Help for the Harried Homeschooler: A Practical Guide to Balancing Your Child's Education with the Rest of Your Life was the best book I read in 2001. Please note that I did not say the best homeschooling book, but book! I received a copy of Help for the Harried Homeschooler, because I had answered a survey for the author.
My main motivation for reading the book was to see my name in print; I was not interested in reading another book about how to homeschool. Before I finished the first chapter I was hooked. I was entertained, educated, and energized by each successive chapter. I highlighted sentences, paragraphs, and sections I felt would be helpful for the days that I was feeling burned out, frazzled, or down. I have read dozens and dozens of homeschooling books, and this is the most well-balanced one I have found. I was not told to hire outside help to get household chores done (as other books suggest), I was not lectured, or discouraged by the author's fantastic life. Mrs. Field presents real-life solutions to real-life problems.
My favorite chapter is "Chaos Control - Getting and Staying Organized." Before I began my journey as a mother and homeschooler, I was a very organized person. Something happened with the arrival of children and by the time I began to formally home educate my oldest child, my organizational skills had completely disappeared. It didn't matter that I used to be able to single-handedly run a mini-company; I was unable to keep up with the pile of never ending laundry.
The book is divided into 4 parts - Homeschool Basics, In the Homeschool Classroom, Family Issues and the Homeschool, and Personal Issues and the Homeschool. Topics covered include teaching multiple ages, managing discouragement and burnout, homeschooling through crisis, balancing homeschooling and your marriage, and making curriculum choices. So, why should you read this book? First, you will be inspired to press on through discouragement, frustration, or burnout. Secondly, you will get helpful suggestions from a real-life homeschooling mother, not a homeschool theorist who writes about homeschooling. Finally, you will read some really good writing. You can contact Christine Field through her web site at www.homefieldadvantage.org.