I am SO excited to share some news with you! Believe me when I say that this has been the hardest secret I've ever had to keep. :)
If you have been in my library or known me for any length of time, you know that two of my most treasured books are by the wonderful author/illustrator Kate Seredy (pronounced Share-edy.)
The Chestry Oak has been enjoyed by many of you, some returning with tears and saying, like I, that it was one of the most beautiful books you have ever read. This book impacted me very profoundly. When I found my first copy, I was in desperate need of a new winter coat. I bought the book instead. I now own three copies, one for each of my boys.
A Tree for Peter has been called by my friend, Emily Kiser, The...Perfect...Book. Enough said. I also own three copies of this magnificent treasure.
FINALLY, thanks to the tireless work of the Cottrill's, owners of Living Books Library, these books are being brought back into print!!! Purple House Press is reprinting these gems in paperback. A Tree for Peter will be released in early November in paperback for $10.95 just in time for Christmas giving as it is the perfect Advent reading. The Chestry Oak is due out in January in paperback for $12.95. (IOU's for Christmas gifts?) One note about paperbacks. I know many are disappointed that these books are being reprinted in paperback. However, it is VERY expensive to print in hardcover AND modern methods of printing are extremely inferior to the old days. Hardcover books are now, for the most part, glued rather than stitched which causes them to easily crack. Hardcover books are very susceptible to this since the cover is not flexible like the soft covers are. There are many times that I will choose a soft cover over a new hardcover. At least these books will be able to be enjoyed by many more children.
We are a busy people. As I type...not at home...my laundry is piled, dishes unwashed, and a mile-long list of things to accomplish. Pressures of life seem to crush us.
Charlotte Mason, in her wisdom, advised all of us to purposely schedule time to be. Her students did their studies in the mornings, leaving afternoons for leisure, meditating, ruminating, handicrafts, projects and growing.
Many times we homeschool moms feel pressure to keep up with academic demands that push our children beyond their means of accomplishment. I've been guilty of trying to work in just one more subject...then just one more. Before I know it, the day is gone and I have a list of things we have accomplished, but no real learning, no life-changing ideas.
Even the books we read can become a stumbling block to the ideas we are to savor. We are thrilled when our children love to read. However, could it be that always having a nose in a book could stand in the way of gleaning ideas from those books? Where is the time to just think on these things?
I think when we consider what a Charlotte Mason education is, we assume we are to always be engaged in some subject in a living way. However, Charlotte intentionally cautioned against over-extending ourselves and planning every moment. Leisure time and time spend outdoors is critical to our physical, emotional and spritual well being.
We are to seek after knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge comes from the books we read, the things we see and do. Wisdom comes from meditating and pondering on what the books are things are teaching us. Often mindless tasks such as washing dishes are my thinking times. I use those snippets of the clock to let God's Spirit bring those ideas together in my heart and mind to make them part of me.
Flooding our schedules with activities and studies, even good ones, is not beneficial. I'm speaking to myself when I say, "Slow down. Erase the events on the calendar. Put down the book. Be."
What would the world be like without our animal friends? We spend hours a day with our farm animals. Milking cows, gathering eggs from our chickens, herding our sheep, laughing at our ducks, petting the cat and dogs are teaching our boys responsibility and compassion. My middle son is known in our farming community as the animal whisperer. He can get any of our animals to do just about anything we need them to.
I think this fasciniation is universal. Down through time, probably more books have been written about animals or through the viewpoint of animals than any other theme. They entertain us, charm us, teach us. Whether the animals are portrayed as themselves or personified with human characteristics, they are favorites among children and adults alike. Here are some of our favorites.
Thornton Burgess wrote so many absolutely wonderful stories of animals. We have read many and they are still treasures even though my boys are getting older. I have begun a collection of the old hardcovers for each of them but they are available in inexpensive paperbacks.
Books by Robert McClung, such as Ruby Throat: The Story of a Hummingbird, are my favorites for teaching younger children about the animal world. Simple but well-written text and lovely illustrations engage the young reader and help to build lasting relationships with each animal. These are out of print but worth seeking out.
Animals have played an important role in history and we have many titles from various time periods.
Only a Dog: A Story of the Great War is a touching true story of love and sacrifice. Bertha Smith wrote this book in 1917 based on an account a British soldier described to her. Private Rice and Army are buried side by side near Armentières in Flanders. This has been republished by Simply Charlotte Mason.
Dhan Gopal Mukerji won the Newberry Award with Gay Neck: The Story of a Pigeon. This is a true living book, relating the author's boyhood in India, raising his beloved pigeon, and the important role helping the Allied war effort in World War II.
Rikki-Tikki-Tavi by Rudyard Kipling - Begin this classic story with your children and they will beg you to keep reading. At the end you will know facts about India, the mongoose, cobras and much more. Suspenseful to the end.
You can't have a list of books about animals and leave out Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting! The doctor's ability to talk to the animals has been thrilling children for generations.
And another just for fun...the Freddy the Pig series by Walter Brooks. Freddy is the ultimate Renaissance pig. He has many adventures such as traveling to the moon, playing football, camping, being a detective, etc. Don't miss these for simple animal fun.
So many wonderful books have been written about animals that no list could cover them all. Seek one out and make a new animal friend.
I think my 11 year old son believes everyone surely must have 17,000 books in their home. He has no memories of life without books in every nook and cranny of his surroundings. As much as he enjoys them, I think he takes them for granted. Our conversation yesterday insinuated that anyway.
As I was reshelving hundreds of books from library day and a huge book shopping trip, my son asked, "Momma, why do we need so many books? Don't you think you have enough? Why is this so important?"
I stood up, looked him in the eye and replied, "Because God gave us a Book."
Our culture, as I have lamented here many times, has come to disregard the written word, trading it for images on a screen, not only for their shallow knowledge, but their relationships as well. Reading of any kind is fast becoming obsolete, inefficient, boring, irrelevant...the list goes on.
But God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to communicate to us through a Book. The Bible is all we need for life and godliness. The Word of God is living. We are not to worship Him through images. Yet when we refuse to engage in the most important activity that brings us closer to Him, reading His Word, prefering instead images on a screen, we are really saying we do not want to know Him.
There is not a single volume in my library that begins to compare with God's own Words. None of them offer words of eternal life. However, God is working in and through man and He derives glory from what we do. Great words penned by great minds can speak to us, encourage us, challenge us and equip us. We can learn about God's work throughout history by reading biographies, historical fiction, original source documents. We marvel at His hand in the universe by studying living science books. Fiction is a profound way to experience life situations played out in the made-up lives of others. And most importantly, we practice the skill of meditating and ruminating as we linger over the pages of beloved treasures. We are deceiving ourselves when we believe we can rewire our brains by immersing ourselves for hours a day in front of a screen, then magically be able to think deeply on the Word of God. Science is discovering the implications of this habit. We must consider the consequences of our actions.
Reading is hard work. Getting to know others is hard work. Yet we are commanded to come to Him through His Word and KNOW Him. Will we obey?