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 website.

Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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  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!!!

“New Jargon” Featured Poet – Paula Baker

Congratulations to this week’s prompt drawing winner, Paula Baker!  She’s written a poem that encompasses the meaning of the Monday prompt:

Use a “new” word in pop culture to create a poem that reflects the sound of the word, possible definitions (real or imagined), or what your mind’s eye sees at the mention of this word or phrase.  For example, “Twitter” is no longer just a bird’s warbling. The word has grown to encompass something completely different.  Play with a word or phrase that has evolved due to technology, the internet, or social media.


Google me this, Twitter you that,

Now there are so many ways to learn and to chat!

First there were books, now there are Nooks,

To Kindle the fires of knowledge, you kooks!


Nowadays we tweet, google and surf,

Chatting, facebooking and blogging our turf.

The world became smaller and larger at once,

Bing! No excuses for being a dunce!


Resize (how I wish!), Reboot (far too much),

Repost now replaces our writing too much.

UR text maid no cents, proper grammar no more,

Technology rocks when spelling’s no chore!


Perhaps you are lost in this perilous maze,

Beat your Tom-Tom to find your way out of this daze.

Don’t know how to cipher or make a new hat?

Don’t you worry or fret, there’s an app for that!


A widget can work on a Page in a space,

So out there it’s cyber, no physical trace.

“Come into my parlor”, said spider to fly,

My webworld is waiting, C U, Buy, Bye!

Be sure to visit other writers and support their work!

Be a regular in the Reason 2 Rhyme Poetry Ring

Thanks to all the participants in the Reason 2 Rhyme weekly poetry prompt, and here is a sneak peek at next week’s challenge…

Write a poem to or about someone you admire. You don’t have to personally know them to pay tribute to them. Write a poem honoring one of your heroes, someone who has, from a distance, made a difference in your life.

The prompt page will be live on Monday, August 27th, with a place to post your poem in the comment section, or link directly to your page.  Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with next!

Click here to find out more about Reason 2 Rhyme!

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