Building Your Home Library: Online Resources
Posted by homeschoolmentormom on August 23, 2010
Have you discovered online libraries? They are an inexpensive way to “build” your home library. One of the neatest things about these resources is that many of the very popular, “living” books—those that are being reprinted by companies like Yesterday’s Classics—can be found online for FREE. How can they be offered for free? Well, these books are in “public domain”—printed before 1923. So if you need an older book and don’t have the money to purchase a hard copy, be sure to search online first. I usually get the best results by searching for the book title this way: read “Tom Sawyer” online.
I do prefer “real” books—books I can hold in my hands. However, you can’t beat the price or ease of online books–and there are no storage problems, either!
Some families choose to print out their books, but I find it more economical to simply bookmark them in a special ‘favorites” file and then use them as needed.
Be sure to learn about the features of each site. Many sites let you “bookmark” your place in each book, read by chapter, and some even let you print by chapter/page/etc (great for copywork!) After checking out the book online, sometimes I do choose to purchase a reprint of the book.
Disclaimer: Don’t forget that like any “library”, once you start searching you’re likely to find very good books and very bad books. I’ve been shocked to see that many of the old texts are very secular–even “new age” in nature (such as many of the books you’ll find for “nature study.”) There are also some very moral-even Godly texts to find. Be sure to preview your choices carefully. Many include references to mythology, magic, Halloween, etc. Obviously I haven’t had the time to look through all these resources in detail, so use discretion.
Here are some of my favorite online libraries:
Textbooks and Curriculum Online
An Old Fashioned Education: I think this is the best site for finding homeschool curriculum, literature, and textbooks online. Best of all, you can search by subject…and what subjects! Besides the usual school subjects, you can search under Bible and religion, character and etiquette, fiction for boys, fiction for girls, and lots more.
19th Century Textbooks: Here you can find the New England Primer, Spencerian Handwriting, Osgood’s American Primer (reading lessons–you can also find the third and fifth grade readers in this series), McGruffy Readers and more on this site. I especially like the looks of this book.
Don Potter: Lots of old texts, including phonics and math, as well as Noah Webster’s 1824 Spelling Book
Ambleside Online: Classically inspired Charlotte Mason-year by year book plans (outlines of what to study); not really a library, but a free curriculum plan.
Children’s Books Online: Lots of graded readers.
Google Books: Search by author or subject, such as “nature study” or “arithmetic”; some of the nature study texts are amazingly “new age”/secular, so be especially careful to pre-read.
Bartleby.com: Literature, reference, and verse.
Specific Online Titles:
These worthwhile titles have been rediscovered thanks to companies like Yesterday’s Classics OR because they are promoted by various homeschooling methods or curriculums—especially the more “literature based” programs.
Read Thorton Burgess books online: Some families love these, others dislike them because of their frequent references to “Mother Nature”, and so on.
Handbook of Nature Study: An awesome classic by Emma Comstock. Don’t forget this wonderful blog, Handbook of Nature Studies, which brings the book to life. This could be all you need for science until late elementary/Jr. high.
Books by H.E. Marshall: These history books are promoted by classical homeschoolers and some titles are included in Ambleside Online and Guest Hollow’s history plan, among others:
Our Island Story (too “classical” in nature/too heavy for me, but some families love it)
A more complete list of Marshall’s books is HERE.
Fifty Famous Stories Retold by Baldwin
Laura Lee Hope Books (Bobbsey Twins)
Eggleston’s Stories of American Life and Adventure
Eggleston’s Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans and A First Book in American History: Used in Heart of Dakota, etc; scroll through to find other titles by Edward Eggleston, for various ages.
History/Bible/Biography Books by Josephine Pollard: Various titles, including A Child’s History of the Battles of America and the The Life of George Washington, written in 1893! No revisionist history here! Some are written to accomodate younger readers.
Among the Forest People and others by Clara Dillingham Pierson
The Beginner’s American History by D.H. Montgomery: This one looks great! Very narritive in style.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary (searchable): I think this is the best dictionary in the world. The book is HUGE and very expensive, so if you can’t afford the real thing, use this site. This dictionary is especially useful when studying older literature (many of the original words are now out of common use or have different meanings). We also love to use it because it is Biblical. The definitions of character traits and words like “education” are priceless. Check it out!
Bartelby’s: Huge reference library
One look: Search 629 different online dictionaries
Elements of Style: Grammar/writing handbook, 1918 edition.
Have fun! ~Susan
© 2010 Susan Lemons all rights reserved.