In today’s episode, Brandy, Mystie, and Pam have a conversation that gives you the low-down on narration. It’s not so much about the how as it is about the why.

With that said, we ask for your patience with the sound. We had some trouble with Mystie’s microphone, and we couldn’t get rid of all the static in the editing process. We hope the fun and good ideas in this episode will help you forgive us for the momentary decline in quality!


A conversation about narration that focuses mostly on the WHY rather than the HOW. We come at it from all angles, including some modern research.

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14 Responses

    • Ha! I was thinking later that I wish I had said “vinyl stickers” because they are a little on the small side. I put one on my car, but they will also fit on the front of a notebook — they’re about 4″ wide or so. Anyhow, if you are going to be at GHC in Ft. Worth or Ontario, that is the first place we’re handing them out. There will be more opportunities in the future! 🙂

  • Alas, I won’t be making it to that conference. Ah, well, I’ll keep my ears open for the future opportunities.

    A question about the common place book. I usually have multiple books going at once, and many I want to write notes on/narrations/quotes/etc. But I can’t see keeping all the bits from one book together if I write as I’m reading. But my perfectionistic self wants to keep all from one book together. E.g. I’m reading Road to Serfdom (gonna take me a long time!) and pre-reading for year 1 (gonna try to stay a year ahead…) Do I just write in my common place book as I go? which means I”ll have an entry from Road, then one from Just so stories, then one from Island Story, then another from Road…. I guess my question is: is this okay? If not, how do I do it to keep all notes from Road together, etc? Does that make sense?

    I love Kari’s stuff. I’m working on Eph, and I have the advent study to do next. I plan to buy John and other studies as I finish the ones I have. 😀

    I had so many more thoughts and questions as I listened, but I didn’t write them down. Alas, I regret that. I’ll do better next time!

    • You know, I haven’t indexed my commonplace, but I’ve considered doing it next time. Basically, start a list in the back with the book title and then put page numbers next to it where the individual quotes are. I *think* that would work. But I definitely write in mine as I go. Definitely it is okay — the key is to do the actions of commonplacing rather than trying to follow any particular rules. Do whatever works for you — meaning you are at peace and get it down on paper. 🙂

    • I know a lot of the examples I’ve seen of historic commonplace books are all mixed up – just chronological entries instead of ordered by book or topic. However, the thought of mixing it up like that makes me tense up and maybe even break out. I love to keep things categorized. 🙂 I keep little post-it note bookmarks in my notebook to keep notes on the same book together – and I just use cheap spiral notebooks so I don’t care about wasting pages. For The Great Tradition, which will take me forever and probably require an entire notebook, I have a separate notebook . In fact, at my desk I think I have 3-5 notebooks at a time. 🙂

      The bottom line is not to let any logistical hangup prevent you from starting. It’s better to do it than not, so if something about the way someone else does it doesn’t sit well with you, just do it your way. 🙂

  • hi, I am confused about what a commonplace book is and what do you put in it. I am new to your website and I just started listening to your podcast a couple of months ago, but this is the first time that I heard about the ‘commonplace book’. I have been homeschooling my grand children for the last 6 years and my grandson who is 10 is severely dyslexic and still cannot read and refuses to narrate back to me unless I tell him there would be no screen time until he begins to participate in our read aloud. We have been basically Charlotte Mason study and Sonya Shafer has been the main go-to web site. Thanks for letting me know that I am not the only one who couldn’t get narration going very well with my kids. What a welcome insight that you brought up as ways narration really works for you. Thank you.

  • I haven’t even gotten past the Schole RDA portion yet, but I got a good little chuckle about cross stitch…it reminded me that my husband (boyfriend at the time!) actually cross stitched me a Bible verse when he was in college! Picture athletic, football player, mechanical engineer, dorm-living college guy…cross stitching. I SO wish I could have seen him working on it, but his college was 9 hours away from where I was! I still totally can’t picture it. I know he loves me, haha!

  • Great podcast ladies! So encouraging, and so helpful on narration! I picked up a few things to try to improve our narration practice. I have another thought to add to the conversation. At a Charlotte Mason conference I attended, a speaker had us read a passage from “Sarah Plain and Tall” with the person sitting next to us, then asked us to narrate to each other. It was so so HARD, not because the material was difficult intellectually, but because we were reading a particularly sad passage. We were all crying and choked up and couldn’t say a thing! I don’t know if the speaker was trying to make us feel the emotion. She was trying to point out how difficult it can be to narrate. But I have never forgotten the experience and how we didn’t want to say anything to each other because we might start crying, or make our partner cry more! We were all surprised I think by the level of emotion we felt and how we struggled to narrate because of it. When my children and I are reading and narrating an emotionally charged passage in school (great books are full of emotionally charged passages – even “kids” books), I try to keep this experience in mind, and check my expectations. Sometimes we skip the narration all together, or I keep reading to a lighter part of a story and then narrate.

  • Thank you for the reminder about the transition from oral to written narration. What are you thoughts on writing for the child during that transition? And then setting them free on their own – a bridge period, so to speak.

    Also, when you pick “one narration” for the week, are they free to choose what they write on?

    Thanks for the great podcast, ladies!

  • I think I got you all beat…my cross-stitch has been in the works for 17 years! I plan to get it done and to my Mom for Christmas though.

    I did not see the Yoda diagramming a sentence cartoon in your notes. Any way you could find it for me?

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