Living Books For High School Science

Living Books Sketch

“A book may be long or short, old or new, easy or hard, written by a great man or a lesser man, and yet be the living book which finds its way to the mind of a young reader.”
Charlotte Mason, Volume 3

Science in high school is one of those topics that can put fear into a homeschooling mom’s heart. We can fear we have a lack of expertise or we perhaps fear we can’t offer what public schools can offer. In addition, many of us fear we will not be able to offer a science text in a way that will be meaningful. We may have worked through the years to keep science a living subject with hands-on learning and real life experiences. What happens now that we hit the high school years?

Keeping It Alive
As a science oriented family, I wanted to keep my sons’ interests fed even though we decided that the foundation of our study would be a textbook. I was determined to include living books as part of our weekly plans as well. I didn’t want to abandon our Charlotte Mason feel to our homeschool even in high school. Looking back, I think it was one of the most important decisions we made.

Inspiration Vs. Information
I was trying to inspire in my children a love of learning and not just feed them dry facts. Living books inspire thinking and do not just provide information. Think back to when you were in school and you had a true learning experience, one that impressed you and has stuck with you all these years later. In my experience, those times were inspired either by passionate people fired up about a topic, a book that was written to give you a window into another time or person’s life, or when you made a connection from the written page and related to your real life in some way.

It takes less energy to learn something from a living book than it does from a text. Learning takes place without all the effort to memorize and drill the facts. Learning takes place because it is meaningful and you own it right from the first reading.

Text Plus Something More
I can remember hours and hours of research going into our biology course, trying to find a way to make the text come alive for my boys. I only had to look as far as my own bookshelf and pull the Handbook of Nature Study and some field guides down to supplement our learning. Using those books in addition to a text was what took us outdoors exploring in our own neighborhood and then beyond. They also led us back to our microscope to look at the amazing design and creation right there in the details. We could tackle the topics of high school biology and still keep it real and meaningful.


Applying the Principle to Other Science Courses
The same is true for every high school science course we have completed in our family. There are ways to draw in living books to every topic if you search hard enough. Our study of chemistry, physics, marine biology, and human anatomy have all been enhanced by selected living books offered every week for narration of some sort. Some of the books we stumbled upon, some were recommended by blog readers and friends, and some we had on our shelves already and we just needed to get them down off the shelf and read them one at a time. A few of the books ended up becoming “texts” all on their own like The Elements: An Exploration. This particular book saved our rather dry chemistry course. It brought a spark back to my sons’ learning, leading them down their own road to discovery about the elements.We had discovered it was possible to keep a living books focus in our high school science.

Would you like to see our living books selections from our high school science courses?

I have gathered many living books into one list over on Squidoo. Please visit my lens:
Living Books for High School Science.

You may also be interested in reading Charlotte Mason High School and Notebooking in High School.
Or by Science Course:

This post will be part of the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival.

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