Friday, August 29, 2008

"Living Books" vs. "LIVING Books"

Good Literature has always been a passion of mine. I love to read.. I love to read aloud. I enjoy breathing new life into these seemingly 1 dimensional characters. I love to feed my children's spirits with great ideals and powerful thoughts.
It was about 2 years ago that I became aquainted with the idea of a "Charlotte Mason Education".... and I have been an earnest follower of her method ever since.
I reflect on my GREAT love of literature:
I was rather a privledged reader in school. And by that I mean, privledged enough (at that most tender age), to KNOW good literature when I read it; to KNOW it, and to ENJOY it.
If I could rank one of my passions above the passion for literature, it would be... the Theatre arts.
OH!! to TELL a story, invest your WHOLE person into the art of truly becoming another.... now THAT is a REAL storyteller!!
I remember, as a child, pulling costume after costume out of a worn wicker trunk, and performing for my parents every weekend. Having 7 brothers and sisters, I had no trouble finding a cast of any size to revel in the excitement of acting out a classic story,... or even imagining one of my own. Imagination was the light and happiness of my childhood. It was encouraged by my parents, and oft times induldged in by them as well.
This is the cornerstone of my teachings with my children.
To loose one's imagination... is very sad indeed. Suffice to say,that many of us, in our adulthood have lost the capacity of our one-time fruitful imaginations. It is no wonder that grown- ups loose the ability to find their "Neverlands". Perhaps some of you may find your imagination locked away in a worn wicker trunk; in the corner of your mind.
I hope that these words will inspire you to dust it off... and take it out:
It is here, where I begin to tell you of the exploits of our family. It is here, where I define "living Books" as we know them.
Those of you familiar with CM, may have heard the term "living" book. "Living" books , according to CM's philosophy, are books described as "whole books," firsthand sources, classics, books that display "imagination, originality, and the 'human touch.'"
Further, these book often help in the development of a child's character. A book which does not, is termed "twaddle". CM advocates for narration; That is, the retelling of a story in the child's own words. It is through their translation, that they truly begin to understand and appreciate the depth of knowledge obtained within the mere pages of a book.
BUT... is that enough?
I have found that the true depth of knowledge is obtained when we truly "live the book". It is in this idea, that I hope to inspire my children to be GREAT storytellers.
There has never been a more wonderful or poignant day, then when I put my children's powerful imaginations to work through narrating and acting the text on the pages. Indeed, there are days when my children exercise their minds through dress up... reenactment... and just plain being silly. I cannot tell you the number of times we have gone on our excurions (in costume), only to be stared at with great curiosity.... maybe even "concern".
We recently spent a day devoted to the writings of Dr. Seuss. We "hopped" to IHOP... donning our "suessical" wear.... we rhymed throughout the day... and had ridiculously childish fun. Mind you, an exercise such as this... is NOT for the faint of heart.

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"A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it
down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by
acting."- Henry David Thoreau.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
-Proverbs 22:6