How to Incorporate Living Books into Your Homeschool

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A living book is a book that fully engages a reader and draws him or her into the subject matter in a real and tangible way.

How to Incorporate Living Books into Your Homeschool

If you are familiar with the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling you will know that Charlotte Mason herself recommends that children read Living Books. Living Books are written by one person who is passionate about the subject in which they are writing and are usually an expert on that subject matter. It is most always written in a narrative or conversational tone. It does not list dry, informational facts, but has beautiful words and thoughts. A Living Book really does seem like it’s alive as it will pull you in, draw your attention and make you stop and think about what you are reading.

The children must enjoy the book. The ideas it holds must each make that sudden, delightful impact upon their minds, must cause that intellectual stir, which mark the inception of an idea,” ~ Charlotte Mason, School Education, p. 178.

Have you been wondering just how to incorporate Living Books into your homeschool? Switching from dry textbooks to living books can be a little overwhelming without a guide, or knowing where to start. 

Here are some ideas and simple ways to incorporate living books into your homeschool:

Find living books on subjects your children are interested in:
I love laying good books around on subjects that my kids love to learn about. This will make it so much easier for them to just grab a book and start reading it because it interests them. My girls absolutely love anything to do with nature and animals so I make sure to have good quality books on those topics for them to read. These almost always turn into a bigger learning experience, and you can use these for narration, copywork and dictation as well.

Here are some living books by subject and topics that may be of interest:
Living books on wildflowers from Harrington Harmonies
Living books for girls from Homemaking with Heart
Living books for boys from Homemaking with Heart
Free and Cheap Kindle Books: Thornton Burgess Nature and Animal Stories

Replace textbooks with spine books:
Instead of a boring history or science book that requires you to answer questions and take a quiz or test at the end of each chapter, try finding a living book spine as the core of your subject. A spine book is a book you are reading that gives an overview or main idea of that specific course. You can then bring in other living books on the different topics that are covered in the spine.

Some examples of spine books would be:
The Mystery of History
Truth Quest History
The Quark Chronicles (Science)
Wayfarers Curriculum Guide

Replace twaddle with rich literature:
What exactly is twaddle? It’s a fun word that Charlotte Mason herself used to describe something that talks down to a child in a babyish or child like manner. Books with twaddle would be very simple stories and books that don’t have a strong meaning with weak words, and plot lines. These could be silly, chapter books that are quick and easy for your kids to devour, but with no real meaning or with a good writing style. Try replacing these easy readers with quality, classic literature which would be the opposite of twaddle!

Here are some lists of good literature books to help get you started:
Twaddle Free Literature by Grade from Charlotte Mason Home
Free Classics List by Grade Level  from Heart of Wisdom
Read Aloud Revival Book List from Amongst Lovely Things
Elementary Reading List by Grade Level from Not Consumed

Use living books as read alouds for younger children:
Taking the time to sit down and read aloud with your little ones before naptime is a great way to wind down and rest in the middle of the school day. It also makes for a special time with your little ones, if you have spent most of the day helping your older students with their lessons. I also love having my older kids read to the little ones from good, quality stories. It helps them to read aloud and everyone is listening to great literature at the same time!

Read more about how to use living books with preschoolers here:

Written by Sarah


Sarah is a wife, daughter of the King and Granola Mama to 4 children ages 16-5. She is a Charlotte Mason style homeschooler and has been homeschooling for 13 years now. She is still trying to find the balance between work and keeping a home and says she can only do it by the Grace of God, Coffee and Green Smoothies!

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