Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Tribute to Charlotte

More than 17 years ago we embarked on a journey which would change the course of our lives.  We began homeschooling.  At first it was a rocky road.  Feeling like we needed to do it “right,” we began with a textbook/workbook curriculum which took away all the joy of learning.  But after a few weeks, I discovered living books and our homeschool took on life!

The following year I was introduced to a lady named Charlotte Mason through a book entitled Forthe Children’s Sake.  As I’ve learned more about Charlotte over the years, I’ve been blessed by her wisdom and endearing love for children.  So it is, as we approach the anniversary of her birth, I wish to introduce her to you.

Charlotte was born January 1, 1842, an only child of only children.  Charlotte had a rather lonely childhood but was blessed with a father who was fond of books.  It was during her young years that she discovered the power of these living books.

When she was eight, she had a life-changing experience.  She says, “One day I saw a tall lady with a dark shawl thrown scarfwise across her shoulders, a bonnet whose black strings floated, and a whole train of tiny children holding on to her skirts and following her…this was the mistress of a girls’ school near by.  The idea did not take shape at the time, but somehow I knew that teaching was the thing to do, and above all the teaching of poor children like those I had been watching.”  This lady took Charlotte to school now and then and Charlotte observed “girls who would now be doing great things at a high school.  They belonged to the professional classes, girls who wore watches and, sometimes, rings, and who read English history out of a miserable little book a quarter of an inch thick and entirely uninteresting.  I found out from that lesson how necessary it is that children should have books, good books, considerable and well-written books.”

In 1858 Charlotte’s mother died and her father soon afterward, leaving Charlotte a penniless orphan at the age of 16.  She stayed with friends until age 18, then attended a teacher training college for a year.  She began teaching in Worthing on the south coast of England where the school became very well known for its “perfect order without any severity and the pupils worked with intelligence and eagerness.”  Charlotte herself suffered from ill health for much of her life, yet she never complained.  She continued teaching, writing, lecturing, and training parents, teachers, and governesses.  In 1891, when she was nearly 50, Charlotte moved to Ambleside where she founded a college of education.  Her model of education spread all over England and, indeed, the world with tens of thousands of children being educated through her methods.

Though she never married, Charlotte loved children.  At one point when she was too ill to visit with the children she wrote this letter of greeting:

“I think that is a joyful thing to be said about anybody, that he loves knowledge; there are so many interesting and delightful things to be known that the person who loves knowledge cannot very well be dull; in doors and out of doors there are a thousand interesting things to know and to know better.  There is a saying of King Alfred’s that I like to apply to our school – ‘I have found a door,’ he says.  That is just what I hope your school is to you – a door opening into a great palace of art and knowledge…  But you will remember that the school is only a ‘door’ to let you in to the goodly House of Knowledge, but I hope you will go in and out and live there all your lives – in one pleasant chamber or another, for the rich people are they who have the entry to this goodly house, and who never let King Alfred’s ‘door’ rust on it hinges, no, not all through their lives, even when they are very old people.”

Charlotte likened education to spreading a feast before the children.  Students in her schools learned many languages, music, art, sciences, history, Bible, Shakespeare, poetry, Plutarch through “books and things.”  Short lessons, full attention, and wonderful living books were central in her teaching.  “Let their books be living books, the best that can be found in liberal supply and variety.” 

A devout Christian, Charlotte believed that the Holy Spirit is the teacher of all truth.  All truth is God’s truth and our job as parents and teachers is not to be the fountain of all knowledge, but to present the feast in order to allow God’s Spirit to feed the minds and spirits of children.  “The great recognition that God, the Holy Spirit, is Himself personally the imparter of knowledge, the instructor of youth, the inspirer of genius, is a conception so far lost to us that we should think it distinctly irreverent to conceive of the divine teaching as co-operating with ours in a child’s arithmetic lesson, for example.  …Every fruitful idea, every original conception, whether in Euclid, or grammar, or music, was a direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit, without any thought at all as to whether the person so inspired named himself by the name of God, or recognized whence his inspiration came.”

Charlotte spent her life striving to achieve this goal for children from every walk of life, rich or poor…

“Thou hast set my feet in a large room; should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul.  Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking – the strain would be too great – but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest.  The question is not, - how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education – but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care?  In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?”

