It was almost Christmas in 2008.
While shopping at our local Meijer (there was only one in our town back then), I saw 2 big display boxes “A Library of Classics.” There weren’t any tags, nothing indicating price.
I grabbed both. The two of them filled my entire cart.
One for my little 1 year old (and baby bump) at the time, and one for my best friend and her little 1 year old and newborn.
I felt like I had found a secret treasure, a diamond in the rough.
The customer service attendant couldn’t find a price in their database, and the department attendant hadn’t heard of the boxed library – so together they made up a low price and I bought both.
I left feeling unbridled glee.
My friend and I had already been talking about our desires to home educate – I was clearly overeager and all in a rush to get started.
I went straight to my friend’s house to deliver her half of the bounty – and she simply asked: are these the abridged versions?
What’s an abridged version?
I had no idea.
And I’m sad to say that I continued in this rush to buy all the books that had a glimmer of value. I didn’t take time at this early age to follow book lists or research quality literature.
Some of the best books we read during this season before any curricula entered the scene were gifts, literally.
Guided by my own senses – I looked for “good deals” and “great teaching tools” which lead me straight to all the twaddle.
Twaddle. It seems like such a silly word. For me, it conjures up the image of a duck.
It also carries the impression of getting lost or movement that is wobbly and unreliable.
It is a good word to describe items that are fluff from popular culture; trinkets that are only interesting for a few moments and then get added to the Great Mountain of Stuff.
I’ve been setting my mind to understand and distill the twaddle in our home. I know I must take ownership of the ways I’m tempted to bring twaddle in with me from the world – great deals, good intentions, and buying all the things – but my children are also engaged in their own bent toward twaddle.
Twaddle is not the word I want to use in describing my child’s experience with life, and it is definitely not how I want our home education to be defined.
But just as I have to battle the tide of clutter coming into the home by my own design, I must battle the tide of twaddle coming in from my child’s design.
I know that Charlotte Mason is most credited for using the term twaddle and it is primarily understood in contrast to her recommendation of reading only “living books.” So it’s natural to assume that to be twaddle free one must discern the items that go onto the bookshelf.
There is so much more to being twaddle free than just not owning comic books and other “junk-food” type books.
I have ignored the presence of twaddle coming in from the library for a while now, and here I am wondering if this twaddle-reading is leading to twaddle-living.
I’m going to do an experiment and seek to remove all twaddle.
I’m on a mission to simplify, fortify, and enrich our environment. This is the good work of a home educating mother.
Starting by removing all the things that I have contributed to the Mountain of Stuff (currently living in our garage – 6 boxes labelled “Kids: Games, Puzzles, Books”). And then, like a bandaid, removing all the library twaddle.
I don’t want to take the mentality of a victim when it comes to what my child likes to read and wants to buy.
I have noticed my daughter’s distinct reactions to classics verses twaddle:
- After a rich diet of whole books, she creates and rides the magical tide of imagination.
- But after a diet of junk-food-books, she just wants more.
And at first I praised the second! More reading is more reading. And more reading is good.
Not always. My suspicions are becoming reality that twaddle-reading turns into twaddle-living.
And by that I mean: she’s forgoing playing outside to playing inside (in the summer!), an insatiable desire to watch more PBS Kids (don’t get me wrong, I love PBS Kids – best shows for kids in my opinion), and lower spirits.
Just like you are what you eat – I believe you are what you read. Or you begin to resemble it at least.
So, I’m on a new and passionate hunt for the best books. I’m digging through some of my favorite book lists, and I’ll be sharing what I find here.
I’ll share how the experiment goes too.
- How to deal with twaddle in your homeschool :: SimpleHomeschool.net – I agree with a lot of this, but at this point I am not taking on the 80/20. Maybe that will be the future compromise as we see fruit and nourishment from the best take root first.
- What is Twaddle? :: SimplyCharlotteMason.com – There was a fun contest in the comments for this post, but it was originally written at least 5 years ago.
- Who is Charlotte Mason and what was her educational style? Read the post I wrote about her here.
What I’m reading to fuel this desire to be twaddle free:
- Books That Build Character: A Guide to Teaching Your Child Moral Values Through Stories :: By William Kilpatrick and Gregory and Suzanne M. Wolfe
- Honey for a Child’s Heart :: By Gladys Hunt (I know I’m late to the party on this one, almost everyone I know has already read this one. No shame in catching up on the good stuff.)
- Educating the WholeHearted Child :: By Clay and Sally Clarkson (Pages 337-352 are lists of books for “The Wholehearted Family” and “Wholehearted Learning”)
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