I absolutely love discovering free high quality resources to use in my homeschool. So many people are under the impression that you need to spend ridiculous amounts of money in order to provide your kids with a high quality education. But it’s simply not true! With access to the internet, a good library, and a friendly homeschooling community, you can homeschool effectively for next to nothing.
This past year I clicked through a random Facebook link and stumbled upon the Libraries of Hope website created by Marlene Peterson. She has generously poured her heart and years of research and experience into this incredible resource. She describes the mission of Libraries of Hope front and center on the website:
“LIBRARIES OF HOPE
is dedicated to
building a community of families
who are learning to restore
the lost arts of educating hearts of children.
We seek to preserve a culture of
faith, freedom and family
and a love of
the good, the true and the beautiful.”
If you haven’t heard of this resource, or if it’s been a while since you visited the website, I encourage you to check it out. Libraries of Hope is quickly becoming a go to resource for me. I’m excited to share it with all of you!
Here are 12 reasons Libraries of Hope is a great resource for home educators:
1. Everything is Offered for FREE
Marlene has put together a forgotten classics online family library containing over 2000 children’s books for free. The books were all written pre-1923 so they are in the public domain. She has compiled some of the best stories and resources into volumes by topic and time period. Instead of blindly browsing hoards of unfamiliar book titles, having no idea where to start, we can use her organized collection for direction. She has even beautifully formatted compilations of the best stories by topic into individual books that are available to read online.
2. Catch the Vision Introductory Course and Mother’s University
There is a free “Catch the Vision” introductory course on the Libraries of Hope website that describes Marlene’s philosophy of education. The course aims to inspire the hearts of mothers. It’s like sitting down to tea with an encouraging homeshool mentor who has been there before and is freely sharing her wisdom.
After the introductory course, monthly topics are suggested for moms to study. This is called the Mother’s University. She has put together books by topic that will fill your mind and heart with beautiful things and teach you how to apply what you’re learning in your homeschool. Then you can share it with your kids! The topics for study are a mother’s influence, nature study, music, art, poetry, storytelling, imagination, history, writing, math, science, and joy.
I’ve seen many free resources for teaching kids, but this is the most comprehensive free resource I’ve seen for teaching and enriching mothers. What I’ve read so far has been heartwarming, encouraging, and has increased my confidence. Just what I recommend for boosting homeschool morale.
3. Story Club Resources
The Story Club page is an amazing resource in and of itself. It is a treasure trove of inspiration. There are links to Pinterest pages full of craft ideas and fun food, games, maps, reading logs, pictures for use in notebooking or timelines, poems, & coordinating music and movie suggestions. It’s all organized into a monthly rotation of U.S. and world history study. I could get lost in here. Seriously. Check it out for yourself.
4. A Focus on Educating the Heart
Marlene’s philosophy of education is all about inspiring the hearts of learners. She recommends fostering learning relationships through story, art, music, poetry, and nature. What she calls “heart educators” have influenced her ideas about education. Some you may recognize. Swiss educational reformer Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi (who promoted education based on a child’s individual development), Maria Montessori, Charlotte Mason, Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf), and Friedrich Froebel (founder of the kindergarten system) have all been an inspiration to Marlene. She has done an amazing amount of research and her ideas mesh well with educational movements and philosophies that have recently become more popular in the homeschooling community.
5. Fine Art Images for Children
On the Libraries of Hope website, there is access to over 2000 fine art images for children. Marlene has gathered an extensive collection of public domain fine art. The images are high quality links from the Art Renewal Center which has given permission for personal in home use of the images. The organizational categories are Familiar, Imaginative, and Historical. The pictures can be used for notebooking, displaying in frames, or be placed in little photo albums to be poured over again and again.
6. Book Suggestions Are Conveniently Organized
The books are organized by topic and by age range. To find what you’re looking for, just click through a category in the online library. As well as having her own choices compiled into volumes that can be ordered in print, there are lists and links to additional suggestions for study. I love that she has gone through and organized the book suggestions by age group for elementary, middle school, and high school students. This makes it so much easier to use these free books. I don’t feel like I have to read them all first to find age appropriate study material.
7. Links to Current Book Suggestions
As well as having an extensive collection of older public domain books, there are additional links to more modern books for purchase. These books coordinate with the study topics and can be ordered to expand upon your learning. You can find links in overview newsletters by month, on the main American or world history library pages, or you can read suggestions in the pdf story guide.
8. Story Guides
There are also story guides for the My Book House and Collier Junior Classics book sets. Marlene has made guides coordinating stories from each of these classic sets into her 12 month rotation. You can look at a guide and easily see how to incorporate these seamlessly into your studies. There is also this story guide which is an updated version with only the online library books and stories listed.
9. Suggestions for Notebooks
There are lists and descriptions of notebooks Marlene recommends keeping for various subjects and age ranges. This can be helpful in figuring out how to put together portfolios for your children or a fun scrapbook of your learning. Her suggestions aim to start simple and grow with the child. I always enjoy reading about how other people record and track progress in their homeschooling journey. You never know when inspiration will strike.
This plan is so easy to customize and adapt. It’s easy to combine kids of various age ranges. The resources can also be used alone or in conjunction with another curriculum. The website is packed full of ideas, but there is no rigid schedule or must do list. Marlene reiterates again and again that this is a resource and not a curriculum. It is meant to feel freeing and inspiring rather than become a stressful checklist of things that must be completed in a given time frame.
Nature and science topics, U.S. history topics, and countries for world history are placed in a twelve month rotation. The rotation is the same every year, and greater depth, understanding, and study continues as the student grows and matures. The rotation does not have to be used, but it’s nice to have people on the same page for sharing ideas and resources with others using Libraries of Hope. The Well-Educated Heart Facebook group is encouraging and helpful for those who are interested in learning more.
11. Monthly Subscription for Printed Books
Each book in The Forgotten Classics Library can be ordered in print format from a print on demand company through links in the store on the website. For those who would like to collect the entire library overtime, there is an option to subscribe for monthly bundles of books. I have not personally ordered any of her products, but the more I read from the website, the more tempting they become.
12. New website coming soon
Marlene has been working on a new website that promises to be even more user friendly, making it easier for more people to use this incredible resource. The website could be finished as early as this summer. So keep a look out! I can’t wait to see what’s coming!
What are some of your favorite homeschool resources?
Let’s do this thing!
Photos from Unsplash