Charlotte Mason died peacefully on January 16, 1923.  But she left a legacy of life-giving knowledge to countless children who have been blessed by knowing her…for the children’s sake.

Thank you, Charlotte.

If you would like to get to know Charlotte better, you might consider:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tidings of Comfort...and Joy

So many books line my shelves.  From them I learn, through the lives of their characters, how to wrestle through the trials of life.  I learn how the consequences of my actions affect not only myself, but those around me, often the ones I love the most.  I learn how repentance can bring restoration and peace.  But as wonderful as these books are, there is one Book, the true Living Book, which leads us in the path of righteousness and gives us hope.  During this season, it is His Words I offer.

 Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  John 14:1

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Phil. 4:6-7

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengence of our God:
To comfort all who mourn,
To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting,
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.  Is. 61:1-3

The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given;
And the government shall be upon His shoulders;
And HIs name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, 
Everlasting Father,
 Prince of Peace.  Is. 9:2, 6

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you.  John 14:27

Glory to God in the hightest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  Luke 2:14

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come."  And let the one who hears say, "Come."  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.  Rev. 22:17

But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.  John 20:30.

May the peace of God through the Lord Jesus Christ surround you with tidings of comfort and joy this Christmas season.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Death of Reading, Part 2? Not if I can help it!

A future homeschool librarian discovered this article today which has caused quite a stir among those of us who have a passion for getting living ideas into the minds of the next generation.  The new "education"  standards state that at least 70% of books studied must be non-fiction in order to prepare students for the workplace.

"Suggested non-fiction texts include Recommended Levels of Insulation by the the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the Invasive Plant Inventory, by California's Invasive Plant Council."

Sounds thrilling, huh!

I have lots of non-fiction in my library.  Books such as Whitetail by Robert McClung and String, Straight-Edge, and Shadow:  The Story of Geometry by Julia Diggins.  My young patrons feast on these books and thousands more like them, filling their hearts and minds with great ideas that will change the world, I pray.

Somehow we do not trust facts enclosed within "story."  But God speaks to us through story by feeding not only our minds, but our spirits as well.  I'll reiterate this quote from Charlotte Mason:

"A great danger is threatening the country, and even the world. We're losing our faith in ideas. We're replacing guiding principles with mechanical practices. As I've said in previous Letters to the Editor, the trend in popular education these days is to have contempt for knowledge, and for the books that contain the knowledge of mankind."  What would Miss Mason have to say about the new standards?  Cogs in a that all our children are?

Parents, hear me.  We are at a crossroads in our culture.  We will either fall in with the sheep led astray, or we will instill in our children the truth to proclaim to a dying culture!  My purpose in collecting and sharing the best books I can find is not to create warm fuzzies as we snuggle on the couch.  It is to enable parents to raise warriors for the cause of Truth!  We must be intentional and we must be serious...and we must be about the business now.  We must equip our children with this truth.  The world they will inherit will be one we won't even recognize.  Will they be ready?

For the sake of the children...

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Banner Year for Libraries!

In the year 2000, God placed in my heart a passion for sharing the collection of living books He had given me with others.  It was many years of collecting and preparing before that vision came to fruition but in June of 2008, I officially opened my doors.

2012 marks a banner year for private libraries of living books.  God has opened the floodgates and ignited fires in the hearts of many all over the country to open libraries in their communities.  In June, many of us met in Abingdon, VA at Living  Books Library for the first ever Homeschool Librarians Conference.  For an entire weekend, we discussed books, collecting books, repairing books, sharing books!  This conference was recorded and is now available for purchase.  Also available is a DVD which demonstrates book repair and another featuring a tour of Living Book Library with demonstrations of what living books are.

Even if you are not contemplating opening a library of your own, you may be encouraged by what others are doing and gain a vision to collect the best living books for your family.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Truth...Or Consequences

Truth – I own a computer…actually I own two.  One is not connected to the Internet.  I own an iPhone 4, the kind that will talk to you although I’ve never done that because the idea of that unnerves me but I do have a cute little whistle on it that alerts me to incoming emails.  I don’t have it programmed with numbers and calendars, preferring paper ones.  I own a Kindle that sits forlornly on a shelf.  It never occurs to me to Google a phone number or read an online book on my phone.   But I understand the fascination and, if my brain could wrap itself around how all this “convenient” technology works, I would be head over heels lost in it.

