The bookshelves of a house of unschooling bibliophiles

We have a lot of books. And a lot of bookshelves. That said, this post might have also been titled “people who love IKEA Kallaxes” or “people who love stuffed animals,” and you will certainly see a lot of those in today’s post as well as the aforementioned books.

It was good timing that the iHomeschool Network decided to hold a linkup sharing a peek at the bookshelves of several homeschooling families, because we’ve recently re-sorted many of our family’s books. I was excited to work with our whole crew to share our shelves.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

These aren’t all the books in our house by far, nor does a “book showcase” even begin to cover all the things on our shelves that make our unschooling lifestyle work – that kind of showcase would also have to include art supplies, movies, video games, board games and a ton more – but I hope you’ll have fun taking a peek at the book part today!

Sarah’s bookshelves

The title image for today’s post shows Sarah’s James Bond shelf. She owns every Ian Fleming James Bond book! Here’s a look at some more of her shelves.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

These are some of Sarah’s fiction books. She collects the Goosebumps Horrorland series, Star Trek novels, and some favorites from when she was younger, like the Shel Silverstein series including The Missing Piece and the Mo Willems Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus set. Also included here is a book titled Zombie Apocalypse, which is told through emails and letters, and that gave Sarah the idea to write a zombie story of her own in the style of a set of journal entries from different characters!

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

I should mention that Sarah loves “presentation”-style shelving, with decorations and book covers facing out, where at all possible. Hence the great Poe shelf up there. Below are two series she has liked for years – the Percy Jackson series and The Alchemyst series.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

This is Sarah’s set of books by fable and folktale author Ruth Manning-Sanders (more about her under Chris’s shelves). The custom bookends are dragons and inside, there is a tiny dragon hatching out of an egg! (At the other end is a wizard.)

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

Here we come to Sarah’s nonfiction shelf. This includes a huge set of Guinness World Records books, a big Van Gogh table book, some Sabuda pop-up encyclopedias of various animals, stuff about castles and forensics and the Titanic, biographies, and much more.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

These are the books that Sarah either wants to read most immediately or still needs to organize. Do you see a trend? (She is currently reading More Matrix and Philosophy: Revolutions and Reloaded Decoded.)

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

Ah, the Batman shelf! Also a biohazard cup, a brain stress ball from my work, and some Batmobiles. The Star Trek series seen here was moved over from the fiction shelf because it’s the series she’s currently reading and she wanted it closer.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

This is the zombie, biohazard, apocalyptic fiction section. Most of these are unread so far. Note the KEEP OUT tape on the closet door.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

This is World War II history, some general nonfiction, and Things Related To Arnold Schwarzenegger. She read that entire huge Arnold autobiography at right over the course of a couple months, too!

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

This big Kallax sits at the end of the “Friends Bed” in Sarah’s room (she has the house’s master bedroom, with a queen-sized bed covered in stuffed animals, as well as her own twin-sized bed). The books here are new ones she got for Christmas, including huge Smithsonian history and wildlife treasuries.

Sarah also wants me to note that if anyone has any questions about her books and how she sorts them, she would be glad to answer, so please comment! She also said she’d answer ANY other questions you have, while she has your attention, about her interests and things like that, so fire away!

Chris’s bookshelves

Chris submitted his own photos for today’s post, and they are much more artistic than mine. They also show only a small part of his large book collection.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

Chris really loves older books, including those by his favorite author, Ruth Manning-Sanders. Chris is basically a biographer of Manning-Sanders, and writes about her extensively. You should definitely read more about her on his blog!

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

Here are more of Chris’s books, including multiple versions of J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings books and some older textbooks.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

This is the “Ghost Shelf” in Chris’s room, hence its artistic black-and-white treatment! You can actually read much more about all of Chris’s books here.

Mom’s bookshelves

My mom has very few books (she reads a lot from the library, and on her iPad using the Kindle app), but even less shelf space for them, so my apologies for the crowding!

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

Most of Mom’s books come from her involvement in a ton of ministries and groups at her church. She also is very interested in all things Ireland (we were able to send her there for her 70th birthday!) and has always been a birdwatcher.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

Mom”s biggest project is her leadership of the Stephen Ministry program at her church, and her books and folders for that sit atop her desk. (This is an amazing program that I highly recommend you read more about if you’re not familiar with it!)

