I have compiled here a list of books that feature homeschooled characters. I have NOT necessarily read all of these books, so I'm NOT necessarily recommending them. Some feature more mature themes than others. Some are about characters who are explicitly homeschooled, others are about school-aged characters who are in extended or extenuating life-learning situations with no mention of school. Some portray homeschooling in a favorable light, others are more stereotypical.
I will try to include a description of what the book is about, its age/grade level, the age of the character in case you're looking for books about kids around your kids' ages, and I will try to note whether a book is religious in nature.
by Ingrid Law
"For generations, the Beaumont family has harbored a magical secret. They each possess a "savvy" -a special supernatural power that strikes when they turn thirteen. Grandpa Bomba moves mountains, her older brothers create hurricanes and spark electricity . . . and now it's the eve of Mibs's big day. As if waiting weren't hard enough, the family gets scary news two days before Mibs's birthday: Poppa has been in a terrible accident. Mibs develops the singular mission to get to the hospital and prove that her new power can save her dad. So she sneaks onto a salesman's bus . . . only to find the bus heading in the opposite direction. Suddenly Mibs finds herself on an unforgettable odyssey that will force her to make sense of growing up -and of other people, who might also have a few secrets hidden just beneath the skin."
by Gordon Korman
"Capricorn Anderson had never watched a television show before. He'd never tasted a pizza. He had never even heard of a wedgie. And he had never, in his wildest dreams, thought of living anywhere but Garland Farm commune with his hippie caretaker, Rain. Capricorn (Cap for short) had lived every day of his life on Garland Farm growing fruits and vegetables. He was homeschooled by Rain, the only person he knew in the world. Life was simple for Cap. But when Rain falls out of a tree while picking plums and is hospital-ridden, he has to attend the local middle school and live with his new guidance counselor and her irritable daughter. While Cap knew a lot about Zen Buddhism, no amount formal education could ready him for the trials and tribulations of public middle school. Cap doesn't exactly fit in at Claverage Middle School (dubbed C Average by the kids). He has long, ungroomed hair, wears hemp clothes, and practices Tai Chi out on the lawn. His weirdness basically makes him biggest nerd in school. This is great news for Zach Powers, big man on campus. He can't wait to instate the age-old tradition in C-Average School: The biggest nerd is nominated for class president--and wins. So when Cap becomes president, he is more puzzled than ever. But as Cap begins to take on his duties, the joke starts to turn on Zach. Will Cap turn out to be the greatest President in the history of C-Average School? Or the biggest punchline?
(Ages 9-12; Cap is a 13 year old boy)
Schoolroom in the Parlor
by Rebecca Caudill
NOTE: This is actually the fourth and LAST book in "The Fairchild Family" series. I believe the first book in the series is called "Happy Little Family."
"School in the Kentucky hills goes from August to the last Friday before Christmas. After that the snows are too high, and later, the thawing rivers too full, for the Fairchild children, and their neighbors, the Wattersons, the Sawyers, and the Huffs to make it safely to the little school house in the woods. Now that Althy is fourteen, Mr. Fairchild has other plans for the long winter months. Learn, along with Bonnie, Debbie, Chris and Emmy, what it is like to have school at home in the early 1900’s."
(Ages 8-12 or so, perhaps younger if you read aloud to them).
Sea Chest, The
by Toni Buzzeo
"As they waited for the arrival of a long-awaited stranger, Maita tells her great-grandniece the story of her remarkable childhood. Living sheltered on a lighthouse island with only her parents for company, Maita would bake pumpkin pies, tend to the hens, spin stories and long for a time when she might not be the only child the ragged island knew. And then one icy night, howling winds blew wave after wave against the shore, and from that fearsome storm came a sea chest- a gift that would change Maita's life forever.
Secret Garden, The
by Frances Hodgson Burnett
"When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwait Manor to live with her uncle, everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen. So begin's one of the world's favorite children's stories. Published in 1911, this timeless classic tells of an orphaned girl brought to a Yorkshire mansion on the edge of a vast lonely moor. At first, she is frightened by the gloomy place. Then the local boy, Dickon, who earns the trust of the moor's wild animals with his honesty and love, and the spoiled, unhappy invalid Colin help Mary discover in a strange, abandoned garden the beautiful mysteries of life- its birth and renewal, its love and joy."