Most of our culture is.  And the consequences?

Please don’t misunderstand.  Our culture’s woes are caused by much more than too much Internet use.  However, because the Internet is so pervasive with rarely a conversation conducted without reference to it, and the consequences to reading, relationships and responsibilities massive, we need to be honest in our evaluations.  The truth is the Internet is changing the way our brains work.  But is it for the better?

As I wrote in the last article, studies have shown that we are losing the ability to read…to read deeply, to ponder, to concentrate, to retain.  This has eternal implications on the written word. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  John 1:1.  If we lose the ability to read the Word, we lose the ability to have a relationship with the Word. 

O how I love Your law!  It is my meditation all the day.  Ps. 119:97.  If we lose the ability to ponder the law, how can we be reconciled to the Lawgiver?

God has chosen to communicate to us through the written Word.  He has commanded us to read, study, meditate, know His Word…HIM. 

We are more than walking computers able to spout off trivial factoids.  We are made for greater things.  Charlotte Mason stressed that the life of the mind is sustained upon ideas.   Before the days of internet, Charlotte wrote:

“A great danger is threatening the country, and even the world. We're losing our faith in ideas. We're replacing guiding principles with mechanical practices. As I've said in previous Letters to the Editor, the trend in popular education these days is to have contempt for knowledge, and for the books that contain the knowledge of mankind.”(from this article)

As a result we think shallow thoughts, have shallow conversations (when we talk at all) and live shallow lives.

What’s the answer?  Read.  Read a lot.  Read deeply from great books written by great minds.  Open the Word of God and meditate upon what He is telling you.  Turn off the screens, go outside and drink in the beauty of creation.  Think.

You will be going against the tide.  But our future depends on it. 

In concluding my series on The Shallows, I’ll end with his ending.

“Of course, in conjuring up a big anti-Net backlash, I may be indulging in a fantasy of my own.  After all, the Internet tide continues to swell.  In the months since I completed The Shallows, Facebook membership has doubled from 300 million to 600 million; the number of text messages processed every month by the typical American teen has jumped from 2,300 to 3,300; sales of e-readers, tablets, and smartphones have skyrocketed; app stores have proliferated; elementary schools have rushed to put iPads in their students’ hands and the time we spend in front of screens has continued its seemingly inexorable rise.  We may be wary of what our devices are doing to us, but we’re using them more than ever.  And yet, history tells us, it’s only against such powerful cultural currents that countercultural movements take shape.

As I said, it’s a small boat.  But there’s still plenty of room inside.  Feel free to grab an oar.”  (pg. 228)


Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Reconstruction

Charlotte Mason understood…

“We have lost sight of the fact that habit is to life what rails are to transport cars.  It follows that lines of habit must be laid down towards given ends and after careful survey, or the joltings and delays of life become insupportable.  More, habit is inevitable.  If we fail to ease life by laying down habits of right thinking and right acting, habits of wrong thinking and wrong acting fix themselves of their own accord.”  (Vol. 6, pg. 101)

As we continue our look at The Shallows:  What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, we need to ask the question:  “What can science tell us about the actual effects that Internet use is having on the way our minds work?”  The Internet provides sensory and cognitive stimuli that is repetitive, intensive, interactive and addictive, resulting in massive alterations in brain circuits and functions. 

Author Nicholas Carr relates a study done at UCLA of 24 volunteers, half experienced Web users and half novices.  After monitoring brain activity at the beginning of the test they noticed very different responses between the two groups.  The groups spent one hour a day for five days online.  Remarkably after only five hours, the researchers found that the novices’ brains had already been rewired.  (pg. 120-121)

Studies have been done on long-term and working short-term memory.  We rely on our brains to transfer information from our working short-term memory into long-term memory.   When we are reading deeply, we are filling a tub, so to speak, in a steady drip.  We can then transfer much of that information, drop by drop, into our long-term memory.  With the Internet, however, we are turning many faucets on full blast.  We are unable to process all the information thereby suffering from cognitive overload.  Some have attributed ADD/ADHD to the overloading of working memory.  (pg. 125.)

