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A few weeks ago Sarah from Homespun Childhood shared her plan for beach-side professional development, and I immediately knew I wanted to include something similar in my own summer plans.
Here are the books that are currently on my list to help me grow in my skills as a homeschool parent and enter the new school year refreshed.
A Place to Belong: Celebrating Diversity and Kinship in the Home and Beyond by Amber O’Neale Johnston
As soon as I got done recording with Amber for episode 16 of the Homeschool Compass Podcast, I knew this book would be on my summer reading list. For years I’ve consulted Amber’s blog as I plan my homeschool year. It’s a treasure trove of recommendations for read-alouds, picture study, music, history, and more. This book gives more of the story behind Amber’s journey to cultivating a life-giving home atmosphere for her kids and practical ideas for how we can do the same. I can’t wait to dive in!
I immediately added this one to my list after hearing the author on a podcast recently. Andy Crouch’s Tech-Wise Family is a staple in homeschool circles, and this book goes deeper into a vision of why real life, face-to-face relationships are so vital to our health and flourishing. I’m really looking forward to learning more about how to cultivate true community for myself and my family.
The Lazy Genius Kitchen: Have What You Need, Use What You Have, and Enjoy It Like Never Before by Kendra Adachi
I found the principles Kendra laid out in her first book, The Lazy Genius Way, to be extremely helpful in thinking through my systems around work, homemaking, and homeschooling. Her Magic Question (What can I do right now to make this easier later?) and the advice to Name What Matters are ideas I think about and use almost every day. I’m looking forward to bringing this same kind of clarity and intentionality to the kitchen. Most days I love the responsibility and challenge of putting together meals for my family, but I know I can learn to do it more efficiently and thoughtfully. I’m hoping this book will help me make progress in that direction.
We Will Feast: Rethinking Dinner, Worship, and the Community of God by Kendall Vanderslice
This book is a theology of the table that explores the centrality of shared meals in God’s story of redemption. It traces the ideal of table worship from the early church to the contemporary dinner-church movement. It comes endorsed by one of my favorite writers of Christian non-fiction, Shannan Martin, so I have a feeling it will be a thought-provoking read.
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Each season I try to reread a classic I’ve loved (this spring was Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry, over the winter was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and last fall it was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee). I remember being deeply moved by A Tale of Two Cities when I read it as a teenager. I’m curious if it will land the same way with me as an adult.
Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace by Pam Barnhill
Pam is the master of homeschool planning. I can’t think of a book that better exemplifies homeschool mom professional development. Plan Your Year doesn’t give a one-size-fits-all approach. We all know those rarely work! Instead, Pam offers a flexible, practical approach that you can adapt to the needs of your family and your unique homeschool personality. This book helps readers break free from rigid scheduling grids, unrealistic expectations, curriculum overbuying, decision fatigue, and many of the other pitfalls that plague homeschool moms.
I started working my way through Julie’s new book this spring, but I decided to set aside until a time when I could give it more focused attention. I’m hoping summer will be a season when I can do just that! I can already tell I’m going to be doing a lot of underlining and notetaking with this one.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
Trauma is part of my family’s story, and I’ve been hearing for years that this book is a must-read when it comes to understanding how trauma hijacks the body’s cognitive and emotional processes and how we can support the brain’s God-given ability to rewire itself in ways that support healing and recovery. This book is a long one, and I’ve heard it’s a pretty dense read, so I may not be able to finish it this summer, but I’d like to at least get a start on it.
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Each year our family takes a daytrip into Boston to attend a free outdoor Shakespeare performance at a local park. (I talked about this with Amy Sloan on a recent episode of the Homeschool Compass Podcast). It’s one of the highlights of our summer. I always read my kids the children’s version of whatever play we’re viewing from E. Nesbit’s Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare, but Much Ado About Nothing is one I’ve never read before, so I’d like to read it myself in the original as well.
Habits of the Household: Practicing the Story of God in Everyday Family Rhythms by Justin Whitmel Earley
I really enjoyed Justin’s first book, The Common Rule, and I’m already hearing lots of good chatter about this follow-up book in my homeschool circles. While The Common Rule was a more general orienting to crafting a rule of life that promotes our spiritual wellbeing, this book specifically looks at the challenges of parenting and how we can add more life-giving rhythms to our children’s daily routine through things like bedtime liturgies, mealtime rituals, family screen time practices, and more. I think it will be a great tune-up over the summer to think through what routines we want to establish in the fall.
What’s on your summer reading list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
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