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What is a living book? According to Charlotte Mason

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Let’s take a delightful journey into the world of Charlotte Mason, a visionary educator who lived in England in the late 1800s. Her ideas continue to shape the way we approach learning, and especially, homeschooling. At the heart of her educational philosophy lies the concept of living books. These are not just any books; they are the keys to unlocking a rich, immersive, and genuinely enjoyable learning experience. They are written by one author who is passionate. With or without glorious illustrations. They are not dumbed down and they take a reader on a journey!

Charlotte Mason believed that education should inspire a love for learning, and she recognized the limitations of traditional textbooks. In her seminal work, “On Education,” she advocated for the use of living books, emphasizing their unique ability to captivate students across various subjects, from history to science and beyond.

So, what sets living books apart?

– A well-written, engaging narrative crafted by an author deeply passionate about the subject. Living books invite readers to do more than memorize facts; they encourage thinking, feeling, and a genuine engagement with the material. In essence, they transform the learning process into an exciting adventure.

how to homeschool Charlotte mason living books

As I delve into Charlotte Mason’s ideals, I find a philosophy that seeks to kindle curiosity, stimulate critical thinking, and establish lasting connections between students and the subjects they study. Lasting knowledge! The science of relations! The richness of beauty and wisdom!

The pages of living books become windows to a world of exploration and discovery.

how to homeschool what is a living book

These quotes reflect Charlotte Mason’s belief in the transformative power of living books, emphasizing their role in cultivating a child’s curiosity, knowledge, and connection to the world.

“Children must be educated by books, and not by lessons. They must go to books for knowledge.”

“The knowledge of the world is only to be acquired in the world, and not in a closet.”

“The child who gets his knowledge with little labour, learns it with little pleasure. The mind is not a receptacle into which ideas must be dropped, each idea adding to an ‘apperception mass’ of its like, the theory upon which the Herbartian doctrine of interest is based. Such a doctrine leads to stultification, the mind fed, fattened, and clothed upon, but dull of wit and slow of action.”

“Never be within doors when you can rightly be without. Besides, the gain of an hour or two in the open air, there is this to be considered: meals taken al fresco are usually joyous, and there is nothing like gladness for converting meat and drink into healthy blood and tissue.”

“We may not plead with the Preacher, ‘Tell us all that thou knowest, of history, of literature, of science.’ But he is set before us, year in, year out, as an interpreter; for the time his knowledge is our knowledge, and we supplement it as we read the Book, the Great Book, in which it is written for us, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'”

“The real object of education is to give children resources that will endure as long as life endures; habits that time will ameliorate, not destroy; occupation that will render sickness tolerable, solitude pleasant, age venerable, life more dignified and useful, and death less terrible.”

“The knowledge which a child gets in school is of the sort upon which no living being can thrive; the ‘knowledge’ which is got from the ‘education business’ is the sort with which every living soul can and must thrive.”

“The knowledge of the past is the key to the future.”

“Children are not, however, in the least eager to learn subjects in the mass; they care for knowledge no more than their elders do; they want to know about this or that, and they want to know all about it at once.”

“The teacher who allows his scholars the freedom of the city of books is at liberty to be their guide, philosopher and friend; and is no longer their instrument of forcible intellectual feeding.”

“It is a thousand times more important for a child to acquire some of the preliminary knowledge of the things he will come across in the future, in the course of his earthly pilgrimage, than to get, by way of information, an idea of the ways of the world in other ages.”

“As a matter of fact, it is the person who reads who is progressive, and the person who pores over a ‘lesson’ who is behindhand.”

“Now, the mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum.”

“Education is the Science of Relations; that is, that a child has natural relations with a vast number of things and thoughts: so we train him upon physical exercises, nature lore, handicrafts, science and art, and considerable numbers of books.”


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