Not only does what we are doing while online have neurological consequences, what we’re not doing has consequences as well.  “Just as neurons that fire together wire together, neurons that don’t fire together don’t wire together.  As the time we spend scanning Web pages crowds out the time we spend reading books, as the time we spend exchanging bite-sized text messages crowds out the time we spend composing sentences and paragraphs, as the time we spend hopping across links crowds out the time we devote to quiet reflection and contemplation, the circuits that support those old intellectual functions and pursuits weaken and begin to break apart.  We gain new skills and perspectives but lose old ones.”  (pg. 120)

But doesn’t the Internet, with thousands of sites, search engines and sound bites increase our efficiency in researching and learning?  A study done by University College London found Internet users exhibiting a form of skimming, hopping from one source to another, not reading in the traditional sense.  Power browsing through titles, content pages and abstracts is more common.  The researchers concluded that, “There is absolutely no question that our brains are engaged less directly and more shallowly in the synthesis of information when we use research strategies that are all about ‘efficiency,’ ‘secondary (and out-of-context) referencing,’ and ‘once over, lightly.’”  (pg. 136-137)

Obviously in a brief blog article, I can only begin to scratch the surface.  I encourage and challenge you to read The Shallows.  As Christians we are called upon to confront the culture.  What will be the impact if we continue on the path of exchanging hyperlinks for ideas?  We’ll conclude next time by examining these issues.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Sale Page is up!

Check the Books for Sale tab above for a long list of living books for sale!  Thanks for your support.
The page has been updated to reflect books still available.  Lots of great ones left!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Books for Sale List

Check back on Monday, October 29 at 1pm Eastern time for a long list of wonderful living books for sale!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Death of Reading

Books have had a hearty history and have withstood many distractions throughout time.  Early in the 19th century, newspapers threatened to make books obsolete as the latest and greatest news hit the headlines.  Later, Thomas Edison’s phonograph caused many to fear that readers would become listeners.  TV and movies, likewise, competed for our time in providing information and entertainment.  Books, however, have remained steadfast in the culture…but for how long?

Looking around us, we see that books themselves still have a prominent place in society.  But the way they are being read is changing at breathtaking speed.  The convenience and glamour of Internet, e-books and electronic gadgets is not only luring the younger generation into their web, my peers are heavily trapped as well.  Google has become our go-to for all information.  We can carry thousands of books on our Kindles accessible to us at any time.  But aren’t e-books just like regular books in digital form?  Well…no.

Chapter 6 of The Shallows:  What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr quotes Steven Johnson:

 "The book's migration to the digital realm would not be a simple matter of trading ink for pixels, but would likely change the way we read, write, and sell books in profound ways.  I fear that one of the great joys of book reading - the total immersion in another world, or in the world of the author's ideas - will be compromised.  We all may read books the way we increasingly read magazines and  newspapers:  a little bit here, a little bit there."  (pg. 103)
 Carr relates an article written by Christine Rosen, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC.  Writing about her experience of reading Nicholas Nickleby by Dickens on her Kindle, she says:

 "Although mildly disorienting at first, I quickly adjusted to the Kindle's screen and mastered the scroll and page-turn buttons.  Nevertheless, my eyes were restless and jumped around as they do when I try to read for a sustained time on the computer.  Distractions abounded.  I looked up Dickens on Wikipedia, then jumped straight down the Internet rabbit hole following a link about a Dickens short story, 'Mugby Junction.'  Twenty minutes later I still hadn't returned to my reading of Nickleby on the Kindle."  (pg. 103)

Her experience is common.  Distractions of hyperlinks, behind the scenes extras, videos and social interactions take us far from the text itself to create a dynamic “enhanced” experience. 

But isn’t this a good thing?  If the medium is enhanced, won’t we learn more?  Won’t our brains be enhanced as well?  Good questions…that we’ll answer next time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Reading and the Brain ~ A Brief History

I thought it would be beneficial to begin our discussion of The Shallows:  What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains with a new twist on an old history lesson.  We all know that stories were primarily passed down orally until Gutenberg’s printing press put books and reading into the mainstream.  It wasn’t until around the Middle Ages that written language grew steadily and the availability of books and, as a result, the number of literate people increased.

