Living books… 2 questions

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  • Bethany

    I absolutely love to Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. I found math and language arts curriculum for my kindergartener that are very Hands-On and easily broken up into chunks for narration. This next year I’m hoping to incorporate some social studies or history, and science. My struggle is that my children are not much on auditory learning currently when I read aloud. If I’m explaining something to them without a book it’s a different story. So question number one is what age should they be able to comprehend when I’m reading out loud-I don’t want to read them if they’re not remembering or learning anything. And my second question pertains to living books curriculum. it feels as though I need to create my own curriculum of living books, and purchase them all. Being honest, I just don’t have the time to do that much planning and research, and I don’t have the money to buy that many books -my local library hardly ever has recommended books- and, just being honest, we don’t make it often enough to avoid fines anyway. Tips and tricks?


    My first question would be what ages are your children? It sounds like they are very little so I will go with that assumption. Read to them anyway, even if narration is not going well and it seems they arent getting it, they are getting more than you might think. Narration is a skill that requires practice and doesnt come easily for some kids. Just keep at it. It will have its rewards even if you cannot see them readily. My 8th grader has never been good at narrating books or writing down his thoughts, but when he has something to describe or explain he is incredibly articulate and interesting to listen to. I am certain from all the books he seemed to not listen to or understand When my kids were very little we loved a curriculum called Five in a Row, not super Charlotte Mason maybe, but so much fun for little ones and still our favorite picture books of all time. If budget is tight the library really is your best resource. I go on our library’s website and reserve books, then make one trip a week to pick ip and drop off. Many librarys have inter library loan and will get you books on your list. As for a list of books, there is a wonderful little American history list called Turning Back the Pages of Time. It costs about $5 and lists several books for each elementary grade and time period. You dont have to read them all so chances are your library would have some of them at least. Honey for a Childs Heart is another great bookslist for picture books. All Through the Ages is a bit pricey but well worth it for older students. It lists TONS of books for each time period from Creation to Modern Times, organized by grade level. And of course this website offers great tips and lists, the history lesson plans make it very easy to teach any time period. You can also often find used books on Amazon or my favorite There really are so many ways to give your kids a rich literature based CM education.


    Be sure the books you are reading from are at their level and are engaging.  Read for a short time and gradually increase it to 20 minutes.  Narrations can come in other forms like drawing a picture or acting out the story (themselves or with their toys or paper puppets you make) or building with blocks or Lego Duplo.

    I agree that Five in a Row and Before Five in a Row are great for the young age groups.  They guide your discussions and activities, based on the book’s content.  After a while, you can apply their activities to other books.  Charlotte Mason methods can be used along with it.

    For buying used books, we go to library book sales, Goodwill, and online. usually has a sale of $9 off 6 books, which is usually a total of $15 or less, free shipping.  You can save the books to a wishlist until you have enough to order them together for the discount.  Sometimes they have a sale of 20 – 40% off.

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