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    by Mike McHugh

Old Schoolbooks Are Buried Treasures
Date Posted: June 15, 2006

As a homeschool dad, I have long enjoyed the hobby of collecting old schoolbooks from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It was in the late 1980’s, shortly after my wife and I had begun to educate our first child at home, that my interest in older school texts began to blossom. What a thrill it was to set out on trips to dusty used bookstores and antique shops in search of buried academic treasure. More often than not in these early days of treasure hunting for old books, I was able to buy beautifully illustrated, hardbound books for only a few dollars.

What I did not fully realize, however, as I began to expand my collection of older books, was that these gems would not only be of interest to myself but also of immense value to my children when used as curriculum supplements. As the years rolled by and my collection grew, it was common for me to find my children curled up with a good old biography or history book even after so-called "school hours". It was then that I realized that a truly great story or well-written book tends to have lasting value that spans multiple generations for the simple reason that quality work stands the test of time.

While it is true that older classic textbooks can be of genuine benefit to home school families, it is also true that some old books are more useful than others. As a novice book hunter, I too often wound up purchasing certain kinds of older text material that was very impractical to use due to its antiquated approach or content. In most cases, for example, older math and science textbooks are of limited usefulness to homeschoolers, as are the majority of century-old phonics, handwriting, geography, and spelling texts. For this reason, it may be best to concentrate your search for old textbooks in subject areas such as general reading, children’s novels, classic novels, history, Bible/theology, art, and biographies.

The benefits of collecting and utilizing old school texts or classic novels are many and varied. Some of the primary benefits include:

  1. Obtaining old books permits parents to inexpensively build their family library and curriculum resources.
  2. Collecting old books enables parents to reclaim the work of talented and inspiring authors who have largely been forgotten with the passage of years.
  3. Classic book collecting provides parents with an interesting and useful hobby.
  4. Great old stories or poems provide parents with wonderful literature that can be read aloud to their children.
  5. When parents expose their children to older classic literature, such children will gain an expanded vocabulary as well as a better grasp of history.

If your family is anything like mine, you can never have too many good books around the house for your children to read. The brutal and beloved truth is that children from Christian home school families love to devour quality reading material. For this reason, it makes perfect sense for home educators to take the effort to obtain a supply of older textbooks as they seek to meet the educational needs of their children. Parents who take the time to secure these dusty treasures may also discover that they have gained a useful hobby in the process.

Copyright 2006 Michael J. McHugh

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Biography Information:
This column is written by the staff at Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights, Illinois. As a pioneer in the homeschool movement, Christian Liberty ministries has been operating a full service, K-12 home school program for over thirty years and a Christian textbook ministry (Christian Liberty Press), since 1985. The mission of Christian Liberty is to provide parents with quality, affordable educational products and services that will enable them to teach their children in the home and to train their children to serve Christ in every area of life. A more extensive explanation of the CLASS home school program can be obtained at www.homeschools.org.
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