Thursday, January 19, 2012

How We Do Charlotte Mason: Literature

When we were doing Sonlight, I had 2 kids in Core D and one in Core B. The way Sonlight is set up, you use quite a few books on any given day, I would estimate 5-6 books per core. Many of the readings were fairly short, so it wasn't that it was tedious, but more that having this list of books to get through everyday was turning me into a box checker. I felt like we were getting through each assignment just so I could check off that little box and move on. And if the boxes didn't get checked off, I felt like we were behind. Also, I didn't really like the scheduling of some of the books. A Child's History of the World is a great book, for example, but it was often scheduled in a four days on, three weeks off pattern that I found kind of off-putting.

I like to stick with a book once I've started it, rather than jumping around to several different ones at once. I love books though, which is why  I seriously considered Ambleside. But three kids in three separate years times all the books Ambleside goes through in a week...well I felt like it was just not going to work for me.

I want simple. I crave a simple, yet deep education. Or maybe I'm just lazy and don't want to keep track of so many books at a time. Either way,  I've taken a leap and made our lit. selection super simple.

My plan for literature consists of this:

One read-aloud at a time that everyone listens to.
One lit. selection at a time that each child reads independently.

That's it. We do history and science readings too,and I'll post about those another time.

For our read-aloud, since we have varying ages (6, 9, and 11), I have decided I will alternate between an easier book and a harder book. I read one chapter per day. We don't narrate this, I just read. Occasionally we might discuss, but usually, we just read one chapter, first thing in the morning. We are currently reading Little House in the Big Woods.

Our lineup for the rest of the year (or however long it takes us) is:

The Wind in the Willows
Little House on the Prairie
Farmer Boy
The Secret Garden
On the Banks of Plum Creek
Robinson Crusoe
By the Shores of Silver Lake

I chose a few of the Ambleside selections from Years 2-4 and added the Little House books in between for a break from the "heavier" reading. For the independent readers, I just took all the books from Sonlight that we hadn't gotten to yet, and lined them up on a shelf. The kids pick one lit. book (or history biography) to read at a time. They read 1-3 chapters depending on age/length of chapter. Then I ask them to tell me what happened in their book that day.

At first, the narrations were like pulling teeth. But just a few weeks later, I am happy to say they are much better at it, and will now come to me to tell me what happened in their story that day. I think the fact that they get to choose the book plays a big part in this. In the future, I plan to make up a shelf of books I think are suitable, using suggestions from Ambleside, Sonlight, and The Well-Trained Mind, and let them have free reign in choosing.

For now, my six year old is reading Usborne's Greek Myths, Christopher is reading Who was Daniel Boone, and Grace is reading Naya Nuki.


  1. Very similar to our approach! Together we are enjoying The Hobbit. Ds10 is reading various books on dragons (Dragonology, etc.) and I am helping dd8 with The Sisters Grimm book 1. Nice and simple. I need to add in more narration though!

  2. I had never heard of The Sisters Grimm so I looked it up. Thanks for mentioning it, I am always looking for something new for the kids to read and this looks right up my daughter's alley:)


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