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I continue to work slowly on our new world history curriculum for middle school students. The task promises to take untold hours on my computer, but I am also doing much research the old-fashioned way–I’m reading books, the kind you hold in your hands. Remember those?

Of course, you know about real books. You are a homeschooling mom. We homeschoolers love books. What would used booksellers do without us? Surely we are helping to keep them in business.

I like the feel of a real book in my hands. I like to look inside and see the copyright date. Oftentimes, but not always, the older the copyright, the better the book.

North Carolina State Capitol plus 099

North Carolina State Capitol plus 092

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Library at the North Carolina State Capitol

Wouldn’t you love to see this room filled with lawmakers of long ago poring over the pages of these old books? I like a library that has lots of old books. Once when I was out of town, I went inside a new library. I looked on shelves of children’s books and wondered where the old books were. Did the librarians think that a brand new library building needed new books, too?

recently mentioned changes in new editions of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever. The trend to reinvent classic children’s books is sad to me. I love the story of redemption in Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John, but if you want to read the entire original story, you need to get an old edition.

Publishers seem to believe that modern children can’t understand the beautiful descriptions in older books and that they need to explain things to them in simpler language.

As I mentioned about the Best Word Book Ever, publishers also want to make newer books politically correct. I don’t want other people to do my thinking for me or to sanitize things for me. The author of one of the books I read in my world history research was obviously prejudiced. I sometimes stopped while I was reading and read to Ray some appallingly prejudiced statement. I’m glad for many reasons that I read that book, but one reason is that I learned attitudes of the mid-twentieth century directly from an author who was writing at the time. If I had read a sanitized version, I would have missed that important historical perspective.

I hear more and more about schools going to digital textbooks, and I am always concerned when I hear it. Most anyone can publish most anything in digital form. It doesn’t have to be true or accurate. Today’s children get so much information in digital form. I worry that they will not learn how to find information the old-fashioned way. If their only source of information is digital, they can be completely duped by whoever controls that information.

Of course, you can’t believe every word you read that is actual print on paper either, but, at least, those words are not subject to change with a quick click. If I hold a book that was published in the 1800s, I can at least tell that it is actually old by seeing it, smelling it, and feeling it.

Ray and I know how to find accurate information electronically, and we do, just about every day. Sometimes I read the Bible on my phone; Ray’s MP3 player and tablet are rarely far away from him. How else could he have read seventy books last year? I miss the days when someone would ask, “When was Lucille Ball born?” and Ray would go to the shelf and pull down a recent copy of the World Almanac; today he looks on his tablet.

But we are still holding on to those dusty old books, too. In them is the wisdom of people gone before.

Without consultation, plans are frustrated, 
But with many counselors they succeed.
Proverbs 15:22

Sometimes Ray and I need the counsel of the people who wrote those old books. Of course, what concerns us most is what is written in the book God wrote for us.

Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, 
in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. 
Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women 
who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, 
together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, 
whose names are in the book of life.
Philippians 4:3

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