Monday, December 2, 2013

Living Books for Little Ones

Dear Amber and other mamma friends with young children,

We recently talked about how children are whole persons-just as we are. As persons, we aren't compartmentalized into what we do in certain places or at specific times.  It is the bigness of ALL of life! Children should spend time out of doors learning about all the curious things God has placed around them. All children are amazing observers and explorers when in the habit of spending time outside in nature.  Music and art should be part of their everyday world. They should be given truths directly from scripture.  The atmosphere of the home should be about natural relationships and “is thrown off… from persons and things, stirred by events, sweetened by love, ventilated, kept in motion, by the regulated action of common sense.” (Charlotte Mason) 

And... don't forget those good books! Little ones are quite capable of understanding and enjoying great ideas from stories; sometimes they glimpse an idea that we miss! Beauty and honor and magnanimity are worthy ideas found in the best stories! These are considered Living books. The careful consideration of issues of life (like those found in fairy tales) and the joy of words well written (like classic literature and poetry) can begin to excite the mind of the young and cultivate a love of literature. Reading quality literature with our little ones is just as important as choosing quality literature for our older children and even ourselves! Poetry and books with narrative stories resonate with us all!

You can find some good book lists when you google "living books", but beware that all those in the category of children's books are NOT Living books. There is quite a lot of nonsense and just plain unworthy reading disguised under the label of children's literature.  Test them; do they contain real ideas, important thoughts? Are they well written? Do they connect directly with your child? Then start collecting! OR Are they abridged to include only the editor/publisher's politically correct choices? Are they 'brought down' to a 'child's level so they can understand them'? Better to pass on those!

Some good resources for children's book titles I have found reliably "Living":
Five in a Row curriculum utilize great books. (They are unit studies built around literature and have plans that go with each book. I would personally adapt for a more Charlotte Mason educational philosophy if applying the curriculum. You can read more about Charlotte Mason methods and approach in many of my other posts-check out the 'Labels' section.)
Ambleside Online YR0 has a great list which is for about 5yrs. 
Penny Gardner's website has some living books and other resources for all ages.

Some of my personal favorites to share: