Saturday, February 11, 2012
Living Books The Way I wish I had Learned!
I have had a complete epiphany! Living books are truly awesome. In the homeschool community we have lots of popular buzz words from Unit Studies, Learning Style, Lapbooks, and Living Books. For the longest time I thought I had a clear understanding of what these terms meant in relation to homeschool methodology. Well boy was I wrong. It wasn't until I recently decided to include more read alouds into out homeschooling as I saw that we were lacking since the children started reading independently that started searching for ideas on how to fit all of this reading time into my already packed schedule. That is when I rediscovered the teachings of Charlotte Mason. Charlotte Mason an innovative educator from the 1800's believed that children should be exposed to Living Books and that lessons should remain short and to the point. She believed in exposure to high quality literature no "Twaddle" as she called it.
I was so overwhelmed by idea of adding in all these extra read alouds. At first glance it just seemed like I would be spending the whole day telling the kids to be quiet and still while we try and plug through all these books. How was I going to do it. I decided to take a step back and just start slow instead of diving in head first and just do audio books. Hey us homeschoolers spend enough time in the car right? LOL! I thought this would be a great way to get something in while on the road and I wouldn't have try and get them to listen cause children stuck in the car are always a captive audience. What else is there other than picking a fight with there sibling cause they touched something on there side of the car.
So what exactly is a Living Book you might be asking. Well until the big Ah Ha moment I use to think it was simply a Classical work of literature. I even thought it was biographies at one point like The Autobiography of Fredrick Douglass or George Washington. Well it is and it is much much more. We started our car audio read aloud session with good old "Little House on the Prairie". Got to love that Laura Inglles Wilder and her adventurous tales of the untamed journey West for the American Pioneer. They Ingles family faced many challenges on there travels and settlement in the new Western Frontier. They encountered everything from raging rivers, malaria, wild panthers, neighboring Native Americans, and scarce food resources. As we listened to the story being told it was almost like we got transported there. I could see the sights, hear the sounds, smell the smells, and even feel the weather. That is when I realized what a Living Book was. It is a telling that takes you exactly to that space and time of which the author has written about and lets you experience life through the eyes of the characters. How I wish I was taught this way in school instead of the dry snippets in my textbooks. Can you imagine how much passion could have been ignited in me at an earlier age had I been taught through living books. I would have been able to make so many connections as to the WHY of certain events in history had I had the back stories and side stories of the folks who lived it and not just the dates and places that left my head as quickly as they entered just long enough to pass the test. Now I am not speaking ill of memorization cause I am a fan of creating memory pegs. But I teach that way with the intention of filling in those pegs with the appropriate explanations and information later on.
So after our whistle was wet with Little House on the Prarrie we moved forward with Little House in the Big Woods. It also became a big hit with the children. So I wanted to seek out more information on those who passionately believe in the use of Living Books. That is when I came across the achieves on The Homeschool Channel of Shirley Solis. She is a Homeschool Convention Speaker and owns a Business Lifetime Books and Gifts which has lots of good information and literature. Another resource I found about is a book called "Honey for a Child's Heart" by Gladys Hunt. There a are dozens of Living Book resources. They even have a website that has living book resource suggestions for Math called Living Math. Jim and Sheila Carrol founded an entire curriculum program based of living books called Living Books Curriculum(LBC). They have a free newsletter that I signed up for in which I have received great articles on how to do narration and even some audio story links. They had an audio out around Christmas that told the origins of St. Nick. It was really interesting as I have never heard the story before. I also was looking into some more free resources of living books on the Internet since most of them are public domain and came across a few good sites that have some well organized.
Here is the list:
The Baldwin Project
Librivox(Free Audio Library)
Of course there are many more but these are just the ones I have found. I also want to make clear that although I am changing things up a bit that lean towards more a Charlotte Mason style does not mean that I have totally abandoned Classical Education. I have stayed true to philosophy since the beginning. We have always been Eclectically Classical. I firmly believe in molding things to fit you and not molding yourself to fit a education style. There is lots to learn as far as how to learn best. There are many ways to accomplish your goals. You just got to pick one that speaks to your heart, your children, your lifestyle.