Are Living Books Always Good Literature?
May 26, 2021
Books—The Way They Should Go
Don’t you love seeing your kids reading? Whether it’s the Bible or Anne of Green Gables it does a Mama’s heart good to see her littles (or teens) curled up in a happy place reading books. But we don’t want them to just read any old books; we want the best books, the classics: real literature. We want books that will train them up in the way they should go—books that will help them focus on what’s true and lovely, so they’ll go the rest of the day thinking on those things.
Not sure where to find books like that? Rest assured The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine has that covered.
At Home in a World of Books by Karen Andreola
The Point of Literature by Paul Schaeffer
Classic Literature: A Gentle Introduction by Marla Schultz
And remember, Mama. . .
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT; if there be any VIRTUE, and if there be any PRAISE, think on these things.” – Philippians 4:8
Let these things run through your thoughts and actions today, over and over again. Minds and hearts on the Lord. Think on these things.
As you read. . .
As you walk. . .
As you go. . .
As a homeschooling Mama, you have a powerful opportunity with these kids. You have the gift of TIME. If they are off at school all day, your window with them shrinks considerably, and it’s hard to force quality time—meaningful conversations—into those few remaining hours of the evening.
Have you noticed how sometimes during the most harried and crazy day, where normally you’d think it was on track for failure, with few to no redeeming qualities, that you get these nuggets of precious encounters springing out of what seems like nowhere? You marvel at the dialogues that happened because of whatever string of events led up to it—that never would have occurred had the kids been out all day, apart from you. Apart from your influence. Away, where others are their primary influence.
Learning moments. Treasured, divine appointments. God gives them to us, and how special they are! We get so used to these gifts . . . but they may not always be here.
Think hard on these things. As for today, His hand is on your head.
To Read that Book or Not Read That Book: Is That the Question?
Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 12:12, “But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” Yup, that glazed look in your littles, tween, or young adult scholars’ eyes is real, my friend. There is only so much space in your homeschool planner for reading; so it’s essential to choose wisely. Good living books create a space for conversations between you and your child. So, what kind of conversations do you want to have with your children?
Deep Conversations: Science and history textbooks are wonderful, but they only provide an outline for study. Living books provide in-depth knowledge of a subject. Together, you can mine the jewels of understanding that cannot be obtained with simple facts and figures.
Cultural Conversations: A good living book is a trip around the world where my student can experience the food, clothing, shelter, family structures, and belief systems of another fellow human. Meeting and understanding people is at the very heart of God’s great commission to go into all the world and preach the good news. While reading, I ask my children, “How would you share Jesus with the characters or people in the book?”
Relationship Conversations: Let’s face it, relationship dynamics are complex. Good living books provide a place where you and your student can wrestle with multifaceted personalities and see consequences, good or bad, all played out in a few chapters rather than a lifetime.
Communication Conversations: God’s gift of individuality is beautifully present in the way an author communicates with the written word. Through living books, you can discuss the use of literary techniques and how an author tells a story to influence or help the reader feel the story. An author’s style of communication will significantly influence how your child writes and speaks.
To read that book or not read that book is not the question. A better question is, what conversations do you want to have with your children? When you choose good living books for your children, you give your student a moment in time for real conversations, real discipleship, and true education.
Beth Mora, creator/teacher-on-camera for Here to Help Learning’s Homeschool Writing Program (grades 1-6) and homeschool conference and women’s events speaker, loves blog at Home to Home. She serves up HTHL’s Writing Tip of the Week for those teaching their kiddos to write. Everything she does, whether laughable or heart gripping, is done to honor One. God’s grace is the salve that has healed her own life and is what she offers liberally to others.
“If I can make you laugh, you’ll accept my message–even if it’s not the truth,” a well-known children’s author once said. He explained that when we laugh or emote, we tend to align ourselves with the worldview of the storyteller.
A living book is one that teaches our kids about history, science, or even math through story. It is emotion that makes living books such a powerful and effective tool for teaching our kids. When our children feel like they’ve lived through the Reformation, the American Civil War, or the Civil Rights Movement, they are far more likely to remember what they have learned. Consider, for example, the books you read as a child. Are there books you still remember–books that helped shape the person you have become? Certainly, for me, there are books that fit that description.
