What are living books may be something you’ve been hearing about for homeschooling, especially when learning about the Charlotte Mason method of homeschool. We’ll give you a definition of living books as well as as list of living books for you to use in your learning, no matter what home school method or style you use!
What Are Living Books And How to Use Them for Homeschool
What are living books?
Living books are engaging books, often conversational, inspires imagination and are about the experience. They are especially used in the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method. Living books are engaging and “alive” in the sense that children are captivated by them and can’t wait to see what happens next! Living books are not meant to be read quickly. Instead, give kids time to think about what they have read and look at any pictures before moving on. Encourage discussion about what they’ve read!
Examples of Living Books
Biographies, some children’s picture storybooks, Bible stories, poetry, historical fiction, classics, and even fairy tales can all be examples of types of living books!
Living books include:
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
- Aesop’s Fables
- David Copperfield
- Pippy Longstocking
- The Story of the Wright Brothers
- Dr. Dolittle
- The Black Stallion
- The Boxcar Children
- Hans Christian Andersen: Fairy Tales and Short Stories
- Winnie the Pooh
- The Hardy Boys
- Nancy Drew
- Anything by Shakespeare
How do I find a living book?
What makes something a living book?
- They hold your child’s interest
- Look for narrative books that tell you a story in an immersive and engaging way
- Recognize that living books are often conversational, like you’re in the book or like the characters or author speak directly to you
- Stories that help transport your child into the book, time period, or story
- The author should be so passionate and excited about the topic that it comes across in the story
- Stories are realistic and characters have real faults and flaws (not “perfect” people or characters)
- Is it a great book for read aloud and discussion time?
- Ask: Does the book pique curiosity?
- Ask: Does it allow my child to learn about the world, time period, and people first-hand?
- Ask: Does the book make my child think critically and ask questions?
- Ask: Does it tap into my child’s emotions?
Living Books vs Other Books
Living books are very different from traditional textbook or learning with workbooks.
Traditional textbooks and workbooks contain words, facts and information. Kids are often assigned textbook and workbook readings with the expectation that information will be memorized, usually for kids to be tested on the topic.
Living books are not like this at all!
They contain topics and stories that inspire curiosity in children as they learn about the world around them, as well as stimulate their imaginations.
What living books are NOT:
- Living books are not textbooks
- Living books are not workbooks
- Living books are not just storybooks
- Living books are not just books for reading to learn facts or to be tested on material later
ALSO CHECK OUT:
Charlotte Mason Living Books List
Use this list of living books to create your own living books library!
Living books can be non-fiction (real life stories, things like the story of Edison and his failures leading him to invent the light bulb), works of fiction such as original stories or even fairy tales, biographies about famous and interesting people, historical fiction that retains historical facts in the story and helps children learn about history in a fun and engaging way, or any other book that captures their interest and engages them to learn more.
Our living book list will probably look a lot different than your list of living books because different things engage kids differently!
This is (obviously) in no way a complete list of living books for homeschooling, but it’s a great list to get you started!
Living Books in Action
- Around The World In 80 Days
- Trapp Family Singers by Annalisa Daugherty
- Moby Dick
- A Christmas Carol
- Little House on the Prairie
- Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
- Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
- The Jungle Book
- Anne of Green Gables
- The Call of the Wild
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
- The Doll’s House
- The Sign of the Beaver
Living History Book List
Living books for history may seem boring, but living history books can be great non-fiction stories or fiction history! Living history books stay true to historical facts.
What are living history books?
- Lincoln’s Childhood
- Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills
- The Story of King Arthur and His Knights
- Any of the Who Was? series
- The Story of the World series
- George Washington Carver
- The Horrible History collection
- Helen Keller
- The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks
Examples of Science Living Book Titles
- The Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body
- Who Was Nikola Tesla?
- Who Was Thomas Alva Edison?
- The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System
- The Story of Jane Goodall: A Biography Book for New Readers
- Snowflake Bentley
- The Boy Who Drew Birds