Understanding Our Love For Living Books

A big driver of how our children are taught at Farm School is through the use of “living books.”

“Living books,” is a concept that we discovered while exploring the Charlotte Mason method of teaching and we absolutely fell in love with it.

Books, and the love of reading them, is an important way to help children to form a connection to a person or an idea. In this way books impart not only knowledge but the soft skills of empathy and compassion. The learning topics that can stem from a good book are endless.

Our children all follow along the theme of a living book for a specific time period, ranging from a few weeks to an entire week. Most of our art projects and natural science learning will coincide with the imagery and setting presented by the book.

The key to a great “living book” and therefore a great learning theme is how the book is chosen. We follow the following criteria laid out for us by Charlotte Mason herself.

  1. The book needs to make the subject come alive. It needs to touch our emotions for a real connection to be formed. Boring books with just facts won’t draw us into a story and capture our attention.
  2. Look for books written by people with great ideas. It is important that we as adults and as children are always expanding our thinking. This can be done by reading the thoughts of any great mind from the past or the present.
  1. Living books are always well-written. Charlotte described well-written books with these terms: “written with literary power,” “a word fitly spoken,” “worthy thoughts, well put,” “inspiring tales, well told.” We look for books written in good and simple English with a certain charm of style.
  2. Our books are not “childish twaddle.” We steer clear of any books that talk down to the child and assumes they can’t understand more than tiny tidbits of information. Living books are books that are enjoyed by the adult just as much as by the child.
  3. Living books help develop a love for learning through the use of reading. Books that give the children the idea that knowledge is attractive and that capture hearts and minds in their content and style achieve this.
  4. The best you can find. A lot of time and effort goes into choosing our books. This also gives us the opportunity to choose books around specific occasions and settings. It’s not always easy but the effort is always worth it.

We are so grateful for Charlotte Mason and all that she has pioneered in the learning world. If you would like to read more please visit www.simplycharlottemason.com

“Living books” are a cornerstone principle at The Farm School and we have seen the connection and love for reading developing across our entire program of learners, from kindergarten to our senior phase.