Who are we?
Hello! My name is Julie Ensor Ensor (IN’ zer), and I am a homeschooling mother of three, ages 8-18. Ensor’s Books is our family’s private, living book preservation library operating out of our home in Shelbyville, TN. 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 growing collection with other families and started collecting in earnest with that goal in mind. We now have over 8,000 books in our library, and we are excited to share these treasures with your family.
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. What is considered twaddle can be quite subjective. While our library is not 100% twaddle-free, we are continually curating our collection to focus on beautiful living books. Following are a few examples:
How is this library different?
The purpose of our library is to preserve high-quality books that are frequently being thrown out by many public libraries and schools and make them available to homeschooling families. 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, TruthQuest, Sonlight, Ambleside Online, Five in a Row, Beautiful Feet, 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 available in our library.