books, Uncategorized

Where to find free, cheap, or fast books

We are all a little behind on everything around here, sorry in advance. There was a funeral, a wedding, and unexpected Turkey Day guests, as well as some paid freelance work that we couldn’t turn down. We planned on doing a whole week of books that didn’t quiet make the curriculum, but we ran out of time. This post, however, while intended for the end of the week, was written first. We still think it will be helpful, so without further ado: Where to find free, cheap, or fast books to use when homsechooling.


First, check the library. Not only is your local library an amazing resource, but you’re actually helping them out when you check books out since many local libraries depend on check out numbers for funding. Plus it’s free!

If they don’t have what you need, ask a librarian about inter library loan. This is a program that lets you check out books from libraries across the country. If you need a longer check out period, ask your librarian if they do an educator card or have a homeschool program. Some libraries have programs, but you almost always have to ask.

If you use e-books, check and see if your library uses an e-book system. My smaller public library system is sort of terrible about having print books I need on hand, however, they have a huge e-book collection.

If you have a university near you, look into getting a library card from them. Most public institutions have some sort of program for the public to use their resources. They usually have a bigger selection of books on hand, and they also are part of local and national networks of libraries for inter library book loans. Also, they often let you check out books for longer than the public library would.

Shop your shelves! I own three different translations of the Iliad, and Sam kept all her college textbooks. Check and see if you already happen to own the books you need.


If you want to buy a book, look into buying used.

Powell’s Books

If you are in Oregon, go visit. Heck, I might just plan a vacation around going to Powell’s, its that great. It also has an amazing selection of used books for sale online.


This is good if you’ve struck out elsewhere. While we are only listing in-print books for the curriculum, this is the place to find some really hard to locate stuff as well as more common used books.

Daedalus Books

These guys specialize in remainder books, so you can occasionally get a really good deal on last year’s popular books.


And, of course, if you want that book new and at your house tomorrow, there’s always Amazon. Or, if you like e-books, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited has a pretty large selection of e-books that is sort of on a Netflix model and can be in your hands immediately.


We use affiliate links. When you purchase a book from one of our links to Amazon, we receive a small commission. 




More books!

Amazon is currently running $5 off $20 on most books with the code GIFTBOOK17, just in case you you are in the market for some more books (and who isn’t?)

Continuing our book from the cutting room floor week, Coyote’s Guide to Connecting with Nature was an option we considered for nature study. It’s an excellent book for parents who don’t mind a bit of non-secular/spiritual content, but didn’t pass our secular-ness test. It’s definitely aimed at parents and not students, and has has interesting things to say about childhood and our experience of nature have changed and how we can approach nature appreciation with kids.

We use affiliate links. When you purchase a book from one of our links to Amazon, we receive a small commission. 


One From the Cutting Room Floor

We are still hard at work trying to find a single decent history book for the middle school set, but I wanted to share a book we rejected from the Year 12 list today. Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Technology and Politics in Allende’s Chile by Eden Medina is a intriguing look at the history of computing outside the United States, a rare thing indeed. It focuses on the days before Allende’s overthrow, when modern technology was invoked with a bit of utopian fever. Allende vision of a socialist computer society ended in a bloddy coup, but the story of the innovated ways he and his followers tried to bend technology to their purpose might be of interest to all the computer nerds out there.

We decided it was a bit too academic for most Year 12 students to connect with, but if you have a computer fanatic, are an auto-didact, or just want to read something outside your normal choices, this book might work for you.

We use affiliate links. When you purchase a book from one of our links to Amazon, we receive a small commission. 

History, Math, nature journal, Science, Update

Q&A Time

Several of you have reached out to us to ask questions, and we think that our responses might be useful to the community at large.

Is there a Facebook group or a forum for Ursa Minor Learning?

Not yet. We don’t currently have the time to moderate such a group. UML is our pet project and we both do other stuff to pay the rent, so we are putting our energy into finishing Years 6-8 on schedule. We are considering asking for volunteer moderators from the community if anyone is interested and has experience. Let us know what you think.

Will there be more of a focus on nature study in the younger years?

Yes! We love nature and nature study. We are still working out what this is going to look like. There is a distinct possibility that we will also move beyond the suggestions currently in place for high school with a more detailed plan.

Will you schedule BFSU for Kindergarten aged children?

No. We adore Charlotte Mason’s idea of Masterly Inactivity and will not be scheduling any academics before Year 1. We hope to eventually create suggestions for fun games/fingerplay songs/outdoor time for our, as we’re leaning towards calling them, MI-1 through MI-5s, as well as mother culture ideas for making “letting alone” a bit easier. This is on the 2018/2019 schedule, though!

Will you be offering national histories besides the United States?

Yes. We hope to offer national histories for Canada, Australia, and England in the first round, and then expand as people express interest. If our blog stats are anything to go by the next three popular countries would be France, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. This is also on the 2018/2019 schedule.

Will you being making math suggestions for kids who aren’t obsessed with math?

Yes. Our kids are all math kids. Really, really math kids. We’ve been looking on math curricula as we can get our hands on them, bugging all the moms in our local homeschool group, and reading seventeen-bazillion reviews. We plan to offer three different suggestion: the current one for kids who love and are strong in math, one for kids who may or may not like math but are at grade level, and one for kids who struggle.

Also, please remember that everything on this site is merely a suggestion. Do what works for your family. We don’t know your kids like you know your kids, and we trust that you as parents have got this homeschooling thing.  We’re just here to make things easier if we can.

Will substituting coding for a second modern language mean that it counts as a credit for a language?

No, or at least we don’t think so. How credits work and what colleges want varies widely, and so we generally can’t answer this type of question. We think for many kids that a computer language will be a wonderful new dimension of our world to explore. It also may not be the right choice for your kid, so keep in mind that it’s just one option.

Where are your images at the top of blog posts from?

The Biodiversity Heritage Library’s public domain collection on Flikr. You can also check on Photo Credits page for other images on the website.

Science, Update

Working Away on Years 6-8

We are hard at work on the middle school curriculum and wanted to show you guys what we are up to at the moment.

We’ve chosen the three Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding books (Middle School Science Education for Years 6-8) as the spine of our Year 1-9 Science curriculum. We love BFSU, but it is notoriously teacher intensive, so we are in the process of (literally) deconstructing it! This is us laying out all the lessons to organize them physically.FullSizeRender

We’ve also brought in a long time friend to help with the process. He’s a nuclear engineer who put himself through grad school teaching high school science in an impoverished rural school district. He’s just as impressed by BFSU as we are, though not so much by our lay-everything-out-on-his-floor process. 

He’s also helping us with scheduling high school science and helping us watch all the MIT lectures again. (His actual response was, you want me to sit in the recliner and take notes while smart people talk about physics? I’m in.) We’re still on track to put out the middle school curriculum in December, though it’s definitely going to be late December.


We use affiliate links. When you purchase a book from one of our links to Amazon, we receive a small commission.