Tuesday is our usual Homeschool Books & Libraries Day in the River Houses, and on the first Tuesday of each month we invite you and your young scholars to explore one of the major Dewey Decimal classes at your local library. If you start at the beginning of the River Houses year in September and run until July, you can adopt one major class each month and survey the whole of knowledge (!) in a year.
The class for July is the 900s, which covers History & Geography. (The Dewey system is grouped into hundreds, so “the 900s” means the numbers running from 900 to 999.)
Here’s what you’ll find at your local library in the Historical & Geographical 900s:
- CLASS 900 – HISTORY & GEOGRAPHY
- 900 – History (General)
- 910 – Geography & Travel
- 920 – Biography & Genealogy
- 930 – History of the Ancient World (to ca. 499)
- 940 – History of Europe
- 950 – History of Asia
- 960 – History of Africa
- 970 – History of North America
- 980 – History of South America
- 990 – History of Other Areas
Each of these “tens” divisions is subdivided further of course. For example, in the 950s (History of Asia) you’ll find works on the history of China (951), the history of Japan (952), the history of India (954), and so on.
When you’re learning the library with your students, be sure they understand that any library collection that uses the Dewey Decimal Classification will be arranged in the same way: the numbers run from 000 to 999 in every Dewey-based library, so if you’re interested in, say, the history of South America, you’ll find it in the 980s in both the small-town library near you and in the big-city library across the country. If you have an opportunity to make field trips to multiple libraries over the course of the year you’ll be able to demonstrate that in practice and get your students accustomed to orienting themselves by reading the numbers aloud as you walk together down the ranges: “920 … 940 … 960 … here it is, 980.”
Mastering these library basics will help your students become independent life-long learners and will ensure that they’ll feel right at home in any library they visit.
This concludes our annual homeschool Dewey Decimal survey! We started back in September and October with our initial introduction to the Dewey system and with the General 000s, and now we’ve come all the way to the Historical & Geographical 900s. We’ll have one more post next month — “On Beyond Dewey” — but before you leave all these delightful decimals, what’s at the very end? On your next library visit, be sure to drop in on one of my own favorite numbers of all: 999, “Extraterrestrial Worlds.” 🌌 👽 🖖 🚀 🔭
What delightful decimals and textual treasures have you discovered in your library this Hercules Term? 📚
❡ Make it a tradition: Why not spend a few minutes during your first library visit each month and devise a little Dewey tradition of your own. Read the title page of one book in the 900s, one in the 910s, one in the 920s, one in the 930s, and so on. Find the very first book in the class (the lowest 900) and the very last book in the class (the highest 999). Find the thinnest book and the thickest book in each class. Make a list of your three favorite numbers in each class. If you follow a simple pattern like this month-by-month, over the course of the year you’ll be surprised how much information your students will absorb and how many academic skills they will develop without even realizing it. 🔎
❡ Dukedoms large enough: Have you found all the local libraries in your area? There may be more than you realize, and there’s no better homeschool field trip than a field trip to a new library! The WorldCat Library Finder will help you find all the library collections near you — public and private, large and small — and the WorldCat catalog itself will help you locate the closest copy of almost any book in the world. 😊
❡ When in doubt, go to the library: This is one of our regular Homeschool Books & Libraries posts. Add your name to our weekly mailing list and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 📚