Ditched a book today
I tell them that you can use CM methods with any book. And then I add: as long as it's a really good book.
The words really good book are important, as CM'ers know. In CM-speak, the term is living book, of course.
A science book was highly recommended to me by another homeschooler. I bought it and started reading it with the kids at the lunch table. From the beginning, the book didn't work for us, but I was reluctant to stop using it. After all, it came recommended, the information was up-to-date, and well...I'm reluctant to admit a book isn't good enough.
The two main problems were:
* The layout was too busy.
Each page spread had different boxes with information related to the chapter topic, but not connected to each other. And connections - come on! - everything is about connections. I can't say the chopping of information into boxes was done deliberately to keep readers from making connections on their own, but little regard was given to the readers' relationship to the material. Pages in books, after all, have an environment of their own, and while the layout looked cool, it wasn't a cool place for learning.
* The writing didn't capture us.
For complicated topics, we all responded with, "Huh?" And for less-complicated topics, the descriptions were too general. Nothing grabbed our attention, except the nice look of the pages. The author tried to be snazzy in the writing, but it felt manipulative and dumb.
The book we ditched is not entirely bad, it's just not good enough. The book has some merits - the illustrations are fun and some of the facts are interesting. It's an okay book for casual browsing, and that's why we decided to keep it rather than throw it out.
I'd rather spend our lunch time with something better, and that's what we'll do.