Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all. ~Henry David Thoreau.
As busy home educating mothers, we all know the truth of this statement only too well. But how do we know which are the best books for our children to read?
As a young mother, I was blessed to be mentored by a Principle Approach® mom who introduced me to the 4R method of study. Using Webster’s 1828 Dictionary and the Bible, I was amazed to discover that I could research any subject to discern its origin and the basic principles governing it. One of my earliest studies on the subject of Literature has guided my reading choices ever since. Realizing that literature is friendship with books, I keep these principles in mind when selecting reading material for my children:
- What we read permeates our minds and hearts, and manifests itself in our words and actions (Proverbs 16:23, James 3:13). Do the books’ characters exhibit qualities worthy of emulating? Do character vices result in undesirable consequences that would prevent us from imitating them?
- Words affect our emotions and alter our worldview (2 Corinthians 7:8-11). Will this book edify my children, building their hope, faith and virtue, or cause them to despair and embrace man-centered philosophies?
- Good literature will help us learn how to reason and communicate (Psalm 19:14). Does the book convey godly or worldly wisdom? Will the author’s choice of words and style help to improve my children’s vocabulary, comprehension, grammar and writing?
- Literature must be maturity-level appropriate and chosen in an orderly progression (Hebrews 5:14). Does my child possess the necessary discernment to relate to the book’s theme? Will it help him to grow mentally and spiritually, or cause him to wrestle with issues that would be better suited for another season of life?
- Since books fill our thoughts, Philippians 4:8 presents a list of qualities to look for in a book: Truth, honesty, justice, purity, loveliness, virtue, excellence, praiseworthiness.
These principles help me to decide the kind of book “friends” my children need; the next step is finding them. Amidst the sea of available books, it can be difficult to know where to begin. To help refine my choices, I often refer to the booklists of some of my favorite homeschool publishers:
- FACE–The Foundation for American Christian Education
- Beautiful Feet Books
- Simply Charlotte Mason
- Veritas Press
While simply being on one of these booklists does not automatically mean a book is right for our family, the lists are a valuable tool in the selection process. By reading the book’s description, I can deduce its reading level and theme. These two elements help me to decide:
- Which of my children it would be appropriate for
- Which of our other subject studies it would coincide with
- If it is one of the “best” choices for our limited reading time
Our time is precious; the time with our children is invaluable. Help make that time as rich as possible by introducing your children to some of the best friends they’ll ever have.
Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles W. Eliot
September West is the happy wife of Jeff and the blessed mother of seven. She loves teaching her children at home, learning and growing along with them each day. Mentoring other homeschool mothers, developing literature studies, and creating notebooking pages are some of her passions. Her Bible studies on Literature and Education are available for free download on her 4R Press publisher page through CurrClick.