Summer is a great time for your kids to read freely. But what should they read? While it is tempting to allow kids to read whatever they want, British home education advocate Charlotte Mason advised that children should avoid “twaddle."
“They must grow up on the best. There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy. There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told.” -Charlotte Mason
Here are a few tips to for putting together a summer reading list that’s not filled with twaddle and that your kids will enjoy:
First, great leaders, writers, thinkers, and citizens have also been great readers. In putting together a reading list, it’s a good idea to imitate what the greats have read (more on this below). Second, children should also be allowed to read non-twaddle that interests them. So, let them have some input within certain parameters. Third, a variety of genres will broaden students’ minds. Include non-fiction in particular, as this genre is less likely to be filled with twaddle. There’s always something to be gleaned from reading about real people and events.
In Jacqueline Kennedy’s oral history, she talked about her husband’s reading habits—from his boyhood to his manhood. Before he was president, he was a great reader. We’ve devised a reading list template based on John F. Kennedy’s reading habits. JFK also won the Pulitzer Prize for his book, Profiles in Courage.
“But he was just always reading, practically while driving a car…I think he was always looking for something in books—he was looking for something about history, or something for a quote, or what…” -Jacqueline Kennedy
The following reading guide is based on JFK’s reading habits. We provide the guidelines; you and your children get to pick the books.
In our new homeschool writing curriculum, Persuasive Writing and Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers, we have students make a reading list (just like the one above) to use as free reading throughout the year. Plus, in our “Profiles in Rhetoric” section of each lesson, students will learn more about the reading and writing habits of the greats: Dorothy Sayers, Patrick Henry, Winston Churchill, and more!
Keep doing the great work of filling your child’s mind with good words!
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