When 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 add this book to my list. I was intrigued because this was a Charlotte Mason book I’d never heard of before! When I saw the title, I hesitated. My youngest child was eight at the time. We dealt with our picky eaters years ago when they were tiny and we’d had a “happy table” for a long time now. Do I or don’t I buy the book? This what I asked myself. The book was solving a problem I didn’t have.
I decided to take the plunge in the name of Business. I’d buy it simply so I could do a review for you, my beloved Afterthinkers.
I am so glad I did!
The memories came flooding back to me. I had forgotten our many food battles because we haven’t had one in so long. I had a distinct memory of turning my oldest child’s high chair around at the table as a form of punishment for the fact that he just wouldn’t eat (and the doctor was hassling me about his low weight — the pressure the doctor put on me translated into pressure I put on my son). He was only a year old, and we had a distinctly unhappy dinner table at that time.
We had our share of food issues over the years, and three of our four children had weight gain problems in their first two years as well. The author of this book, Anna Migeon? She gets it. She knows how terrible food battles can be. She knows how stressed out moms of low-weight children can get. And I think she has a wonderful cure. I wish I’d had this book our first year of lessons when I had a first grader, two toddlers, and a newborn.
So what does this have to do with Charlotte Mason?
Migeon has a wonderful grasp of Charlotte Mason’s principles, and she applies them all over the place in this book. If you want to see examples of habit training, this book is for you. If you want to see other principles applied — masterly inactivity, the need for pleasantness, authority and docility, and leveraging natural appetites (just to name a few) — this book is also for you. In fact, I’d venture to say it’d be useful even if you don’t have a picky eater because it offers useful incarnations of Charlotte Mason’s principles.
If you have only preschoolers and toddlers and babies, I think this is especially for you. Many other Charlotte Mason books will make you want to start school lessons right now, even though Charlotte Mason believed such lessons shouldn’t start until after the child’s sixth birthday. This book, however, is entirely within the preschool sphere (not that she doesn’t mention older children — what I mean is that this is an area where Charlotte Mason’s principles can be thoroughly applied even when your children are tiny), and since the more good habits you have before lessons start, the better lessons are going to go, it really is the perfect book, setting you up for success in other areas when your children are older.
So those are the pros. Are there any cons?
Well, yes. It’s not a perfect book, mainly because I think it’d have been better for a professional editor. I guess I can’t know for sure that it didn’t have one, but it was self-published, and the quality of writing is more blog post level than book level, if you know what I mean. There are some typos here and there (it’s not littered with them, though — if that is a pet peeve of yours, I think you’ll be okay), there are numerous excess words, and the organization could have been tightened up.
But it’s not bad writing, and the ideas are a feast!
In all, I highly recommend this book, especially if your dinner table is less-than-happy.
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