As an aside, Thamus and Socrates believed that the written language would be detrimental to knowledge, wisdom and memory.  Thamus wrote, “It will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.” (pgs. 54-55)  This fear was misplaced, of course.  As Erasmus stated, the passages found in books were as “kinds of flowers, which, plucked from the pages of books, could be preserved in the pages of memory.  (pg. 178)  It is through the pages of books that we are able to process deeply and personally understand and relate to our reading.

Early writing was a continuous line of characters (can you imagine!) but by the 13th century, scribes had begun imposing rules on word order as well as dividing words and sentences by spaces and punctuation.  At this point readers became not only more efficient but also more attentive.  

Our natural inclination is to be highly distracted by outside stimuli.  But “to read a book was to practice an unnatural process of thought, one that demanded sustained, unbroken attention to a single, static object.”  (pg. 64)  “In the quiet spaces opened up by the prolonged, undistracted reading of a book, people made their own associations, drew their own inferences and analogies, fostered their own ideas.  They thought deeply as they read deeply.”  (pg. 65)

Imagine the effects on the brain itself.  Learning to read is not a natural act.  It’s much like playing the violin.  Our minds have to be taught to translate the symbols we see into language we understand.  This requires massive neurological wiring.  It was interesting to me to learn that the mental circuitry for reading Chinese is vastly different from those reading a phonetic alphabet.  That probably explains why my Chinese son, who was adopted at the age of 6, struggled with reading English for two years even though he could speak the language fluently.  Think of the rewiring that had to happen in his little brain!

This topic of neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change as a result of stimuli, is a fascinating testament to our Creator’s hand.  We are indeed fearfully and wonderfully made.  However, because of this marvelous ability of our brains, we have the responsibility to see that we are choosing the good things.  As we continue to look at the effects of our habits on our brains as it applies to reading, I pray we will consciously guard our minds for the glory of God.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Winner of The Shallows


Penny Cooper

You will have The Shallows on its way! Blessings as you serve the young minds who come into your library!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Shallows ~ Giveaway tomorrow

Please don't think I've forgotten this book.  In between battling colds in the family and attending a wonderful worldview conference, I've been reading and researching and will get to it as soon as possible.

Remember to leave a comment under this post to be included in the drawing for The ShallowsI will post the winner here tomorrow around 4pm Eastern time.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Special Blessings

One of the sweetest blessings of operating my library is getting to visit with the special children who come through my door.  Some bring flowers (usually picked from along my driveway.)  Others bring drawings which are hanging on my fridge and they all bring their glorious smiles and excitement for finding new treasures amongst the shelves.  One of my newest young patrons, 9-year-old Cara, chose to write about her first visit to the library for an English assigment.  I thought I'd share it with you.

My First Visit to Rogersville

Rogersville has many interesting places but the one we visited was the Children’s Legacy Library.  A living library is a library that is special because it collects old books.  As we were traveling there my mom and Mrs. Elizabeth reviewed the rules because some of the books have to be handled carefully.  Some of these books are no longer in print and cannot be replaced if damaged or lost.  I was excited and couldn’t wait to get there because I like books. 

I was amazed when we got there.  I didn’t know she lived on a farm.  We didn’t get to go into the main part of her home because the books are in her basement.  The librarian, Mrs. Robin Pack, reviewed the rules with us again to make sure we remembered them.  She also showed us where the different kinds of books are located.  And then I asked her for a particular series called The Happy Hollisters and I was thrilled because she had it!

We had to pay to borrow her books because she has to buy the books she collects.  Some of her books are expensive because they are old and out of print and hard to find.  I picked out twenty books to read.  Mrs. Robin had to type the books by name and author into the computer because she had not set up a scanning system yet.

After we visited the living library everyone was tired and hungry so we went to get lunch.  After lunch we walked around the block a little bit and then climbed back into the car and drove home.  I like Rogersville especially the living library, don’t you?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book giveaway ~ The Shallows

Yesterday I introduced you to an important book by Nicholas Carr entitled The Shallows:  What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains.    Next week I will begin discussing this book in more detail.  I hope you'll join me.

