In reading on Charlotte Mason’s style I came across a term I have heard many times now — Living Books. She says this about choosing reading material:
For the children? They must grow up upon the best . . . There is never a time
when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well
told. Let Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ represent their standard in poetry
DeFoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will
demand literature–that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas
and pictures of life.
She warns against twaddle, a word I just love. So, I have started a vigilant hunt for books that breathe.
We read living books because we love them, they bring us together. They prompt incredible conversations. Even my little ones surprise me with the observations that they make about a book and its connections with real life. They bring something to our home school that no unit study, hands-on project, or even a field trip can. They spark the imagination and make creativity soar.
Some look alive, but hold nothing of value beyond the front cover. Others look old and dry and yet have carried us on amazing adventures. How do I know? Where do I find a good book?
Just wanted to share some great resources for finding a good read:
Ambleside Online — This website builds directly off of the Charlotte Mason philsophy. It assigns a time period for each year and can and is used by many as the core of their homeschool. We used them loosely for a couple years. Now, I still refer to that site because the book lists are excellent. We have loved probably 90% of the books we found through that site.
Curriculum reading lists — I started looking through other curriculums (like Sonlight — which we also used for a year) to see what books they recommend at various grade levels. Lots of great recommendations made it into our reading list this way as well.
Five in a Row — For books and accompanying activities, these books can give you plenty to choose from. Books that have stood the test of time, and you will love reading and rereading with your kids.
The Book Guardians — This is a brand new site for which I will be a contributor. Be sure to check it out over time as more books get added to its ranks. It will list books and share in 10 key areas if they have content that might need consideration. I talked more about it on my blog post about book reviews.
Common Sense Media — This site offers a number of reviews, but does not seem to have a strong moral slant. I did not find the reviews as helpful because I tend to have a stricter standard on what I deem appropriate reading for my kids. Still, definitely some value in the sheer quantity of books they have reviewed.
Christian Children’s book reviews –A good site, but seems to review only Christian books.
Focus on the Family has a book review section — Some good reviews, but they seemed to be lacking a depth in their recommendations and information provided. Does come from a conservative preference morally.
Facts on Fiction — Lots of reviews and clearly targeting key areas of concern. Alphabetized and easy to find what you are looking for.
1000 Good books — compiled by 25 homeschool moms, you can find 1000 of their recommendations. That should keep you busy for a while!
Many books also offer lists and reviews:
– Honey for a Child’s Heart
– What Shall We Then Read
– Hand that Rocks the Cradle (from the Bluedorns)
– Books Children Love
– Invitation to the Classics
– The Read-Aloud Handbook
Finding the time:
With six kids, five of them now school age, the trick is finding time in a day to read books. We have employed a variety of means to do so. We read a bit each day. Sometimes at bedtime, sometimes in the afternoon. We have a silent reading time each day as well. Books on CD also help. We listen to these in our rooms, at bedtime, and definitely in the car. We “read” an extra book or two each month by listening in the car. And, it keeps the kiddos quiet while we travel!
Looking for some recommendation? Here are some of our favorite books:
The Little House on the Prairie series
The Princess and the Goblin
Gone Away Lake
The Calico Captive
The Endless Steppe
Galileo and the Magic Number
And, every year we discover a few more favorites. Stay tuned to hear what we unearth this year.
Please add some more resources or book favorites of your own in the comments. We are always looking for well loved books.
This post linked to Works for Me Wednesday.