November 12, 2009

Books on Charlotte Mason

I was introduced to Charlotte Mason over 4 years ago, before we'd "officially" decided to homeschool. We were just going to "try homeschooling for kindergarten" and well, we got hooked. Wait, I have to back up. A wonderful friend made the startling confession one day that she was homeschooled. My husband and I gasped. But...but...she was normal. Homeschoolers weren't normal. (or so we thought at that point in our young lives) So I started asking questions and one day her mom was in town so I started asking her questions and this lovely woman said, "Charlotte Mason." Well, I started reading about Ms. Mason's ideas about education and knew it was what I wanted for my family.

My biggest problem at the time though was time. I needed to start right then. In fact, I needed to start several weeks before I started. I didn't have time to read Charlotte's six long volumes. So I took the cheater way's out and read books written by people who had read Charlotte's works.

And this is what I thought about those books....

A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison

I love this book. The author takes the essentials of the Charlotte Mason method and organizes them into easy to understand sections.

This book doesn't go through and discuss all of Mason's works. It's just the facts, ma'am. And it's exactly what I wanted. I already had a pretty decent understanding of CM and needed to figure out how to implement it

The topics in this book are things like science, math, history, narration and poetry, along with a good many more.  Levison walks you through each subject and helps you understand how to approach it using the Charlotte Mason method.

This book has an honored place on my shelf and I refer to it regularly.

More Charlotte Mason Education

This is the second book by Catherine Levison. Like the first book, it is more a how-to manual than a discussion of Mason's philosophy. I appreciate how the book is organized. It has just the information I need without having to dig around. I love this book too and use it often.

The topics discussed in this volume deal more with, among others, planning your semesters, choosing books and using short lessons.

A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola

I had such a hard time getting through this book. It was slow and touchy-feely and was way too much work to figure out what I wanted to know. I was looking for the answers to "What did Charlotte think about this or that" and "How did she suggest teaching __________?"

I like the Catherine Levison books so much better because they're easier to read and give the basic information quickly, in an extremely organized fashion - no need to flip here, then there, then somewhere else.

This book might work for someone who really wanted to take a lot of time thinking through guided questions.

Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home by Elizabeth Foss

If you're familiar with Charlotte Mason, this book will largely be redundant. If you're not familiar then this is a nice introduction.

I found a few ideas that I'd like to implement and a few reminders of things I'd read previously and had forgotten about. It's not a book I feel like I need in my permanent home library though.

I did enjoy the personal stories and examples of how to make things work with a larger family. It can be a bit 'bossy' at times though so you just take what you want and leave the rest.

The book is written from a Catholic perspective so there is a lot of material which would only relate to Catholics. I didn't mind this as some of the scripture quoted is applicable to most Christian faiths. I did get a bit irked at sentences similar to "Catholic homeschoolers sacrifice more than any other homeschoolers" and other such treats. I don't think Catholics have a corner on the market of sacrifice. I think most homeschoolers sacrifice a lot of their time and energy to educating their children.  In fact, most moms do, no matter their religious beliefs.

I do think it's worth checking out from the library, before you buy.

Some day I'll get around to reading all of Charlotte's works. Some day I'll be caught up on laundry too. For now I use the aforementioned books.

Now, off to do laundry.....


  1. I am really enjoying your blog! Can you tell, I'm leaving comments everywhere..are you sick of me?

    Great list! Finding time to read during the school year is tough but CM books are worth it...sadly...I say that but never read an entire one...I need to add it to my summer reading list. Have you heard of Pocketful of Pinecones? it's a fiction book about a mom implementing CM in her homeschool. It's hard to find...I saw it on Curriculum Choice's website. That's on my reading list also..if I can find it. :)

  2. Thank you for this!! When we first started homeschooling (4-5 years ago), I borrowed a friend's copy of Andreola's book. While it led me to fall in love with the CM philosophy, it was no help practically, and I've been flopping and floundering ever since... after I read this,I ordered the first Levinson book. It comes in today!! I'm excited for less poetic notions and more get 'er done!

    Thanks again!