The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason
by Laurie Bestvater
Charlotte Mason offers so much more than just keeping a nature notebook and learning to write with models. Realizing that students learn best when they are actively engaged, Mason used many different types of notebooks in her PNEU schools, and we see them mentioned throughout her books and the school newsletters.
Until now, it has been hard to trace exactly what was done and at what ages, but now, Laurie Bestvater’s new book makes it simple. The Living Page is a wonderful guide to the many types of notebooks used and recommended by Charlotte Mason.
The book opens with an inspiring chapter on “The Art of the Keeper,” in which Bestvater explores the fascinating history of notebooking, with tidbits about many of the famous figures who used commonplace books and other types of notebooks. This section offers clear evidence of Bestvater’s own experience with model-based writing and notebook keeping, with a rich array of allusions and quotations.
The second section of The Living Page is a “Gallery of Forms” in which Bestvater describes over twenty notebooks mentioned in Mason’s works. These include:
— commonplace books
— nature notebooks
— book of centuries
— calendar of firsts
— the “enquire within” household book
— a fortitude journal
— parent yearbook
— many more
Bestvater provides suggestions for how to use each type of notebook, explanatory quotes from Mason’s writing or other sources, as well as illustrations of the more unusual forms.
The remainder of The Living Page covers:
- The Grand Invitation
- Setting up Self-Activity
- R.S.V.P.—The Shape of Life
The author, Laurie Bestvater, has been learning from and applying the wisdom of Charlotte Mason for over two decades. She describes herself as “a persistent keeper of notebooks” and her graceful writing shows it.
The Living Page is a resource that will immensely enrich your life — not just your homeschool. I highly recommend it.
*P. S. If you like the idea of the Book of Centuries, you may enjoy the TimeFrame Timeline: The Twaddle-Free Timeline for High School and Beyond.