Access to a “living books library,” whether in your own home, or outside, is a common desire among Charlotte Mason educators. “Living books” are those that engage the reader (of any age), relay ideas, and are written in a lively style by someone with a passion for and great knowledge of the subject. They were the only ones used in Charlotte Mason schools; no textbooks! Therefore, any school or home school using the Charlotte Mason philosophy and methods will need the ability to secure these whole books so vital to the curriculum.
On this page of Everything Charlotte Mason you will find links to several different types of websites that show you how to find living books, where to locate a living books library near you, and how to build your own living books library. There are also numerous posts by various Charlotte Mason bloggers about living books and building your own library, which you can find in any search engine. You may find more at our Charlotte Mason Websites and Blogs page.
HOW TO FIND LIVING BOOKS
CM Organizer — Simply Charlotte Mason has developed a bookfinder of more than 1500 living books, by grade and/or subject. Click on the topic and/or grade, and go to a list that gives you several options for each book, including “buy” or “find at your local library.” Those new to CM education will appreciate Sonya Shafer’s article, “5 Ways to Find Living Books.”
LIVING BOOKS LIBRARY LOCATIONS
Living Books Libraries — This website publishes a list of more than 20 libraries around the United States. It also includes articles on living books, as well as the store for Living Library Press, which publishes living books appropriate for Charlotte Mason schooling.
Children’s Preservation Library — Founder Michelle Howard Miller offers more than “20,000 out-of-print and living books,” including Five-in-a-Row “tubs” at the library in Traverse City, Michigan. This website also includes a list of 11 additional living books libraries around the U.S. and Canada.
Charlotte Mason in Community — The folks here have compiled a list of living books libraries to go along with the many other resources available to Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, such as retreats, guidance on starting book discussion groups and cottage schools, and much more.
Charlotte Mason Schools — A local Charlotte Mason school may have the book you need. Contact them to see if they allow check-out by non-enrolled families. Visit our Charlotte Mason Schools page to find one near you.
Living Learning Libraries — Located in two locations, Palm Beach Gardens, and Jupiter, Florida, (and more coming soon), these libraries were founded by Michelle Miller Howard of the above-mentioned Children’s Preservation Library, with more than 35,000 volumes, offerings from “the now-scarce book gems from the “Golden Age of Children’s Literature” (1930s-1960s), books characterized by a lyrical narrative quality and wondrous art which differs from the style in common use now.”
Your local public library — This link takes you to Simply Charlotte Mason’s massive bookfinder that will allow you to search a book by subject and/or grade, then locate it using the World [Library] Catalog, worldcat.org. Books not available in your local library system may be obtained through interlibrary loan. (Contact your local librarian with the title, author and ISBN number.)
HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN LIVING BOOKS LIBRARY
Living Books Lady — For those with a large collection of living books who are interested in establishing a lending library, Michelle Miller Howard offers consulting services and has developed a number of resources including cataloguing and databasing options. She is the founder of Children’s Preservation Library in Traverse City, Michigan, and Living Learning Libraries in Florida’s Palm Beach/Martin area (linked above).
Valerie’s Living Library — The archived page of Valerie’s Living Library, posted by Valerie Jacobsen, mother of 11 children, who shares her basic organizational guide for a Christian homeschool living books library.
(If you know of any helpful links not mentioned here, please contact us.)