charm in this book — and trust me, there’s lots of charm — is the world Ritter has created.”
How We Got to Now, by Steven Johnson, $4.99. Steven Johnson is one of those people who sees all the hidden connections that shape the world. This book looks at six major areas of discovery and development to show all the effects set in motion by each development in technology. The very first section, on the history of glass, had me hooked. Full-color illustrations will grab the attention and keep your reader turning the pages.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.)