"Living Books" is a relatively new term to me. It wasn't a term that I heard growing up. But one that I have learned about over the past few years of homeschooling.
There are textbooks on most any subject. History, science, math, physics, astronomy. This is the way that I learned in school, growing up. I read the chapters and I took the tests. Sure I remembered long enough to take the test, but not much longer than that. Most details went in one ear and out the other.
I have been homeschooling my daughters since preschool, and my oldest is now in 8th grade. For the first few years, we used textbooks for most everything. That is how I was educated; it was what I knew. But over the years, I heard more and more mention of "living books".
Usually, textbooks are written to cover a variety of topics, barely touching the surface of one topic before moving on to another one. But living books are written by someone with a passion for the topic. Typically, the authors write in-depth, with emotion and an amazing amount of knowledge.
Pick most any topic of interest, and you will find a book about that specialty. Pick most any famous person, and you will find a biography about him or her . . . sometimes even an auto-biography is available.
By using living books, I have been able to learn so much, right along-side my daughters. I have loved learning this way. We don't just read a chapter about Pearl Harbor and move on. We read several full-length books and even watch a documentary or two. We don't just read a chapter in a textbook about Abraham Lincoln and move on. We read books about his childhood and books about his adulthood. We read quotes by Mr. Lincoln and quotes from people who knew him personally.
Along the same lines, we have learned much from unit studies, documentaries, hands-on activities, and even online courses. A favorite of mine is Pilgrim Story through Dayspring, online. Forget a passing overview of the Pilgrim's story. This course delves deep, even going back before the "pilgrim" time, explaining how the circumstances came to be in the first place. This is an impressive, interactive, multi-sensory way to learn. (And no, I'm not getting paid to say that. I just really love this course.) I hope that the company comes out with more courses similar to this one in the near future.
Textbooks have their time and place. They are pretty much a necessity for math and English. Well, not really. :) Even these topics can be taught through online courses and DVD tutorials and the likes. It is all about your child's learning style. How do they learn? How do they retain knowledge? For example, over time, I have realized that my two older daughters have very different learning styles. One daughter can sit still and listen and focus, and retain what she learned. My other daughter has trouble retaining auditory information. But give her something to do with her hands, and it makes an amazing difference. So while I read, I offer to allow her to doodle while she listens. She sometimes makes random doodles; sometimes, she draws pictures about the lesson. Either way, using her hands, helps her to listen and retain what she hears better than if she just listened without drawing.
Homeschooling is an adventure and my daughters aren't the only ones learning along the way. I am learning many lessons right alongside them. Some are educational lessons, such as history; others are life lessons, such as my daughters' learning styles.
Homeschooling is a journey, and I'm so thankful to be walking the path with my beautiful children.