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Book lists, reviews, and discussion for homeschooling families
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I'm Valerie Jacobsen, mom of eleven children aged 24 to 7, 8 daughters and 3 sons. I've been educating my children at home for 20 years now, and I have seven children still at home, learning here. My parents read my first books to me when I was six weeks old, starting me on a lifetime journey with good books, and one of my greatest joys as a mother has been sharing the very best and greatest books with my own children. We live in an incredible time, when families of very modest means can build and maintain libraries of incredible quality. Valerie's Living Library is my effort to share some of our family's literary experiences with you. While I do sell books here, the heart of my site is a large and growing collection of free lists and reviews, to help you find and rescue some of the world's finest literary treasures, especially when you can fine them for a dollar or less at your local library's book sale.
Just like a healthy body, a child's mind, imagination, and heart desperately need good, nutritious food! We do not live in a time of high culture. What is currently passed off as essential to childhood is often worthless, or worse. Some books that are recommended as fun are the equivalent of fluorescent frosted sugar cookies--cheap, empty words and pictures with no depth, no quality, and no real beauty. Some that are said to be educational are no better than vitamin-depleted canned vegetables--no flavor, no fun, and not much nutrition, after all.
Our children need good and great books that engage their minds, inspire their imaginations, and thrill their hearts. Reading isn't for the sake of merely decoding and comprehending text. Otherwise, meaningless, soulless, and even poisonous books would probably do just as well. But, no. Reading was given to us by God to help us know Him, know ourselves, and know our world. God's gift of reading is a mandate to seek the best and truest books for ourselves and our children. Our efforts to supply the very best for our children reflect our yearning for the perfections of the New Heavens and New Earth, which we will see, if our lives are hidden with Christ in God. And that is good.
So, what are the best books for children? The years from about 1945 to about 1965 were what I call The Golden Age of Children's Literature. Some of the very best children's books ever written in the English language were published during that time. While some are still in print, many are long out-of-print and the last remaining copies are waiting to be rescued at library book sales.
As much as I am able to do so, my thinking and reviews reflect my belief that the best and most wonderful book is the Bible, the living word of our Creator. While you are collecting fine fiction, gripping histories, and engaging science books, don't miss or neglect God's kindness and good will to reach us through His Word. With shorter readings of 15 minutes a day, you can read the Bible every year. With longer readings of 45 minutes a day, you can read through the Bible in four months, encountering every chapter with a lively memory of every other chapter. Reading and re-reading the Bible like this, you will see patterns and themes emerge from the pages of Scripture, and you will know God better. Reading the Bible aloud will benefit both you and your children. For your children, it will help them know God's Word and develop a listening habit that will serve them well when they come together with the Church to hear it preached. For you as parents, reading the very word of God with your own voice powerfully tends to increase your own understanding and retention.
Reading the Bible thoroughly and often will help you identify the world's best children's books, while the world's best children's books will give your children a grasp of Story, metaphor, and language that will enable them to read the Bible with greater understanding. Our family uses various readings plans but this is one of our favorites.
Our first lists and reviews were posted to the Internet in October 1998.
Our virtual library continues to grow.
I mark recent additions as "NEW".
Pages with recent additions and changes are marked "UPDATED".
The Great Big List of Lists and Reviews--
Scroll DOWN for more information on collecting and using great children's books in home education.
Valerie's Own Lovely Living Books for Sale
I do not collect these, but many families do, and love them. (I had to stop somewhere!)
Please consider reading my essay,
"Book Lists: Handle with Care"
Caring for a Collection:
While you are visiting my pages, be sure to see my Resources for Book Collectors for links on cleaning, repairing, evaluating, storing, and USING collectible books.
You are also welcome to view my description of Organizing a Christian Homeschool Library.
Content posted at ValeriesLivingLibrary.com is ©1998-2013
Do not copy or repost any content from this site via email, to any web site, or in any kind of public forum.
You are welcome to keep a single paper or electronic copy of any pages from this site for personal, noncommerical use.
You are welcome to make up to 50 single paper copies of any or all pages from this site--
provided that each page is labeled with this notice,
provided that the pages are given as a gift for no compensation of any kind,
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