Homeschool Tidbits: Morning Basket Ideas for Parents

October 14, 2022

Welcome to Build Your Library’s Homeschool Tidbits: Episode 32 – Morning Basket Ideas for Parents. In this weekly video series, I will delve briefly into a topic related to homeschooling and will share some of my knowledge and expertise as a long-time homeschooling mother of 4 children. Three of whom have graduated high school and one who is a new college graduate!

I’ve talked about the benefits of Morning Baskets before, but today I want to spin that discussion a different way. Have you ever wished you had more time in your day to read, or wondered how to fit more reading into your busy lifestyle? Enter morning baskets! Self-education is important, and a vital part of your homeschool. Think of it as personal development. So why not set up your very own morning basket?


First things first, why is self-education a vital part of homeschooling? This is about teaching your children, isn’t it? Sure it is. But you want to be the best teacher you can be, right? And you also want to be a good influence on your children. Homeschooling is taking on a sort of mentorship role for your children, and what better way to do that than to show them that learning continues even after the school years? Maybe you don’t have time to go back to college, but you can find half an hour a day to read a book about a topic you are interested in studying.

And just because it’s called a Morning Basket, doesn’t need it needs to be read in the morning. Not everyone is a morning person or has the bandwidth to read that early. If you are anything like me, you roll out of bed with just enough time to grab a quick breakfast and then start your school day. So, look at your day and find a 20-30 minute time slot where you can schedule personal reading time.

Maybe your “Morning” Basket time will be in the afternoon when the kids are napping. Or in the evening after they’ve gone to bed for the night. Maybe you find it difficult to squeeze in time to sit and physically read a book. Audiobooks to the rescue! If I’m having a really busy day, I’ll put on an audiobook to listen to as I fold laundry or cook dinner.

So what goes into your morning basket?

Literally, anything you want. But you are here because you want some recommendations, of course. I like to use a very simple system for this. You should have at least one book going at all times. Even better, you can read one non-fiction book, one fiction book, and one book of poetry. This gives you a few things to rotate through so you can keep your mind sharp and never get bored.

Perhaps you could take inspiration from your children’s studies. If they are learning about ancient history, you can find books about the ancients to read at your level. I recommend checking out History Book by Book to search for titles. But here are a few book recommendations you might like to add to your Parent Morning Basket!

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Because this is a morning basket, books with short chapters or sections are a great choice. This way, if you only have a short amount of time to fit it in, you will be able to complete a chapter of something and feel successful.

The DK Big Ideas Simply Explained series is a great option, because you can read a two-page spread each day. There are so many books in this series too, so there is something for everyone, from philosophy to medicine, to art history! Another benefit is that because you are just getting a taste of information, you might find yourself following a rabbit trail to learn more!

The Secret History of Food by Matt Siegel You might like to try studying history through a different lens. This book tackles the history of food, where it comes from, where the name originated, and so forth. I like this for a morning basket because it is easy to read and doesn’t go too in-depth. You can read through it relatively quickly or in quick snippets and still feel like you can follow along.

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green – I am a HUGE fan of the Green brothers, so I was very excited to read John’s newest book. In this book, he shares a series of essays and gives them each a rating on a 5-star scale. This book make me laugh and made me cry as Green shares his thoughts about humanity, anxiety, and his love of Diet Dr. Pepper. It’s a beautiful collection and I highly recommend the audiobook which is read by the author.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty was one of my favorite books last year. I listened to the audiobook (read by the author) and was riveted by her life and how she came to work in a morgue. If you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of the morgue and what happens after you die (physically, not spiritually), then this is the book for you. I love a good memoir and this one is one of my favorites.


We all have different criteria when it comes to fiction and what we enjoy. Maybe you love to read classics that challenge you. Perhaps you prefer easy-to-read fiction. I’m going to offer a few books that I think cover both kinds of readers:

Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor – maybe, like me, you were assigned to read The Great Gatsby in school. Perhaps you enjoyed it and wished you could get more of a backstory on the women in the story? If so, this is the book for you. Cantor’s writing is gorgeous, and she manages to make you sympathetic to characters that were very unlikeable in the original, while also turning the story into a murder mystery.

Think you know who killed Jay Gatsby? Think again. Cantor gives us a backstory for Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker, and Catherine McCoy (sister of Myrtle Wilson). In telling the story from their perspectives, it puts a feminist spin on the story. This is a book that is definitely making my top 10 reads of 2022.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – This is the first in an ongoing series of novellas that follow children who went through a portal to a magical world. But then they found themselves back in reality. To cope with being in the real world again, they are sent to Eleanor Wests Home for Wayward Children. This series revolves around the students at this school as they solve a murder mystery and find their way back to their worlds. The writing is beautiful, and because they are novellas, they make for fast reading.

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys – The writing in this story is so vivid, it was almost like watching a movie. I really felt like I was there, bearing witness to this moment in time. The story was so compelling, and the chapters were all so brief, that I had a hard time putting the book down.

Sepetys paints a picture of a time and place where even your thoughts could be dangerous. Where everyone or anyone could inform on you for even the smallest infraction. Where you had to wait in line a whole day for one potato or a small amount of cooking oil while the leader of your country lives in extravagance. Where you speak in whispers because even your home, where you should feel safest, might be bugged. Where no one, not even you, can be trusted. This is another of my favorite reads of 2022, and because of the short chapters, this makes a perfect addition to your Morning Basket.

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller – Based on The Iliad, this is the story of Patroclus and Achilles from their childhood until the events of the Trojan war. The writing is stunning as Miller is a gifted writer. Having read The Iliad, I knew what was going to happen. But I still cried because the way the story is told has such a great emotional impact. You can tell that the author put in a lot of research and really knows Greek Mythology forwards and backward. I’d also recommend reading her other novel, Circe, particularly if you enjoy Greek Mythology, as that story covers a lot more ground than this one. But both books are beautiful while also being relatively easy to read.


Why Poetry by Matthew Zapruder – If you have ever felt intimidated by poetry, then this book is for you. I’ll admit, poetry has frequently intimidated me. Even poems that I love, I have often felt that I didn’t really understand them. This book helped me to realize that I do in fact, “get” poetry. That it isn’t beyond me. This book might even inspire you to put pencil to paper and try your hand at writing your own poem!

Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters – Now that you have a better understanding of poetry, let’s read a few poems each week. This book is a perfect place to start. The author shares 24 classic poems in a new format, illustrated as comics. Seeing these poems in this new way can help you better understand the poem and see it in a new light. This is a great place to start if you are new to reading poetry.

Call Us What We Carry: Poems by Amanda Gorman – If you want to feel like you “get” poetry too, this is a great book. Her poetry is powerful while also being easy to read and understand. Moving and relevant, you won’t be able to stop at just one poem.

The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry edited by Ilya Kaminsky and Susan Harris is a beautiful collection of 20th-century poetry from all over the world. This book is a great way to expand your horizons and taste in poetry.


I hope you will put together your own Morning Basket! You can use my ideas or go through your home or local library and come up with some similar titles. Build your stack and keep it handy on a side table or in a basket if you want to be more literal. Choose to read a little from that stack each day. Make a small goal like reading a poem a day, or a chapter from each book. Or you can just pick up whatever you feel inspired to read from your stack. Either way, you are on your way to a richer self-education and as well as inspiring your children to continue their learning outside of “school” time.

Coming up next…

I hope you found this Tidbit helpful! Come back next week for more homeschooling inspiration!

Until then, happy reading!

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Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-12 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full-year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 21 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also make incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books, and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

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About Build Your Library

Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history?

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