Sunday, June 22, 2008

Living Books.

Living books ~ "whole books," firsthand sources, classics, books that display "imagination, originality, and the 'human touch.'" Charlotte Mason.

I admit it, I'm a long term bookworm, a disease that began in my childhood & is now a chronic condition. As a homeschooling parent I first came upon the term *living books* in the Charlotte Mason approach to homeschooling & found that, yes indeedy, almost invariably, I have read most, if not all the books listed on various living book lists. What I have also found is a heavy American emphasis. This is not surprising given so much of the homeschool drive is originating in the States but there are some absolutely brilliant books around that have stood the test of time & cover different & interesting things to the norm. Yep, that's me all over. Sorry folks.

Boys can be difficult to get to read & to find books that will interest them, which is why Allan Campbell Mclean is a wonderful find. His books are set in the Hebridean highlands & cover things like crofting life, the clearances, the injustices of the English judicial system on a people whose primary language & thinking was Gaelic. Mclean has a real gift for the Gaelic lilt in English & the idioms that make listening to it an absolute joy. Best of all his books are usually adventure stories, full of excitement & boyish daring do. If you have boys have a look at these. They are still in print.

Now Rumour Godden (don't you just love that name?) is one of my all time favourite authors & I admit a bias. British born, but raised in British India for the early part of her childhood, she wrote some wonderful books on India but that early schism in her life & thinking gave her a real knack for grasping cultural divides. The Kitchen Madonna, about two children who want to make their Ukraine cook feel more at home, is one of my favourites. Her children are not goody~goody but Godden has a knack for the tensions between child/adult thinking & the misunderstandings that arise when this happens.

Also high on my book recommendations to~day is the Diddakoi. This looks at the persecution the Romany have always suffered through the eyes of a half~caste child, the diddakoi of the title, & how her village comes to finally understand & appreciate something of her people & way of life.

I am planning a post of Australian titles as well for those of you who just might be interested in seeing some of the Australian classics that are around. Reading being a very subjective activity these will be my choices, books that I enjoyed & still occasionally revisit ~ as one does with dearly loved friends.


molytail said...

I know what you mean about the abundance of American-centered's not just in the suggestions of living books either. (Nothing against Americans - like you mentioned, the US is at the forefront of the homeschooling drive, so it makes sense.) .....

I'm not familiar with these books, but I'm gonna investigate 'em. :-)

Persuaded said...

i would SO love to have a list of australian classics... next year we'll be doing american history alllllllllllll year, so i/we will be very anxious for a little relief from pioneers, etc. sigh. some australian culture and flavor would be a lot of fun.

Mrs. Darling said...

Goodness, I never even thought about the classics being american. Im so naive. I think my reality is the entire worlds reality!

Ganeida said...

Mrs D, many of the classics are American so that is understandable, but each country has it's own *good books* & I have always loved finding those too. I'm just putting in a plug for some Aussie Lit I've enjoyed. =D