My son Woody turned six in November of 2011. That would have been the kindergarten year for most kids, 180 days that mark the beginning of the school career. But Woody did his learning in the big, wide, beautiful world, without school being a part of it.

I'm Teresa Honey, and I kept this blog to document this time in my son's life, to share pictures and stories with far-away friends and relatives, and to add ours to the many stories of families living rich, engaging, loving lives with learning happening all the time and in many forms, totally inseparable from every other part of being human.

Here you'll find 180 or so learning moments recorded from August, 2011 to April, 2012 in the life of a 5-turned-6-year-old radically unschooled kid.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

167

Today is a stay-home day, and I gave myself two projects: get a grip on the laundry, and get the boys' bookshelf reorganized. The laundry has little to do with our unschooling life, though of course life goes much smoother when it's done. But books have a funny role in our culture, maybe especially for folks who think a lot about education. So I want to share a bit about how books have figured into our lives in the past couple of years and what we're doing now.

For a while, I gobbled up books wherever I could find them. I grabbed them up at swaps, thrift stores, library surplus sales, school rummage sales and garage sales. I wanted a library in my front room and in each bedroom, a literal literary immersion.

The idea was to surround them with words, stories, and ideas. But I began to realized the amassing approach wasn't really serving anyone. The boys were not any more likely to take them off the shelf on their own when there were hundreds and hundreds of them, and I tended to still pull my and their favorites, settling always into a quality over quantity approach.

So, I started sorting. I went through over the course of several weeks and identified favorite stories, themes, and illustrations, and I boxed up those that were less well loved among our holdings. I brought the box up to church for the nursery, and this remained:

Top shelf: story books, folk tales, poetry, art and museums
Middle shelf: history, architecture, board books, Fox's favorite story books
Bottom shelf: animals, dinosaurs, comics, science and nature, and machines
Not pictured: pop-up books and a handful of oversized books


What I was left with is more or less the Honey House Greatest Hits of Children's Books. This, coupled with biweekly to monthly trips to the library where we read some and check some out, works pretty well for us. Books are by far the most popular gifts from friends and family, who usually give their own favorites or ones they think the boys will like, so the collection expands from their generosity, too. I still keep an eye out for books at thrift stores and other places where they're likely to be quite cheap, but I also save to be able to buy a handful of really great books from the bookstore a couple of times a year, usually the Eyewitness books, hardback versions of much beloved storybooks, or really cool pop-up books.

Fox is just now--and really, just barely--at the point where he is not likely to grab a page and rip it out if he gets frustrated about something while we're reading together. He's fast and fiesty, and reading often ended with tears and grumblings in the last two years. I regret that I seldom found a way to read with Woody more while getting Fox's needs met also, but maybe that's the challenge for any number of activities in a family that includes an intense and highly spirited child. Either way, nowadays Fox and Woody are equally likely to bring me books to read or to sit down with me when I've brought a stack over to the couch.

And of course, since it is a common phenomenon among children for them to want to take part in whatever it is that is engrossing the adults in their lives--we spent the late hours of the morning selecting books from the newly tidied bookshelf to read together and separately.