Ditched a book today

I tell homeschoolers who ask me about  Charlotte Mason that Charlotte Mason isn't a curriculum.

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.


  1. What book was it? Inquiring minds would like to know lol.

  2. Yes, nice one, to go and say all that and you're not going to tell us what the book is? :)

  3. It's really hard for me to ditch a book after we've started it...especially if I spent MONEY on it! I've been doing better lately though! LOL Thanks for stopping by my blog on Sun and Clouds! Enjoy your study! We had a GREAT time just observing and doing the paper sun dial!


  4. mmm... we found the same problem (too busy visually) lately with certain field guides' layouts.

    I'm with you. If it doesn't work, ditch it! ;)

    I have to be really careful with which books I buy as I have to ship them down to Peru, and it would be a REAL pain to have gone to all the trouble for an unworthy book!

    amy in peru

    PS. speaking of books the CM blog carnival is on living books this time... have you submitted yet? maybe this post would work?

  5. Blossom, Kay, and Richele: I don't mean to be a tease. :) My point is that we shouldn't settle for books that aren't good enough (unless we truly have not choice). You'll know an "un"living book when you encounter it - you don't need me to tell you.

    Jessy, Yes, we're following in your shadow with cloud studies. (Get it, shadow...clouds.)

    Amy, Yes, I can imagine you must be careful with book purchases. Do e-readers make your life easier?