A living book is a powerful vehicle to carry a message.
As parents, that means it’s wise to examine the literature we allow into our homes. I know that as a mother of four voracious readers, I didn’t always have time to review every book myself, nor was every book a read-aloud. Instead, I used resources like Focus on the Family’s Plugged In book reviews, and Christine Miller’s All Through The Ages history book. When we did read aloud, which was nearly daily, we would discuss the author’s worldview and how it lined up with Scripture. Now that my youngest boys are upperclassmen in high school, I see the fruit of these conversations. They choose their own free-time reading materials, and they talk about author worldview, how their books align with God’s Word, and where they see truth in themes.
Living books present a wonderful way to drive home a message, as well as to help our kids learn about any given subject. It’s important to remember as we choose each living book that author worldview truly does matter. Themes and content matter.
Because, truly, we tend to think more like an author as we feel the message he is driving home with his words.
Danika Cooley is the author of Help Your Kids Learn and Love the Bible (Bethany House) and Bible Road Trip™, a three-year Bible survey for preschool to high school. She is an award-winning children’s author with a new line of Christian history for 3rd to 5th graders (Who What Why Series, Christian Focus Publications) debuting in August.
Pillar of Future
Dan Beasley – Preparing for the Future by Learning from the Past
One of my favorite coffee mugs at my old law office noted: “Experience is what you get right after you need it.” That epigram was certainly true as I learned the practice of law. Some lessons appeared to arrive too late—right after the new skill or strategy would have been particularly useful. Hindsight is always 20/20.
As my wife Bethany and I finish up another year of homeschooling, I am reminded that there are many lessons to be learned from both the highs and lows of the past school year. But I also wish that we could anticipate and implement these kinds of lessons instead of realizing that they would have been a good idea after the fact.
The good news is we can learn some of these lessons from others.
We have more experienced friends who have already walked a few miles in our shoes (or at least similar shoes) and are willing to share. If we listen, we can avoid unnecessary hardship by learning from their experience.
Whether we learn by reflecting on our own decisions or listening to others, experience helps prepare us to face the future with more confidence and competence that we can pass along to our children.
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Explore the many learning possibilities with the Creative Learning, Writing, & Logic Resource Guide in the Spring 2021 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine. You’ll see three pages (17 products!) of engaging options for the learners in your home. Reading, writing, science, geography, and entertainment are all covered. Check out these family education options for creative learning.
Look What’s Happening!
The Arizona Families for Home Education organization is hosting the Homeschooling Changes Lives – AFHE 37th Annual Homeschool Convention July 16–17. Visit www.afhe.org/convention for more information. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Christian Home Educators Association of California is having their Keys to Homeschooling and Curriculum Fair on June 10, 2021! Visit their website at https://www.cheaofca.org/events/keys-homeschooling-curriculum-irvine/ for more information.
Share this newsletter with a friend, and be sure to let those CONSIDERING homeschooling know about the enormous FREE info-pack which awaits them here: www.TryHomeschooling.com.
Congratulations to Rochelle Burgess of Covina Hills, CA, who won our March giveaway!
for the month of May
The Impending Storm
The Impending Storm takes you to the land of Exinere. It is a land full of adventure and wild, magical creatures. There are elves, satyrs, dwarves, canes, ogres, and marmerites. There is tremendous wealth to be earned, but the harmony of the kingdom is in question. The Might Guild is the security and works hard to keep the peace in Exinere.
William starts an adventure of his lifetime. He needs to find out the person or persons that are behind the attacks on the city and the people of Campestri. Will they be able to find out before it is too late?
As I was reading this tale, there is a certain amount of violence that you would see with any type of battles. The graphic detail though was not great, so definitely appropriate for a young adult audience.
There are over 300 pages in the story. The book is quite sturdy and well made. It traveled well with me inside my purse while I was pre-reading for the girls. Now Lydia has started the story. She says it is hard to put down and cannot wait to see what happens with William and Adam.
Who knew that a high school creative writing project would turn into a page-turning, edge-of-your seat story! I cannot wait to see what other stories are written by this duo.
This is part of a review of the novel The Impending Storm. Read the full review on our site.
Go to the contest page of our site where you can ENTER TO WIN the book The Impending Storm.
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