Sheltering and books

LIT’ERATURE, n. [L. literatura.] Learning; acquaintance with letters or books. Literature comprehends a knowledge of the ancient languages, denominated classical, history, grammar, rhetoric, logic, geography, &c. as well as of the sciences. A knowledge of the world and good breeding give luster to literature.

Webster’s 1828

There seem to be two camps concerning literature:  those who think you should shelter your children and those who think that difficult books are a tool for discussion. Of course older children can handle things that younger children cannot. And difficult discussions on slavery, racial slurs, abuse, etc. do need to happen. I think for me it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”

I have heard both sides of the argument and they both have merit.  I think I come down on the side of caution. My children count on me to keep them safe. The mind is the most. I do not ever want to allow them to put something there that they are not ready for. I believe literature (true literature) is a terrific way to introduce difficult topics in their natural settings. Books can open casual doors for conversations that might seem contrived otherwise. Then Biblical Principles can be introduced/applied where they fit.

And then there are some books that I do not believe qualify as literature, are salacious or are otherwise twaddle. Those don’t make the cut. But important works are worth reading and discussing together. Because we are “living” with the books and their characters, I want to make sure we are “acquainting” ourselves for a specific reason and not just to have something to read or because it was recommended by someone else.

Where do you fall in the book sheltering debate?

Things are all abuzz

There are several things going on around here, artistically speaking. (I have a husband and 4 kids that we homeschool, so we are always busy!)

One thing is a chunky book swap I am hosting. The theme is “A little birdie told me,” and it’s turning out awesome. The pages are 3X3 and there has to be a bird or wings on the page somewhere. The quote doesn’t have to be about birds, but many of them are. Once I get them together I’ll post some pics here.

Also I am in the latest Gleaner Zine swap. I’ve been itching to do a zine for the longest time and I guess now’s the time to dive in. The theme for that is domestic bliss. I love all things homemaking and wanted to explore that topic artistically. My head is swirling with ideas along those lines. I’m not sure about the page count yet, but I am planning on making some additional copies that I’ll make available here next month.

Of course my Chandler & Price old style letterpress is still gunked up and yucky. She has beautiful bones though, and little by little I am wiping away the grime and her battleship grey beauty is shining through. Who knows when I will actually be able to print on her–I still need a treadle, type, furniture, etc, etc, etc.One of these days I want to get some more books bound. That is frustrating me! I have some cool things in my mental queue that I want to actually finish and add to my store. And to blog about. But that will have to wait for another day. I have plenty to work on this month. Oh and I’m also considering another giveaway–a Keith Smith book. What do you suggest I do in the way of a contest?

My favorite soil softeners

A few years ago I purged all the “twaddle” on our bookshelves. I have been diligent since that time to fill our shelves with literature that would qualify as soil softeners.

Ms. Rosalie Slater referred to certain literature as “soil softeners,” or material that softens the soil of the heart for instruction in righteousness and planting seeds of Biblical principles. Here are just a few of the many soil softeners we enjoy in our home.

Garden Planting

Mary Jones and Her Bible is a beautiful story of a girl who worked and saved for years and walked 20 miles to buy it. It is such an inspiring story. The story teaches character such as diligence and parental respect and a love for God’s Word.

My Kingdom by L. M. Alcott is a 4-stanza poem about self-government that children can memorize. It softens the heart and opens the door to discussion about Christian self-government. By the way, she wrote it when she was 13 years old.

Little Pillows and Morning Bells by F.R. Havergal are one of my all-time favorites. I adore her and these simple children’s books are precious and full of ideas about God that children can understand. They are to be read before bed and upon waking. Plant the seeds of placing God first and last in your day.

One Morning in Maine by Robert McClosky is a lovely story about God’s creation and the power of nature. It will encourage stories of childhood summers and weather. You can see the majesty of God’s creation, His creativity and the power of childhood memories.

Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder shows the character of the pioneers and the strength of a godly family. It will insipre boys and girls alike to obey their parents, appreciate nature and enjoy the blessings they have.

The Autobiography of George Mueller is wonderfully inspiring. His character and conduct is something we should all aspire to.

Music by Isaac Watts. His Divine and Moral Songs for Children will teach your children about godly character in  a way kids love, set to music.

My new favorite Christmas book

I came across this jewel at my local library (written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jackie Morris) and and may end up buying a copy to keep. Little One, We Knew You’d Come

Image result for little one we knew you'd come

This book is a lovely poem about Christ’s birth from the perspective of Mary and Joseph. They cannot contain their joy of the birth of their first-born.

“People were sleeping. We didn’t care.

Good news, we sang, our baby is here!

Our baby has come, our darling one,

Oh, the day that you were born.”

The illustrations are also wonderful. I enjoyed them at least as much as the text. I wish I could paint with that warmth and realism (with some whimsy to make it fun).

Anyone who is a mother will relate to this book. I feel connected to Mary, excited about the impending birth, wondering what He would be like, cuddling and kissing His little face.  And I also think of Mary and the sacrifice she made as a mother. It could not have been easy to let go of the man she once rocked to sleep as a babe. And then to think that we were all waiting for Him to come.

(cue music) Emmanuel, our God is with us. Prince of Peace, mighty One, the ever living God…

The best weekend ever

I had the most amazing weekend. It had nothing to do with home education or church or family. It was all about art. I almost never get opportunities like this. Here’s what happened.

 First, I went to a workshop at the Philbrook taught by my favorite book artist, Julie Chen. It was so fun to meet her and spend the day making books. We did a carousel book. It was so good to see my “bookie” friends and hang out at the museum. We are probably going to have Julie back next year for a two-day workshop. That would be terrific!

Then Sunday afternoon Julie gave a lecture on her books, reviewing her process, showing mock-ups and the journey of a book from idea to reality. She also showed slides of her studio and equipment, which is always fun to see. I like to see where artists execute all their ideas.

This was so helpful. She explained how she decided how many books to make in a run and how she sells them. I learned so much about her artisic process and about how things work in the book arts world.

After the lecture some of us went to a docent’s house for appetizers. We got to talk with Julie and have a great time chatting about books and art in general. It was so nourishing to my soul to talk about art with people I never get to hang out with. The weather was amazing as we sat on the back patio and talked about the museum, the calligraphy guild, and just minutia among the azaleas and dogwood trees. Everyone had such an interesting story to tell, about their lives and about art.

I cannot wait until we get our book arts guild up again. That was so much fun. It was a place to really spread your artistic wings. We are trying to hook up with the museum and meet in a classroom there. That would be a great partnership.

This weekend was like a gift. I didn’t have to pay a lot of money, leave my family or make a trip. It all happened right here in my backyard. It was a time to refresh and reflect, both on my journey as an artist and on my plans for the future. It helped settle some things in me, about the direction I want to take and how I want to get there. I know God will use my art and I’m starting to see just how He could do that. Now I need to make some time to get the studio and create some books!