Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Read-Aloud Family Review

I have followed Sarah MacKenzie for quite some time, and when Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace came out, I devoured it.  That book has become a staple for me to reread once a year during my school planning time.  I tend to be the type of person that over-thinks and over-complicates pretty much everything.  I also joined her Read Aloud Revival site this year (which our family has loved), and often listed to Sarah's podcast.  I have often wished there was something that would put together all the information and booklists from the podcasts.  Wishes are sometimes granted, and The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids does not disappoint.

The Read-Aloud Family is broken up into three parts.  Part 1 goes through all the pertinent research about the benefits of reading aloud to our children.  For all of the times when I wonder if what I'm doing is actually worth anything, I will remember the information gleaned here.  The biggest takeaway for me is that reading aloud is the BEST use of my time with my kids.  From making ourselves present for our kids in a highly distracted culture, to inspiring virtue and compassion in them (and us!), to encouraging our kids academically, reading aloud does it all.

Part 2 is all about practical application.  Sarah describes what she calls a "Book Club Culture" at home.  She provides us with the right questions to ask about books to encourage deep thought and great conversation.  We don't have to be experts on literary analysis to have a good conversation about books.  We just have to be able to ask compelling questions.  An really valuable part of this book is the chapter on how to pick books for your family, and what makes a good book.

Part 3 is the book list.  Sarah breaks her book list into four age groups, 0-3, 4-7, 8-12, and the teen years.  One of the things I appreciate about this list is that many of the books and authors are newer.  Booklists for older books abound (see John Senior's 1000 Good Books), but navigating the world of new books can be tough for busy parents. I don't have time to read everything before my kids get to it, so this list is valuable.  I trust Sarah's opinion and through being a "Sarah MacKenzie Groupie" I have found many gems that have become family favorites.  Of course Sarah does not discount classic literature, and encourages families to read it in this book.  But because lists for newer literature are not as easy to find (and if you do find one, can you be sure it's a good one?) the list in The Read-Aloud Family belongs in every home.

I am a bit of a book nerd, so when my husband asked what I was so intent on reading recently, he laughed when I told him I was reading a book about reading books.  But Sarah's book is so much more than just a book on reading books.  Sarah's book is about building up the family culture while providing an avenue to have wonderful conversations with our children and deepening family bonds.  I highly recommend The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids.

*I was given an Advanced Reading copy of this book to review, but the opinions are all mine.


Angie said...

Having read Jim Release's The Read-Aloud Handbook, I have been curious whether Sarah's book is any different. I like her podcast, but this book seems like it has already been written. Thoughts?

Cmerie said...

I've not read the Read-Aloud Handbook, so I can't judge how similar they are. I will say that having the perspective of a homeschool mom in the trenches with six kids and how it is working out for her is helpful to me. Perhaps I should check out the Handbook though to be a better judge?