Dan and Joan’s bookshelves

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

So these are almost all of mine and Dan’s “keepers,” books we’ve read and will likely reread. There is a rigorous order to these – fictions together, nonfictions together by topic, sizes and authors taken into account, and categorizations such as “fiction about computer-related things” in full effect. These keepers are vastly outnumbered by what you will see next.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

These are Dan’s and my to-read books. (The two at left are my to-reads, and the rest are his, minus a few of mine living in the manga/graphic novel section, second from right on the top.) Also, all of those friends are excited that they got to be in a picture, especially Fwoops, the fabulous pink owl at left, and Swoops, the equally amazing brown owl above the graphic novels. Also, the Kallaxes are probably pretty excited too, but we decided a long time ago not to anthropomorphize things we might have to get rid of at some point.

Unschool Rules bookshelves of an unschooling family

What, another Kallax? This one is upstairs in our spare alcove (it’s like a spare room, except it doesn’t have any kind of door), and has some of our finished scrapbooks, all of our finished graphic novels/manga, some childhood favorites of mine, and some other miscellany. I’m sorry it’s blurry; the alcove barely fits this and a full-size bed, so I was bending off the side of the bed to take the picture.

A side note: Some of the book links above are affiliate links, where I will make a little bit of money if you purchase the item after clicking on it. I am in no way an affiliate of the IKEA Kallax, however, if anyone from IKEA is reading this and would like to hire me as your Official Kallax Spokesmom, PLEASE YES.

Keep up with our reading lists

We use Goodreads to keep track of what we’ve read, and, sometimes, what we’re in the process of reading. I definitely would love to invite you to follow us!

More bookshelf fun

Unschooling BookshelvesI’ve actually written about our bookshelves before, in 2012. Check out that post, titled But Where Do We Keep the School Supplies?, for a look at what our shelves looked like four years ago!

Also, if you want to see ALL of Chris’s current books, you might enjoy All My Books (or A Perfectly Ridiculous Way to Spend a Sunday), in which, as of this past January, he listed, as you might expect, all his books.

Finally, this post is part of the iHomeschool Network’s “My Organized Bookshelves”.

Click the image at right to read more about various homeschoolers’ shelves!

Unschooling: Our April 2016 adventures

Happy May! This is really a busy time of year for us, hence the delay sharing our April updates about what unschooling looked like in our family.

Unschooling in April 2016 on Unschool RULES: Family photo

Dan, me and Sarah at the Plymouth Meeting mall’s fountain while visiting Dave & Buster’s to end our April.

(If this is your first time catching our month-in-review posts, welcome! Check out our archive of previous wrapups here for some more info on why we take this approach to documenting some of our unschooling learning adventures.)

Unschooling in April 2016: Alpaca show

Here’s Sarah with Coal, aka S.O. Fresh and LL Coal J, after the costume contest at the MAPACA alpaca show.

Places, projects and odds and ends, part 1

  • As part of her 16th birthday, we took Sarah on a shopping trip for some new clothes. She’s got a particularly urban style that is hard to find in our part of central Pennsylvania, especially in her size, so we went to a couple of malls in the suburban Baltimore/D.C. area, which worked out great!
  • On the way to the mall, though, we hit an industrial staple and got a flat tire. Sarah had never been around for one of those before, so she learned about how changing tires works.
  • Sarah has a Taiwanese pen pal with whom she regularly exchanges postcards and emails, and early in April she decided to write her a long letter.
  • We had a huge colony of ants on our front sidewalk, and we spent more than an hour watching them, looking up facts about ants and how they live and work, what they eat, how their sense of direction works and all sorts of things.
  • Also as a birthday present, Sarah’s new custom basketball hoop was installed! We’re out there several days a week now. Her final birthday present also arrived in April: A new phone. (She’d just been using an iPod Touch for several years after deciding she didn’t want a phone.)
  • In Sarah’s 4-H Wildlife Watchers club, we dissected an owl pellet!
  • We finished our Coursera philosophy course about Plato and the pre-Socratics.
  • Somehow, we got on the topic of the various presidential desks in the White House, and read all about those.
Unschooling in April 2016: Sidewalk ants

These ants were mobbing our front sidewalk, so we talked about them!

