A Charlotte Mason Literature Lesson
First, I explain why I’m focusing subject by subject. Also, I include Charlotte Mason quotes because I find her original lectures on education to be SO inspiring and helpful.
Next, please keep reading to see the break down of implementing lessons, the schedule, and resources I’m using that fit our family. Finally, I share the wealth of quality Charlotte Mason resources I have found helpful, from those mothers who have gone before me.
PREPARING THE FEAST
“Our aim in education is to give a full life. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests.” (Mason, vol. 3)
There are MANY subjects included in a Charlotte Mason education because she believed in spreading a wide feast. Sometimes, it feels a bit daunting for a new homeschooling mama. Therefore, I’m attempting to learn, digest, and absorb how I’m going to be teaching each subject. I have decided to compose a blog post on each subject for Form 1B (roughly First Grade). This will help me prepare to teach my oldest son in the Fall.
“The mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum.” (Mason, vol. 1)
A Charlotte Mason Literature Lesson
Albert Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read more fairy tales.”
Since I’m homeschooling my son for the first time this Fall, I focus first on a Charlotte Mason Literature Lesson for a very young Elementary student. It is recommended to cover three Fairy Tales per term. Since there are three terms per year in a Charlotte Mason education, you should cover about nine Fairy Tales per year. In addition, you should read three Fables per term. This also adds up to nine Fables per year.
“But let them have tales of the imagination, scenes laid in other lands and other times, heroic adventures, hairbreadth escapes, delicious fairy tales in which they are never roughly pulled up by the impossible–even where all is impossible, and they know it, and yet believe.” (Mason, vol. 1)
WHAT WE ARE USING
I’m choosing to use the Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang. We also have Grimm’s Fairy Tales since this and Anderson’s Fairy Tales were recommended on the official schedule for a beginning student. Additionally, I’m using this BEAUTIFULLY illustrated book of Aesop’s Fables. Because I continue to hear how much young elementary students loves these two books, I’m very excited for this subject!
“Fables…should form the basis of moral instruction.” (Mason, vol. 2)
Poetry is also included in Literature. A poem, from a good anthology, should be read daily to students. We are using A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, and I’m so happy because Tasha Tudor illustrated this version! Also, since we love Winnie the Pooh, we are reading A.A. Milne’s When We Were Young and Now We Are Six for poetry options.
Ms. Mason says in Home Education, that all children’s lesson-books “should be written with literary power.”
Charlotte Mason describes a Literature Lesson occurring twice a week, and should last about 20 minutes per lesson. I’m choosing to alternate a Fairy Tale and a Fable each week, because there are only two Literature Lessons per week.
Also, a great goal is to read poetry to your children each afternoon. I plan to implement this after Nature Study (future post coming on this subject!). Since we already typically share an afternoon snack, I plan to read aloud a poem or two during this time.
Finally, we plan to continue with our afternoon read aloud and bedtime readings, as we do now. The books for these read alouds are carefully chosen for their authors, ideas, and great stories. I look forward to diving into these with my kiddos because we have already begun a few since they just couldn’t wait!
SUGGESTED GREAT READ ALOUDS
While this list does NOT include all of the great options for read aloud choices for the very young student, here is what we are planning to read for our First Grade year!
- Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
- Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
- Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
- Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams
- Billy and Blaze Collection by C.W. Anderson
- The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne
- My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
- The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
- Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
“It is the very nature of an idea to grow: as the vegetable germ secretes that it lives by, so, fairly implant an idea in the child’s mind, and it will secrete its own food, grow, and bear fruit in the form of a succession of kindred ideas.” (Mason, vol. 1)
- First, read a Fairy Tale or Fable for about ten to fifteen minutes.
- Then, ask the child to narrate back what they heard.
- Most importantly, this method of narration, where the child puts what he heard into his own words, allows the child to know the material.
According to Charlotte Mason, a Literature Lesson could be: read a Fairy Tale for about ten minutes, then ask your student to narrate back what they heard for about the next ten minutes.
For the afternoon Poetry reading, you simply read aloud a poem or two to your child. You do not have to ask for a Narration at this time from your child.
Finally, for the afternoon/evening read alouds, the goal IS to ask for a narration by the student.
One of Charlotte Mason’s mentors said, “…much of the selfishness of the world is due, not to actual hard-heartedness, but to a lack of imaginative power.” (Mason, vol. 2).
It is necessary to explore Literature with our children because we are exposing them to the books and thoughts that develop character. J.H. Newman said, “literature stands related to man as science stands to nature.”
Also, in Home Education, Charlotte Mason says, “…for it is only as we have it in us to let a person or a cause fill the whole stage of the mind, to the exclusion of self-occupation, that we are capable of large-hearted action on behalf of that person or cause.” (vol. 1)
Children are deserving of the very best materials, and access to the very best thinkers, ideas, and stories through Literature. Emily Kiser, from A Delectable Education, says that literature is knowledge touched with emotion, and therefore, helps children find their place in the world.
In conclusion, Ms. Mason states, “Therefore, the selection of their first lesson-books is a matter of grave importance, because it rests with these to give children the idea that knowledge is supremely attractive and that reading is delightful.” (vol. 1)
Finally, I have come across some outstanding resources in learning about a Charlotte Mason education. I’m so happy to share them with you! Some of these are sources I return to daily because I’m preparing to teach my children. Additionally, I list specific resources for a Charlotte Mason Literature Lesson.
GENERAL CHARLOTTE MASON RESOURCES
- A Charlotte Mason Soiree Educator Courses (free and amazing!)
- A Charlotte Mason Soiree Facebook Support/Discussion Group
- Volume 1 Charlotte Mason’s Home Education
- Volume 2 Charlotte Mason’s Parents and Children
- Volume 3 Charlotte Mason’s School Education
- A Delectable Education Scheduling Cards
- A Delectable Education Curriculum Templates
- Morning Tide to Even Tide Homeschool Planner
CHARLOTTE MASON WRITING LITERATURE RESOURCES
- A Delectable Education podcast on Literature
- Another A Delectable Education podcast on Poetry
- Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt – Great Children’s Booklist
- Read for the Heart by Sarah Clarkson – Another Children’s Booklist
- Great link of Books about Books
- Finally, one more Books Children Love by Elizabeth Laraway Wilson
- Parent’s Review Article on Teaching of Poetry to Children
- Volume 1 Charlotte Mason’s Home Education (pgs. 227-230)
Additionally, if you are interested in additional Charlotte Mason information, feel free to check out these previous blog posts in the series:
- A Charlotte Mason Writing Lesson
- A Charlotte Mason Bible Lesson
- A Charlotte Mason Summer
- 29 Charlotte Mason Inspired Preschool Books
Thank you so much for checking in! Please stay tuned for the next ‘A Charlotte Mason Subject Lesson’ post.
All of the quotes mentioned in this blog post, come from Home Education by Charlotte Mason. The Living Press published my favorite version of her books. Finally, I TRULY recommend any parent read Charlotte Mason’s books! Since they are truly treasured words I believe I will be reading and re-reading for many years to come.