Like other kids, homeschoolers can be inspired by seeing themselves in fiction. The problem is that many of the depictions of homeschoolers in mainstream fiction depend on misinformation and depict homeschoolers as two-dimensional. The books on this list all show more well-rounded depictions of homeschool life.
Some of them are older books from before the time when homeschoolers were considered unusual. Many are more recent, positive depictions of kids living modern homeschooling lives. Please leave other suggestions in the comments below. (I haven’t read all of these, so let me know if any don’t belong on this list.) To read about some of these books and also read very funny comments about some really awful books about homeschoolers, visit Deborah Markus’s article, which is subtitled, “All the girls twist their ankles, all the black characters die first — and if you need a freak, find a homeschooler!”
Young Readers (picture and chapter books):
- Bean, Jonathan: This is my Home, This is my School
This is the rare picture book about homeschooling, from a mainstream publisher, no less.
- Drummond, Ree: Charlie the Ranch Dog
This picture book series by the Pioneer Woman features a homeschooled…dog!
- Hoban, Russell: How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen
- King-Smith, Dick: Clever Lollipop
- Orr, Wendy: Nim’s Island
- Paris, Harper: Greetings from Somewhere
- Reyes, Gabrielle: Dolphin Tale: The Junior Novel
- Schultz, Leslie: The Howling Vowels
- Wessling, Suki: Hanna, Homeschooler
Middle Grade (8-13 years):
- Almond, David: Skellig
- Atkinson, Elizabeth: I, Emma Freke
- Baranoski, Sheila: Cellular Spirits
- Eric Achak is a twelve-year-old unschooler who can see ghosts. He thinks he’s the only one who has this problem until he meets Mr. Francis, who not only can see them but has developed a ghost-catching app that sucks ghosts into cell phones.
- Bodett, Tom: Williwaw!
- Burnett, Frances Hodgson: The Secret Garden
Not really a book about homeschooling, but children in Victorian Britain didn’t always go to school, and it never seemed to be such a huge issue, as long as they were learning and thriving.
- Cook, Kacy: Nuts
- Cottrell-Bentley, Lisa: Wright on Time series (click here for all books published by Lisa’s company, Do Life Right, which focuses on books about homeschoolers)
- Forester, Victoria: The Girl who could Fly
- Frank, Lucy: The Homeschool Liberation League
- French, S. Terrell: Operation Redwood
The homeschool family in this book is just a tad stereotypical (back to the land hippies), but they are lovely characters and as role models, impeccable.
- Hannigan, Katherine: Ida B… and her plans to maximize fun, avoid disaster, and (possibly) save the world
- Key, Watt: Alabama Moon
- Kleinman, Liza: Azalea, Unschooled
- Korman, Gordon: Schooled
- LaFevers, R.L.: Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
- Law, Ingrid: Savvy
- Mass, Wendy: Every Soul a Star
- Morpurgo, Michael: Kensuke’s Kingdom
- Palacio, R.J.: Wonder
This one is included with a reservation: Homeschooling has clearly not harmed the main character, who is smart, well-educated, and socialized (as well as a boy with a scarily deformed face can be socialized). But the references to homeschooling are somewhat negative in that they imply that because his mother is “not good at fractions,” she can’t homeschool him anymore. Heck, you don’t have to be good at fractions to homeschool kids anymore, especially if you have enough money to send them to private school!
- Peterson, Stephanie Wilson: Nellie Nova Takes Flight
- Riordan, Rick: The Kane Chronicles (starts with The Red Pyramid)
- Selden, George: The Genie of Sutton Place
- Selznick, Brian: Wonderstruck
- Stead, Rebecca: Liar & Spy
- Tolan, Stephanie: Surviving the Applewhites and Applewhites at Wit’s End
Young Adult (13+):
- Carter, Ally: I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You
- Hubbard, Susan: The Society of S
I enjoyed this book, which is quite well-written. The main character is the daughter of a vampire and a human who is kept in 19th-century style seclusion due to her “condition”—she may be a vampire like her father. Her father is distant but loving and she gets a fine classical homeschool education. Although the theme of this book is lovely—finding family and love—it does contain some grisly murders and wouldn’t be appropriate for younger kids.
- Johnson, J.J.: This Girl Is Different
- Lee, Harper: To Kill a Mockingbird
I reread this recently and I was surprised to see that Atticus and his brother “never went to school.” Atticus is a lawyer, his brother is a doctor. When Scout first goes to school, the teacher tells her that “your daddy taught you wrong” because she could already read. Scout is mighty confused at this, as she could read for as long as she could remember. Not a book about homeschooling, but the message about the damage that school and bad teachers can do is loud and clear.
- Mull, Brandon: Beyonders: A World Without Heroes
- Oppel, Kenneth: This Dark Endeavor and sequels
I have only read the first of this series. It portrays young Victor’s education as rather more lacking than the original Frankenstein (see Shelley below). It’s not anti-homeschooling, but it does point out the problem that can arise when a parent simply isn’t interested in an entire field of study and doesn’t guide his son’s studies in that area.
- Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein
Similar to The Secret Garden, this book hearkens back to a time and place when schooling was not the only way to learn. Young Victor Frankenstein and his cohorts do OK, though Victor does have a bit of a problem with the question of whether it’s moral to create a new life and then abandon it. Apparently, Daddy forgot to teach that high school class on ethics.
- Sloan, Holly Goldberg: I’ll Be There
- Spinelli, Jerry: Stargirl