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Book of Common Place Develop Thoughtful Writers and Strong Minds 

“Children should Transcribe favourite Passages.”

 ~ Charlotte Mason                         

History and Value

Popular with the great thinkers and scholars of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a “commonplace book” was a notebook used to gather quotes and excerpts from literary, Biblical, and other readings — a kind of personalized encyclopedia of quotations.

 Jonathan Swift remarked that a commonplace book is something that a scholar “cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that great wits have short memories”.

The English physician and philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) was all too aware of the grip of amnesia and the shortness of memory. In his seminal Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) he wrote of the importance of a system of “commonplacing”, as a form of what Swift called “supplemental memory”.

Locke’s method built on a long tradition of commonplace note taking, most famously John Milton’s from the middle of the century.

Locke was one of the first to formalise a method. Developed over 25 years of personal note-taking, it was formalised in his publication Organizing Common Place Books (1706) and published posthumously.

His technique of “commonplacing” always began with a stack of white, empty sheets bound together into a single volume.

Students using a common place book will develop writing skills naturally and organically while also training their mind to think deeper thoughts about the words and quotes that make an impression on them.

This will train their mind to think more profoundly. As the son of our second president who was keen on developing his mind, said to his father, John Adams wrote: 

P.S. Sir, if you will please be so good as to favor me with a blank book, I will transcribe the most remarkable passages I meet with in my reading, which will serve to fix them upon my mind.


When your child meets with a quote, passage, poem, Scripture, or even a meme of great wisdom, encourage him to transcribe it in his personal book of common place. This physical exercise is also a mental exercise that develops writing skills, thinking skills, wisdom, and character. As the years progress, your child’s book of common place will become a living book of his or her own beliefs. 

Living Streams  Book of Common Place 

6 x 8 inch Hardbound pu leather
Silk Ribbon
Book Strap
Pen strap
Lined Pages