I’ll be filling out this page for a long while, I’m sure, but I’ve been thinking about it for so long it’s finally time to get it started!
So, here are books and things I’ve come across while exploring unschooling over the years, on my own or through the podcast, that you too may find interesting on your unschooling journey. And remember to check back regularly to see what I’ve added. 🙂
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my own unschooling books!
The Unschooling Journey: A Field Guide takes a fascinating look at our unschooling journey through the framework of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey.
Free to Learn: Five Ideas for a Joyfully Unschooling Life is where I share the five paradigm shifts that were most valuable to me on my journey to embrace unschooling.
Free to Live: Create a Thriving Unschooling Home dives into the four characteristics I found had the most positive impact on our unschooling lifestyle.
Life through the Lens of Unschooling: A Living Joyfully Companion is a collection of my own essays looking at day-to-day life through the lens of unschooling.
Living Joyfully with Unschooling Box Set contains three of my books: Free to Learn, Free to Live, and Life through the Lens of Unschooling.
What is Unschooling? is my free intro to unschooling book.
Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling by Sandra Dodd. It’s the heart of her immense unschooling website, in a book. Sandra and I have chatted on my podcast twice: a ten questions episode and another about changes in parents.
Parenting for Social Change – Transform Childhood, Transform the World by Teresa Graham Brett. It’s a wonderful book, and, as Teresa says in the book, “By the simple, but often challenging, act of redefining our relationships with children, we can begin the process of creating profound social change.” Teresa and I talk about the book in this podcast episode.
Homeschooled Teens: 75 Young People Speak About Their Lives Without School by Sue Patterson. A fascinating look at the lives of homeschooled teens. I found reading their candid observations and insights a rather mesmerizing experience. Answers are at times blunt, expressive, and introspective—in other words, they are as full of life as their writers. Sue and I talked about the book in this podcast episode.
How Children Fail by John Holt.
How Children Learn by John Holt.
Learning All the Time by John Holt.
Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling by John Holt and Pat Farenga.
Escape From Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children by John Holt. I love the premise, taken from the book’s description: “Under the guise of care and protection, children are kept in the walled garden of childhood, outside the world of human experience, for longer periods than ever before in human history. But for many children and parents, the walled garden of childhood is more like a prison, where authorities compel and limit personal actions.” Emma Marie Forde and I discuss the book in-depth in this book chat podcast episode.
The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith. Tagline: To Unschoolers, Learning Is As Natural As Breathing.
Our Transition into Unschooling: Raising independent thinking, information seeking, self-directed lovers of learning and life all through school-free living by Akilah S. Richards. I really enjoyed reading about Akilah’s journey and we talk about the book in this podcast episode.
Everything I Thought I Knew: An Exploration of Life and Learning by Ellen Rowland. My review: “Ellen Rowland’s book is so aptly titled! When we make a major life change, often everything we think we know tends to come into question. As she explains, “Like a stack of dominos leaning precariously on each other, if we take one aspect out to examine it, the rest will likely topple.” In this insightful collection of essays, Ellen dives deep into the many dominoes around living, learning, and parenting that toppled when she and her husband chose to move their family from the US to West Africa. We journey with her as she is transformed by the challenges, triumphs, and miracles that transpired as she gave her children the freedom to live their lives with curiosity, autonomy, and purpose. And what a fantastic journey it is!” Ellen and I talk about the book in this podcast episode.
Slow Homeschooling by Milva McDonald. Milva unschooled her four now-adult children starting back in 1991 and recently published this book of essays about their experience. Milva and I talk about the book in this podcast episode.
The Unschooling Unmanual: Nurturing Children’s Natural Love of Learning a collection of essays edited by Jan and Jason Hunt.
Sage Homeschooling by Rachel Rainbolt. Here’s a short review I wrote for the book: “What I love so much about Rachel’s book, Sage Homeschooling, is how she keeps the focus on the parent-child relationships. Strong relationships, steeped in connection and trust, are the lifeblood of unschooling. And her wonderful stories bring this to life so clearly! She shows us how living and learning weave together seamlessly when the focus is not on ticking off the boxes, but on growth—for all members of the family.” Rachel and I talk about the book in this podcast episode.
Dear Grandma: Your Grandkids Are Unschoolers by Sheila Baranoski. Sheila is an unschooling mom of three and grandmother to two. We had fun speaking specifically to grandparents in this podcast episode.
Natural Born Learners: Unschooling and Autonomy in Education is a collection of essays edited by Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko and Carlo Ricci. Carlo is an alternative education professor and I have a great conversation with him in this podcast episode.