Video, board and card games

    Disclosure: This post has some affiliate links. I only link to things we legitimately use and recommend, so if you see such a link, it’s because we really do believe in the book or item!
  • Lanterns – This is the game we tried at a bookstore that hosted a board and table games day, and it was so awesome that Sarah decided to spend her own money to buy it for the family! We’ve played it a good bit ever since.
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition
  • FIFA 16
  • Club Penguin – Sarah has played this game since she was about 9 or 10, and she still checks in on it occasionally, which makes me smile.
  • Wolfenstein – I bet no other lists of video games for one 16-year-old include these two items back-to-back.
  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • MLB 15: The Show
Unschooling in April 2016: Letter to a Taiwanese pen pal

Sarah wrote this great letter to her Taiwanese pen pal, Christina.

Places, projects and odds and ends, part 2

  • Sarah looked up a bunch of information about D-Day and then asked us to quiz her about it. Her recent interest in quizzes cracks me up.
  • We voted! Well, our whole family except for poor Sarah, who was so disappointed she couldn’t support her favorite candidate.
  • Sarah and I did a very random, very cool art project designing a house for two aliens.
  • A friend of ours hatched some praying mantis nymphs and gave us some for our garden. We released them and haven’t seen them since, but are still hopeful!
  • While playing basketball, we got a chance to talk about what a parabola is.
  • Dan, Sarah and I regularly attend a coloring night for adults held once a month at a coworking space in our town, and at April’s, Sarah colored some of her zombie coloring book given to her by our friend Tracey.
  • Our evaluator officially reviewed Sarah’s portfolio, and as of the date I’m writing this in early May, it’s been submitted to our school district, so this year is done, documentation-wise! (Shameless plug: If you want to see copies of what we submit in our portfolio and Sarah’s unschooling transcript for high school, you should subscribe to our email updates!)
Unschooling in April 2016: Alpaca show ribbons

Here is Sarah with some more of her MAPACA alpaca show ribbons!

Books, movies, TV and podcasts

  • African Folk and Fairy Tales
  • Election College – I found this great podcast because Sarah has been so interested in the election process. We’ve had a great time and great conversations from listening to it!
  • Ulysses S. Grant (Signature Series biography) – Somehow, from reading the first couple of paragraphs of this, we ended up down a huge rabbit trail about the full titles of Prince Charles and the Queen of England and various popes, as well as what Aaron Burr did, and why people don’t always remember the names of vice presidents like Schuyler Colfax. Picking this up came from the massive post on learning from biogoraphies that we all worked together on.
  • Strong – Sarah heard about this new show on Instagram and we have all gotten into watching it! It’s a great health and fitness show.
  • The A Team
  • Safety Last! – Chris has gotten Sarah interested in watching old silent films, including this one.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Scrubs
  • Deal or No Deal and Family Feud – Sarah and Mom will watch the Game Show Network for a long time if these are on!
  • Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3
  • Earth 2
  • Spectre
  • Band of Brothers – Sarah and Chris finished watching this in April, and it was amazing. Things they talked about included shell shock, dealing with fear, “Are there always medics around during battle?”, strategy around liberating and defending key towns/roads, and what happened to the possessions (and bodies) of US soldiers who died in France, among many others.
Unschooling in April 2016: New outfit and art project

At left is one of Sarah’s new outfits from her birthday shopping trip. At right, she’s showing off the house we designed together for two aliens we named Orion and Marz.

Places, projects and odds and ends, part 3

  • With 4-H, Sarah got a chance to attend a three-day State Capital Days program in Harrisburg. She had a BLAST meeting her local legislators, touring the Capital and doing a mock debate on a bill.
  • Also thanks to 4-H, Sarah took part in the MAPACA regional alpaca show in Harrisburg with her project animal, Coal. They placed fourth in publicity and second in costume, and received honorable mentions in showmanship and obstacle. Pretty great for her first major show, and she was sick on top of it.
  • To close out the month, we took a day trip to Lititz, a small town in our neighboring county to the east, and to a Dave & Buster’s in the suburban Philadelphia area. Tons of fun! In Lititz, we hit up an independent bookstore that was celebrating National Table Games Day.
  • In family news, Dan started a new job – working with me at Penn State College of Medicine. We jointly manage all the websites for the college, which is a great fit professionally, and I now have not only the best colleague I could ask for, but also a commuting partner for my hour drive, which is great.

So what’s new with your family this month? Drop me a comment! I love hearing from all my “blog friends!”