Book of Centuries Examples

"The Book of Centuries is a great joy to the owner, and even in these busy days it is possible to find some time, however short, to add an illustration from time to time."      - G.M. Bernau, "The Book of Centuries", PR Vol. 29

One of the biggest requests that I receive is , "Can you share your pictures of your children's Book of Centuries?" And so, that is what this post is about!  Making entries in their BOC should be a happy habit, a form of vitality.  For the most part, I have made it a choice for my children (beginning around age 9 or 10) during the afternoon hours. But we have tried something different lately and it has worked well.

I was inspired by the idea of the "Book of Centuries Tea" mentioned by Bernau.  She said, "Children always take a keen delight in their books, and the writer has had more than one happy 'Book of Centuries Tea,' when various children have brought their books and compared progress with each other." Doesn't that sound sweet? So now, when our TBG Community meets, everyone brings their BOCs.  We take about 15 minutes to go around and show what we entered and maybe a word about why we chose that artifact. This has worked well and has actually revived everyone's interest in their work.

Our BOCs are from bookofcenturies.com (Laurie Bestvater).  She has lots of wonderful BOC helps on her website.  Riverbend Press carries a slightly different version - also lovely. I encourage you to choose a BOC that will be a lifelong companion for your student.

Teaching from Peace,


P.S. - I will be leading a new LEL class (Season 4 on Thursday evenings) starting in January.  If you would like to be notified when registration opens, make sure you sign up here.

Tools and transportation seem to be where this student's interests lie.

This student likes to put literary artifacts and musical instruments in her BOC.


Nice start to a 1st century BCE page.

Self-education: Thoughts from the Scholars Audio

Today I have something really special for you!  I just re-listened to this plenary session presented at the 2017 Living Education Retreat. The humor, honesty and inspiration from the students on their educational journey with Charlotte Mason is priceless. You will hear a brief introduction by me followed by Gabe, Lizzie, Levi, Liam, and Liz delivering a short speech and finally a lengthy and informative Q & A time. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Here is the abstract:

Charlotte Mason said that "self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature." So how has that worked out for some students? What was it like to have a Charlotte Mason education? What do current high schoolers think about it? During this session, Nancy will share some thoughts on high school and then five teens will reflect on their own journeys. This will be followed by questions for the scholars from you - the audience!

Teachings of Life by a Mother

While leafing through the pages in the Charlotte Mason Digital Archives, I chanced upon this letter from A MOTHER. She shares this insightful list of aphorisms (pithy observations that contain general truths). It made me wonder what her "long period of suffering" was. 

This one is my favorite - 

"When portions of life are stormy, and buffet you, remember the shore is sweetest where tides run ; you have no right to claim always half-tide."

It reminded me of this quote by Charlotte Mason which Marcia shared in last nights' Living Education Lessons

"Sometimes the springs swell in the hills, the rivers overflow, and there is a flood; but this is not always a misfortune in the end, because much that is rotten and unclean is swept away, and lands washed by a flood are very fertile afterwards." Vol. 4, p. 7

Which one of her aphorisms below strike you? 


DEAR EDITOR,—I venture to send you a few aphorisms which have

come to me during a long period of suffering, with its intervals of solitude. They may be interesting to other mothers, who will perhaps, in their turn, be induced to send you for publication some of the teachings of life that have come to them also in times of weariness and distress.

                                                                       A MOTHER.

Live all the hours you can in the sunlight.

Work by rule ; with exceptions.

Let good habits bear sway; not as tyrants, but as friends.

Let unimportant things be.

Don't tell everybody everything.

Reserve your strength ; others have shoulders too.

Give deliberation beforehand, and the right rate of speed to the action.

" Do the nexte thinge " by all means, and know you are going to do it, but do not always betray your intention.

" Trye before you truste," and have faith rather in acts than words.

Blame the right person only and to the right amount only, but give

encouragement to wash it down.

Remain alone and at peace, if you have a right to solitude ; but emerge the better for it.

When you know what rests you, REST for others' sakes.

If sleep flits, mercy looks down the long day through.

Believe in yourself up to the point you would believe in another,

otherwise you are unjust.

Mental prayer needs no " style." If it did could you better the

Psalmist's ?

Make a museum of your mind, and let conversation be the well-oiled key.

In an important interview, weigh your first words ; after that trust to opportunity, instinct and the spirit.

When portions of life are stormy, and buffet you, remember the shore is sweetest where tides run ; you have no right to claim always half-tide.

Torrents and whirlwinds have their glory, and great souls bow down and worship ; so only do they hear the still small voice."

Who is the welcome humourist ? He that takes off, not the individual, but the race.

Judge people as they mean to be, not as they appear; but judge their works, not as they appear, but as they are.

Wholesome " chaff" leaves grain behind; but in domestic life sarcasm is a file which may wear down a fine edge.

If we could but fathom each other's methods of work and play, how

much greater would the aggregate be.

(From the "P.R." Letter Bag, p. 131, Vol. 8, 1897)

Shakespeare Enjoyment!

As I read, read, read through the Charlotte Mason Digital Archives about Shakespeare, as well as prepare for King Lear in our TBG Community this fall, I am struck by the word "enjoy".  Over and over again, I read of teachers saying how the students, even the youngest,  enjoy Shakespeare!  It is my hope that your students do, too. Or at least that they will eventually.

Shakespeare is a tremendous part of a Charlotte Mason education. Let's make sure as we prepare that we are letting Shakespeare do the talking.  Keeping the teacher talk to a minimum is important.  Proper scaffolding for the newcomers to this feast is key, too. Vocabulary? Well, yes, this might be good. But don't overdo it - nothing kills the lesson more than going on and on with words YOU didn't know.  I have rarely done this with Shakespeare.  The students either figure it out from context, check out the notes, or ask if something is confusing to them.

So the quote at the top seems almost scandalous in our world of mastery and atomization of every subject*. Mastery in that we make sure not a jot or tittle is misunderstood and atomization in that we break everything down into the smallest, understandable pieces for the student, thinking this will aid their digestion. But with Shakespeare, we see the idea of the child as a person - the sacredness of their personality - come shining through. We need to respect them as persons and let them take away from the Shakespeare lessons exactly what they need. And as Shakespeare teaches us about so many things, each student's needs will be different.  They will begin to understand more and more as they go along. They might even become a huge fan of Shakespeare.  I've seen it happen a few times. (!)

Which brings me back to this idea of enjoyment.  If we want our students to enjoy Shakespeare, then we need to enjoy Shakespeare. Your interest, enthusiasm, and perseverance will go a long way when beginning to read the plays. Enjoy!

Teaching from Peace,


*Of course, mastery is crucial in some subjects like mathematics and grammar. But I don't care for the term.  As if we can master any subject! "Building upon understanding" is slightly clearer.

*For more Shakespeare posts, go here and scroll down to "SHAKESPEARE IN OUR COMMUNITY"