A Book of Mottoes

Journal and penLike many of you, I enjoy reading the Mitford books by Jan Karon. But you may be surprised to hear which one is my favorite: Patches of Godlight, a journal of quotes and mottoes that the fictional Father Tim has collected over his years of reading good literature.

I was delighted to find that Charlotte Mason encouraged that very activity for our children. “In the reading of the Bible, of poetry, of the best prose, the culling of mottoes is a delightful and most stimulating occupation, especially if a motto book be kept, perhaps under headings, perhaps not” (Vol. 3, p. 135).

Wouldn’t this be a great way for our older children to do copywork? It wouldn’t be as systematic as assigning certain passages, but they could practice their best handwriting as they carefully copy sayings that are meaningful to them from the books they are reading.

Where to find such sayings? Here are some of Charlotte’s suggestions (taken from Vol. 3, p. 135):

  • Lives with a keynote;
  • Bible heroes;
  • Greek heroes;
  • Poems of moral inspiration;
  • Poems of patriotism, duty, or any single moral quality;
  • Moral object-lessons.

She also suggested the idea of a child’s making his book of mottoes a “year-book, with a motto for every day in the year culled from their own reading.”

I really like this idea. In fact, I think I’ll do a mommy version on our SCM Forum. If you scroll down to the “Mom’s Porch” section, you’ll see a new forum called “Our Book of Mottoes.” Feel free to share your own favorite quotes there for all to enjoy.

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