Literature-Based Learning: Four Ways to Use Great Literature In Your Homeschooling

If you’ve been slowly adding great books to your home library but now aren’t quite sure how to use those books in your homeschooling for some literature-based learning, this post is for you. Why? Because, you see, I’m one of those people. The homeschooling moms who have more books than space, who can’t pass up a vintage copy of a classic book when she finds it at the thrift store, who organizes her bookshelves like a library, who buys multiple copies of books because there are so many books that she didn’t know she already owned this one. I’m one of those. And sometimes I look at all my books- over 1200 last time I logged them into LibraryThing- and realize that I may not be making the best use of them.

This post is part of the five day series Five Days of Literature-Based Homeschooling. You can find the other posts in the series here.  So far in the series, I’ve talked about what literature-based homeschooling is, why you should use great literature in your homeschool, and where you can find great books- especially free or cheap ones. But now what? What do you do with all these great books?

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Here are four ways to use great literature in your homeschooling.

Encourage literature-based learning by using great books as your core curriculum.

This is a pretty obvious one, but it’s not always easy to do. When I first began using a literature-based homeschool curriculum, I wanted some structure. What books do I use when? Is it enough to just read books? Do I need to do other things with the books? I solved my desire for structure by choosing an already prepared curriculum that told me what books to read when. i started with TruthQuest. It’s history-based and divided into time periods. There are lists and lists of books to choose from for each time period.

As I got more comfortable with using real books in place of textbooks and workbooks, I felt more capable of choosing my own books without a prepared curriculum. Now I typically search for books on the topic we’re studying and choose my own. Two resources that can give you book ideas are my free List of Living Books book catalog here and IEW’s Timeline of Classics. In my catalog you can search for books by curriculum area or historical time period. The IEW Timeline of Classics lists books that follow the history cycle from ancient to modern times.

I’m also more comfortable to just read now for our core curriculum. I don’t feel the need to have the kids “do” anything. They might narrate or complete a notebooking page, but just reading is okay too.

Have a family read aloud time.

We maintained a family read aloud time until my two oldest kids were working and taking high school co-op classes. I read at lunch time. I had kids ranging from high school to elementary school. But we still enjoyed reading aloud together. Having a family read aloud time has so many, many positive benefits. I could- and have- written whole posts on it.  But one awesome reason to read aloud is to expose your kids to really great books, books they might not choose to read on their own. When you choose a great book to read aloud, you’re giving the kids the opportunity to hear it and learn from it.

Start a book basket as a part of your literature-based learning.

We began using a book basket when my kids were younger. I had an actual basket, and I chose books that related to things we were learning about to fill the basket. Some were books off our shelves; some were library books. Each day for thirty minutes, the kids had book basket time. They could read from any book in the book basket for those thirty minutes. I tried to choose both picture books and chapter books, but they really preferred the picture books- even as they got older- because they could read a few in one day.

Book baskets are a great way to feature some of the really good books on your shelves that sometimes get overlooked. As well as using a book basket throughout your school year, try a summer book basket with books that are themed around different subjects each week.

Encourage kids to read by establishing a set quiet time to read.

If kids are constantly on the go or looking at a screen, taking time to read might not happen. If you really want kids to choose to read some of the great books you have available, give them quiet, unstructured time.

I maintained “nap time” long past the time that my kids actually napped. They were expected to have quiet time. They could play quietly, listen to audio books, or read. Just having that opportunity led them to read more than they would have if they had had to pick between reading and playing outside or reading and video games.

Hopefully you’re beginning to see the benefits of using great literature as the basis for  your homeschool learning. In the last post in this series, I’m sharing a round up of literature-based homeschool curricula resources.

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