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Being the bibliophile I am, reading is just apart of me. I find going to the library a special treat, especially when I come back with a bag full of books to read.
Even at a young age I would read, and read, and read, and did I say read? Finally, after some time, my mom allowed me to pick my own books to inhale, just so long as I only read what was permitted. I began to find some really great books and series, most of which, mom had never heard of!
When someone asked, “What is a living book?” I just stopped, unsure of how to answer, because my whole life of reading, I didn’t know there was a definition to a living book. I knew there were some, um, ridiculous and irrelevant books out there for kids and adults alike, but I never READ them. To my surprise, I’ve always have been good at picking out “living books,” but I never stopped to think of what they really were.
After some explanations from my mom, who has homeschooled all of us using the Charlotte Mason method, I realized, to my surprise, I’ve always have been good at picking out “living books,” but I never stopped to think of what they really were…
What is a Living Book?
- A living book captivates the reader.
I know this to be exceptionably accurate. For me to continue reading a book, I have to be into the book. It needs to make me it’s captive.
How can you find a living book, and how do you know it is captivating?
The “Charlotte Mason Method” is to pick up any book and read one page, either aloud to your children or to yourself. If you find yourself wanting to turn to the other page to read more, you’ve found yourself a living book.
- Living books contain worthy ideas for the adult and children.
Charlotte Mason was just stating that although we may think we know everything, we don’t. With a living book, we can learn about the worthy thoughts of great men and women, who came before us, and learn from their experiences.
- They are well-written.
Miss Mason, described well-written books as: “written with literary power,” “a word fitly spoken,” “worthy thoughts, well put,” “inspiring tales, well told.” We even think these terms to be well-written, because it is far from what we normally write and read. I suggest books from the mid-1800s to early 1900s for examples of well-written works.
- Does not contain any twaddle.
Twaddle is the description that Charlotte Mason gave to books when they seem to talk down to the child, as if they do not understand anything more than small increments of information. Look for books that both adult and children can read, learn, and enjoy.
- Gives your children the idea that learning is fun, and reading is enjoyable.
I would suggest finding a book, whose main character is a child. Children seems to be able to relate better to characters that think and do things similar to themselves. It’s easier for them to compare.
Some book ideas:
- The best you can find.
Charlotte Mason even admitted that sometimes it is hard to find the perfect book for certain occasions. In that case, choose the best one you can find!
Why living books?
Our mind is a living thing, not a container to put things in. If our mind was a container, we could just put information in it, memorize it, and we’d be fully educated, and possibly be the smartest people in the world…but that is not the case. Our mind is alive. We must feed it in order for it to live. It is like a small infant. We cannot expect the child to grow healthy by just telling the infant that it must eat to grow big and strong. It is our job to first feed them, and as they grow, give them the training and the tools to feed themselves.
It is a building process. Instead of just telling your child the facts and dates of historical events, give them a living books that captivates them and fills their mind with an image, and the knowledge of those events will stick a LOT longer than throwing dry information to them.