Because unschooling is so contrary to the public school mindset, it’s necessary to renew our minds about education if we choose to pursue this style of homeschooling. One of the ways we can undo all the brainwashing to which we’ve been exposed is by reading the best unschooling books out there. Very few of these are written from a Christian perspective. However, we can still learn much from them about how God created us and how children truly learn. When you read them, just take what is true according to Biblical principles and leave the rest. Here’s my list. I have read all of these books or know the author. Please see my notes at the end for more information about how these books were chosen.
The Best Unschooling Books
From a Christian perspective
Christian Unschooling: Growing Your Children in the Freedom of Christ More like a collection of essays than a “how to,” but is a nice introduction.
The Unhurried Homeschooler This is not an unschooling book per say, but it does encourage a relaxed approach.
God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn Yes, this is my book. However, it has an overall high rating so it is a good book by objective standards.
The Joyful Homeschooler Again, this is not necessarily an unschooling book, but rather the pioneering book on relaxed homeschooling. Since the two philosophies are so similar, I included this classic from Dr. Mary Hood.
From a secular perspective and some foundational truths
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling This book and the one below it are classic books by John Taylor Gatto that every person considering unschooling should read. I was lucky enough to meet him and he was just as sharp and passionate in real life!
Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling
Unschooling Rules: 55 Ways to Unlearn What We Know About Schools and Rediscover Education This is basically a list with explanations. Most of these are life skills and traits that unschooling promotes. They are lessons that schools could learn from unschoolers about how to truly train young people for today’s realities.
How Children Learn This and the book below by John Holt are also classic unschooling books by the pioneer of the term “unschooling.” To truly understand where the whole movement came from, read one of John Holt’s books. These are not the only two.
Teach Your Own: the John Holt Book of Homeschooling
Passion-Driven Education: How to Use Your Child’s Interests to Ignite a Lifelong Love of Learning This is a newer book and the author was recently interviewed on Homeschooling with Moxie with Abby Banks.
Homeschooling Our Children, Unschooling Ourselves
The Unschooled Mind: How Children Think and How Schools Should Teach
Your Child’s Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them
In Defense of Childhood: Protecting Kids’ Inner Wildness
The best unschooling books that include resources and ideas
The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as Your Child’s Classroom
Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners
Free Range Learning: How Homeschooling Changes Everything
The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education (this book includes some material objectionable to Christians. However, it is minimal and the overall value of the book outweighs these minor offenses.)
Why did you choose these books?
Some may look through this list and ask, “Why isn’t Peter Gray on this list? What about Sandra Dodd?” The short answer is that there are many, many books out there about unschooling–including radical unschooling–and I cannnot list them all, let alone read them all. I cannot recommend books that I haven’t read, especially as a Christian unschooler. This list may grow and change over time, but these books offer a solid foundation in what the philosophy behind unschooling is. Read on and renew your mind!
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