In celebration of Children's Legacy Library's new blog and to attempt to raise awareness of this important issue, I will be giving away a copy of The Shallows on Monday, October 1!  To enter, you must leave a comment under this post only, telling why you use living books or how you are attempting to reduce your time using electronic media.  We will have the drawing on Monday, October 1 and I will post the winner here. 

In the meantime...why not read a book? 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Future of Reading

As a librarian, I am always interested in reading trends.  Ask almost anyone you come across what they’re reading and they’ll most likely give you a blank stare.  They will often give excuses such as lack of time or they don’t like to read.  But could it be that they’ve lost the ability?

There are many alarming statistics regarding the lack of reading in our culture.  They are readily available so I won’t list them here.  What I want to address is, “WHY?” 

Over the last few years I’ve been dismayed at the obsession with electronics in our culture.  Because we are farmers, we rarely go on vacation but were blessed to do so earlier this year.  Spending several days at large amusement parks was very enlightening…and disturbing.  I watched thousands of people, young and old, immersing themselves in shallow activities, having shallow conversations, and worst of all, rarely going more than a few minutes (or seconds) without being glued to some sort of screen.  Families were not having conversations over meals.  They were checking emails or texting on their phones or iPads.  They were surfing the Net while waiting in line for rides.

Now we all know the devastating effects this can have on relationships (except for our 300 best friends on Facebook.)  But could it be that it can have devastating effects on our brains?  Could it be that there are not only spiritual consequences to our habits, but physiological ones as well?

Over the next few weeks, I will be reviewing a most profound and important book.  The Shallows:  What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr explains in fascinating detail what happens physically to our brains when we spend time online.  The results are very sobering so I hope you will visit again.

While you’re waiting, you might want to read the condensed version by Googling “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” 

Until next week…

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Signs of the times...

I’m old-fashioned.  Always have been.  I enjoy “old music, old books, old times, old friends.”  My life exhibits this love of the old paths.  I was a music major because I loved classical music.  We live a farming life.  I milk cows, butcher chickens, make my own butter.  I married my oldest and best friend.  And the books?  Well…

I’m not one to say there is no place for new things.  I do use a machine to milk my cows and make my butter.  And there are a few good “new” books out there.  By and large, however, the truths we treasure have fallen in the streets.

This reality hit me hard on a recent trip to Toys R Us.  My sons were shopping for a birthday gift for a friend.  While they mulled over the best building set, I perused the “early reader” section.  Of course, there were the usual popular cartoon characters featured, but one book caught my attention.  It was entitled Judy Moody and the Poop Picnic.  I picked it up and was sickened at what was being marketed to six year olds!  I bought the book and have since used it in my living books presentations of what is NOT an example!

One of my treasured volumes is called Five Years of Children’s Books.  In it is listed the best of children’s literature written between 1930-1935.  Below was the standard for children’s books during “the golden age of children’s literature.”

When you are writing for children, do not assume a style for the occasion.  Think your best and write your best.  Let the whole thing live; let there be plenty of breadth and power.

As for the values which we claim are strong and clear in children’s books, the first of these is a sense of God.  “God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.”  A seeking after truth and beauty; a sense of wonder and reverence; the balance and proportion which humor gives:  these are values in terms of the spirit which shape the design and form for living. 


Charlotte Mason warned against filling a child’s mind with twaddle.  I believe that Miss Mason would be distressed at the poison being presented to children today.  It is my passion and prayer that, through the living Word of God and the books on my shelves, our children learn to love and seek after truth, beauty, wonder, and reverence…the old ways. 

Thus says the LORD, “Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you will find rest for your souls. “
But they said, “We will not walk in it.”  Jer. 6:16

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why a private library?

Of all the questions/comments I get regarding my library, these are the most common...

"Why should I pay you to use your books when I can get them at the public library for free?"

"Why Robin, I didn't know you charged money for this library!  I thought you did it out of the goodness of your heart!"

