I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my daily digest via email or RSS feed. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The BIG FAT List of Living Literature Curriculums

A mega list of all the major living literature homeschool curriculums with descriptions and age ranges of each.

While I love combing the library for treasures and compiling my list of books every year, I realize not everyone has the time or the desire to do so. But, learning through books doesn’t have to be overwhelming or time consuming. You don’t have to invent the wheel to still use living books. There are several great, ready-made programs designed to point you to just the right titles at just the right ages and stages of your kids. While certainly not exhaustive, here is a list of some of the top living book-based curriculums for home education. Whether you prefer a simple list of book suggestions or a more structured traditional curriculum complete with study guides and discussion questions, there’s something for everyone.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

Ambleside Online

Patterned after Charlotte Mason’s original teaching methods, Ambleside Online is a completely free, online course schedule with suggestions for daily reading, narration, and copywork assignments. Since most of the books listed are classics and time-tested, many are out of print and difficult to find. However, all the harder-to-find books can be read digitally on public domain websites. Yearly schedules are divided into three terms and include every subject except math.

Age range: K-12
Topics covered: full curriculum except for math
Worldview: Christian

Beautiful Feet Books

Beautiful Feet Books is one of the most time-tested living book curriculums on the market today. Designed to be more of an advisor than a schedule, the study guides include booklists, discussion questions, timeline and notebooking suggestions, and writing prompts for further research and independent learning. Unlike most history programs, Beautiful Feet Books does not teach history chronologically. The lesson guides purposely begin with American History and then cycle back to Ancient History.

Age range: K-12
Topics covered: Ancient, World, and US History, History of the Horse, History of California, Geography, History of Classical Music, gentle science, and Character Training.
Worldview: Christian with an emphasis on Scripture and Biblical values


Owned by the parent company, Sonlight, BookShark is a complete curriculum. However, only their Reading with History and Science programs use living books. But, don’t let that deter you from adding BookShark books to what you are already using for language arts and math to create a one-of-a-kind curriculum that works for you and your kids.

Age range:
K-8th grade (4-day-a-week program)
Topics covered: full core curriculum but living books are limited to history and science
Worldview: Secular

Five in a Row

The original Five in a Row is a literature-based unit study curriculum. Parents are encouraged to read a particular picture book (or chapter book, for upper grades) out loud to their child every day for an entire week and use the storyline of that book to teach the foundational concepts of math, language arts, history, science, and art with hands-on projects.

Age range: 2-12 year-olds
Topics covered: full curriculum
Worldview: Christian with an emphasis on character training

Heart of Dakota

Designed for use with multiple ages, Heart of Dakota is a Christ-centered history and science curriculum suited for large families. There are also additional elements that incorporate language arts and math exploration, but some homeschoolers would not consider this a complete program. Like, Beautiful Feet Books, Heart of Dakota teaches American History to young children first and then transitions to Ancient History.

Age range: Pre K-12th
Topics covered: history, science, handwriting, Bible, character, language arts and math exploration
Worldview: Christian with an emphasis on God’s providence and Christian living


Illuminations combines course spine books (Mystery of History and All American History) with living books, notebooking, and graphic organizers, and a completely customizable digital curriculum grid to create a hybrid living book program. The program is designed for family-style learning allowing for multiple children to learn the same topic at different grade levels. The only thing not included in the program is a math component.

Age range: 3rd-12th (with suggestions for younger kids to join in on the family learning)
Topics covered: full curriculum except for math
Worldview: Christian

Living Books Curriculum

Known for its gentle and flexible schedule, LBC is designed for a 36-week school year divided into four 8-week terms, with a 9th flex week between each term for catching up on unfinished work. The teacher’s guide contains reading assignments and activities with each lesson. Unlike most curriculums, LBC includes study of both US and World History each week. Sample lessons and book lists can be downloaded for free.

Age range: K-8th with suggestions for high school
Topics covered: traditional Charlotte Mason schedule including core subjects as well as nature study, picture study, composer study. Math is not included.
Worldview: Christian

Logos Press

Using both a four and a five-day scheduling plan, Logos press provides a living book approach to science with a classical twist. The curriculum is designed for a three-year cycle so that students can repeat biology, chemistry, and physical science at all three stages of the trivium learning model. Living books and individual project kits can be purchased from the website. Full curriculum online classes with a classical model are available for students in junior high and high school.

