Good Literature

by adustyframe ~ September 22nd, 2010

One major component of Ambleside/Charlotte Mason is the use of excellent living books.

Since I first read about this, I’ve read books with James that would appear to be beyond his level. James was 2 when I first started reading about Charlotte Mason. We skipped over the little books suggested for 2 year old children and we started reading books from the Year 0 list.

James loved them and so did I.

When school started we read the books on the list for each year. Even though sometimes Mom thought we’d have to plow through them.

James loved Nathaniel Hawthorne’s A Wonder Book. I didn’t think he’d like George MacDonald’s The Princess and the Goblin but he did. He begged for more.

Many of the books we’ve read made me wonder if they were “too much” and then James would be excited and begging for more. It affirms to me the wisdom of Charlotte Mason as well as the great selections made by Ambleside.

This week, I realized again that she’s right and that her methods reap rewards.

James came out of his room with a Boxcar Children book. He’s collected quite a few and he reads one now and then. I think he likes the mystery element in them.

He said, “Mom, you know I like my Boxcar books, but they’re not written very well. That book you’re making me read (Ginger Pye) is written much better than this.”

He then proceeded to read weak sentences from the Boxcar book out loud.

I chuckled. It’s pretty cool to have a 9 year old boy who has discriminating taste in literature. I told him he can read his Boxcar books for fun if he likes but he doesn’t have to if he’d like to be done with them.

We also had a discussion about authors recently.

I let him choose which literature book we read out loud and he said he didn’t want to read Men of Iron. He wanted to take a break from Pyle since he wrote Robin Hood and we finished it not long ago.

I love that he is recognizing authors and good literature.

“For the children? They must grow up upon the best . . . There is never a time
when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told.

Let Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ represent their standard in poetry
DeFoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will
demand literature–that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life.” Charlotte Mason

‎”One of the beauties of a curriculum based on ‘living books’ is that nothing is twaddle.

Living books have literary power; they have ‘soul.’ The writers haveput their hearts into these books. As vital thought touches our minds, our ideas are vitalized, and out of our ideas comes our conduct of life.

These must be books that children enjoy. The ideas they hold must make that sudden, delightful
impact upon children’s minds, must cause that intellectual stir that marks the beginning of an idea.

“When Children Love to Learn” edited by Elaine Cooper


7 Thoughts Shared to Good Literature

  1. katrina

    I wish there were more wonderful kids out there like yours!!! =) I kept being told to read the Twilight series by friends and family. I was housesitting last summer and saw them laying around. I browsed through them and laughed so hard!!! The writing is SO poor! I really don’t understand the hype. I watched the 1st movie the other week when it was on one of my ‘free’ channels. The acting is so bad it made the book look good. =)

    I got a laugh at your comment. I haven’t read Twilight but they sure are the “big thing” aren’t they?

  2. Lisa

    Super! Well done, James. My kids still, so many years on now, talk about “Understood Betsy.” I wasn’t sure about it (like you) but the loved it. Since those days as we’ve gone from home to public school to home to…. we’ve tackled Dickens “Great Expectations” and “Treasure Island”. My d loved the mythology in AO and told friends of hers in public school to read “Black Ships Before Troy”–one of her favorite books ever. His Boxcar books are like my car books–they pass the time and are fun. Literature is a whole other part of life–almost a NEED. Great post!

  3. Lisa

    A quote for James [it’s on my blog sidebar]
    “Reading good books ruins you from enjoying bad books.” (Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows,p. 53.

    That’s a good one and so true!

  4. Liz

    That’s wonderful that he can determine such things. Can I ask how hard you found getting started with Ambleside? I’ve looked at it in the past and just feel overwhelmed.

    I started reading about different homeschool methods when he was 2. I don’t really remember how I found Charlotte Mason. Through my searching I found Ambleside and just got started.
    If you spend time reading the articles on there it helps.

  5. Melissa

    Liz – that’s great! I love seeing the end result of sticking to the principles!

  6. Erin

    I laughed about your James’ discrimination. I can so relate to that, I am half amused half embarrassed to admit my children have become literature snobs. My ds13 in particular will do preciously what your son does. lol

  7. amy in peru

    wow. now you have just saved yourself a lot of work if your boy can determine good reading material by himself! 😉

    I absolutely love this. excellent!

    I must admit, my boys really do enjoy some twaddle… but I do think they would be able to tell the difference. 🙂

    amy in peru

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