Friday, May 27, 2011

Read for the Heart New TOS Review

PhotobucketRead for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families
By Sarah Clarkson

Apologia Whole Heart Books
1106 Meridian Plaza
Anderson, IN 46016
888-524-4724   Look in Resources for Parents

Sample Chapter available with book description

$17.00 Paperback Book

Apologia is well known throughout the homeschooling community for their science curriculum, but they also have numerous other resources as well. Some of these other resources include Apologetics studies, and parenting and homeschool reference resources.  Some of these are specifically targeted to homeschooling parents, but they have many which could be valuable to parents in general.

Read for the Heart is a book to guide parents in finding reading material for their whole family.  The first four chapters share information about reading and literacy, the rest of the book is the meat- lists of books to savor and explore.

In the first chapter the author describes her love of books and reading and how books were constant companions in her childhood and adolescence. She then continues to detail the state of reading and literary awareness in America, sharing her conclusion that this is fast becoming a lost pasttime.  Sarah also shares several ideas about making reading a pleasant experience for children and families. She also gives suggestions for beginning or enlivening family read alouds. The fourth chapter shares information about the organization of the rest of the book, ideas as to why she choose the books she did, and sources to locate books in addition to the library and bookstore. She also explains what you will find in each books  review as well as the age rating system she employs.

Now on to the book lists.  You will find chapters devoted to:

Picture Books
The Golden Age Classics
Children's Fiction
Fairy Tales and Fantasy
History and Biography
Spiritual; Reading for Children
Music, Art, Nature

While most of these categories are self explanatory, it might be good to note that books placed into the Golden Age Classics category tend to be written in the late 1880 and early 1900's.  Whereas those in the Children's Fiction category are mainly written from the mid 1900's and on.  These are often medal winning literature selections.

In each of these categories the books are listed alphabetically by author.  Generally one example of the authors work is discussed and any additional publications are listed by title. Occasionally several books by the author are summarized, especially if they are favorites of the author or show the authors versatility. The book summaries may also include notes about situations or events which some people may find objectionable.

In appendices you will find lists of Newberry and Caldecott Medal books, several lists of specialized Historical books, such as The Trailblazer series, Landmark History books, and many by G. A Henty.  There is also a list of many of the authors personal favorite books, as well as lists of favorites for boys and girls.  Finishing out the 384 page book are indexes of titles and authors.  I estimate over 925 books are listed in the index.

Throughout the book you will read many stories and thoughts from the author about books and their influence on her.  Quite frequently she will mention a particular reason for enjoying a book in that specific books review, but their are many other personal references throughout the text.

My Thoughts on Read for the Heart
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. While several chapters contain a lot of statistical and research evidence it is generally an easy read.  The first four chapters contain a lot of material to absorb and reflect on.

I also like the fact there are selections for a wide range of ages.  Thus one volume can serve a family for many years.  Sarah does mention that some titles are out of print or may not be readily available and makes suggestions for online purchase sources as well as used book stores.  Personally my family makes use of our library due to limited storage space and knowing how quickly they change their collection I would be surprised to see a lot of these books available after only a few years. 

One of the marks of good writing is helping the reader to develop their own mental pictures from the descriptions.  Sarah has painted many very vivid pictures for her readers in the descriptions of her family life and reading experiences.  Her book reviews or descriptions are just as vivid.  The descriptions of picture book illustrations leaves the reader longing to hold those books in their hand and revel in the beauty of their pages.

I felt the History and Biography section was somewhat weak. With the exception of books covering World War I and II there are very few books covering Non-American history after 1650.

While reading I formed the impression that the author has a very strict view of what is proper or suitable reading material.  I am careful about what my children read, but I do allow them to read some of the more "popular" type books.  I let my children choose some of their books as well as have them read others which I have chosen.  They need to have the opportunity to make choices and I believe it is better to do this now when I can offer guidance than later when it may not be as easily accepted.

You might think I am strange, but I generally enjoy books about books.  I like having a resource to peruse if I am looking for a volume on a specific topic. While it seems it is marketed to adults I wouldn't have a problem sharing it with my 10 year old  for her to find ideas for new reading material.

I feel that there is much in this book to make it a useful reference for parents and it certainly fulfills its mission of leading people to discover wholesome books. While it is written by a woman who was homeschooled, it is a valuable resource for any parent.  The books reviewed  in Reading for the Heart can certainly be enjoyed by all children and even their parents.

Read what other Crew members had to say at the crew blog.

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Crew I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.  I have not been compensated in any other manner and all opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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