Over the years I’ve dabbled with creating Catholic resources. The vision for the direction my efforts has became clearer over the past couple of years as I’ve struggled and seen others struggle to live the faith authentically. Guided by John Senior’s recommendations for restoring Christian culture, I’ve created this site so share those resources with you in an effort to add my own meager attempt to grab an oar and row toward home.
The resources fall into three categories. First, an easily accessible database of what Senior called the Thousand Good Books Every Child Should Read.
Second, a monthly magazine containing seasonally appropriate excerpts from those good books, arranged in age appropriate categories. What I envision is a publication featuring seasonally appropriate excerpts mostly from the thousand Good Books, accompanied by the original artwork, and broken down into those age-appropriate categories. Along with this, eventually I want to add monthly resources from the Church’s liturgical calendar, and eventually articles from Catholic columnists addressing topics of interest for today’s classically homeschooling Catholic families. The magazine will be small in its first iterations, but will grow over time.
Third, a selection of books and daily planners I’ve written, and finally a new incarnation of my blog Uncommon Sense. I encourage you specifically to check out The Cellarium Primer. It is a rule and regimen for those seeking sanctity, like me. It was born of a daily planner page I created a few years ago to guide my own spiritual journey and to lead a consistent Catholic life. As time allows I will be adding different versions of the planner in digital and physical formats.
The Heart of the Matter
But to my mind, the good books project is the heart of my contribution to whatever renewal might eventually come about. The database and Good Soil Magazine have the best chance of success because they are geared toward those who will actually undertake that restoration.
What should you do with them? Use them as part of your children’s (and grandchildren’s) education, whether they are homeschooled, attending Catholic schools, or even in public schools.
At the most basic, it means that you are feeding your kids healthy doses of he Good Books. Right now, it’s a mostly bare list of those books which have entered into the public domain and are now absolutely free. The list is categorized by author, under age-appropriate headings. I’ve populated about half of the Nursery category, and am adding about five new titles each day, and will continue to do so until every book title has an active link. This will take me some time, because there are nearly 130 Good Book authors, and more than 1000 books. Check back often to see what I’ve added.
From Good to Great
Some have criticized what we might call the Western Canon, as exemplified by Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World and the Harvard Classics, for being too exclusive. But they don’t claim to be what they are not. They are what they are, and what are they but a continuing conversation (what Hutchens and Adler called the great conversation) on the most important topics over which mankind has conversed over the past three-thousand years.
But what of the thousand good books? They are a stairway to the upper floors where the great conversation takes place. In reading them, one receives an education in freedom. Not freedom for hedonism, but freedom for pursuing truth and virtue. They stimulate the imagination. With proper guidance, they can instill natural virtue. Many of these stories, especially those of the fairie variety, come from all over the world. They are an artful retelling of stories that have survived for hundreds and often even thousands of years. Andrew Lang, in publishing his many colored Fairy Books, dove deep into the pool of world history in compiling his works. These books are a treasure trove, and they should be the bedrock foundation of a fruitful education.
Will your children read them all? For most, of course not. Some of them are heavily geared toward girls, others toward boys. Most are interesting to both. Some of them are heavily illustrated toddler’s books that delight the eyes and the ears. You’ll read those to your little ones at bedtime or during storytime. Others are appropriate for early readers, where you have your children read passages out loud to you and help them when they struggle with pronunciation and bigger words. The list continues upward into works appropriate for adolescents and young adults.
A Cultural Inheritance
What John Senior reminded us is that while most of the books are not explicitly Catholic, they are wholesomely Christian in worldview and content, and they are a tremendous aid, along with healthy amounts of time spent out-of-doors exploring, in shaping your childrens’ imagination.
If these projects sound pealing to you, I can use all of the encouragement I can get! To keep it fair and to ensure these resources are widely available, I’m not going to charge for access to the 1000 good books that I’m compiling. I’ve begun uploading them to ISSUU so you can view and download them on your digital devies. What I encourage you to do instead, is support me as an author by going to my Books tab and purchasing whatever might interest you, and subscribing to Good Soil magazine, which I’m in the process of putting together the January 2022 issue. You can also make a direct donation by clicking on the unobtrusive icon below.
I would love, eventually, to provide this service to you full time as my “retirement job” so we’ll see how well it is received. My hope is that it will be transformational for you and your family.
Check back often, as I’ll be regularly adding content.