Three Benefits of Children’s Books Instead of Curriculum

Children’s book are in every room our children spend time in – and all three of them love reading with me and my husband. I homeschool our three children without curriculum or textbooks. I love children’s books—fiction, nonfiction, reference books, whatever.

Here are some things I’ve learned about children and books over the last four years. My perspective is heavily influenced from writers like John Holt, John Taylor Gotto, Janet Lansbury, Alfie Kohn and from my own experiences within the school system.  

Children’s Books Are Driven By Interests

You could purchase the best selling children’s books of all time and if your child isn’t interested you might as well have bought a textbook. I buy books on subjects they actually care about. Unlike boxed curriculum or textbooks, fiction and nonfiction books allow children the freedom to examine subjects they’re interested in.

My son is just beginning to read by himself. He reads books about dinosaurs and natural disasters and deadly animals because he’s excited by those subjects. Sometimes I expose him to new books or topics I think he’ll like. If the new topic isn’t of interest we move on, and maybe we’ll come back to it when he’s ready. 

A Good Book Gives Us Opportunities to Strengthen Our Bond

We all know that reading to babies is important for language development. But reading to all ages is important. Even when the child is able to read by themselves, reading out loud with your child provides so many documented benefits. It helps build vocabulary, improves comprehension and listening, and it can help to breach difficult topics or issues. Providing your child with books on their interests also shows that you are aware of and care about their interests, accepting their curiosity about whatever subjects they like.

Good Books Create a Positive Relationship With Reading

When kids are constantly coerced into reading textbook-like materials and books on subjects they don’t understand or care about, it creates a distaste for reading and sometimes for learning altogether. It becomes a chore or a duty. If they begin life reading stories and information that is important to them, they grow to enjoy it, both the reading itself and the learning process.  

Books are by far the biggest part of our “school” day, although I hesitate to call it that because it looks nothing like school. Each day we have “breakfast books” in the morning, where I read a phonics reader and a picture book to everyone while they eat breakfast. We read periodically throughout the day, some days more than others, and then again at night before bed. There is interest in the subject matter, the stories, and the connection within our family. And there is learning happening all the time. 

Kristen Mott

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