Category Archives: living books

Guest Article: “Just What IS a Living Book?”

Mother Reading to Sonby Suz Stewart
Guest Contributor

Charlotte Mason was a Victorian educational reformer. One of her biggest contributions to the world of education was the concept of using only “living” books in her classrooms. Many new homeschoolers, and homeschoolers new to Charlotte Mason’s methods, haven’t a clue what a living books is or how to spot one, however. This article will endeavor to rectify that situation.

A living book is defined as any book that is literary in nature. That is, it has the following attributes:

  • Engaging, interesting, lively text
  • Literary elements – plot, descriptive passages, poetic language
  • It has stood the test of time – it’s just as interesting to today’s reader as it was to its original audience
  • It has something to say, something to teach – a redeeming quality, a moral, a character builder – it asks something introspective of the reader

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Teaching Elementary Science with Great Literature


by Sheila Carroll
Guest Contributor


How do you teach a fact-heavy subject like science with great literature? First, science is not fact-heavy, or, at least it ought not to be. British educator, Charlotte Mason called science the study of “the great scheme of the unity of life”.

Abstract concepts become easy to picture and understand when they are experienced in context. A picture-packed, glitzy book filled with facts cannot teach “the great scheme of unity of life” but literature and hands-on experimentation can. Continue reading

What is a Living Book?

by Sheila Carroll
Guest Contributor

What is a living book? Charlotte Mason said a living book is one that is “well put” and “well told” (Parents and Children).

In other words, in a living book:

  1. The language used powerfully and beautifully expresses the ideas of its author
  2. The narrative — whether fiction or non-fiction — holds together in a compelling and memorable way.  Continue reading

Living History — Ancient Egypt

The following list of books makes an excellent resource for studying the history of Ancient Egypt with your family.  Some of the books are specifically targeted for younger children (early readers, etc.), but even books directed at older children can be read aloud to the younger ones.  Some of the books are general reference books (not necessarily “living books” per se), but definitely interesting, well-made, and worth adding to your curriculum supplies. Continue reading

Twaddle-Free Literature by Grade Level

51BlGAcUHnL(This reading list is simply my personal idea of twaddle-free reading — it isn’t the Twaddle-free Gospel.) 🙂

Living Books = books that are well-written and engaging–they absorb the reader–the narrative and characters “come alive”; living books are the opposite of cold, dry textbooks.

Twaddle = dumbed down literature; absence of meaning

This list of recommended reading is now included in the new book, A Twaddle-Free Education: An Introduction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational Ideas.


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