Secret of the Lost Colony, The
by Rebecca Price Janney
"Lindsey Skillman, her brother Andrew, and their cousin Ben Tyler are just starting home schooling, with an exciting new tutor named Thomas Jefferson Wakesnoris, when they find themselves transported back in time to Roanoke Colony. "
(Ages 9-12. This is part of the "Impossible Dreamers'" series, so there are others in the series. At one point I saw a review refer to one of these books as being about " a group of Christian homeschool students," so may have some religious content)
Secret of the Old Swing Bridge, The
by Ian Wilson
"When 12-year-old Angus Wolfe discovers a cache of documents near the site of an old swing bridge in Washago, Ontario, he becomes entangled in a mystery dating back to World War II. Are the papers connected to an escape of Nazi prisoners-of-war from a nearby camp in 1943? With help from his friend, Amanda, and some colourful local characters, Angus draws on his considerable resourcefulness and intellect to unearth answers to questions that have remained buried for generations. However, the deeper Angus digs, the closer he may come to destroying a precious family relationship."
(The girl Angus befriends is homeschooled. 6th grade and up).
Shouldn't You Be In School?
by Angelina Hart
"We all choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons. Some for religious reasons, some political, some of us use curricula and others unschool. Yet the one thing we all have in common is that when we move through our day during what most people consider to be "school hours" we are faced with the same question: "Shouldn't you be in school?" This book strikes a humorous chord with all of us that attempt to find creative ways of answering, ignoring, overlooking, informing, defending or explaining our situation when that inevitable question comes our way. Follow two young girls as they are faced with this question many times throughout the day and watch all that they learn while not in school."
by David Almond
(Michael is a boy whose family moves to a new neighborhood. His parents are distracted by his baby sister's serious illness, and Michael is isolated and lonely. Then he meets Mina, a homeschooled girl who quotes William Blake and knows everything there is to know about birds. Their lives change forever when Michael wanders into the shed in his backyard and finds a mysterious, near-dead creature who could be a man or a beast or an angel...)
(Some places have this listed as being for ages 8-12, others say 10+)
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
"This beautiful biography, winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal, tells the true story of a Vermont farm boy who was mesmerized by snowflakes. Wilson Bentley was fascinated by the six-sided frozen phenomena, and once he acquired a microscope with a camera, his childhood preoccupation took on a more scientific leaning. Bentley spent his life taking countless exquisite photographs (many that are still used in nature photography today)."
(Ages 4-8; Bentley's mother taught him at home until he was 14 years old).
Society of S, The
by Susan Hubbard
Ariella is a young teen whose mother disappeared when she was born. She was raised, homeschooled, and sheltered by an overprotective scientist father. She then discovers that her father is a vampire, and now she has a choice to make- whether to become a vampire like her father or remain a mortal, like her mother. This sets her off on a trip to find her mother and to come to a better understanding of her lifestyle and her family.
(Age Range not specifically mentioned but seems to be suitable for middle school on up).
by Jerry Spinelli
""She was homeschooling gone amok." "She was an alien." "Her parents were circus acrobats." These are only a few of the theories concocted to explain Stargirl Caraway, a new 10th grader at Arizona's Mica Area High School who wears pioneer dresses and kimonos to school, strums a ukulele in the cafeteria, laughs when there are no jokes, and dances when there is no music. The whole school, not exactly a "hotbed of nonconformity," is stunned by her, including our 16-year-old narrator Leo Borlock: "She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl.""
(Says Young Adult; my almost 11 y/o and I enjoyed it. There is a follow-up book called Love, Stargirl)
by Cynthia Rylant
(The Lighthouse Family Series)
"Life with only the sea can be lonely. Just ask Pandora and Seabold. They've lived most of their lives with the sea- Pandora in a lighthouse and Seabold on a boat- and they're each quite used to being alone. Or they were. But one day, the sea did something extraordinary: It brought Pandora and Seabold together! And even better, the sea gave them the ingredients for an adventure that neither of them had considered before- an adventure called "Family.""
