Start a Commonplace Book

Start a Commonplace Book

A commonplace book is described this way:

“Commonplace books (or commonplaces) were a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. Such books were essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind: medical recipes, quotes, letters, poems, tables of weights and measures, proverbs, prayers, legal formulas. Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator’s particular interests. They became significant in Early Modern Europe.” (Wikipedia)

Yours can include meaningful quotes from the books you read, thoughts you gather from blogs and FB pages that help you, printed lists of ideas, images you clip and glue to the pages to remind you of artwork you want to study, and so on.

Your children may discover that they would like to keep a similar book, with only one section devoted to copywork. You can use a three ring binder with tab dividers, or you can all use a lovely bound journal and simply let the mish-mash of ideas flow in an undifferentiated manner. It’s up to you!

Commonplace books are incredibly soothing to keep and offer a quieter, more creative space for writing and exploration than journals because they are not limited to personal experiences in writing. My Commonplace Book from when my kids were homeschooled included ticket stubs to concerts I attended, articles from the newspaper about historical events I wanted to remember, and sketches of nature as I learned how to draw.


Image by Winston Hearn (cc cropped)

One Response to “Start a Commonplace Book”

  1. tamara says:

    This is a wonderful idea. I just started an art journal and this would fit in with that. I think the boys would like this as well for their freewrites and just for other fun stuff! Thanks!