A living book is a book that opens your mind, inspires you to read more, or to learn more about a person, event, or time in history. A living book will ask to be read again, or quoted from as you read through it. A living book will be re-enacted by your children in the backyard or the living room theatre. A living book will sprout ideas for a new project or writing lesson.
Many of you are aware of the great booklists - especially Ambleside Online's booklists. These lists have been the backbone of our read-aloud books over the years.
But we have also come across many books that are not on those lists. I would like to share a little bit about some of the books sitting on my bookshelf in the picture.
Nestled between the big Matthew Henry commentary on the book of Matthew, and one of the girls' Bibles, is a red & black book called "People in History" written by R.J. Unstead. This is what he writes in his introduction:
Every age has its heroes who stir the imagination and shape the lives of ordinary people. For a child in particular, tales of heroism and adventure, of high courage and achievement, are an important and essential part of his development, as well as his first introduction to history.
Unstead then goes on to "tell the stories" of many historical characters, from Boadicea, to William the Conqueror, to Florence Nightingale. The stories are accompanied by black and white, and some colour illustrations. Unstead has written many other books on different time periods, and they are always a delight to read.
Another book on the shelf - infact a set of books, are those by Arthur Mee. They are the red and green books, three of which are without dustjackets, toward the right hand end of the bottom shelf. One of them is called "The Wonderful Journey". This is Arthur Mee's introduction:
Here we will let imagination do its work; we will roam among the great sights of the world. This is no guide-book. It is a picture of things that a busy man has seen when he has found the courage and the time to say Good-bye to Little Treasure island, and to run over the hills and far away. It is a look-back to happy days and far-off things...
...from this hilltop [in Kent] with all its thrilling wonder, we may pass in not many hours to stand among the ruins of Time and her ancient empires. We can be in Egypt or in Rome. We can walk among the ruins of Pompeii, and look upon the monuments the Romans left behind. Within a week we can stand in the heart of a mountain and gaze on the face of Pharoah lying where his people left him long ago. We can see the shadows of their mighty walls creep across the sands of Egypt. Let us imagine we are there again. Let us go together on this journey through Time and some of her wonders.
"A Wonderful Journey" is another book that tells the stories of historical characters, but also makes you feel as though you have been to all the places and seen the characters!Arthur Mee also wrote a children's newspaper, about all manner of different subjects. They were eventually published as "The Children's Encyclopaedia", which we have a copy of. The girls spend hours pouring over these books!
I always look out for these two authors, because I know they will not disappoint!