Using 'Living Books' in Your Homeschool
© Rebecca Williams, July 2006
You can use living books in conjunction with ordinary books really easily. For example, say you were studying The French Revolution. You could get an encyclopaedia or a high school text book and read about the basic facts: when it happened, why it happened, what parties were involved, how many died and who ruled France after it was over. Then you could read 'Tale of Two Cities' by Charles Dickens and 'The Scarlet Pimpernel' by Baroness Orczy and travel back through time and follow the story as the aristocrats fled for their lives, hid in wagons and beer barrels just to get to England to escape the guillotine; meet the brave heroes who saved them and the women who loved them... You could contrast this with the plight of the desperately poor as they suffered for so many years under the terrible cruelty of the French monarchy, bringing their children up in filth and watching unbelievable wealth flaunt itself on a daily basis with no grace or charity. In no time you would start to understand why this bloodthirsty revolution had to happen and the reason for the hatred behind the introduction of the dreaded guillotine.
Living books help the topic of study come 'alive' for the student. Can you tell I really love living books? You could read these books to get the feeling of 'living the topic', whether its science or maths or history, etc., and use the reference books to help you understand the facts surrounding the events. Most' classics' would be living books.
There are heaps of books, especially those produced by Dorling Kingsley, that are great resources for the homeschool. Don't let the internet take over the need for your reference/ encyclopaedia books. We have sat and searched for some things online for ages, then given up and gone to our books to find the answers. Children can't take the internet to bed with them like they can a wonderful book, and if your children are anything like mine then they will devour these reference books as they get older.
I have ones for younger years but I've found they don't get used nearly as much as these ones: the younger children don't seem to mind that they can't read all the words, they love the pictures anyway. The ones I've listed I plan to use as reference books throughout their high school years.
Rebecca Williams is a homeschooling mother living in South Australia.
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