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How to Do Literature Study with Children | Charlotte Mason Style

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When doing Literature Study with children, you will choose a living book, read it aloud, and share narrations and discussions together. 

One of the things a Charlotte Mason education is known for is the use of literature, or books, to teach various subjects, like geography, science, history, art, etc. Literature Study simply means reading and narrating (or discussing) high-quality books written by authors who are knowledgeable and passionate about their subject. These kinds of books are often referred to as ‘living books’ in Charlotte Mason circles. A living book comes alive to the reader, and draws them into the story. Literature Study with your children can be one of the most enjoyable studies in your homeschool! It is a wonderful time to enjoy wonderful chapter books together as a family.

If you would like to learn how to do a Charlotte Mason style Literature Study with your children, here are some simple steps to get you and your children started on this delightful journey.

How to Do Literature Study:

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1: Choose A Living Book

Decisions, decisions! This may be the toughest part of literature study, especially if you’re a book lover like me! I want to read ALL the good books with my children. Before you choose a book, take a moment and consider your listeners. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • What are their ages?
  • What are their likes?
  • What is their attention span?
  • Do I want a certain topic or time period?
  • How long do I want the book to be?

These questions are helpful in choosing a book. We want this to be a pleasant experience – one that grows their love for books, not something to be dreaded!! So think through those questions, then choose a book which you think your family would find enjoyable.

NOTE: If your children are not used to listening to a read-aloud, I would suggest you choose a shorter, lighter book. This helps them train their minds to listen and hopefully not get too overwhelmed. It is fine if they cannot make it through an entire chapter at first, or if they need something quiet in their hands to keep them from becoming too antsy. Take it slow, build up their sitting still and listening skills. Don’t be discouraged. It is a skill, and they can learn it no matter their age. 

If you would like my favorite “beginner listener” books, you can find my book-list here!

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2: Read From the Book Aloud

Now you will want to decide when you will have literature study and how often. We aim for Monday – Friday, and 1-2 chapters per day, depending on the length of the chapters. Gather everyone together in a comfortable location, and have your reading time. If necessary, remind them that they cannot disrupt the reading. The goal for this time is to be uninterrupted, pleasant, and calm.

TIP: For tired, extra busy, or new moms, I have found that a good audio recording of a book can be a wonderful blessing during certain extra challenging times. Sometimes I just want a reading break and want a chance to listen in myself.

3: Narrate or Discuss the Reading

Now, you don’t HAVE to do this every time. But it is a good exercise to see how well your children have listened and retained the reading. It is also a time for them to ask any questions they had during the reading. Like what did that word mean, etc. This is not a time to drill them! Allow them to retell the reading in their own words. If they struggle to do that, you may want to ask some open-ended questions to get them thinking. Discuss anything in the reading that you all wish. This can make for some wonderful family boding experiences.

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4: Continue Until the Book Is Complete

Now you will continue to read and narrate/discuss each day that you have set aside as your literature study.

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5: Repeat the Process

Once you complete the book, you will simply start the process over again from the beginning. That is all there is to it! No drilling, no essays. As your listeners grow, so will your book choices. With this delightful literature method, you will enjoy dozens of books together as a family! Happy reading!!

If you found this post helpful, you may also enjoy my other enrichment study how-to posts:

  • How to do Picture Study with Children
  • How to do Music Study with Children
  • How to Do Poetry Study with Children 
Charlotte Mason Enrichment Studies Homeschooling

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