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I fell for it last year. I needed a US History course for my kids and wanted it to be me-friendly. Teacher manuals, appropriate reading level for my kids to use independently, workbooks for each kid and all extra texts already collected in one spot. This book with bright colored pictures, maps all printed and bound ready for my students to color, and nice fresh smell seemed like the winner. I placed the order and dropped a bundle of money.

I was skeptical at first. The reading level wasn’t what I was expecting, so I had to still read or supervise the reading. I also had to help the kids locate the maps and worksheets they were assigned. I had to help with the shuffle of all the separate books. So far, not so “easier for the teacher.” The lure of easy and bundled had gotten me.

Prior to falling for the bundle, I had always used “living books,” a term thrown around the classical education world meaning books written by people who are passionate about the subject, thus producing an extremely good text from which to learn. Most textbooks are written by textbooks writers—those that are hired to write about a particular subject and tend to be lacking in quality.

The struggle with living books is that there can be a large amount of books to choose from. Stacks of brilliant books that we need to shuffle through and loads of titles in the library (which I inevitably pay a fine on) can all be found on all topics. How do I keep them managed? What system do I follow to ensure all aspects of our subject are covered? How to I test the kids on their knowledge? Do I need to create worksheets or activities for further mastery?

Despite it being a little more of a large furry beast to manage, living books still win the day for me. I resold that bundle I bought and never looked back. I am back on the living books bandwagon and plan on staying here. Yes, that means I have to find places to store the books we aren’t using as well as keep the books we do need. And yes, I need to budget for all library fines accrued during the year, but I am still trusting the old faithful of books.

Are you the bundle buyer or do you prefer living books? Maybe you are a mixture of both! How do you manage to keep the book tower from toppling over?  

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Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.oaksreplanted.blogspot.com.

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