Skip to main content

Living Books For High School Science - Charlotte Mason Style


Living ideas are derived only from living minds.

Homeschooling using the Charlotte Mason style is marked by a use of good living books. Living books are books that are written by someone who has a passion or interest in the subject, usually in a conversational or narrative style. You can read more about this at Simple Charlotte Mason.

As a homeschooling mom of teenage boys, I have tried to include living books in every science course we have covered. They draw interest and excitement to the topics we offer in our science curriculum. A good living book is worth its weight in gold and can give even the most reluctant student a reason for digging deeper into various aspects of science.

Living Books for High School

Living Books for High School

Living Books in High School

How To Use the Living Books in Your Science Courses

Most of us feel more comfortable using a text as the foundation of our high school science courses. This does not mean that we need to limit our assignments to the text. Why not add in a few living books to supplement your learning? We have found that leaving one day open during the week for a living book and follow-up narration is just the balancing feature we needed in our high school science.

Tips for Offering Living Books in High School Science

1. Assign a living book each week.

2. Allow for some kind of narration - oral, written (summary on a ***notebook page works well), project, additional research

3. Look for ways to connect the text to your living books selections by pulling in biographies of scientists or explorers.

4. Create interest in a topic by drawing connects between the text and your nature study.

5. When on field trips, look in the bookstore at the museum, science center, nature center, planetarium, or state/national park for living books you can include in your science courses.

Goals for Real Learning in Science

*Offer excellent materials.

*Make them ask questions.

*Point them to answers when needed.

*Provide opportunities for exploring.

*Have them respond in some way.

***You can read more about our Notebooking in High School here on Squidoo.

Inspiration Vs. Information

Quotes From Charlotte Mason

"It will be the teacher's aim to create in his pupils a desire for knowledge, and consequently a love of reading, and to cultivate in them, by a proper selection of lessons, the pleasure which reading may be made to yield."

Scroll to Continue

"They learn what to observe, and make discoveries for themselves, original so far as they are concerned. They are put in the right attitude of mind for scientific observations and deductions, and their keen interest is awakened."

Biology With Field Guides

Mushroom study with a field guide

Mushroom study with a field guide

Taking the information from a text and then going outside to observe your subjects brings the study to a new level. If you take the time to use a field guide, now you have real knowledge about the real world.

Living Books for High School Biology

There are so many wonderful books and biographies that you can choose from in the area of biology.

Biographies: Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Rachel Carson, Anna Botsford-Comstock, George Washington Carver, John Muir, Jacques Cousteau.

Other interesting topics: Lewis and Clark Expedition, Arctic Exploration, Marco Polo

Field Guides for All Subjects are an absolute MUST: Trees, Wildflowers, Birds, Mammals, Insects, Mushrooms

Living Books for High School Chemistry

These books can all be used for narration exercises. My boys kept a written summary of each of the books on notebook pages.

Physics Applied - Building Airplane Models - Design and Build

Building Model Airplanes

Building Model Airplanes

Put all those physics concepts to work with hobbies that support their learning.

Moon Gazing on the Roof

Moon Gazing and Photography on the Roof

Moon Gazing and Photography on the Roof

Spending time outside using a star map and camera is a natural step after reading and researching.

Living Books for Human Anatomy

Human anatomy is a fascinating look at our own bodies. Dry textbooks can provide information in an organized way but a good living book will give the student something to think about and to observe in their own body. We have used the following books as the compement to our text.

Dig a little deeper into the idea of using living books in your homeschooling.

Thanks for visiting my lens! - Leave a comment if you please.

anonymous on July 10, 2013:

Holy Moley! I was searching for a way to make science less painful for my daughter and found myself getting very excited to read all of the books myself!

bbullard on August 06, 2012:

I thought I'd commented on this lens before--excellent work! I wished that I'd found this before my daughter's nightmarish experience with chemistry. However, she's completing Physics this year, and my son is beginning Biology, so I remembered this lens and RAN here as I began to plan our school year. Thanks for sharing.

DianaHarper LM on April 04, 2012:

Thanks for the great ideas! Blessed by a Squid Angel.

anonymous on February 04, 2012:

Another excellent lens! Thanks for sharing these great ideas! We enjoyed hands on science projects. One of the family favorites was when I poured boiling water into a plastic jar. Watching the jar crumble was a huge hit with my young boys, but that wasn't the science experiment!

jimmyworldstar on December 13, 2011:

Great ideas. Connecting book studies to real life practice will help make the material more tangible and exciting. Honestly, sometimes it's just a chore to sit down and read an entire book with no actual practice.

eclecticeducati1 on September 28, 2011:

Great lens! Blessed by a Squid Angel.

Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on September 17, 2011:

I am a huge fan of living books as well. It's a shame to me that people so quickly want to rush to textbooks for high school science instead of trusting the approach that worked for earlier years.

ManyLittleBlessings on September 17, 2011:

Really fabulous lens! I am going to need to remember to come check it out again when we're working on high school. I like to think it's forever away, but in just a few short years, we're going to be tackling it.

anonymous on September 14, 2011:

Wonderful lens! I love your choices for science books for high schoolers. Even if moms are using textbook curricula, perish the thought, living books add so much more life to any study!

#Charlotte Mason #homeschooling

Related Articles