My daughter returned from the mailbox full of excitement. There was a package, and she could tell it contained a book. For my part, I was happy too. I knew it was a biography of John Newton who is next up on our list for hymn study. I can’t wait!
Books! Perhaps the greatest reason I chose to give my children a Charlotte Mason style education. I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, maybe even longer. One of my greatest joys has been to watch my children forming relationships with books. My oldest son is about to finish reading The Swiss Family Robinson. I didn’t know if he would enjoy it or not. It’s a fairly large book and not a subject he is typically drawn to, but when I asked if he liked the book or the movie better his reply was immediate. The book was much better, and the movie left out way too much good stuff.
My oldest daughter often needs to be pried away from her books. In that she is not unlike me! Often she’ll have more than one book going at a time, and if asked what she’d like as gifts, “books,” is always at the top of her list.
So what makes a book good? I’ve asked myself that many times. For a long time I would say you can’t have too many books. To some extent I still believe that, but it’s only true if it’s the right kind of books. When I take my children to the library, and they bring me books like Batman’s Shapes or Dora the Explorer’s ABC’s, I cringe. I won’t forbid them to check them out, but I also try to lead them to other choices. On the other hand, we can get lost for a long time with a stack of Jan Brett’s books. The stories are lovely classics that create wonderful discussions. The illustrations are gorgeous, making you want to be right there in them. These are books we can return to over and over again.
One of my boys has developed a love for Skippyjon Jones, so much so that he has decided if he ever gets married and has a son he will name him Skippyjon Jones. (Thank goodness he has plenty of time to change his mind!) At first I was skeptical of these books because they do tend to be a bit nonsensical, but the flow of the rhyme and the funny story lines had my non-book loving child begging for more. I love, too, that the settings such as Egypt or outer space, lead him to explore those topics further.
The same can be said for the American Girl historical books. Some have claimed that they aren’t particularly well-written. Perhaps that’s true. I suppose it’s a matter of taste. All I know is that I have a daughter who enjoys them immensely. She loves reading them and further exploring the time period. She becomes passionate about some of the issues that they faced. The loves to delve into the crafts and foods of the different eras, and she even likes to dress like the girls whom she is getting to know through the pages of her books. These are girls she’ll remember long after she’s grown. Maybe one day she’ll even share them with her daughters.
A good book should make you think, but even more, it should make you feel. Not a quick, warm fuzzy feeling, but something that works on your emotions, fuels a fire of joy or indignation, makes you want to be right there as part of the story. Sometimes a good book will challenge your thinking and make you reconsider some previously held belief. It should draw you into it and make you a bit sad when it’s time to say goodbye. There is a reason that Ms. Mason calls truly good books living books, and there is such a lot to be gained as you make them part of your daily life.
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