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:
- Paperback series by Living Book Press (that’s the floral one you see in the stack above)
- Paperback series by Simply Charlotte Mason (that’s the workbook sized one you see on the bottom of the stack above)
- That link goes to the whole set, but you can also buy one volume at a time.
- Hardcover sets from Living Book Press in both blue and gray
There are also some individual volumes available:
- Mind to Mind is an abridgment of Charlotte Mason’s sixth volume done by Karen Glass.
- Riverbend Press has beautiful copies of Ourselves (volume four) — make sure you read the descriptions and know exactly what you are buying.
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
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.
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.
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
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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