Monday, May 23, 2011

what is a LIVING BOOK? part three

Living Books are written by authors passionate about their subjects. 

Have you ever had the experience of looking forward to reading a book on a subject you were eager to learn more about, only to find yourself yawning or your mind wandering off, not long after you turned the first few pages? Perhaps you have returned on subsequent occasions and attempted a few more pages. Then, because you really do want to read it, you leave it on the bedside table. After several months and wiping off dust many times, you sheepishly return it to the library (much overdue) or put it on the shelf for another time, or even give it away. Have you ever had the opposite experience – picked up a book without much enthusiasm only to find yourself sucked in, looking forward to the next opportunity to read it, and animatedly describing it in detail to anyone who would listen?

The term “living books” comes from this notion that authors passionate about their subject communicate that passion to us in their writing. Something of the mind of the person behind the printed words speaks to us and we grab hold and are enlightened, encouraged, empowered. The ideas are living. They take root and come alive within us.

A few years ago I had this experience in an unexpected way. For years I had known about Charlotte Mason and a good deal about her educational method. I had read perhaps four or five books about her way of learning. But it was not until I began reading her own writing – six volumes I had always heard were ponderous, rambling, and difficult, that I was inspired to adapt her method wholeheartedly.  I found myself awestruck by the simple common sense and profound possibilities for children. Reading her ideas expressed in her own words and style excited me to the point that I became impassioned. What a difference it made to read her rather than what others had interpreted her to mean.

Living books are written by authors passionate about their subjects, Miss Mason, student of children and successful instructor for sixty-odd years was definitely passionate and I saw more clearly through her eyes and from her mind what she meant. When you or your children read books written by people who have had firsthand experience, firsthand knowledge, and write about this with vigor, you will find learning to be inevitable, seemingly effortless. Instead of pouring energy into trying to retain important information, you will not even realize how much you have absorbed, but will find yourself using and talking about your new knowledge.  It will live on in you.

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