The world of homeschooling is like any other niche out there. It is filled with sub niche’s and lingo that don’t make any sense to outsiders; like living book. Perhaps you are a veteran homeschooler, or maybe you are new to homeschooling, or just exploring the possibility. There is a good chance that you may have encountered the name Charlotte Mason at some point. You might have even explored some of her teaching methods and philosophies.
Charlotte Mason was a British educator who lived in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. She was very passionate about education, creating reform in England to ensure that all children would receive a wide range of education no matter their social class. Her educational philosophy and teaching methods became very popular and started spreading through schools all throughout England.
For more information on Charlotte Mason and her philosophy I highly recommend the book A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Art of Gentle Learning by Karen Andreola.
Charlotte Mason believed in a three prong focus to education.Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life. - Charlotte Mason Click To Tweet
She believed that atmosphere created 1/3 of a child’s education. When she referred to atmosphere, she was referring to the environment in which the child grew up. The home environment has a huge impact on child learning. This atmosphere is set by the parents in how they live their lives, how they parent, and in the choices that they make day to day. Obviously, for homeschoolers this is very important as our children spend even more time at home than their outwardly educated peers.
Charlotte Mason was a firm believer in creating good habits in children and developing good character traits. This makes up another 1/3 of a child’s entire education. Ms. Mason used the bible to help teach her students godly character.
Academics made up the final 1/3 of a child’s education. Furthermore, Ms. Mason believed that rather than just teaching children dry facts they should be given living thoughts and ideas. And, this brings me to the point of this post. Living books. So what are they? How do you find them? And how do you know if a book is living?
A living book is a book written by one author. The author is very passionate about their subject material. Therefore, books that are living feel like they come alive. Written in a narrative or conversational style, these books suck you right in. (Think opposite of a text book.) And it is easier to remember the information presented when you are emotionally connected to the story.
It’s amazing how many living books are out there. They aren’t labeled as living books, but once you start reading them, it becomes easier and easier to identify books that would be classified as such. One of Ms. Mason’s other stipulations was that reading material should be well written and of high quality. In order to help you determine if a book is suitable for this style of learning or not, Karen Andrea (in her book A Charlotte Mason Companion) recommends doing a one page test. Read aloud to your children (or to yourself if you happen to be alone) and see if the book sparks interest. Do they want you to read more? Do you want to read more? If the answer is yes then chances are you are holding a living book.
So now that you have found a living book, you need to use it! In the past, our favourite times were reading out loud as a family. When our oldest was hitting the preteen years we would have family reading nights. We put out snack trays and drinks and all curled up on the couch to listen. The kids would honestly beg us not to stop reading when time was up. It was wonderful to see them so engaged in literature.
Now, our oldest is out of the house, and Izzy and I do nightly reading together while dad does the bedtime routine with Mickey Blue. We still curl up on the couch together and get through as many chapters of a book as we can before the bedtime buzzer goes. I cherish this time together with him. It’s quiet time, it’s snuggle time, and it keeps us connected despite our busy days!
Therefore, to help get you started, I’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite living books for you to download, grouped by age, that can often be found at yard sales and thrift stores!
Now, with this printable you have your choice of three sizes. You can have a full sized double sided list for your planning binder or somewhere visible at home. Or, you can have a 1/2 sized page or 1/4 sized page – perfect for tucking into your purse. This way you always have a copy of great books to grab whenever you stumble upon a thrift store or yardsale! (No more wracking your brain trying to remember what you wanted to get…)
You can click on the picture above or here to get your free printable list download now!
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