Creating a rich and engaging literacy environment for our children is so important to our homeschool! At the heart of a Charlotte Mason education lies the concept of “living books” – books that come alive and engage the reader on a profound level. Living books help our children to remain engaged and excited about their learning!
Why “living books”?
Living books are written by authors who have a deep passion and expertise in their subject matter. As a result, they often convey their enthusiasm and love for the topic, making the content engaging and relatable to students. This emotional connection fosters a genuine interest in the subject matter, which can be hard to achieve with dry, uninspiring textbooks.
Living books typically present information in a narrative or story-like format. This storytelling approach captivates the reader’s imagination and helps them absorb the material more effectively. It also encourages critical thinking as students analyze characters, events, and consequences.
Living books are known for their vivid descriptions and attention to detail. They paint a picture of the subject, whether it’s a historical period, a scientific concept, or a biographical account, helping students visualize and understand the content more profoundly.
Instead of oversimplifying complex ideas, living books challenge students to grapple with the material, often presenting it in a way that is accessible but not condescending. This approach respects the intelligence of young learners and encourages them to think deeply.
Living books often offer diverse perspectives and viewpoints on a topic. This diversity allows students to explore different facets of a subject and develop a more well-rounded understanding. It also promotes critical thinking and encourages students to form their own opinions.
Exposure to well-written, rich language in living books enhances students’ language skills. They learn new vocabulary, sentence structures, and literary techniques while enjoying the reading experience. This contributes to their overall language development and communication skills.
Charlotte Mason emphasized the importance of education that nurtures the whole child, including their moral and emotional development. Living books often contain moral and ethical dilemmas that provide opportunities for discussions and reflections, helping students grow as individuals.
Because living books engage students on a deep emotional and intellectual level, the knowledge they gain tends to be retained for the long term. This contrasts with the rote memorization often associated with traditional textbooks.
Living books connect academic subjects to real-life experiences and contexts. This helps students see the relevance and practical applications of what they are learning, fostering a lifelong love of learning. Reading living books encourages independent learning and curiosity. It inspires students to seek out additional resources and explore topics further on their own, promoting self-motivated, lifelong learning.
The Middle Ages time period provides a vital context for understanding American history.
Now, let’s dive into the Middle Ages, a captivating historical period that can serve as a gateway to understanding American history. The Middle Ages, also known as the medieval period, spanned roughly from the 5th to the 15th century. This era is often depicted as a time of knights, castles, and chivalry, but it was much more than that.
Some of our learning goals, with using living books about the Middle Ages to guide our discussions and narration, into your curriculum can provide your children with a profound sense of history, culture, and context. Here are a few topics we’ll be delving into:
1. Understanding Feudalism: The feudal system was the dominant social structure of the Middle Ages. By delving into living books about this era, your children can grasp the intricacies of feudalism – the relationships between lords, vassals, and serfs – which will lay a solid foundation for comprehending the socio-economic structures of early American colonies.
2. Exploration and Expansion: The Middle Ages saw European exploration and expansion, as well as the spread of Christianity. These developments have direct relevance to the colonial era and the early history of the United States. Living books about medieval exploration can help your children understand the motives behind the Age of Discovery.
3. The Magna Carta: The Magna Carta, signed in 1215, is a crucial document in the history of constitutional law. Learning about this foundational text through living books will prepare your children to appreciate the significance of similar documents in American history, such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
Let’s take a look at our favorite living books for the Middle Ages!
Charlemagne (800 AD)
William the Conqueror (1054)
The Crusades (1095 – 1291)
England’s Magna Carta (1215)
Hundred Years’ War (1337), Joan of Arc, & Plague (1340s)
Renaissance (da Vinci, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Copernicus) (1350 – 1600)
Reformation: Martin Luther & John Calvin (1517)
European Explorers (late 1400s – mid-1500s)
British Monarchs (1500s – 1800s)
We are so excited about incorporating living books about the Middle Ages into our Charlotte Mason homeschool. By delving into the complexities of this fascinating era, we are not only nurturing a love for learning but also laying a strong foundation for comprehending the context of American history.
We also love Medieval World from Usborne, which provides some great context!
As your children immerse themselves in the tales of knights, the intrigue of castles, and the wisdom of historical figures from the Middle Ages, they’ll be better equipped to appreciate the intricacies of early American history. We are going to embrace the magic of living books and transport your children to the captivating world of the Middle Ages – it’s a journey they won’t soon forget. :)