(Ages 4-8; these animal characters are not schooled).
Summer at Steller's Creek
by Anne C. Cernyar
"A spunky twelve year old homeschooler. A remote cabin in the Rocky Mountains. An older brother's secret. A lively wolf pup and dogsled dreams. A dangerous visitor. A hostile neighbor with unsettling questions. Is Jessica ready?
(Christian/Religious. Ages 9-12)
Summer with the Moodys, A
by Sarah Maxwell
"Novel that celebrates the adventures of everyday life in a Christian family."
(Christian/Religious. This book follows a fictional, Christian, homeschooling family through one summer- other books in the series include Autumn with the Moodys, and Winter with the Moodys. One reviewer described it as "an excellent read aloud chapter book and is interesting and engaging enough to hold the attention of a 6 year old and yet still be enjoyed by older children and momma as well.")
Surviving the Applewhites
by Stephanie S. Tolan
"Jake Semple is notorious. Rumor has it he burned down his old school and got kicked out of every school in his home state. Only one place will take him now, and that's a home school run by the Applewhites, a chaotic and hilarious family of artists. The only one who doesn't fit the Applewhite mold is E.D.- a smart, sensible girl who immediately clashes with the unruly Jake. Jake thinks surviving this one will be a breeze... but is he really as tough or as bad as he seems?"
(Note: Some mature themes, such as Jake's parents being in jail for growing marijuana in their basement, smoking, etc.)
Swiss Family Robinson, The
by Johann D. Wyss
"One of the world’s best-loved stories of shipwreck and survival, The Swiss Family Robinson portrays a family’s struggle to create a new life for themselves on a strange and fantastic tropical island. Blown off course by a raging storm, the family—a Swiss pastor, his wife, their four young sons, plus two dogs and a shipload of livestock—must rely on one another in order to adapt to their needs the natural wonders of their exotic new home."
Ten P's in a Pod: A Million-Mile Journal of the Arnold Pent Family
by Arnold Pent III
"They journeyed across North America as a family---Arnold and Mrs. Pent and their eight children. Their goal was to share the Gospel and share their passion for God’s Word to all those who would hear them. Piling in their old Packard and Pierce Arrow "horseless carriages" along with guitar and banjo, they rambled through town and city singing the songs of the faith and reciting large passages from Old and New Testaments to groups both large and small. Theirs was a family mission. They served Christ together. With great fervor and conviction, they shared their lives and hearts with the world."
Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos
by R.L. LaFevers
"A combination of Nancy Drew and Indiana Jones, Theo Throckmorton is in big trouble. The 11-year-old lives in London in 1906 and spends most of her time in an antiquities museum headed by her father and filled with objects from her mother's archaeological expeditions to Egypt. Bossy, clever, and learned in the lore of ancient Egypt, the girl constantly worries that the work-obsessed parents who ignore and neglect her will be destroyed by virulent ancient curses that only she can detect. When her mother returns from her latest trip with an amulet inscribed with curses so powerful they could unleash the Serpents of Chaos and destroy the British Empire, Theo finds herself caught up in a web of intrigue and danger..."
(Ages 9-12. This is the first in a series of Theodosia Books).
This Girl Is Different
by JJ Johnson
"This girl is different... That's what Evie has always told herself and it's true. Home-schooled by her counter culture mom, she's decided to see what high school is like for the first time for her senior year. And what a year it is. As it turns out, it's not just Evie who's Different. Lots of people are. Many of her assumptions about others are turned on their heads as she makes friends with kids her own age for the first time, discovers what's good and what's bad about high school, and learns lessons about power and its abuse both by the administration and by Evie herself."
Time To Fly Free, A
by Stephanie S. Tolan
"Josh has had enough of school. Teachers always want to teach him things he already knows. Kids mistreat other kids on the playground, and no one seems to value the living creatures he cares about. One day he simply walks out, determined never to go back. He wants to be free to spend his time in his boat with his dog, rowing up and down the Virginia waterways, watching the herons and gulls. Walking home from school, Josh comes upon the house where Rafferty lives and in which he runs his "hospital" for sick and injured birds. Until now it hasn't occurred to Josh that anyone could share his fascination for birds. Best of all, Rafferty invites Josh to work with him. "You're one lucky bird," Josh tells a recuperating gull. "And so am I." Some of Rafferty's birds are healed; some are not. It's the failures that haunt Josh and lead him on the lone, courageous adventure that teaches him a lot about birds, about freedom, and even more about himself."
(Josh is a fifth grade boy).
Tonia of Trelawney
by Jacqueline C. Grant
"In the charming novel Tonia of Trelawney, two young girls set sail upon treacherous and pirate-infested seas to escape the tyranny of an angry slave master. Author Jacqueline C. Grant paints a vivid picture of life on a sugar plantation in seventeenth-century Jamaica."
Too Smart Jones
by Gilbert Morris
(Too Smart Jones Series)
The first book in the series is called: Too Smart Jones and the Pool Party Thief.
Juliet Jones and her homeschooler friends have various mysteries to solve.
(Says ages 9-12 although some reviewers think this series is a bit "younger" than that).
Touching Spirit Bear
by Ben Mikaelsen
"Within Cole Matthews lie anger, rage and hate. Cole has been stealing and fighting for years. This time he caught Peter Driscal in the parking lot and smashed his head against the sidewalk. Now, Peter may have permanent brain damage- and Cole is in the biggest trouble of his life. Cole is offered Circle Justice: A system based on Native American traditions that attempts to provide healing for the criminal offender, the victim, and the community. With prison as his only alternative, Cole plays along. He says he wants to repent, but in his heart, Cole blames his alcoholic mom, his abusive dad, wimpy Peter- everyone but himself- for his situation. Cole receives a one year banishment to a remote Alaskan island. There, he is mauled by a mysterious white bear of Native American legend. Hideously injured, Cole waits for death. His thoughts shift from anger to humility. To survive, he must stop blaming others and take responsibility for his life. Rescuers arrive to save Cole's body, but it is the attack of the Spirit Bear that may save his soul.
by Robert Louis Stevenson
"Young Jim Hawkins and his friends set sail to find the buried loot of Captain Flint, fiercest of all the pirates. But the crew of their own ship, unknown to them, is made up of Flint's former men. Led by the evil one-legged pirate, Long John Silver, the pirates desperately race Jim and his friends to see who can find the treasure first."
(Ages 9-12. No mention of school in this book. Jim lived at the Inn his father owned, went on his pirate adventure after his father died, and eventually returned to the inn to help his mother. In the end, he inherits the inn from her.)
by Natalie Babbitt
"Is eternal life a blessing or a curse? That is what young Winnie Foster must decide when she discovers a spring on her family's property whose waters grant immortality. Members of the Tuck family, having drunk from the spring, tell Winnie of their experiences watching life go by and never growing older. But then Winnie must decide whether or not to keep the Tucks' secret- and whether or not to join them on their never-ending journey."
Van Gogh Cafe, The
by Cynthia Rylant
"Miracles are made-to-order at the Van Gogh Cafe in Flowers, Kansas. At least that is what Clara and her father Marc, the cafe's owner, believe. Everyday, they fill coffee cups, serve meals, and wait for the magic to happen. Which it always does...maybe because the cafe was once a theater, and some of the old theater magic is left in the walls. Whatever the reason, word is spreading of a place where broken hearts mend and dreams come true."
(Ages 9-12; Clara is 10 years old and spends all her time at the cafe with her father; no mention of school)
by Sharon Creech
"Thirteen year old Sophie hears the sea calling, promising adventure and a chance for discovery as she sets sail for England with her three uncles and two cousins. Sophie's cousin Cody isn't sure he has the strength to prove himself to the crew and to his father. Through Sophie's and Cody's travel logs, we hear stories of the past and the daily challenges of surviving at sea as The Wanderer sails toward its destination- and its passengers search for their places in the world."
by Paul Fleischman
This fantastical picture book, like its hero, is bursting at the seams with creativity. Wesley's imagination sets him apart; not only does he sport purple sneakers and glasses, he thinks football is stupid and refuses to shave half his head like all the other boys. "He sticks out," says his mother. "Like a nose," bemoans his father. Ironically, a banal aside from his father gives Wesley an idea for a summer project: he establishes a new civilization in his own backyard, eventually attracting his former tormentors and befriending them.
