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    Books & Reading, Mother's Education

    A Relief Reading Plan for Charlotte Mason Groups

    May 25, 2021 by Brandy Vencel

    I have been leading a Charlotte Mason reading group for almost a dozen years. It’s hard to say if I should count 2020 โ€” California shut down in March of 2020 and we weren’t able to meet again until March of 2021 (and even then our meeting was at an undisclosed location). But here we are. A year later than planned, we finished Charlotte Mason’s Parents and Children. (Yes, there will be a study guide eventually.)

    I debated over whether or not to take our usual summer break and read or do something different. After all, we didn’t meet for a year. But summer is still summer, and we’ve also always taken a break and read something different between volumes as a refresher (and a chance to search out principles at work in a different context). I’ve often called this “relief reading” to myself because just like we practice alternation in our homeschools, mixing up volume reading with something else provides the same sort of relief and refreshment.

    I chose Louis L’Amour’s Education of a Wandering Man not because I’ve read it (I haven’t) but because a sweet friend of mine kept reading passages aloud to me whenever we had our regular ghetto coffee dates. (Kicked out of Starbucks, we tailgated in the back parking lot. It was classy, trust us. Eventually, we wised up and brought our own chairs.) The passages were compelling, and I could see a number of Charlotte Mason principles at work, most especially the necessity of wide reading.

    Warning: she says it “gets earthy” at the end. Not sure what that means yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite (keep in mind that by “power” he means electricity):

    I have delved deeply into the literatures of the world, yet what is available is scarcely a dusting of what must have been. Great libraries have been destroyed, and books or manuscripts are vulnerable.

    Books as books must be preserved. There is an effort now to preserve everything by mechanical means, but of what use will they be to a man who has no power? No means of reproducing the sounds or the words? A book can be carried away and read at leisure. It needs nothing but an eye, a brain, and the ability to read.

    [snip]

    In my library of some ten thousand selected books, I have the means of reproducing much of our civilization. I have the five volumes of Singer’s History of Technology, which have much on the means of construction. There are other books other on the building of watercraft, books on all manner of crafts and how they were done. From there alone, if all were lost, one might start again.

    Education of a Wandering Man, pp. 120-121

    Our Summer Discussion Plan

    This is what we’ll be doing, and I figured you might like to know, too. I simply broke the book up into three parts and we’ll read it over the summer and discuss at our monthly meetings:

    • June: chapters 1-8
    • July: chapters 9-17
    • August: chapters 18-end

    As usual, we’ll take September off to focus on getting our homeschools in order, and then in October we’ll jump into School Education.


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    11 Comments

  • Reply kelli sanders June 17, 2021 at 10:52 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Honestly, far more than I thought I would. It definitely makes me consider the validity of abridged vs unabridged books though as most of what he read to make him “well read” were the little blue books. We have 2 of these little blue books and they are perfectly sized for my 3 year old’s hands and only about the size of a stack of index cards. Our little blue book version of Oliver Twist is concise, but definitely not the same as reading the full text of Oliver Twist. In spite of this, his world opened to literature and to being a “reader” by forsaking gambling or eating a meal in order to buy a book.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 18, 2021 at 4:26 pm

      Okay that is FASCINATING! I had no idea! That definitely gives me something to think about.

  • Reply Heather May 26, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    I enjoyed this one when I read it a couple of years ago! Such great thoughts on books and practical experience.

  • Reply Jody S. May 26, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    Yay! My husband has this one. I think I’ll put it on my tbr list for summer. Thanks for the idea.

  • Reply Julee May 25, 2021 at 6:49 pm

    So, how do I join the reading group?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 26, 2021 at 11:54 am

      I was just offering the plan if someone had a group and wanted something new for summer. I’m doing this with my local real-life group this summer. If you want an online group, I recommend either the AO Forum or the Sistership. I’m sorry if my post was confusing!

      • Reply Julee Wilson May 26, 2021 at 12:18 pm

        Oh! No worries! Thought there might be a Facebook book club or something that I didnโ€™t know about! Iโ€™m in CA, but weโ€™re still too far away from each other. Iโ€™d love to join YOUR group! Haha!

  • Reply Larae May 25, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    My group will be going through Parents and Children next year. Any chance the study guide would be done by then?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 26, 2021 at 11:54 am

      I hope to have it done by the end of summer! I just have to finish writing school curriculum and planning my children’s homeschool first. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply Jessica Harris May 25, 2021 at 11:54 am

    Hi Brandy,
    This looks great! How do we sign up for the group discussion?
    Thanks ,
    Jess

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 26, 2021 at 11:54 am

      I was just offering the plan if someone had a group and wanted something new for summer. I’m doing this with my local real-life group this summer. If you want an online group, I recommend either the AO Forum or the Sistership. I’m sorry if my post was confusing!

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