Educational Philosophy, Mother's Education

The Next Generation Charlotte Mason Library

August 1, 2017 by Brandy Vencel

This is not your mother-in-law’s Charlotte Mason shelf.

Back when the Charlotte Mason homeschool movement first began, there were very few resources. For the Children’s Sake had kicked off a ton of interest, but no one knew where to get more information. Karen Andreola changed all of that by republishing Charlotte Mason’s six-volume set. New books were written once people started reading the volumes — books on philosophy and books on practice.

It was an educational renaissance and the rush of fresh books was like streams in the desert.

During the past four years or so, the Charlotte Mason movement has been coming of age. The women who began the very first Charlotte Mason curriculum (and tested it on thousands of students, and refined it — and keep refining it) — and others of their generation — have graduated (or are working toward graduating) their last students. Out of the accrued wisdom of not just reading those volumes and studying educational philosophy, but also living it out consistently over many years is giving birth to a new generation of books.

I call this the Next Gen Charlotte Mason Library.

We’ll get into each of these books in a moment, but first…

A Charlotte Mason library wouldn’t be complete without a set of Charlotte Mason’s volumes. I own the set from the previous generation; pink and white volumes I’ve read over and over for the last 12ish years; volumes that are quite literally read to pieces.

But that set (originally published by the Andreolas) is now out of print. Thankfully, there is new generation of Charlotte Mason volumes!

New Charlotte Mason Volumes

You can see my review of the new paperback volumes here. You really can’t go wrong with any of these. The point of owning books is to read them.

Here’s a quick list of volumes I did — and didn’t — review:

There are also some individual volumes available:

The Next Generation Charlotte Mason Library

Now for the fun part … it’s time to meet the best and newest in Charlotte Mason books!

1. Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins

You can read my thoughts on Mere Motherhood here. This is a different sort of Charlotte Mason book. While it’s technically one-part philosophy and one-part practice, what it really is is all-parts memoir. I think this book is most meaningful once you are a few years into your homeschool journey — once you’ve a few failures, heartbreaks, and disappointments under your belt.

Mere Motherhood couldn’t have been written back when the earlier Charlotte Mason books were written because a book like this is the product of time. If you want to know what a Charlotte Mason mama thinks about as she looks back on 30 years of homeschooling, this book is for you.

I found it hugely encouraging.

2. Consider This by Karen Glass

Karen Glass is one of the founding members of AmblesideOnline. Not only that, very early on she made it her mission to not just read Charlotte Mason, but to read what Charlotte Mason read. If Charlotte Mason referred to it, chances are very high that Karen read it. Possibly, she read it more than once. This book is the fruit of much of that learning.

I view Charlotte Mason as the heiress of the great tradition. In In Memoriam (a book I’ll get to later), Michael Franklin (son of Charlotte Mason’s friend, Henrietta Franklin, who was educated PNEU-style for much of his early education) said that Charlotte Mason’s approach is “an anthology of the best in education.” Oh, how I resonated with that when I first read it!

We might see someone using narration the same way (as Augustine of Hippo did in the 400s) and another using atmosphere and discipline as tools of education (as Vittorino da Feltre did in the 1400s), but Charlotte Mason was the first to mine the West’s great educational history for all of the best principles and practices, disposing of the chaff, and streamlining it for the masses.

But enough of my commentary. This book is, like Mere Motherhood, different from the previous generation of books because it is the fruit of years of study, comparing many rereads of Charlotte Mason’s volumes with what is found in dozens of classical writings from the past.

3. The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater

You can read my review of this book here.

Charlotte Mason mentions a variety of notebooks in her volumes, but not in a way that I found easy to understand. In fact, it was tempting to forget about them as I went on learning other things. But I did think they were a valuable part of what Charlotte Mason was doing. I wanted to know more.

One of the best practices not of education in general, but of learned men, has been the keeping of notebooks. Laurie Bestvater clearly has a love for that aspect of learning, and she fuses her research of Charlotte Mason’s notebooks with her extensive reading on notebooks and journaling in general. She dispenses her wisdom in such a way that the reader comes away not just knowing what Charlotte Mason’s students might have been doing, but also the why — the significance of the practices for learning and the maintenance of humility.

4. Minds More Awake by Anne White

I’ve been leading a summer book club study of this book over on the Scholé Sisters forum. It’s been great to finally read this book cover to cover!

Minds More Awake offers a couple things. First, I think that it’s a great book to read after For the Children’s Sake (which is still the gold-standard gateway drug to Charlotte Mason, regardless of all these new books). It explores some themes that are missed in For the Children’s Sake, and does it at a very accessible, 101-level. Anne is great at making things (like Plutarch) easy and accessible to the average reader, and this project is no different.

