I want to read Charlotte Mason’s volumes – Which book should I buy?

I am delighted that you are at this page as it means you are planning to read Charlotte Mason’s volumes.  When you go searching there are a variety of different printings of the six volumes which Charlotte Mason wrote and it can be a bit confusing.  To clarify: the content in the different editions is the same.  In the editions listed below the page numbering has been kept identical, to facilitate quoting with page numbers. There are some poor-quality reproductions on Amazon.  Below I list and provide links to quality editions for those of us in Ireland.  (The links will be equally valid for those in the UK.)

I read Charlotte Mason’s six volumes over two years with the Idyll 3 book club and with Charlotte Mason Conversations UK & Ireland FB group which was a fantastic experience and learning opportunity.  You can see the Idyll schedule for 2022-2024 here if you would like to do this. (Sign up details for Idyll 4 monthly zoom discussions.) Charlotte Mason Poetry recommend starting with volume 1 and reading three pages per day.  It makes a huge difference to narrate what you read each day, even if only to yourself.  Book clubs are lovely, but only if they are feasible for you. The best thing is just to get started!

Because context can really help, Amy of Around the Thicket created an excellent one hour Intro to Charlotte Mason’s Home Education Series video, to give you “a working knowledge of this context, making the volumes more approachable and your time reading them more fruitful.” I would highly recommend it.

I prefer physical books for reading and notetaking, especially for books like these which are best read in small bites, giving yourself time to think about the ideas.   However, you can read Charlotte Mason’s volumes for free online at Charlotte Mason Poetry or Ambleside Online.  You can also read them on Kindle.

Living Book Press has both paperbacks and hardcover editions, with different covers, some of which are shown in the image below.   Both paperbacks and hardcover versions have a glued binding (not sewn binding).  The paperbacks, roughly A5 sized, can be bought on Amazon UK, Book Depo or directly from Living Book Press.   The hardcovers can only be ordered directly from Living Book Press.  I paid €12.00 for delivery for their 6 volume hardback set plus another book.  (Links, by volume, further down this post.)

Another option you will see is from Simply Charlotte Mason.  These are a larger size – roughly A4, with very wide margins for making notes.  They have the same content and page numbering.  However, coming from the states, the postage is very expensive.   Simply Charlotte Mason does have a link for nicely formatted pdfs on that same page for you to print yourself, but their pdfs are around €60, whereas Living Book Press’ pdfs are €9. (I describe printing and comb binding here if you wish to print pdfs.)

The Out of Print pink covers can only be bought second hand.  Again, same content and page numbering.  The pink covers look like this inside. You can see them on the cover of the Simply Charlotte Mason versions in the image above.

Brandy Vencel, Afterthoughts blog, shows these three paperbacks in this review video.

Mind to Mind is an abridgement of Charlotte Mason’s sixth volume done by Karen Glass.  If you wish to read Volume 6 before you start Volume 1, this may be an option for you.

There is also Charlotte Mason’s Homeschool Series in Modern English written by Leslie Laurio.  These are a sentence-by-sentence paraphrase of each of Charlotte Mason’s six books. You can read them online, on kindle or purchase them in paperback (although for Kindle volume 1 seems not to be available on Amazon UK, only volumes 2volume 6).   You can print the online page and bind them as I describe in this post.  Volume 1 paperback on Lulu, Amazon UK and Book Depo.

I keep my Leslie Laurio copy in Modern English next to me as I read the original.  If something is unclear, I check it and it usually clarifies it for me. You can also just read these before you read her original volumes if you battling with the Victorian language.

If listening is better for you, your options include:

Volume 1 – Home Education: Softcover Amazon UK, Book depo; Hardcover

Volume 2 – Parents and Children: Softcover Amazon UK, Book depo; Hardcover

Volume 3 – School Education: Softcover Amazon UK, Book depo; Hardcover

Volume 4 – Ourselves (Self-Knowledge, and Self-Direction):

Volume 4 is Charlotte Mason’s character curriculum written to children to teach morals and self-control.  Volume 4 has two books: Book 1 is for children from age 12, Book 2 is for high school students. Volume 4 is read by students in Year 7 and above on the Ambleside Online curriculum.

Floral softcover Amazon UK, Book depo; Masculine version softcover “The Fight for Mansoul” with castle Amazon UK, Book depo, Living Book Press; Hardcover

Volume 5 – Formation of Character: Softcover Amazon UK, Book depo; Hardcover

Volume 6 – (Towards) A Philosophy of Education: Softcover Amazon UK, Book depo; Hardcover

Full set in hardcover from Living Book Press with Blue Cover

Full set in hardcover from Living Book Press with Grey cover

Full set in hardcover from Living Book Press with Gradient covers (Shades of grey from white to black)

Full set in softcover from Living Book Press with Floral Covers

Happy reading!

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