Here at the River Houses we recommend six standard reference books for every homeschooling family. These are not children’s books — they’re family books that can used by both parents and students. They can support any curriculum you may choose to follow, and they can help to make you a better teacher.
Five of these books are permanent additions to your family library that should last for many years, but the sixth is one that needs to be periodically renewed: the annual World Almanac and Book of Facts, available now in its brand new 2024 edition:
The annual World Almanac, published for more than 150 years, makes an ideal Christmas or New Year’s gift for your students. I just ordered my copy and it’s expected to arrive right before the holidays.
Modern almanacs are really one-volume desk encyclopedias, packed with information about everything from science and technology (did you know the top speed of a reindeer is 32 miles per hour?), to world history and geography (did you know the average depth of the Indian Ocean is 12,800 feet?), to artists, entertainers, and notable personalities (did you know Robert Penn Warren was the first Poet Laureate of the United States?), and much, much more.
❡ Please note: The World Almanac and Book of Facts is available in both hardcover and paperback editions. The paperback is less expensive, but it’s also significantly reduced in size making the type exceedingly small — almost too small to be functional. We always use the hardcover and strongly recommend it over the paperback.
If you have a fact-devouring homeschool student — and many students go through a fact-devouring stage — there’s no better entertainment than the annual World Almanac. (Did you know the island-nation of Tuvalu is a parliamentary democracy?) And for general reference questions on almost any subject, the World Almanac is usually the best place to start. (Did you know Kalamazoo College in Michigan was founded in 1833?)
To get the most out of your almanac, notice that the major sections are marked with black tabs along the book’s fore-edge, and that these tabs are labeled on the back cover: “Economy, Business, Energy,” “Health & Vital Statistics,” “Personalities, Arts, Awards,” and so on. And while open-ended browsing of the almanac can be endlessly interesting, be sure that your young investigators also know how to use the comprehensive alphabetical index at the end of the volume when they are trying to locate a specific piece of information.
Material from the World Almanac and Book of Facts appears regularly in our River Houses posts and lessons, and starting in January our page references will change over from the 2023 to the 2024 edition. Add a new 2024 almanac to your homeschool library and join us as we teach and learn our way through the new year.
UPDATE: Horace the Otter‘s new almanac just arrived and he’s looking it over now, fresh from its Amazon box. Here’s hoping yours will arrive soon too. 😊
❡ 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. 📫
❡ Homeschool calendars: We have a whole collection of free, printable, educational homeschool calendars and planners available on our main River Houses calendar page. They will help you create a light and easy structure for your homeschool year. Give them a try today! 🗓
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❡ Join us! The aim of the River Houses project is to create a network of friendly local homeschool support groups — local chapters that we call “Houses.” Our first at-large chapter, Headwaters House, is now forming and is open to homeschoolers everywhere. Find out how to become one of our founding members on the Headwaters House membership page. 🏡