For those of you who think you’re past 101-level books, think again. This book’s greatest contribution is its exploration of the concepts of The Way of the Will and The Way of the Reason … and you’re just not going to find that elsewhere.

5. In Memoriam: A Tribute to Charlotte Mason

You can watch my video about this book here.

In Memoriam is an old book, but it’s been mostly out of print until last month. (There were a couple print-on-demand versions, but they were ugly. Ahem.)

I’ve told this story before, but I’ll do it again: I am the publisher of this book. I brought it back into print because I fell in love with it. I read bits and pieces of it online for years, but was continually frustrated by the fact that I couldn’t find a good hard-copy, and I wanted to underline and make notes.

You know the saying: if you want something done right, do it yourself.

And so I did. Or so we did; I couldn’t have done it without my team.

This book is Charlotte Mason in the flesh — I sometimes jokingly call it Volume 7. If you want to know what the people around Charlotte Mason thought and felt about her after she died, this book is for you.

6. A Touch of the Infinite by Megan Hoyt

I have only recently begun reading this book, so I cannot give you my complete thoughts on it yet. With that said, I have thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve read because Megan Hoyt is a fabulous writer. She is a joy to read.

If you want to think more deeply about what Charlotte Mason was doing with the music part of her curriculum, as well as what was going on philosophically in the background (because every Charlotte Mason practice is intended to flesh out one or more of her philosophical principles), A Touch of the Infinite is for you.

There are more books being written still, every one of them a future blessing to the Charlotte Mason community. There is one especially that I have been thinking of while typing this that I cannot wait to share with you when it comes out. This post will be updated in 2018 when that book is released.


Update 2019!

A recent comment alerted me that I’d forgotten to update this list. Oops! Here are two more additions that shouldn’t be overlooked.

1. The Happy Dinner Table by Anna Migeon

You can read my review of this book here.

This book was already out when I originally wrote this post, but it wasn’t on my radar because my kids were already old enough to be past the difficult-at-dinner-time stage. With that said, WOW. I won’t repeat my review here, but how I wish I had had this table back when I was training toddlers at the table.

This book is most important not because it’ll help bring peace to mealtime but because it is a wonderful incarnation of Charlotte Mason’s principles. If you’ve had trouble wrapping your head around what habit training looks like, especially in the younger years, this book is for you even if your dinner table is fine. It’s a way of taking habit training out of the school room context and showing it in real life.

I love this book and it’ll definitely be one I give my children when they have children.

2. Know and Tell by Karen Glass

This is the mystery book to which I referred up above. I am pretty sure I’ve recommended this book in every single Charlotte Mason Boot Camp session since it came out. I find myself saying over and over that this is the narration book we all always wished we had!

No matter where I was speaking, I always received in-depth questions about narration, and no matter what answers I gave, I felt like I was leaving moms without the support they needed (because they needed more than a single conversation). This book is wonderful in so many ways, and deals with modern topics like narration in the context of special needs and getting kids to college-level writing before they graduate.

I really can’t recommend it enough. It’s a must-have for your Charlotte Mason book shelf!

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21 Comments

  • Reply Crystal Schindele August 25, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    Did the mystery book come out?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 26, 2019 at 10:40 am

      Oops! Your comment made me realize that I never updated the post! I’ll do that now. The book was Know and Tell by Karen Glass. There are at least two more books in the works now as well. So fun. ♥

  • Reply The Happy Dinner Table (A Review) | Afterthoughts December 15, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    […] I published my Next Generation Charlotte Mason Library post back in August, one of you (and I’m sorry I no longer remember who) told me I needed to […]

  • Reply SS #27: Education is a Discipline | Scholé Sisters October 6, 2017 at 1:31 am

    […] The Next Generation Charlotte Mason Library […]

  • Reply Mariana August 6, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I’m so happy I own a few of these books and I’ve even started reading them. The only thing is I haven’t finished anyone yet ? I’m currently reading Mere Motherhood, much needed for this season of my life even though I’m still new to CM and homeschooling. I love your list and comments! Now to add more books to my wish list!

  • Reply Janey Phillips August 6, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    I so want to read “I Buy A School” by Marion Berry if someone will republish it!!! I can’t find it anywhere…not even interlibrary loan.

    Thanks for this post. Definitely added a couple to my Wish List!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 7, 2017 at 8:38 am

      I have always wanted to read that book, too, Janey!

  • Reply Colleen August 5, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Uh oh. Now I have so many new books to buy! I loved Mere Motherhood, but the other titles are new to me. Thank you!!

  • Reply Mama Rachael August 2, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    must.buy.more.books!

    Hubby will disagree, I’m sure. Thank you for this list, gonna add it on my goodreads, b/c I always need a good CM-oriented read.