These are (relatively) legitimate concerns.  My answers often depend on the condition of my back and my mood, but while I'm in a good one, I'll answer them here. 

Why a private library rather than public?   Contrary to what I always believed, public libraries do not contain all that is good and noble in literature. Librarians instead are instructed to offer what is current and popular.  Libraries today offer books filled with politically correct revisionism, Darwinism and pop culture.  Many of today's libraries are replacing bookshelves for computer screens.  In fact, in my small town library you'll find a large center area of computer terminals with the books being pushed to the margins.  An alarming number of the books it does contain, especially in the youth section, focus on the occult. When I began using living books in my homeschool, I was appalled at what we were finding in our local library.  In future posts I will address this culture shift, but suffice it to say, the treasured books in my "well-edited" library are rarely found in any public library.

What about the money?'s where we really get to the heart of the matter.  Why do I not offer my collection for free as a ministry?  Again, this is a cultural issue and Christian homeschool families are not exempt from its influence.  First of all, public libraries are not free.  And even if they were, is it worth the price we pay to expose our children to the depravity offered on most library shelves?  My family has invested tens of thousands of dollars in the best gems the "golden age of children's literature," as Michelle Miller calls it, has to offer.  These books, primarily written between 1920 and 1970, touch our lives in ways most modern books do not.   Michelle says this about children's books written during this golden age:

The wonderful earlier books were written when there was a more prevailing Judeo-Christian ethic in the country.  This affected literature—even if the author was not a professing Christian—in a profound way, because it sees the human as a spiritual being, and the author thus writes to a more important part of the reader.  He was trying to stir up, as C.S. Lewis, said “something noble in the heart of the reader.”

Hours upon hours have been spent buying books, shelving books, repairing books, recommending books, assembling bookcases, icing sore backs.  Our family believes the benefits are worth the sacrifice.

But couldn't we still minister more to families if we offered our library for free?  Honestly, the fact is, we really only value what we personally invest in.  The patrons who come through my doors receive so much more than wonderful books for their children to read.  They enjoy Christian fellowship and friendship for themselves and their children, a librarian who has first-hand knowledge of who their children are as persons and what interests them, support, and recommendations for life-changing books.  Not only are my patrons being ministered to, I am as well.  I love hearing the edifying conversations among patrons on library day.  I love to see children scattered over the floor with a book or discussing the best parts of their current favorite.  I love it when they burst through the door and say, "Mrs. Pack, this was the best book I've ever read!"  And as I watch Godly friendships blossoming and young lives being formed through living books, I am ministered to.  And I pray our nation and our world will be ministered to as these children rise up and proclaim the truth of God to a lost world.

Some things you just can't put a price on...

Friday, September 7, 2012

Children's Legacy Library ~ The History

When my oldest son was born 22 years ago, we had great plans for our little boy.  We spent long hours outdoors, playing games, and reading wonderful books.  Ping, Mike Mulligan, Peter Rabbit were all dear friends.  When this little boy began kindergarten, we were excited to learn more about the world around us.  I ordered our textbook/workbook curriculum and we set to work.  After six weeks, I realized there must be something else!  I remember thinking, "We're not doing this for the next thirteen years!!"

Somewhere I remembered reading about a new curriculum called Five in a Row.  I ordered it and we were delighted to find our old friends again!  This way of learning was so natural and enriching that we continued our learning with real living books.  I was dismayed at the books we were finding in our public library so I began collecting books in order to have these treasures on hand.

When my son was ten, I heard of a new history curriculum called TruthQuest History by Michelle Miller, owner of an incredible private lending library in Michigan, which combined biblical worldview study with living books.  After speaking with Michelle about my collection of books, she encouraged me to open a library of my own.  

Many life changes postponed our opening including the birth of another son and the adoption of third but we finally opened in June of 2008.  God has placed this vision in our hearts to share these books with the many children who enter our library.  

To God be the glory!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Children's Legacy Library, a private lending library, opened its doors in June 2008 providing area homeschoolers with over 7000 living books to enrich their children's education.  Now we have over 15,000 books and have recently expanded our space to make room for thousands more.  If you are a Christian homeschool family living in the East Tennessee area and would like more information about our library, please contact us.  We would love to serve you.