In a traditional school environment you are provided with a set of books and aren’t given any other sources from which to draw information and insight. When I started homeschool, we invested in curricula that used multiple books as main texts. Later on we continued to add more and more books to our existing curriculum even if it was not required.
This system provided me with multiple opinions and viewpoints on the same matters, which taught me to draw careful conclusions. Learning to do research from different sources is an integral part of education because otherwise you don’t grasp that it’s important to have more than one account of a situation, in order to make a fair assessment. You might end up believing everything that you read.
Another perk was that I was able to retain information easier. Sometimes when I don’t care for a book I find it hard to focus on the topic being discussed. But with multiple books I had favorites that provided me with the key facts and other books, which I didn’t like as much, that I read more for the exposure.
Below is a list of some of the best spines I used while studying history and science.
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia: This was my favorite encyclopedia. It’s very well written and has great illustrations, pictures, and maps.
Story of the World (used 3 and 4): These books were informative and enjoyable to read, but I would never use them as my sole spine because I found them a little biased.
The Human Odyssey (K12): I only have volume one in this collection, but I loved it a lot and it led me to The American Odyssey. My favorite component is the “Imagining the Past” short stories written historical fiction style.
The American Odyssey (K12): I’m currently using this book for U.S. History. It covers main and detailed topics, but without bias. I love that it includes excerpts from notable American Documents.
Learning Through History Magazine: These magazines are one of the best reading items I purchased. Each one covers a certain time period, dynasty, or event. Inside there are short stories, recipes, reading suggestions, and articles that cover different aspects of daily life. Now I just read them for fun! (www.Learningthroughhistory.com wasn’t working as of this post, but you might be able to find used copies around.)
Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia: I didn’t like this book. I found it hard to focus on for some reason.
The Usborne Science Encyclopedia: I liked that this book is very visually appealing. It’s written well and has useful diagrams. The links are really cool too!
The Elements (Theodore Gray): This book is amazing. The pictures are great and there is so much information on each element. Also the author is very funny.
Illustrated Dictionary of Science (Usborne): This book is very informational. As the name would suggest it is a dictionary so it is quite technical and heavy. But rather than turn you away, this quality makes you want to read on and find out more information. Don’t use this book on its own though. Nonetheless I loved it. The diagrams are descriptive and plentiful.
Encyclopedia of Nature (DK): When I studied biology I loved this book. The pictures are really good and the text is easy to read.