If someone were to ask me what I love the most about Home Education, I would emphatically tell them, it's the books! Hands down I (WE) love books! Virtually everything we do has something to do with a book or several books. As an example we are currently working on an Arctic Unit Study that is a spin off of a beautiful picture book called Very Last First Time by Jan Andrews. The pictures are beautiful pointillist illustrations and we are using them as way to discover how different authors/illustrators use certain mediums of art to embelish their story (art study).
Another example of how we use literature for learning is with what we term "go-along" books to compliment our unit. In the book we're using, an Inuit girl goes under the ice shelf to walk on the bottom of the sea looking for mussels to collect for her family. So a go-along book might be something to do with shellfish or crusatcean sea life or a book on tide pools. Another could be a book as it relates to the moon and it's effect on tides. The entire study and unit of learning is ALL based on information gained by reading books. It's very simple and yet incredibly enjoyable as a way of gaining knowledge and information from literature.
We consider this form of literature "living" and for us is the basis of our home education experience. Charlotte Mason tells us that "books of a literary or living nature have the terseness and vividness proper to a literary work and we then put our dear children in touch with the mind of the author."
For us, literature fills our days with joy; the joy of learning something new through an adventure written for imaginative eyes to read or ears to hear. Reading aloud with your children is just as important as their reading good literature themselves. A good book can be appreciated by any age all at the same time -appreciating all forms of good literature can help a new reader develop into a very discerning advanced reader. And by hearing good literature, little minds are filled with excellent ideas to grow on and look forward to reading for themselves as they get ready to read. By hearing stories read aloud, listening skills are wired in.
Living books can be used is all aspects of home education without the need for the dry textbook learning so common in institutionalized learning environments. Even for History, Math, and Science we enjoy many living books that are an invaluable part of our knowledge base. A book should not "talk down" to it's audience, it should merely give a peek at the personality of the author because the book has emotion. That's usually what makes it living. Anyone can learn facts from a book, but is it an adventure, does is stir the mind to want to learn more??
Karen Andreola puts it this way: "Living books stir up the mind, warm-up the imagination and create curiosity in ways other books cannot." (A Charlotte Mason Companion)
This pretty much sums it up for me, time to grab a book and go read with the kids!