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Young Girl Reading a Book by Adolphe Piot

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Imagine if all children preferred a book over their electronic device. This idea does not have to be far from reach. Most people have experienced the impact a great book can make in their lives. What makes a great book and how can we cultivate a love of reading in our children? The answer is a living book, the foundation of a Charlotte Mason education. Living books for informational texts are by one author who is passionate about a subject. They write in a conversational or narrative style.

The books pull the reader into the matter and ignite one’s emotions and imagination, so it is easy to remember the events and facts. They bring life to the subject of study, making it relative and exciting. "The living book also liberates the teacher from being the fountainhead of all knowledge. The role of the teacher is a guide and sympathizer, providing mental and moral discipline."(

The art of oral narration can be traced back to Ancient Greece and is an integral part of a Charlotte Mason education. To tell back what a child has heard or read requires an active and attentive mind while building memory and ownership of the ideas and knowledge.

"Narrating is an art, like poetry-making or painting, because it is there, in every child’s mind, waiting to be discovered, and is not the result of any process of disciplinary education." – Charlotte Mason

Click here to explore Mason's volume on a school education 

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The founder of Activities for Learning, Inc., holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an AMI Montessori diploma for ages 3-6, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from College of St. Thomas, Minnesota, (now University of St. Thomas) and an earned Ph.D. in mathematics education from the University of Minnesota.


Dr. Cotter designed the double-sided AL Abacus and wrote RightStart Mathematics, a comprehensive elementary and middle-school mathematics program that incorporates visualization, the AL Abacus, math card games, and drawing board tools. The RightStart curriculum is an outgrowth of her doctoral research. Dr. Cotter speaks at conferences across the US and worldwide. 

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