Ambleside Online's Annotated Charlotte Mason Series

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It is with pleasure that this online version of Charlotte Mason's six-volume book series is provided for public reading and study. Her own words (below) lead one to believe that she would have wanted the truths she discovered to be shared freely with the public, and it is hoped that her words will inspire all who teach to use her ideas 'for the children's sake.' (This edition of the Charlotte Mason Series, typed by Ambleside Online volunteers, is copyrighted to Ambleside Online, and may not be published or re-posted elsewhere. Please refer to our License for more information.)

Not sure which volume to start with? Click here for help.

Volume 1: Home Education Six lectures by Charlotte Mason's about the raising and educating of young children (up to age 9) written for parents and teachers. (Thanks to Nicole Capehart for typing half of Volume 1, and Phyllis Hunsucker for proofreading.)

Volume 2: Parents And Children A collection of 26 articles from the original Parent's Review magazines to encourage and instruct parents.

Volume 3: School Education Thoughts about the teaching and curriculum of children aged 9-12 with details and examples of books, exams, etc.

Volume 4: Ourselves Charlotte's character curriculum written to children to teach morals and self-control. Book 1 is for children up to age 12, Book 2 is for high school students.

Volume 5: Formation Of Character Stand-alone chapters to enhance all parents, regardless of the ages of their children. Includes case studies of children cured of bad habits, examples of how education affected outcome of character in famous writers of her day, and thoughts on how youths should make the most of their last years before adulthood. (Thanks to Phyllis Hunsucker for proofreading Volume 5)

Volume 6: Towards A Philosophy Of Education Charlotte's final book, written after years of seeing her approach in action. Though more philosophical, this volume gives the best overview of her approach and includes the final version of her 20 Principles. The best place to start for parents of older children. (Thanks to Phyllis Hunsucker for proofreading Volume 6)
"It's impossible to get a full idea of what Miss Mason was doing without reading volume six - not only is it the volume for the older kids, it's the last book she wrote - I think some forty years spans the spread between volume one and volume six. Sometimes ideas she had in volume one didn't quite work out as she had hoped they would, and by the time volume six came along she'd refined her ideas a little more, they got a bit more practical. WWI happened between volumes one and six, and this mattered. Before WWI, Charlotte, in company with many of the Imminent Victorians, had a practically messianic view of education - it was going to change human nature, improve it, make human beings all wise, peacable and just about bring heaven on earth. After WWI, Charlotte Mason's ideas on all this became a little more subdued and realistic. It's a little sad, but I think it was a healthy change. I think a lot of CM popularizers read volume one and promote the ideas in that book, and people think that's all there is to CM. Even without the refining of Charlotte's ideas that occurs over the decades between Volumes one and six, this would be a mistake because volume one says right up front that it's for children from birth to nine. Volume three is for the middle grades, and volume six is the book to read for about 12 and up. Charlotte did not recommend quite the same approach for all ages. Her program for the older kids is, like the rest, wide and generous, rich, full of ideas, good literature, art and music, but it's also very rigorous. By high school I see a lot more similarities with the classical approach in terms of materials used." ~Wendi Capehart

Other Options:

NEW: The Series Arranged Topically (In progress; available only for the Modern English paraphrases)
Charlotte Mason's Homeschool Series in Modern English - a sentence-by-sentence paraphrase of each of Charlotte Mason's six books. Read online, or purchase in paperback.
Summaries of all six volumes - The Reader's Digest version, condensed paragraph by paragraph; perfect to get an overview if you're just starting out.
Summary of CM's 20 Principles - a concise version of the definitives of a CM Education
Summary of CM's Student's motto, "I am, I can, I ought, I will."
In Memoriam - a tribute written by students, co-workers and friends of Charlotte Mason on the event of her death in 1923. This book provides a concise synopsis of her methods as well as personal remembrances and insight into her personality.
Purchase all six volumes of the Original Series in a paperback set.
View a scan of a page of the CM Series.
A list of subjects, and where in the series they're discussed, compiled by Melissa Newman


The fresco at the Spanish chapel at Santa Maria Novella, Florence (John Ruskin called this fresco the 'Vaulted Book') is pictured online. Charlotte Mason discusses the top and bottom of one wall in various volumes. The fresco is attributed to Andrea di Bonaiuto da Firenze, a painter of the 1300's, but in CM's day, it was thought to have been done by Taddeo Gaddi and Simone Memmi. Charlotte Mason loved the way it illustrated her concept of the Holy Spirit gifting men with knowledge, even "secular" knowledge.

Charlotte Mason felt that what she had discovered and found effective was worth sharing for the benefit of all children, not something to be hoarded and held for the benefit of a few. It is in that spirit that we share her books here.

"It is not that 'we' (of the P.N.E.U.) are persons of peculiar genius; it is that, like Paley's man who found the watch, "we have chanced on a good thing." "No gain that I experience must remain unshared." We feel that the country and indeed the world should have the benefit of educational discoveries..." [Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, pg 10]

"One discovers a thing because it is there, and no sane person takes credit to himself for such discovery. On the contrary, he recognizes with King Arthur, -- "These jewels, whereupon I chanced Divinely, are for public use." For many years we have had access to a sort of Aladdin's cave which I long to throw open 'for public use.'" [Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, pg 27]

"Here . . . is the key . . . which we all feel should belong to an education that is only begun at school and continued throughout life; these are the things that we all desire, and how to obtain them is some part of the open secret I am labouring to disclose 'for public use.' I am anxious to bring a quite successful educational experiment before the public..." [Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, pg 29]

These texts were scanned/typed and proofread by members of the CMSeries email list and AmblesideOnline, and annotated by the AO Advisory and Auxiliary. They copyrighted to Ambleside Online, and may not be published or re-posted elsewhere.
Ambleside Online is an online free-use Charlotte Mason curriculum.

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