  • Reply Monique Laura August 2, 2017 at 10:24 am

    I have most of those titles except for a few. I haven’t been compelled to read Consider This. I haven’t been exposed to classical education for it to be of interest. It seems to be a big dialogue regarding Charlotte Mason. I am not sure why but when this subject comes up it seems like a dichotomy and it feels like Ms. Mason needs to be confirmed as a classical educator in order to be affirmed which I don’t think is necessary. I find her to be in a league of her own and I am quite ok with that 😉

  • Reply Crystin August 2, 2017 at 6:36 am

    Love this!

    I would add When Children Love to Learn, by Elaine Cooper, if this were my list.

    Also, I think we all need a secondary source bookshelf as well. Because, although books like The Last Child in the Woods and Honey for a Child’s Heart aren’t necessarily CM, they are most definitely life changing for the CM educator.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 2, 2017 at 8:52 am

      I think of WCLtL as a last-gen book because my friend’s mother-in-law introduced me to it. 🙂 But yes: WONDERFUL book! ♥

      I adore your idea of a secondary source shelf. I need a new bookcase. 😉

      • Reply Mama Rachael August 2, 2017 at 6:05 pm

        Oh, Last Child in the Woods really helped me understand why going outside so helps my oldest. It is wonderful book!

        I’m gonna have to think of what books I’d recommend.

  • Reply Lena August 1, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Even though I have all of these and have not yet read them all, you have me coming out if my skin to know what’s coming out soon! I can’t get enough! I’m so thankful for all of these women who are so willing to do the work to put together such wonderful resources.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 1, 2017 at 4:34 pm

      Hahaha! I promise I will say something the moment I’m allowed. 🙂

  • Reply Dawn Duran August 1, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    It is so satisfying to have all of these books on my shelves – and so well loved. In Memoriam is, of course, the most recent edition but definitely among my favorites. I absolutely agree with you re: Megan’s book: I was blown away by how much I enjoyed her writing style, and how inspired I was in reading it. And I have so much love for all of the other titles that each one would take at least 500 words to express, so I will end it here:).

  • Reply Melissa Greene August 1, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    I’m so excited to have Cindy Rollins coming to WI for the upcoming Journey: An Education for Life retreat! Our CM Study Group is currently reading Mere Motherhood for our Aug discussion in preparation 🙂

    You’ve piqued my interest on Minds More Awake. I’ve been wondering about that book. I’m also interested in acquiring In Memoriam.

    I love this post! Way to bring CM in to the 21st Century 🙂

  • Reply Amber August 1, 2017 at 11:46 am

    Woo hoo! I have them all. 🙂 I just got the SCM Mason volumes and am so pleased with them. I’ve been wanting physical volumes for years and years and these are perfect for marking up, making notes, and really making my own. And that is definitely what I want to do with these books!

    I must admit that there are three books on your list that I own, have started, but haven’t actually finished (well, along w/ volume 5, but we’re starting a study group on that volume next month, hooray!). Should I admit which ones they are? LOL It sounds like I should get reading!

  • Reply ChristineH August 1, 2017 at 11:34 am

    In your post you said this concerning Mere Motherhoood, ” I think this book is most meaningful once you are a few years into your homeschool journey — once you’ve a few failures, heartbreaks, and disappointments under your belt.” Oh that is so very true. I have 11 years of homeschooling under my belt with 10 more in my future. And this was one of the real, down-to-earth, honest books I have ever read that I could completely relate to. Even if I only have 2 boys (and 2 girls).

    And Consider This – book was really the book that pushed me other fully to the CM side. I started in classical with WTM like many homeschoolers do, and after reading Latin Centered Curriculum and tons of CiRCE Institute stuff, I was swayed more into the traditional classical (versus neoclassical). It was Karen Glass’s book that made me see the connection between Mason and classical. It’s definitely a must read along with the original CM volumes.

    Currently, reading Touch of the Infinite. Enjoying it so far. 🙂

  • Reply Karen August 1, 2017 at 5:59 am

    I meant *were* not *wer*.
    Ha!

  • Reply Karen August 1, 2017 at 5:58 am

    The booklist just got longer. 😉 Ok, well, not by much since I already wanted to read a couple of them mentioned. But A Touch of the Infinite and Mere Motherhood wer *not* on my list and are now. 🙂 I’ve read Consider This and have gone back and re-read portions of it. I have it as an e-book but at some point want to get it in print form. I also have The Living Page and it is such a handy reference book. I was just looking back over it again as I plan this coming school year. In Memoriam and Minds More Awake….both are books I’d like to read. I also have the older pink series of CM’s volumes. There are places where pages are starting to fall out……

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