How to Homeschool with Living Books

I love homeschooling. And I love books, so what better than to combine the two?

Now I’m not talking textbooks here – no thank you! As a homeschool mom, it is extremely important to me that my kids are learning in a way that is interesting and engaging, and, unfortunately, textbooks just don’t fit those criteria in my humble opinion. 

Textbooks are boring

My children and I find them just plain boring.

Thankfully, there is a wonderful – and often free – alternative to using the same tired methods used in the traditional school setting.

That alternative is living books.

While I’m fairly certain that most homeschooling parents realize that historical fictions, biographies, and trade books are very useful and can be fantastic resources when it comes to teaching your kids, I’m also fairly certain that many parents are just plain afraid to let go of the assumption that learning isn’t effective unless schoolish methods and materials are used.

It simply isn’t true, and that’s why I’m going to help you to overcome that today.

How to Homeschool with Living Books

I think it’s very important to point out that, with the possible exception of math, ALL subjects can be learned with living books. (If you’re scratching your head and wondering what a living book actually is, just picture the library and its vast array of publications. Those are living books.)

In this post, I’ll be offering tips on how to homeschool the three main (non-mathematical) subjects – language arts, history, and science – with real (aka, living) books. It goes without saying, however, that the use of these resources is not limited to these three areas. Living books can easily be used for art, music, and health as well. There really is no area they can’t cover.

Homeschooling Language Arts with Living Books

Have you ever considered the fact that language arts can easily be covered without ever even opening a textbook or workbook?

I mean it!

Whether using a book of poetry for copywork to cover grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation; trade books for notebooking to cover writing; or read-alouds and narration to cover reading comprehension, you will never, ever miss the tedious textbooks we all grew up with.


Homeschooling History with Living Books

(This post contains affiliate links.)

When I was in school, I hated history. Memorizing those names and dates was agonizing, and it had absolutely no meaning for me.

Since I began homeschooling my own children using books like Little House in the Big Woods, Johnny Tremain, and The Vikings, I have developed an absolute passion for finding out about our heritage and the history of the world around us.

Combining these types of books with notebooking and documentaries has brought the world to life for my children in a way I never knew until becoming a homeschooling parent.


Homeschooling Science with Living Books

This is the subject that seems to freak parents out the most – especially those with high school-age kids.

But why?

Science is supposed to be about exploring the natural world…why on earth do we think this is best accomplished with snippets in a textbook and a few power points?

If you think about it, those trade books (non-fictions) at the library contain an exponential amount of information when compared to the few paragraphs covering a given topic in a textbook.

If your kids are interested in amphibians, why stifle that interest by only covering it for one day because that’s all the textbook allows for? There are oodles of books on amphibians out there.

Don’t limit yourself or your kids!

On top of that, there are tons of books containing ideas for hands-on experiments and activities plus field guides for your kids to take along on their nature studies.

What more could you ask for?


Making the decision to homeschool doesn’t mean you have to recreate school at home. Far from it. It’s time to think outside the box and teach your kids in a way that will actually stick.

Homeschooling and education are my passion. It is my fervent hope to one day devote more time to creating content for you. If you’d like to support this ministry, consider supporting me on Patreon

Thank you so much. I appreciate each and every one of you!


Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

6 thoughts on “How to Homeschool with Living Books”

  1. I love using living books to teach our daughter. She has autism and loves books so its the best way to keep her attention while learning. Thank you for this great blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi. My name is Amber and I am a new homeschooling mom of 3. The beginning of this year has been a really hard transition. We haven’t been enjoying ourselves and I was beginning to really doubt my abilities and if we made the right choice. I just wanted to thankyou for your videos and for your site. I was really praying for clarity and guidance. Just yesterday I came across your videos and I really felt safe watching and listening to you. Your insight and kind heart was really encouraging for me. One of the greatest parts was finding out that you live in Pa. We also live in Pa and I have been really concerned with how to comply with the law but also enjoy ourselves. I now have some more ideas on how to help my family with this journey. Thank you for the time you put into helping other moms. It is really helping people like me!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Is it possible to homeschool high school with living books? My oldest is starting high school next year and I would love to use living books but I’m afraid I’ll have to buy a package textbook curriculum in order to have it accredited.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it is! Some homeschool curriculums, like Sonlight, Bookshark, and Beautiful Feet Books are based entirely on living books. No textbooks. Idk what state you live in, but my state is notorious for being a harder state to hs in, and even here the parent decides how to give credits. You would really have to check your state laws, but I have never heard of a state in which textbooks must be used for credits.


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