Huh? There’s a homeschool book award now? Apparently so. Possibly you heard about it too as it was featured as a Click Schooling link last week. Here’s their website where you can go read up about this newly formed endeavor. Look, they even have a logo!
I can’t quibble with the books they nominated. Ingrid Law’s brilliant Savvy probably gets my vote based on literary merit. Though it’s not a book that I think of as being an explicitly “homeschool” book, the way Every Soul a Star by Wendy Maas is, I think it’s nice that they’ve chosen books that are about unconventional kids’ lives outside of school. All the books are very recent, but only Alabama Moon, which I’ve not read, came out in the last year. I’ll be curious if they go forward if they would be able to make it a yearly award.
Of course, we all like to bemoan the lack of books that reflect homeschoolers’ lives, so I figure it’s worth it to point out a couple of the homeschoolers’ greatest hits. Loyal readers of this blog already know I’m not fond of the Little House books, so I’ll stick with recent offerings. In terms of explicitly homeschooling kids, I like Stephanie Tolan’s Surviving the Applewhites, which won a Newbery honor several years ago. The kids in this kooky unschooling arts colony have to take in a newcomer and teach him to learn their way. Like everyone else, I also give high marks to Jerry Spinelli’s Stargirl, which features a former homeschooler going to school. My other favorite is Wendy Orr’s little book Nim’s Island, which was made into a charming movie a few years ago. Nim grows up alone on her island with only her father and the animals for company. I like her independence and spunk.
I wish I could offer up a similar set of picture books, but the truth is that I never found decent picture books about homeschoolers. I’ve seen a few options, but none of them were especially stellar. I did always like that in Tomie DePaola’s back story book about Strega Nona, it turns out Strega Nona tried to go to strega college in the city, but she liked being homeschooled by her grandmother instead. And of course, there are a lot of picture books with kids (or, often, animals, because they’re picture books!) in unconventional lives that don’t feature school. I’ll have to think more on that one, perhaps for a future post. It would be cool if the Homeschool Book Award people found some picture books worthy of an award.