I live in the land of the American pioneer. Those hearty souls who loaded up all their worldly goods and took themselves and their families westward to establish a new home. I often think of them driving the oxen or pushing their handcart across the plains and mountain ranges of this great land. The fortitude required to press on in the face of all opposition is fascinating to me. Some came as adventurers. Some wanted a new life and something to call their own. Many came for religious reasons to settle in a land of their own choosing to live their beliefs.
In the city where we live, there are museums and displays recounting the trails and trials of their journeys. Many have reproductions of the wagons and handcarts they used for transporting all they brought to begin a new life. I sometimes think I could simplify my life enough to fit in a wagon until I look at my books. I would need a box car on a train! In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “I cannot live without my books!”
I love the public library. I really love a good book store (new or used). I can lose myself in them for hours. One of my greatest joys, though, is to pull a stack of books off the shelves in our home and be transported to another time and place, or to simply find what I need to research the latest idea or challenge. Yes, the internet has some good information, but I relish the feel of the pages in my hand. I am definitely hard copy girl! We currently own over 3,500 volumes, both fiction and non-fiction. My academic texts are organized by subject. They range from the three R’s to pedagogy tomes. We have classic literature, comic books, household and gardening reference, books dealing with health and wellness, religious commentaries, and a copy of The Oxford Unabridged Dictionary that has over a dozen volumes and makes me smile when I see it on my shelf. My kitchen has over 70 cook books. There are books in every room. You will even find a volume or two on the back of the commode in my bathroom. (And my amazon wish list has a good dozen or two on it at any given time.) Can we possibly use them all? Yes!
Just yesterday, one of my daughters came home with a question about writing goals and curriculum for young children. Within minutes we had a pile of around half a dozen books to look through for ideas and inspiration. I was reminded yet again how much joy and empowerment there is between the covers of a good book.
What books did we use? Here is a list of what I found (and I am still making a longer mental list for her next visit):
The Educated Mind by William Bennett
The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
You Can Teach Your Child Successfully by Ruth Beechick
Catherine Levison’s books A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education
Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn
Teaching Children by Diane Lopez
She is currently reading The Core by Leigh Bortins. During her next visit I may hand her Unit Studies Make Easy by Valerie Berndt, Homeschooling by Samuel Blumenfeldt, or books from E. D. Hirsch’s Core Knowledge Series.
While I don’t swear by any one of those books, I reference them regularly. They are all written by articulate, inspiring authors with their own ideas that worked for children who are not the same as my own, but I find great ideas in each, and encouragement in all. My job, as I see it, is to glean the best from the various methods and texts and create something for my own family which meets our needs and interests. Without books, I would have a very limited access to these and other minds. So much would be missed!
So I could probably pare down my clothes, furniture, and even my kitchen equipment to fit into a wagon, but my books? I don’t think so.