So, I just can't say enough wonderful things about Ambleside's curriculum. The girls have improved in their reading skills by leaps and bounds!! Some of Caroline's most difficult literature books are Robinson Crusoe and Plutarch's Lives. They have stretched her vocabulary and her reading comprehension so much that she will tell me that her brain is tired after her chapter sections. :) Plutarch's Lives has been great because Caroline has learned about Roman culture and good citizenship, which is always a plus. But, Robinson Crusoe has been my favorite for her to read because of the wonderful spiritual content. One of my favorite passages is this:
In the Morning I took the Bible, and beginning at the New Testament, I began to seriously read it, and impos'd upon my self to read a while every Morning and every Night, not tying my self to the Number of Chapters, but as long as my Thoughts shou'd engage me: It was not long after I set seriously to this Work, but I found my Heart more deeply and sincerely affected with the Wickedness of my past Life: The Impression of my Dream reviv'd, and the Words, All these Things have not brought thee to Repentance, ran seriously in my Thought: I was earnestly begging of God to give me Repentance, when it happen'd providentially the very Day that reading the Scripture, I came to these Words, He is exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give Repentance, and to give Remission: I threw down the Book, and with my Heart as well as my Hands lifted up to Heaven, in a Kind of Extasy of Joy, I cry'd out aloud, Jesus, thou Son of David, Jesus, thou exalted Prince and Saviour, give me Repentance!
This was the first Time that I could say, in the true Sense of the Words, that I pray'd in all my Life; for now I pray'd with a Sense of my Condition, and with a true Scripture View of Hope founded on the Encouragement of the Word of God; and from this Time, I may say, I began to have Hope that God would hear me.
Now I began to construe the Words mentioned above, Call on me, and I will deliver you, in a different Sense from what I had ever done before; for then I had no Notion of any thing being call'd Deliverance, but my being deliver'd from the Captivity I was in; for tho' I was indeed at large in the Place, yet the Island was certainly a Prison to me, and that in the worst Sense in the World; but now I learn'd to take it in another Sense: Now I look'd back upon my past Life with such Horrour, and my Sins appear'd so dreadful, that my Soul sought nothing of God, but Deliverance from the Load of Guilt that bore down all my Comfort: As for my Solitary Life it was nothing; I did not So much as pray to be deliver'd from it, or think of it; It was all of no Consideration in Comparison to this: And I add this Part here, to hint to whoever shall read it, that whenever they come to a true Sense of things, they will find Deliverance from Sin a much greater Blessing, than Deliverance from Affliction.
Wow... all Caroline and I could say was "Wow!" We both were touched at reading Robinson's accounts of truly understanding his sin condition, understanding God's promise of deliverance... and then his "Ah-ha" moment that he needn't pray for deliverance from his affliction on the island... rather it was much more important to receive deliverance from his sin. This is awesome literature being poured into our hearts... Miss Mason has a little bit to say in this area of giving the children beautiful literature instead of "twaddle":
IV. The Habit of Imagining
The Sense of Incongruous.––All their lessons will afford some scope for some slight exercise of the children's thinking power, some more and some less, and the lessons must be judiciously alternated, so that the more mechanical efforts succeed the more strictly intellectual, and that the pleasing exercise of the imagination, again, succeed efforts of reason. By the way, it is a pity when the sense of the ludicrous is cultivated in children's books at the expense of better things. Alice in Wonderland is a delicious feast of absurdities, which none of us, old or young, could
vol 1 pg 152
afford to spare; but it is doubtful whether the child who reads it has the delightful imaginings, the realising of the unknown, with which he reads The Swiss Family Robinson.
This point is worth considering in connection with Christmas books for the little people. Books of 'comicalities' cultivate no power but the sense of the incongruous; and though life is the more amusing for the possession of such a sense, when cultivated to excess it is apt to show itself a flippant habit. Diogenes and the Naughty Boys of Troy is irresistible, but it is not the sort of thing the children will live over and over, and 'play at' by the hour, as we have all played at Robinson Crusoe finding the footprints. They must have 'funny books,' but do not give the children too much nonsense reading.
And, I can testify that the "classic literature" has done wonders in Caroline's growth in reading abilities as well as moral growth!
For Ava, we just finished Black Beauty and are now enjoying reading Beatrix Potter's stories, A Child's Garden of Verses, and she just loves reading on her own from Pathway Readers. We are almost finished with "First Steps" and Ava reads so much more fluently due to that wonderful program! The workbooks have been especially wonderful in teaching Ava phonics rules and reading comprehension. She reads with wonderful inflection in her voice and she practices spelling words every chance she gets! What a joy it is to be teaching her and seeing her reading and spelling skills grow immensely! (not to mention her eyes light up when she knows it's time for her to read!)
Oh, and I found this wonderful condensed version of A Christmas Carol, that was adapted by Charles Dickens himself. This will make a much better "read aloud" for the kids during Advent.
*Here was a lovely quote from Caroline tonight:
"Mom, do you know what I like best about Advent?... We get to spend family time together every night, we learn a lot about God, and it is VERY entertaining!"
Praise God that He is working in and through the girls' hearts and has blessed us in so many ways! The most important "literature" we have is God's Word. As we read it, it penetrates our hearts and convicts us to become more like Him. Have a blessed day! :)