Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Living Books Versus Textbooks

As I continue to learn about Charlotte Mason, the more I appreciate her methods and ideas.  Our family has always enjoyed books, and going to the library is a weekly occurrence in our home.  As I sit down and begin to plan next years lessons, I am trying to weigh my options between Living Books and Textbooks. 

We have seven children, two will be in high school this year and the other five will be in third grade and below.  At such different stages they have very different needs.  My oldest son is a huge book lover, especially historical fiction.  As I plan his year, I can plan in living books to feed his love of history.  But, he is not a lover of science. He would much rather be given a textbook, we use Apologia, so that he can do his work and move on.

My second oldest son is usually not a fan of sitting down a reading a book just for fun.  He would much rather be drawing, playing a game or riding his bike.  Even though Living Books are a good choice for some, they really aren't a good choice for him.  I use textbooks that also include a lot of journaling and drawing supplements.

My elementary children all love to be read to.  This makes the planning easy.  Lots of Living Books to feed their love of books and their imaginations.  I can use Living Books to present any subject we need to cover in a fun, easy going way.  If you would like a few more reasons to use Living Books read this post over at Home Hearts.

I was reading Educating the Whole Hearted Child and came across this comparison between Living Books and Textbooks.

* A living book is written by a single author, a real and knowable person.
* A textbook is written by various authors or contributors, usually unknown.

* A living books a literary expression of the author's own ideas and love of the subject.
* A textbook is a nonliterary expression of collected facts and information.

* A living book is personal in tone and feel.  It touches the heart and emotions, and the intellect.
* A textbook is impersonal in tone and feel.  It touches only the intellect.

* The author of a living book addresses the reader as an intelligent and capable thinker.

* In a living book, ideas are presented creatively in a way that stimulates the imagination.
* In a textbook, facts are presented without creativity in a way that deadens the imagination.

This sums it up pretty well.  But, as a homeschooling mother I love the fact that I can choose the approach that fits each child best.  My first choice would always be a Living Book, but there are times when a Textbook fits the bill better.

What are your thoughts?  Are you a one size fits all homeschooling family, or do you mix and match?

The adorable illustration is from the children's book The Plant Sitter.


  1. We mix and match here too. It's always good to have a balance. That way we can get the best of both worlds. :o)

    1. Exactly my thoughts Deborah! Thanks for stopping by :)

  2. We love living books! We don't own any textbooks with the exception of Saxon Math. We use Life of Fred Math, Sassafras Twins Science, and then regular library trips throughout the month. This works for us :-)

    1. You just can't beat the library :) I haven't heard of Sassafras Twins, I am going to check it out :)

  3. I also like to mix and match. We read lots of good, living books, but I do use some textbooks. (I'm stopping by from Week In Review.)

    1. Isn't it great that we have the flexibility to teach our children the way that is best for them :) Thanks for visiting Leah.

  4. I found the list of comparisons between textbooks and living books helpful We also use a combination of both. Thank you for sharing this :-)

    1. I am glad to hear it :) I hope you are having a great Summer!