Charlotte Mason on Living Books

Charlotte Mason urged us

“We owe it every child to put him in communication worth great minds that he may get at great thoughts;

with the minds, that is of those who have let us great works;

and the only vital method of education appears to be that children should read worthy books, many book, many worthy books.” (Vol.6, p.12)

Our happiest homeschooling times are when I read aloud from delightful, living books!

Everyone, including my high school daughter and even my husband, put their work aside, draw closer and listen.

We are all caught up in the period and place, people and events of these stories.

We even cook meals like those described in the book!  (Has anyone else found that after reading any chapter from Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder  everyone is starving?)

The children dress up and pretend they are in the make-believe world of that story.

Even the youngest child uses vocabulary heard in the reading.  What better way of introducing new words, and using these words to make them their own?

With living books a child gains knowledge which may yield facts and information, but it is alive, transfused with the author’s own enthusiasm on the subject.

Great books offer so much more ~

  • Noble ideas inspire us.
  • Virtues infuse young hearts.
  • Deeds of great heroes ignite hope.
  • Characters enduring terrible suffering give us reason to be brave.
  • And a happy ending reminds us to believe that the Lord can carry out the impossible.

What is literature?

The test of literature is that it must bring us truth, nobility and beauty.

  • Literature that is intellectual, must give us truth.
  • Literature must be ethical, filled with moral ideas.
  • And literature must appeal to our artistic nature and our emotions.

Every subject taught with these great books will liven the mind and warm the imagination, evoke passion, instill a curiosity and give the reader the desire to learn more.

Reading a great book, a living book, a whole book is like going on an adventure ~

  • The mind will travel to new a distant places,
  • Discover new and fabulous ideas,
  • Meet amazing and inspiring characters,
  • And wrestle with new and challenging concepts.
  • This type of book will grow its reader.
  • Living books add long, lasting values and inspire the student.
  • Children listening to and reading living books gain richly tapestried memories.
  • Great books are friends.
  • Great literature is a wealthy inheritance.

I am grateful that I can spend my homeschool days reading living books.  It is so enjoyable, snuggling together on a cosy couch or under a shady tree, reading together.  When all else fails and not a single workbook is opened nor one subject “taught”, if I read a living book, I know my children are growing and learning.  School may close for holidays, a sick mom or children may be forced to abandon formal school, but reading living books will still hold us all together on this wonderful journey of life and learning.

(Illustrations and references taken from A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola)

4 thoughts on “Charlotte Mason on Living Books

  1. So true. We love living books. They are a great joy & investment. But, what to do with them? They stay on our bookshelves year after year and the moment my daughter will say ‘Bye-Bye’ for now will never come. Instead, she says: ‘Keep them for my children!’
    Discovering living books demands a lot of thinking on storage!🙂 What is your solution here, if any.

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    • Storage ~ Buy more bookshelves! My eldest daughter even has her own private bookshelf in her room, and we borrow from her carefully … I have made more space by boxing and storing the books for very young and I will keep these for the grandchildren one day …🙂

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