Thursday, September 1, 2016

Books, Books, Books...on Twaddle and Homeschooling and Minimalism

We LOVE to read around this house....well those of us of the female persuasion do. Cole is not a big reader - he sees reading as work - something that definitely seems to have it's roots in the AR programs from when he was in school....reading was a task to complete and not a hobby to enjoy. However, he does enjoy reading to his girls.

I love to read and enjoy reading non-fiction and (when I'm in the mood) fiction. It's a fun way to spend my time and I enjoy learning new things. Meghan could sit and be read to for hours a day! And we read to Little Miss Katie throughout the day.

However, much like most of the rest of our home, we are very particular about what we bring into our home to stay in our book collection. We are minimalistic and seek to only have "the best" in our home. Today I am going to chat a bit about how I choose books to come into our home and how we can be both minimalistic about books while also planning to homeschool!

What is Twaddle? Why Avoid It?
Twaddle in my definition, are books that do not engage a child in meaningful thought, imagination, and intellectual reading or listening. When kids read books they should be engaging their minds and their imaginations (yes, we imagine even when reading non-fiction so as to visualize what we are reading about). Books that do not engage children are often just a waste of their time. Many families draw the line for what is twaddle and what is not differently, but I think it is important for all parents to think about the books they are reading to their children and question whether there is any meaning, purpose, and value to it. This does not mean that all literature needs to be boring - quite the contrary! We love Sandra Boynton books because they help our daughters explore humor, and rhyme, and wordplay; they may be "nonsense" stories but they engage our children's mind and encourage their intellectual development.

I appreciate the definition of twaddle given on Simply Charlotte Mason as it goes more into depth about what types of books are those that fail to engage children.

(This is the current, un-fixed, state of the kid's downstairs book collection - 
they both also have some books in their rooms to look at during roomtime and/or read at bedtime. There are some on a higher shelf that we only read with Mommy's help right now.)

Minimalism and Books 
Just like so many other areas of our lives, we attempt to be minimalistic in the number of books that we own. Avoiding twaddle makes this a good bit easier. I do a lot of reading about children's books, look at lots of literature based curriculum lists, and even look at books at the library before adding them to the girls' wishlists. I am all for owning books - I just want to be sure they are worth the space that they are taking up in our home.

One thing that has truly helped us to be minimalistic in our children's book collection is to purchase anthologies or single volume collections of children's books. Because children's picture books are much shorter than adult chapter books these anthologies do not end up so large that they are uncomfortable to hold while reading them.

All of the books that we own (mine and the girls' - board books, picture books, and chapter books for the future) can fit in less than two standard five shelf book shelves. Anthologies drastically reduce the amount of space that books take up and still allow us to read great literature (as does my Kindle!). Not only do they take up less space on the shelf, but by taking one book off the shelf and to the couch to read aloud, I am actually carrying a large collection of books for us to read together. I truly enjoy picture book anthologies for our girls!

Just as with their toys, I feel like we spend more time enjoying the books that we have when we are minimalistic about our collection. Instead of being overwhelmed by a sheer number of books and the visual clutter that they create, we are able to quickly spot and find the books that we are interested in reading!

Don't You Need Books to Homeschool?
Yes! You do need books to homeschool! Especially if you want to use a literature, experience based approach to educating children! Our collection of picture books consists of a very good sampling of many of the "greats". Reading those same great books over and over and over is not a bad thing for children. It helps them to connect with a story, helps them with their fluency, and helps to develop a love for good stories. Not having every book ever written (especially not twaddle) helps children to come to know and love several good book intimately. Plus we have the library if there's something we are interested in and don't have on our shelves.

I have gone through several reputable literature based curriculums and made a long list of chapter books that I would like my children to engage with as well as several that I remember loving as a child. I have then been keeping my eye out for used copies of those books or free kindle copies of those books to add to our library. I feel that we have a very strong collection of excellent chapter book literature on our shelves! And, again, there's the library if there's something we are missing.

We have a collection of encyclopedia style books that we will use as our science curriculum through much of elementary school. I am working to build a collection of excellent books that can be used as guides for nature study. I feel that a lot of learning in the early years can be done simply by reading through these collections - and that learning can go even more in depth when children discover something that is truly fascinating to them. When that happens we can hit the library for more books to read on the topic, search the internet for more on the topic, and perhaps add books to the girls' wishlists if they truly seem to be developing a passion.

In the early years I think that much learning can take place from a few simple books. Children need their minds opened to new ideas and a variety of ideas. This is not a time when I see a whole lot of point in "deep study" of any topics aside from learning to read, learning to write, and learning basic math. So, for the part of homeschooling that I am looking at in our next ten years - there will be a lot of working on basic skills and pursuing other topics as worlds to explore not facts to memorize! The collection of encyclopedia style books & excellent nature study books we own, the internet, and some trips to the library should provide plenty of wonderful ideas and concepts to fill these little brains with wonder!

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