I recent read Teach Your Own and Deschooling our lives, looking for another (hopefully newer) unschooling book to read next.
I loved Learning All The Time (another John Holt) and The Unschooling Handbook (a great overview, very positive and encouraging, has quotes from kids, even covers things like applying to college). I recently read John Taylor Gatto's Weapons of Mass Instruction. I had kind of held off on this, because I wanted to wrap my brain around unschooling as a positive entity first, before delving into it more negatively as a means of avoiding the problems of school. I wanted to understand it for what it was, rather than what it wasn't, if that makes sense. But it is a vital piece of the puzzle, and I'm glad I read it. It is certainly a biased account but appears well-researched, and it's very thought-provoking.
The other book I like isn't really about unschooling - it's called Out of the Classroom, Into the World and is based on unconventional methods teachers can employ to overcome some of the negatives of school and get kids learning in a hands-on way using the world around them as inspiration. It is more structured than unschooling (more like creative unit studies) but it does gives lots of examples of ways you can support your child's interests as they flow from one topic into another organically, and how much we can learn using our backyard and daily life as a starting point. I found it useful for that reason.
I've now read "Teach your own", "Deschooling our lives", "Free-Range Parenting" (not unshcooling specific), "Weapons of Mass Instruction" and I'm working on "The Unschooling Manual" After that is "Deschooling Society"
So far all are great! Also reading "Clockwork Angels" which is a new Steampunk book by Kevin Anderson, its a novel, but the themes were amazingly pro unschooling/adventure.
My all-time favourite is Gerald Durrell's "My Family and Other Animals". More inspiring to me than any "unschooling handbook", this gentle and hilarious memoir of Durrell's childhood in Corfu encompasses the very essence of what I've strived for in my now-fourteen-year-old son's education, from the patience shown to young Gerald's hobbies by his mother, to the willingness of his hired tutor to think outside the box to reach him, to the astonishing kindness and respect shown to him by the mentor in his life. A beautiful example of self-directed learning.
Summerhill, a Radical Approach to Child-Rearing, by A. S. Neill, is more about child-led learning in an alternative school environment, but is a good early (1960) philosophy of learning. Historical perspective on how we got here, Neill was a big influence on John Holt. In 1969, at the age of 12, I was on the founding board of a school loosely patterned after Summerhill. (Yes, feel free to figure out how old I am! ) Reading that book was life-changing for me.
One of my top choices is The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff.
For a recent book, I am reading Free to Learn by Peter Gray. It is very good even though his own family experience is not with at-home unschooling but with Sudbury.
She's not an unschooler but I also liked Quinn Cummings, My Year of Learning Dangerously.
I really, really like John Holt. What I like about him really is how he tried to live his own life, with as much integrity as possible. Listening to him in his own words you cannot help but be inspired, I feel.
The single most helpful thing for me, incidentally, was unschooling/deschooling myself. Getting rid of the idea that childhood is a waiting room for adulthood and that academic stuff is the business of childhood/worth more than less academic stuff. For that the two best books for me from Holt's books was his collected letters and Never Too Late. My feeling is that the best way to create a positive unschooling environment is to live it yourself and make it possible for the kids to follow. I also really liked Escape from childhood and I like the GWS archives, which seem to move around a bit but I am guessing could be found with a google.
I also really did like the enthusiasm of the Teenage Liberation Handbook. It somehow feels as though Grace Llewellyn has dropped off the unschooling radar a bit and that's a shame because to me she feels like the most natural sucessor to Holt, in many ways.