One of the outstanding events of the summer of 2013 was the Young Writers Workshop I taught, sponsored by the Branson Arts Council. What an amazing group of talented authors!
Ages 9 and up participated in two sessions for a week-long focus on short forms of writing. We wrote poems, flash fiction, six-word-memoirs, character sketches, and some pretty crazy journal entries! The week ended with an author fair, featuring a dozen authors from the Missouri and Arkansas areas, and the students’ work was published in an anthology book for them to keep!
We’re looking forward to doing it again soon, and hope to expand the literary arts in the Ozarks – for young people and the young at heart!
Guest Blogger and Home Educator Paula Baker shares some insight on the Charlotte Mason term “living book”. Visit her website for more!
What the blazes is a living book, anyway? Does it have a heartbeat and eat bon-bons? Does it ask for pocket money? What makes a book ‘living’? And why do I want to read one?
Those are precisely the questions that I had in late May, while attending the Florida Parents as Educators Association annual homeschool convention. Lo and behold, I found the answers during a lecture entitled, Learning With Living Books, by Sonya Shafer, creator of the SimplyCharlotteMason.com website.
Fans of the Charlotte Mason Method of homeschooling utilize the teaching methods of Charlotte Mason, a British teacher who lived in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. She enthusiastically endorsed using ‘living books’ when instructing children in many subjects, as well as nature and art studies, and shorter lessons.
So just what IS a ‘living book’? Here are Sonya’s defining characteristics of a living book, according to Charlotte Mason:
1. It makes the subject come alive, so that you ‘see’ the action on the movie screen of your mind.
2. It usually is written by one author who has a passion for the subject, containing a conversational tone and narrative, and can be fiction or non-fiction.
3. It contains ideas, not just facts. These ideas also teach life lessons.
4. It will be well written. And in the words of Charlotte Mason, “It will NOT be twaddle.”
So how, exactly, do you FIND a living book? By reading it, of course! However, we want to read it to discern if it has the 4 characteristics of a living book. Let’s say that we find a book that looks promising to use in our homeschool curriculum or in addition to public or private school. Now you’re going to give it the One Page Test.
Open the book to a page in the body of the book. Now read it and think:
1. Do I ‘see’ the story, like a movie playing in my mind?
2. Does it have a conversational tone and narrative, drawing me in so that I want to read more?
3. Is it just a dry recitation of the facts, or are there ideas that teach life lessons?
4. Is it well written, and do I want to keep reading more than just 1 page? Or is it ‘twaddle’?
For some examples of living books, please visit www.simplycharlottemason.com. Make sure you check out their extensive Book Finder, where you can search for living books by the subject, age of the child, or grade level. While you’re there, browse around for other great Charlotte Mason tips for teaching your child. Enjoy books that come ALIVE!!!
One of my summer projects has been working on the University of Arkansas’ new online magazine, GRAVEL. June is the inaugural issue, and I’m so pleased to announce its arrival!
As the official magazine for the MFA Graduate Program, GRAVEL attracts talent from around the globe – both in fiction and nonfiction. Short stories, poetry, personal essays, memoir, flash fiction… it’s all welcome! In addition, GRAVEL seeks to publish original artworks and multimedia pieces that showcase artists’ creativity. If you write, paint, draw, take photos, or have some other form you’d like to submit for publication, please click HERE.
As part of the staff, it was my privilege to meet some wonderful authors through their writing. Although I don’t typically do this, I’d recommend you read the Contributors page for the brief biographies first. There are some fascinating individuals, and getting a glimpse into their lives before reading their pieces adds a whole new dimension to the experience.