Age range: 1st-12th
Topics covered: printed lesson plans- science only (elementary), online classes- full curriculum (jr. high and high school)
Worldview: Christian with an emphasis on classical literature

Moving Beyond the Page

Moving Beyond the Page combines living books with project-based learning and unit studies. Lessons are taught through four, 9-week units that each emphasis a particular concept. At the end of each concept, children are required to present a project that summarizes what was learned. In addition to living books and project kits, much of the learning comes from printable worksheets.

Age range: 5-14 year-olds
Topics covered: language arts, science, social studies
Worldview: Secular

My Father’s World

Designed with a unique family learning cycle, My Father’s World is a living book curriculum combined with both a unit study and classical educational model. Geography and history are the two major components of the program as it has a missional and world cultures emphasis. All other subjects are woven in gently. The program is divided into three major age groups (Pre K-3rd, 3rd-8th, 9th-12th) so that families with multiple ages can be learning together.

Age range: Pre K-12th
Topics covered: full curriculum except for math
Worldview: Christian with an emphasis on world cultures

Simply Charlotte Mason

What started as a website designed to partner with Charlotte Mason style homeschoolers has become a place to purchase downloadable guides and lesson plans. The Bible is incorporated into much of the learning. Lessons use both living books one could find at the library as well as books specifically written for the program. Emphasis is placed on copywork, narration, and dictation of books. The materials are designed for family learning, so grade levels are not indicated. Each level of materials provides book and activity suggestions for each age range. Once they have completed level one, a family can move on to level two, and so on.

Age range: all ages
Topics covered: full curriculum
Worldview: Christian


Seeking to partner with families to raise globally literate kids, Sonlight approaches history with a geographic and missional emphasis. Oral narrations, timelines, and history-centered read alouds make up the core of the program. Lesson plans can be tailored to a four or a five-day schedule. Other subjects including Bible, science, and language arts can be purchased and added to make a complete and rigorous program.

Age range: Pre K-12th
Topics covered: mostly history but can be expanded to include all subjects
Worldview: Christian with an emphasis on global missions

Tapestry of Grace

Tapestry of Grace could be considered a classical program that combines living books and hands-on projects. The entire course is divided into four large historical units. During the duration of their education, all students cycle through each unit four times, with everyone learning at his or her own learning level. Each daily lesson features living books and hands-on activities for all of the four classical learning tiers, lower grammar (grades K-3), upper grammar (grades 3-6), dialectic (grades 6-9), and rhetoric (grades 9-12). A separate Primer course is available for preschoolers.

Age range: PreK-12th
Topics covered: full curriculum except for math
Worldview: Christian with an emphasis on church history


A self-paced program, TruthQuest provides an elaborate book list of both current and out-of-print titles arranged by grade level. All members of a family can be learning about the same era in history while enjoying books at his or her own individual reading level. Book lists, historical background summaries, and occasional narrations make up the bulk of the TruthQuest guides. Companion notebooking and lapbooking packs can be purchased separately.

Age range: PreK-12th
Topics covered: history only
Worldview: Christian

Blog Reader Suggestions

For more on teaching with living books


  1. Also A Modern Charlotte Mason

  2. What about the Trail Guide to Learning curriculums? I am seriously considering them and I would love to know what you think of that curriculum.

    1. I have a friend who uses it and loves it. I would actually consider it more of a unit study approach that leans toward Charlotte Mason. I don't know that I would call it a Living Literature curriculum.

  3. Hmmm. Ok. From what I have seen of it online, I thought it could be, even as a unit study curriculum. It uses several living books in the curriculum packages that we have used and loved this past year with Truthquest history.

    1. Yes, it does use lots of living literature books. But, it also incorporates other methods. So, I don't know that I'd call it a liv. lit. curriculum. It looks to be a great program though! My friend has used it for years and her daughter has done really well with it.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate you taking the time to anewer me!

  5. I've heard of one called http://www.biblioplan.net/p/welcome-to-biblioplan.html. I know it says classical but it is a big list of living literature.

  6. At my page you can find a lot of interesting also!



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