(Ages 4-8. This book is not technically about a homeschooled child but will appeal to homeschoolers anyway).
What To Do About Alice?: How Alice Roosevelt Broke The Rules, Charmed The World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!
by Barbara Kerley
"Theodore Roosevelt had a small problem. Her name was Alice. Alice Lee Roosevelt was hungry to go places, meet people, do things. Father called it running riot. Alice called it eating up the world. Whether she was entertaining important White House visitors with her pet snake or traveling the globe, Alice bucked convention and turned every new experience into an adventure! Brimming with affection and wit, this spirited biography gives readers a peek family life inside the White House. Prose and pictures spring, gambol, and two-step across the pages to celebrate a maverick American heroine. "
Whipping Boy, The
by Sid Fleischman
"Jemmy, once a poor boy living on the streets, now lives in a castle. As the whipping boy, he bears the punishment when Prince Brat misbehaves, for it is forbidden to spank, thrash, or whack the heir to the throne. The two boys have nothing in common and even less reason to like one another. But when they find themselves taken hostage after running away, they are left with no choice but to trust each other."
by Tom Bodett
"Ivan and September have two rules to obey while their fisherman father is delayed at sea: stay off the bay and don't hook up their video game to the radio batteries. But when Ivan goes against his father's orders, he breaks the shortwave radios- the one link to the outside world from their remote Alaskan home. Their only choice is to get the radios fixed before their father finds out. And that means sneaking back and forth across moody Bag Bay in their tiny boat. But autumn is an unpredictable season in Alaska, when clear skies can give way to sudden violent storms. And heading their way is the kind they fear the most- a williwaw!"
(RL 4.5, 10-13)
by Monica Furlong
"In a remote Scottish village, a girl called Wise Child is abandoned by her parents and taken in by Juniper, a sorceress. Under Juniper's kind but stern tutelage, Wise Child thrives. She learns reading, herbal lore, and even the beginnings of magic. Then Wise Child's natural mother, the "black" witch Maeve, reappears, offering the girl a life of ease and luxury. Forced to choose between Maeve and Juniper, Wise Child comes to discover both her true loyalties and her growing supernatural powers. By this time, though, Maeve's evil magic, a mysterious plague, and the fears of the superstitious villagers combine to place Wise Child and Juniper in what may be inescapable danger."
World Without Heroes, A
by Brandon Mull
(This is book 1 of the "Beyonders" series)
"Jason Walker has often wished his life could be a bit less predictable--until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank to a place unlike anything he's ever seen. In the past, the people of Lyrian welcomed visitors from the Beyond, but attitudes have changed since the wizard emperor Maldor rose to power. The brave resistors who opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.
In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor, and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes."
(Grades 4-7. A homeschooling forum friend mentioned that while it isn't more than touched on in the story, Rachel is homeschooled).
by Lisa M. Cottrell-Bently
"Discover all 50 states with Nadia and Aidan!"
Book 1: Arizona
"First stop, Arizona! The Wright's homeschooling RV adventure starts with exploring a desert cave. Nadia can't wait to find minerals and see rock formations. Aidan wants to see bats. He finds something mysterious buried in the rock- what could it be? What is that glowing thing on the wall? Where are those voices coming from? What do you do with toilet paper in a cave? And just what is a stale egg mite anyway?"
(This is a series featuring an 11 year old girl and a 7 year old boy who go on a homeschooling RV tour of the USA with their parents. Each chapter book features a different state and a fun mystery. At the time I'm writing this, I believe the first three books in the series are available).
Year I Didn't Go To School, The
by Giselle Potter
"These are the best things that happened to me the year I didn't go to school: Traveled around Italy with my family's theater troupe. Performed in a theater outside (I was a monkey, a panda, and a lion!). Ate spaghetti with a fried egg on top. Slept in a truck. Wore cowboy boots. Ciao! (I spoke Italian). Kept a journal to remember everything that happened."
RETURN TO PART 1, TITLES A-I:
RETURN TO PART 2, TITLES J-R: