Living Books – Refreshing my Love of Reading

As the year began I re-evaluated our homeschool. After much thinking, praying and researching, I decided to take a more Charlotte Mason approach. While I have always leaned towards a mix of Classical and Charlotte Mason; adding in as much living books as possible, while still using textbooks as our main spines. However, this was the first time I had really looked hard at Ambleside Online‘s offerings. We are Catholic, so I did take a good look at Mater Amabilis as well, but found the Ambleside books and overall program to be more of my liking. With a little tweaking, I knew I could make it work for our beliefs as well.

Previously, I had found living books to supplement our textbooks, but now we are using living books and supplementing with library books and online information instead. What I loved about the Ambleside curriculum is that it uses older books as well as newer options. I’ve always believed politics made their way into our textbooks and you only learn what they want you to know (even more apparent with the new addition of common core)*.  The beauty of the older books is that they are, first of all, living books so the story is beautiful, the words are enticing and pull you into the story, but they also tell it like it is, without all the extra political opinions getting into the mix.

On top of that majority of the books are online as free downloads so my kindle is getting a lot of use for school, which makes doing school anywhere quite easy! I believe in the next year or so, the kids will be using their kindles more and more for school reading as well. Right now, they listen and narrate back, but I know we will be transitioning to them reading and then narrating some of the readings soon and it will be nice for them to be able to take that with them wherever we may be at the time.

As for using it in our day-to-day, I cannot believe how much smoother our 2016 is going. We were doing great before Christmas, but this has been an eye opener! Not only are the kids listening, learning, and narrating really well, but I have fallen in love with the books as well. The language. The stories. Everything! It makes me want to spend the whole day reading aloud to the kids. The words just flow off my tongue and the kids continually ask to read more and more, which makes them very excited to hear the readings the next day.

I feel like our homeschool is the way it should be, a fun learning environment where they are taking everything in, but hardly realize it’s school. I don’t want them to dread learning, I want them to want to learn more, pick up a book to find out more and take off. In my opinion, that’s what education should be about, opening their eyes to all there is to know and learn in a beautiful way. Staring at a textbook and memorizing dates/facts will not stick with them, a great book can stay in their hearts and minds forever.

Our days are filled with books, great books.. living books.

Our morning starts with reading during breakfast and ends with reading during lunch. Not to mention the reading we do in the evenings before bed and the quiet reading the kids do throughout the day. Our life revolves around great books right now and it makes me so happy.

I’m pretty sure it has also rubbed off on the kids with their independent reading. They cannot wait to sit and read for their 30min quiet reading time many times sitting for much longer than the required 30 minutes. Sunshine is so excited to finish her book, Because of Winn Dixie, and Mister Man just finished his, Winnie the Pooh. They are suddenly reading whenever they have a few extra minutes, at home, in the car…anywhere. I think the great books they are listening to me read has put excitement into their lives. I know it has mine.

I have always been a reader and almost always have at least 3 books going at one time each for a different aspect of my life (pleasure, spirituality, education, etc.). Each book is read at different points in my day (spirituality – morning, education – throughout the day, pleasure – evening before I fall asleep). The living books we started last week have opened my eyes to the major differences between a living book and twaddle. I knew certain books were better than others, but the difference never stood out as vividly. I can see and hear the differences and now am even more of a book snob than before.

Yes, it’s true, I became a book snob when we had kids. I quickly became annoyed with poorly written children’s books that talk down to kids (twaddle). I’ve always believed that you should talk to kids like adults so that they will learn the correct way of speaking. There is absolutely no reason to dumb down your language. If we speak in words they do not understand they will learn those words instead of baby talk and their vocabulary will soar. My kids amaze me with their vocabulary and usage, daily. I firmly believe it is because we made, and still make, it a point to talk to them like we would an adult. Baby talk is like fingernails on a chalkboard, in my opinion. But that’s another blog all it’s own!

And I regress. I love being able to homeschool my kids, but this revelation and new beginning has brought so much joy and happiness into our lives. I look forward to every morning and am sad when we do not read our schoolwork on the weekends. Thank you Charlotte Mason for opening my eyes to a new world of books.

*While I realize there is still some sway in almost any book, because everyone sees things differently, however, in my opinion it is not so apparent in living books as in the textbooks available today. Plus, reading multiple living books for each event/timeperiod gives a more well rounded education and lets the student become a part of history rather than just memorizing dates and reading a paragraph or two that tells them what they want them to know.

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