“For the children? They must grow up upon the best… There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told. Let Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ represent their standard in poetry, DeFoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who will demand literature– that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life.”(Vol 2 pg 263)When I first discovered Charlotte Mason and read her thoughts on living books, I knew I had found a kindred spirit! Some of her other teachings were harder to implement, some we have never succeeded in introducing consistently, but her insistence on quality literature was our mantra, we were already embracing those ideals and have continued to do so.
It is through the selection of excellent books with quality illustrations that we introduce our children to inspirational ideas, impart knowledge, create interests, support moral standards and surround them with rich language. We don’t subscribe to the popular thought of, “well at least they are reading something”. Books read in our home for the most, fit Charlotte Mason’s criteria. A little twaddle is acceptable but a steady diet is rather like living on candy floss instead of a diet of nutritious food. Reading the Slow Books Manifesto I was struck by this, “Literature doesn’t just make us smarter, however; it makes us us, shaping our consciences and our identities.” A reminder that we must be constantly vigilant as to what thoughts and ideas we are introducing to our children.
As a parent one of my greatest privileges and pleasures is; to aid our children in finding ‘new friends’, to help them source books when following an interest, to compile booklists for unit topics or simply for pleasure. Many books we read come from our own shelves, or I search our local library catalogue, and occasionally we purchase new titles. To have fostered and watched a love of literature blossom within our children affords us great pleasure.