Who are we?

Hello! We are the Ensors (IN’ zerz), a homeschooling family of five (plus 4 blessings in heaven). Ensor’s Books is our private living book preservation library operating out of our home in Shelbyville and serving Christian homeschool families all over middle Tennessee and surrounding areas. We have been collecting quality living books and worthy literature – both vintage and modern – for over 15 years.

Our library began as a dream many years ago, shortly after we began collecting books for our own family’s homeschooling journey. We felt led by the Lord to share our collection with other families and started collecting in earnest with that goal in mind. After years of health crises, multiple moves, and other obstacles, we are so thrilled to finally be able to open our doors!

Our family uses an eclectic mix of books and resources in homeschooling our children – a lot of Charlotte Mason, a touch of Classical, and an occasional unit study thrown in. My approach could best be described as God-centered learning using an abundance of excellent books, always considering the strengths and interests of each child, and remaining in awe of the wonders of God’s creation.

I don’t claim to have it all right or have all the answers, but I am happy to share what I have learned in my 11+ years of homeschooling. If you ask me how I balance it all, I don’t. Our house is messy, we lose our patience, our kids argue and disobey, we deal with chronic health issues, and we are never on time for anything. But we love the Lord and have a heart for helping other homeschooling families succeed. Our family would be honored to be in community with yours.

~ Julie

The Ensor Family, 2018
(Yes, we need a new family photo! The kids are now ages 6-16.)

What is a living book?

The term “living book” was coined by 19th century British educator Charlotte Mason to describe the kind of books that nourish the mind of a child. Rather than a textbook full of dry facts, a living book brings the subject to life in the mind of the reader. A living book is often written in a narrative style – weaving together a rich story – and is usually written by someone who either lived at the time or is a passionate expert on the subject. A living book uses rich literary language and does not dumb down the content for children. Most importantly, a living book grabs the interest and stirs the imagination of the reader and leads them to think more deeply about themselves and the world around them.

The opposite of a living book is what Ms. Mason called “twaddle.” Twaddle would be considered a dead book, meaning it does not nourish the mind or stir the imagination. It does not feed the soul. Twaddle books are usually full of dry facts or are written for entertainment only, with no higher, noble purpose.

While our library is not 100% twaddle-free, we are continually curating our collection to focus on beautiful living books.

“Living books have a certain amount of ‘play’ in them. And just as ‘all work and no play make Jack a dull boy,’ all textbooks and no living books will make Jack and Jill dull children. Their minds might have retained a few facts, but will their minds be livened-up, their imaginations warmed up, and their curiosity stirred up, to want to know more?”

Karen Andreola, A Charlotte Mason Companion, p. 98

How is this library different?

As the name implies, the purpose of a preservation library is to preserve high-quality books that are frequently being thrown out by many public libraries and schools. These excellent books from the “golden age of children’s literature” (late 1800s to mid-1900s) are literally being thrown in the trash and replaced with dumbed down books that neither nourish the mind nor stir the imagination. We are determined to do our part to preserve these precious gems and share them with others.

We have also collected many books that are commonly recommended in excellent literature-based homeschool curricula such as My Father’s World, BiblioPlan, Simply Charlotte Mason, Sonlight, Ambleside Online, Five in a Row, and others. Many of these titles can be very difficult, or even impossible, to find at the public libraries. Homeschool families are then left to either buy new (IF the book is still in print), hunt for a used copy, or do without. Many of these hard-to-find titles are in our library, and I am happy to take requests if you need a book we do not have. If you have a book list of required titles for the upcoming school semester, send it to us and we will be happy to do what we can to help you find what you need.

“One more thing is of vital importance; children must have books, living books; the best are not too good for them; anything less than the best is not good enough; and if it is needful to exercise economy, let go everything that belongs to soft and luxurious living before letting go the duty of supplying the books, and the frequent changes of books, which are necessary for the constant stimulation of the child’s intellectual life.”

Charlotte Mason, Vol. 2, p. 279