Thursday, March 12, 2020

Part 2: How to find 'living books'

In Part 1: How to Educate Students Outside the Classroom, I discussed the method of reading and retelling (often referred to as 'narrating'). In that post, I mentioned several times about well-written, living books.
How do you know if a book can be considered well-written or 'living'?
Here are a few criteria to get you headed in the right direction.

For non-fiction books (i.e. history stories, biographies, travel stories, science inventions or discoveries, natural history, etc.), the books should be written by one author instead of compiled by an editor.
For fiction books (i.e. fairy tales, fables, myths, literature, etc.), retellings written by one author is preferred over an editor, but use your judgement. Poetry collections or anthologies often have an editor rather than an author given the nature of the material. But if you can find the poet's own collection, pick that one.
The writing should have the natural flow of the author speaking to the reader in a friendly and conversational tone.

The text should not be continually broken up by sidebars or boxes with 'fast facts' or 'Did you know?' content.

The idea is to provide the reader with an understanding of the ideas presented in a readable paragraph format with diagrams or illustrations that enhance the text.
The example I provided at the end of my last post about Gutenberg's printing press is an example of this type of writing. Here is a picture of what the pages look like from that excerpt.

Well-written, living books are enjoyable to read because the author is competent in their research, but also enthusiastic to share these ideas with their readers.
The sentence structure is varied with pleasing vocabulary usage but not needless jargon or insider terms that confuse or isolate the reader.

The ideas presented are intended to be absorbed with interest and attention, leaving the reader free to draw their own conclusions.

Well-written books can be found in all sizes and formats, such as picture books, chapter books, and story collections. Authors and illustrators of living books are to be found at all levels of writing for younger and older students.
Do not assume that the larger picture books are only for the very young students.

Everyone enjoys a well-told story richly illustrated.

I could talk about good books for hours and show you photos of many more living books right up through high school age. Lucky for you, I also have children in my home who need to be fed and attended to. So before I go, let me give you a few places to look online for 'living' books lists.

If you already have some ideas of books you want your students to read, but want to save delivery time and money, look for free audio recordings from LibriVox, free kindle downloads from Project Gutenberg and free printable reading schedules from Ambleside Online's Curriculum pages.

If you would like some resources to help you select well-written, living books for your students to read and narrate from here are some online sites to look through:

Reshelving Alexandria
Simply Charlotte Mason
Read-Aloud Revival

Public libraries may still have some of these books, but may choose to close for a time. Thrift stores and secondhand shops will also have them. Big box stores and online book sites will offer many of these too. And as already has been mentioned, you can read many of these books for free in the public domain.
I wish you well in whatever path you choose to continue reading and learning. Thanks for reading these posts and I will try to answer any further questions you may have.

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