Other interesting nonfiction books
Some books are wonderfully helpful on a particular topic (parenting, food etc.), and even if they never mention the word “unschooling,” you can practically feel it oozing out between the lines. Granted, sometimes they have the almost obligatory chapter about what the topic looks like for kids in school—because that’s a fact of life for most children. But for those who are unschooling, most, if not all, of those concerns just go poof! Although, you may still enjoy reading that chapter as a reminder of all the expectations and challenges you don’t need to navigate.
Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life by Peter Gray. A fascinating book that has impacted the lives of many unschooling parents. You can read more of Peter’s work on his Psychology Today blog, Freedom to Learn.
The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children by Alison Gopnik. I love this from the book description: “Drawing on the study of human evolution and her own cutting-edge scientific research into how children learn, Gopnik shows that although caring for children is profoundly important, it is not a matter of shaping them to turn out a particular way.” Emma Marie Forde and I discuss the book in-depth in this book chat podcast episode.
Kids, Carrots, and Candy: a practical, positive approach to raising children free of food and weight problems by Jane Hirschmann and Lela Zaphiropoulos. Anne Ohman has highly recommended this book many times on the podcast in our Q&A episodes.
Attachment across the Lifecourse: A Brief Introduction by David Howe. The book is a fascinating journey into attachment theory. And not just in relation to young children, but how the attachment behaviours we develop play out over our lifetime, as well as how they can change if we choose to do the work to make sense of our previous experiences and learn to see situations from the perspectives of others. Emma Marie Forde and I discuss the book in-depth in this book chat podcast episode.
Childism: Confronting Prejudice Against Children by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl. An interesting book, however, it’s very US-centric and quite focused on child abuse and neglect. She does make great points about how the institutional response to those problems in the 1960s—which persist to this day—have been very harmful to children. And she digs into the psychological roots of the destructive attitudes toward children that so much of society holds, seeking to prove that prejudice against children exists.
Re-Thinking Autism: Diagnosis, Identity and Equality edited by Katherine Runswick-Cole, Rebecca Mallett and Sami Timimi. In this collection of essays, the authors set out to challenge some of the ways in which autism is understood by looking through the lenses of the science of autism, the cultural life of autism, and the professional interventions or treatments of autism. Emma Marie Forde and I discuss the book in-depth in this book chat podcast episode. You may also be interested in my conversation with Erin Human about unschooling and autism in this podcast episode.
Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined by Scott Barry Kaufman. In Scott’s own words: “In 2013, I published Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, which reviewed the latest science of intelligence and also detailed my experiences as a child growing up with a learning disability. In the book, I outlined my Theory of Personal Intelligence, which goes beyond traditional metrics of intelligence (e.g., IQ, standardized tests), and takes into account each person’s unique abilities, passions, personal goals, and developmental trajectory.” Emma Marie Forde and I discuss the book in-depth in this book chat podcast episode.
Teen 2.0: Saving Our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence by Robert Epstein. An interesting book that argues that adolescence is an unnecessary period of life that people are better off without. It meshes well with unschoolers experiences that children and teens are capable of much more than conventional society allows.
Parent/Teen Breakthrough: The Relationship Approach by Mira Kirshenbaum and Charles Foster.
The Out-of-Sync Child by Carol Kranowitz.
Kids, Parents and Power Struggles by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka.
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
The Explosive Child by Robert Greene.
Enjoy listening to podcasts? As with audiobooks, I love that I can listen as I’m doing other things, from driving, to cleaning, to hiking. I’ll link you to their online home, but I’m sure you can also subscribe through your favourite podcast feed app. Not all are completely unschooling-focused so episodes may hit wider topics, but you’ll definitely find like-minded peeps.
Exploring Unschooling, hosted by yours truly. You’re listening to my weekly podcast, right?
Fare of the Free Child, hosted by Akilah S. Richards, is an unschooler’s podcast about people of color in self-directed education. I love Akilah’s work and had a great conversation with her in this episode of my podcast.
Honey! I’m Homeschooling the Kids, hosted by Robyn Robertson. Robyn’s an unschooling mom and fellow Canadian!
sandradodd.com, hosted by Sandra Dodd.
unschoolingmom2mom.com hosted by Sue Patterson.
naturalchild.org, hosted by Jan Hunt.
girlsunschooled.co.uk, hosted by Jo Watt.
amuddylife.com, hosted by Ellen Rowland.
apotlucklife.com, hosted by Milva McDonald.
sageparenting.com, hosted by Rachel Rainbolt.
shinewithunschooling.com, hosted by Anne Ohman.
choosingconnection.com, hosted by Anna Brown.
unschoolingdads.com, hosted by Skylar Collins.