Anyone using the Great Books program?

Two educators at the University of Chicago launched the Great Books Foundation in 1947. Robert Maynard Hutchins, then chancellor of the university, and professor Mortimer Adler shared a vision of book discussion groups in which passionate readers could meet and talk about enduring issues and ideas.

When I was in my teens, the first book one of my Oxbridge tutors recommended was Mortimer Adler’s “How to Read a Book”, and it was instrumental in transforming my reading habits and in what I looked for in a book.

As parents or home-educators we often flounder how to go on once we’ve got our kids off the ground with basic reading skills with reading primers and packaged readers….there are dime and dozen of these out on the bookstore shelves. Beyond primers and basic readers however, picking out a book can seem like a hit-and-miss situation in terms of providing “great” content as well as appropriateness for the purpose developing reading skills. There are already a few homeschooling programs that offer bundled books but the best ones are usually overtly Christianity oriented (eg  Sonlight) or heavily classical or humanities course reading (Well Trained Mind) more suited for college-going students and that might make reading more onerous than enjoyable or requiring more time than we are able to devote to reading.

We might really just be looking to carry on our literacy developing efforts at home (or in school) and want books that are “great” in the sense that Mortimer Adler intended it, books that offer time-enduring issues and important or paradigm-shifting ideas, and not great in the sense that the book publishers mean by their bestseller lists.    

With these goals, you may find the offerings of the Great Books website to be just your suit. Greatbooks.org offers reading programs that is stepped and picked for great content and for developing comprehension and critical thinking skills. See their Junior Great Books program and peruse the titles found in their Roundtable book selections.

There is even a page and virtual homeschooling program dedicated to homeschoolers and parents: http://www.greatbooks.org/programs-for-all-ages/junior/jgbadministrators/jgbstart/jgbparents/home-school.html To see their full homeschooling program that combines online and offline activities in six core subjects: language arts, math, science, history, art, and music follow this link to K12.com.

If you’re interested, for starters begin by browsing these pages at their website:

http://store.greatbooks.org/index.php?cPath=1 (junior great books program)

http://store.greatbooks.org/index.php?cPath=1_4 (for middle to high schoolers)





If you find Mortimer Adler’s books useful, along the same vein is Thomas C. Foster’s “How to Read Literature Like a Professor” which is a lively and rather funny introduction to literary criticism or just a good guide to tackling the classics.