A Chapter Book for Homeschoolers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Barbara Allen   

Hanna sat in the window seat looking out at the grey morning. It was seven-thirty, and usually she wouldn’t be dressed yet. But she dressed for this morning. 
The two girls across the street, first Kira and then Cassie, came out of their houses. They were right on time. Kira and Cassie were going to the first day of school. Hanna wasn’t. She sat in the window seat, thinking about that.

So begins Hanna, Homeschooler written by Suki Wessling, a local artist of many talents, including journalist, homeschooling and online educator, and musician. Ms Wessling has written books on parenting and homeschooling as well as works of fiction.


Hanna, Homeschooler is a chapter book geared toward children 5 and up. It offers both a read aloud and a young reader novel. Ms Wessling has practical, direct experience of homeschooling. She has homeschooled her daughter as well as teaching literature and writing to the broader homeschooling community.


An experienced and well-respected author of a variety of both fiction and nonfiction writing, this is Ms Wessling’s first offering of a young reader chapter book. On her website sukiwessling.com she reveals:


I was inspired to write this book when my then-homeschooled daughter pointed out that all the kids in the chapter books she was reading went to school. In fact, chapter books are in large part set in school, with school concerns guiding the central conflict.


Hanna’s story recounts a few days of homeschooling experiences as a leaping off point for her dramatically-changed life. Having lost his job, her father is now going to school to become a nurse. To facilitate this, Hanna, her parents and her baby brother have moved into her maternal grandmother’s home. Not only does this significantly alter family dynamics, it also involves moving from the unpopulated Sierra mountains to a neighborhood setting in the flat terrain of Central Valley.


Nestled in the daily framework of homeschooling, Hanna faces many challenges and changes in her life. A fascinating aspect of the story is Hanna’s handling of both supportive and challenging relationships. Her closest geographic potential playmates are two girls across the street. What word comes to mind regarding them? Mean? Self-absorbed? 7th grade wannabes? For sure unkind. Then there is baby brother David who takes up so much of Mom’s attention and can be annoying at times.

Hanna has moved away from her lifelong best friend, Henry but eventually meets fellow homeschooler Molly and a close friendship evolves. She joins a homeschool history club and meets a lot of different characters with distinctive personalities. The story encompasses many values Hanna has learned over the years including her comfort level with diversity.


For me, a favorite relationship and associated interactions is that between Hanna and her grandmother, Gram. She sees Hanna as younger and less capable than she is. Mom encourages Hanna’s independence and self-reliance while Gram worries about Hanna’s safety and well-being. Gram and Mom on occasion exchange words over these different viewpoints. Interestingly, though she sometimes overhears these arguments, Hanna does not seem to need to take sides or get involved. It appears she is eager to absorb the enrichment each of these women brings to her life. Gram is stricter and more meticulous than Hanna is used to but she also brings to life history in the form of family experiences.


A particularly poignant chapter centers on Gram recounting experiences during World War II: meeting her future husband, Hanna’s grandfather, his military assignment as a fighter pilot and MIA status the last two years of the war. History is not just written words in an outdated textbook, it is part of the oral history of a family. And Hanna does not discount her grandmother as a cranky, out of touch elderly woman. She is a sponge absorbing all the love, caring, insights, knowledge and history Gram offers on a very personal level.


I strongly recommend Hanna, Homeschooler. It is a rich, captivating book with much to offer including an understanding of homeschooling as what might be described as non-regimented, child-guided, integrated learning. Personally knowing little about homeschooling, this story was both fascinating and informative. Ms Wessling, in bringing a fictional homeschooled young girl to life, has created a young reader chapter book that expands the available literature recognizing all kinds of diversity. I predict it will be a delight to homeschoolers, curious schoolschoolers and all who enjoy interesting characters and a good story.


Hanna, Homeschooler

Author: Suki Wessling

Illustrator: Megan Trever Ryan

c. 2015

109 pages

Available through Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com in electronic format; paperback format available at Bookshop Santa Cruz


For more information and suggested links, visit sukiwessling.com

Last Updated on Sunday, 01 May 2016 04:20
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