A Living Book

I've been a Charlotte Mason Homeschooler for about a decade and half. If you aren't a homeschooler, or if you aren't a Charlotte Mason Homeschooler, you may not even understand the term Living Book.

My husband asked me a few moments ago what I was blogging about tonight.

"Living Books." I replied.

"What's a Living Book?" he asked.

So there ya go. We've been a Charlotte Mason Homeschool family for 15 of our 16 years and he doesn't know either. Don't sweat it.

Funny though, I decided to google it before I continued to blog about it, just to be sure my understanding hadn't veered from the original or official definition. It hadn't :)

Ever read a textbook? An Encyclopedia? (Well kids, before there was the internet and Google there were these things we called reference libraries, and resource books like Encyclopedias were in them...)

They are written dry, boring, information based, spewing out facts, states, in chronology. Lots of information not really tied together.

A Living Book is not a novel or a work of fiction even, but rather a book in which the author writes in a narrative style about a subject for which they have great love and passion. Their interest and enthusiasm for the subject is evident. My favorite kind of books are Living History books. America: The Last Best Hope Volumes I, II, and III are some of my favorite books of all time.

I just began reading 1776 by David McCullough with William this past week. I've read it in our school before, and now I have one last child to share it with. <sigh>

Living Books teach a thousand times more than any textbook. They impart multiple subjects at once, they grab the reader and inspire an interest and often a love for a subject they never saw in that way before. Whether you homeschool or not, every person should seek Living Books - if you don't think you enjoy history, you might change your mind.

1776 gives opportunities for learning vocabulary, sentence structure, literary devices, critical thinking, cause and effect, geography, of course history and it opens up dozens and dozens of rabbit trails. Here are a few we have stumbled upon in the first few days.


  • How did Kings originally "get" their Kingdoms? 
  • Who were the first royals?
  • Who built the castles?
  • Where did Kings get their money?
  • What kinds of ships did they sail, were they like the Viking ships we just studied?
  • What kinds of guns did they use?
  • What was happening here where we live? Was it discovered yet?
  • How far is it across the sea to England?
  • How big is England compared to the US? Now? Then?


Some of the vocabulary words were formidable, grenadiers, Hanoverian Creams, and gilded.

What is so wonderful about this method of education is that I didn't go through and carve any of these words or questions out. My job is to read this book with him aloud. The rest just happens in discussion. We grabbed the map, we googled, we wrote a few notes on the board to remember.

Doing this book as our first step back into a new school year was exactly what I needed to remind me why I love homeschooling and why I love a Charlotte Mason approach.

Oh, for CM homeschoolers, I'm no poster child for CM. I do an eclectic bag here and you will find I'm hard to box in to any method across the board, but it's what has worked for us and I am staying the course. There is so much about CM that I love and use though. Just don't point to me as the model for a CM education. Heck now that I think of it, don't hold me up as model for anything!

#charlottemason #homeschooling #education #history




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