The Living Books Approach

There are several different approaches for teaching your children to be productive, educated learners. Let’s discuss the Living Books Approach.

The Living Books approach is based on the teachings of Charlotte Mason, a turn-of-the-century British educator who believed in involving children in real-life situations. She taught that children should be allowed to read quality books instead of worthless, inferior material that she called “twaddle.”

She believed children should be allowed to develop moral and intellectual power by being taught good habits, by being involved in real-life situations, by reading wonderful, quality books and by being given plenty of time to play, reflect and create.

Some things to consider before choosing the Living Books approach:

1. Does your family love to read, both alone and together?
2. Does your family love to browse through bookstores or go to the library?
3. Are you comfortable with not having a thoroughly structured school time?
4. Will you follow through with teaching your children good habits and character qualities?
5. Will you teach your children to learn on their own?
6. Will you feel comfortable to allow time in your schedule to expose your children to nature, the arts and music?

What are the strengths of the living books approach?

• Study material comes from “real books,” rather than textbooks. Students are reading books written by someone who is passionate about their subject.
• Learning is more low-key because it comes from a natural process of simply reading a good book.
• This approach treats children as active participants in the learning process.
• The living books approach encourages curiosity, creative thinking and a love of learning.

What are the weaknesses of the living books approach?

• All subjects may not be covered at all times.
• This approach may neglect higher level studies because of its strong emphasis on the arts, literature and nature study.
• It may be difficult to track the student’s work.
• This approach does not follow a traditional scope and sequence.

You’ll discover that every teaching approach has its strengths and weaknesses. The key is discovering which approach fits best with your family’s lifestyle and will help you and your family to stay focused and consistent.

Click here to learn more about Choosing the Best Learning Approach For Your Family.


For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
– Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

Books Children Love – Edith Wilson
Teaching Children: A Curriculum Guide to What Children Need to Know at Each Level Through Grade Six – Diane Lopez
Educating the WholeHearted Child – Clay and Sally Clarkson
The Charlotte Mason Study Guide – Penny Gardner
A Basic History of the United States – Clarence Carson
Honey For a Child’s Heart – Gladys Hunt

Reference: The Elijah Company Catalog

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