Curious Unschoolers by Sue Elvis : A book review

Gradually, I was discovering what was important. And bit by bit, I rejected anything that led us away from that close and happy relationship that I knew was the most valuable thing in the world.

– Sue Elvis, Curious Unschoolers, page 43

Sue Elvis is a mother of 8 with stacks of stories to tell. She generously shares her Stories of an Unschooling Family on her blog, YouTube channel, podcast, Instagram and most recently in her books, Curious Unschoolers and Radical Unschool Love.

And these stories are epic. Not in their length, most of them are short reads. And certainly not fantasy. Sue’s stories are epic in the best possible way.

True stories of ordinary days with extraordinary significance.

Sue and her husband Andy never sent their children to school and instead, they and their growing family embarked on a voyage of discovery, a rollercoaster ride through the homeschool landscape. It was a turbulent trip.

In Curious Unschoolers, Sue describes her enthusiasm and excitement as she discovered and embraced homeschool method after homeschool method. Along the way there were many successes, and much ‘impressive work’. But Sue admits …

Learning soon became a chore, and we’d start battling with each other. I then knew it was time for a change.

– Sue Elvis, Curious Unschoolers, page 14

Sue describes how none of these methods lasted for long, enthusiasm waned and frustration set in. And so they kept moving on. Until one day Sue decided to stop chasing the perfect homeschool method and the family settled into doing their own thing, ‘living a rich and interesting life’.

And then, Sue realised they’d finally arrived, or rather returned to where they’d started. Sue and her family had visited unschooling early on in their journey, but it hadn’t been quite the amazing place she’d hoped. But now they were back…

The second time around, I understood unschooling better. I realised that not interfering with a child’s natural learning process doesn’t mean stepping completely back and leaving her to learn on her own. It was quite okay for me to tempt my children with different resources, ideas and experiences. Strewing is an integral part of unschooling.

– Sue Elvis, Curious Unschoolers, page 15

Curious Unschoolers is a collection of Sue’s stories, some can be found on her blog but many others have been written and recalled specially for this book. Inspiring stories, reassuring stories and ‘tired morning stories’ (check out page 337).

Sue’s tone is warm and engaging, her words soothing and uplifting. She draws us into the stories of her days with personal accounts and insightful reflections. Easy to read, enjoyable and entertaining.

Effectively delivering a gentle nudge towards what’s truly important…

A typical unschooling day will be filled with love and trust and peace and real joy.

– Sue Elvis, Curious Unschoolers, page 117

While at the same time, Sue offers much in the way of practical advice and suggestions on how unschooling can work on a daily basis.

Curious Unschoolers contains sections on strewing, screentime, maths, reading and writing, university, record keeping and meeting homeschool registration requirements. While the themes of building strong relationships and rich learning environments and experiences are seamlessly woven throughout the stories.

Lean in close, discover the delights of unschooling and soak up the stories Sue shares.

Did I mention she’s a mother of 8? Most of Sue’s children are now adults themselves and have generously allowed us a sneak peek into some parts of their lives through the stories shared in this book.

Sue’s experience is rich and vast. And this coupled with the sensitive and curious way she chronicles and considers her family’s adventures gives this book wide appeal.

The story format renders it super accessible and relatable for anyone with children. It can be read in short bursts on the go or savoured and enjoyed in quieter moments. Read it from cover to cover or open at any page and there’s bound to be some words of wisdom to get you wondering.

Sue declares ‘the world needs unschooling’ (check out page 379) and I absolutely agree. The principles of trust, respect, kindness and unconditional love that are ever-present throughout this fantastic book are relevant for us all.

I want to share experiences and information that might help families who want to live outside the school system… I want to reassure parents who are unsure about unschooling that children can learn, not only without school but also without the control that comes with structured homeschooling. We can live a free life of love and joy. And our kids will thrive and grow and become the people they are meant to be. Most of all, I want to write about unconditional love.

– Sue Elvis, Curious Unschoolers, page 373

And she does that beautifully, both in Curious Unschoolers and in her latest book, Radical Unschool Love. I recommend them both wholeheartedly. Together they provide a wonderful overview of how unschooling works, for learning and for life 🙂

Grab a copy from your favourite bookseller or check out Sue’s site for more information.

If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing to the blog as there are more book reviews on the way.

And if you want to know more about unschooling, check out these posts…

What kind of homeschoolers are we?

12 John Holt Quotes on home education and our role as parents.

Supporting Natural Learning : A step by step guide.

Stay curious*

*Doug from Mystery Science, learn more about that here x


  1. What a brill review! Tempted to pick up the book myself xx

    1. Hayley says:

      Thanks Daisy 🙂

  2. Me again – we have also read Sue’s daughter, Imogen Elvis’s “The Crystal Tree” and are looking forward to “The Shattering Song.” I don’t know if you and anyone at your house has had a chance to read those but I’d recommend them. I’m not normally drawn to fantasy but I really enjoyed it.

    1. Hayley says:

      Haven’t read ‘The Crystal Tree’ yet but have got it, so thanks for your reminder too, will definitely get on to that one 🙂

  3. I haven’t! It was very much my plan to do that between Christmas and New Year’s and several things seemed to come up. I like to have a good chunk of time to really get into a book so I will soon – thanks for the reminder:).

  4. Hayley, what a wonderful review of “Curious Unschoolers.” I have enjoyed Sue’s writing so much (books and blog) and I find that the format of Curious Unschoolers makes it so easy to dip in and out of when looking for insight or encouragement on a particular topic.

    1. Hayley says:

      Hey Erin, that’s kind of you to say. Yep it’s a great book, have you had a chance to read Radical Unschool Love? Think like Sue, I might say that’s actually my fave of the two 🙂

  5. Lauren says:

    Lovely review of Sue’s book, Hayley! It is such an inspiring and wonderful one. And I’m glad I could connect to your blog now after seeing Sue post about this, I’m excited to look around all your articles! Thanks for what you’re writing 🙂

    1. Hayley says:

      Thanks Lauren, so glad you liked the review. Really appreciate you taking the time to comment and checking out the other posts 🙂

  6. Hayley,

    Oh my, what a fabulous review of my book! Thank you so much for taking the time to write it. I can’t begin to tell you how encouraged I now feel. I was going to creep away from the Internet. Go do something else. Your words gave me a new burst of enthusiasm. Thank you!

    1. Hayley says:

      Sue, I’m so pleased you like my review. It was an absolute pleasure to write. Another chance to meander through the joyous journey that is Curious Unschoolers, flicking through my already well-thumbed copy once again, gathering your wonderful words to quote. It was a joy 🙂

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