I believe that read-aloud families create successful students. I requested an opportunity to review, The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie to see what she had to say, and I absolutely loved it. It's perfect for parents of children of ANY age, homeschooling or not.
Quoting Sarah Mackenzie. "A good education is not one that results in high test scores, elite college acceptances, or the ability to read Virgil in Latin or War and Peace without Cliff Notes. A good education teaches us to love fully and to love well." (From page 81.)
I could tell it was all true. I read aloud to my own children every year we homeschooled, all the way through junior year of high school when they began college courses. I remember that my English teacher read aloud to my Honors English class in public high school, so I was pretty confident it was OK.
My children know that reading aloud really does make meaningful and lasting connections with your kids. You see, my own children loved the reading aloud that we did. My children are grown now, but they say the read alouds were the best part of homeschooling. We used to call it "cozy couch time" and it's a major reason my children loved homeschooling. Even now they LOVE reading, and are constantly discussing their new favorite books. When they go on vacation, they may leave behind some critical piece of clothing, but they'll never forget their books.
I loved the book because it fits all seasons of life. I'm a Grandmother now. I'm reading aloud to my grandson, and this books lists gives "20 Favorite Read-Alouds for Ages 0-3" filled wonderful books that are perfect for me to read aloud right away. Awesome! I'm planning to buy them ALL!
The Read-Aloud Family has great books listed for ALL ages. In the future I'll be looking at the lists for elementary school, middle school and high school as well. I love that she provides book lists for ages 0-3, 4-7, 8-12, and teen years - but I love that she explains why those age breakdowns may not apply to your child, and why that's OK.
I love it because she gives good advice. Sarah writes, "Pick up a book. Pull her onto your lap. Read aloud. You will never, ever regret the time you spend reading with your daughter." page 28.
I trusted her research because she cites extensively from Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, which I used and loved when I was homeschooling.
She de-emphasizes formal literary analysis, and emphasizes the love of reading, just as I did in my own home. I loved her list of "Ten Questions" that give you the compelling questions you can use to have meaningful discussions, which is so different from literary analysis. Those are listed on page 167-181
I love her balanced view of reading the classics. "I often recommend that parents who want their kids to read the classics read them aloud before they are ever assigned as schoolwork." page 69
I love that she lists what each age group can do while you are reading aloud. A teen could knit, crochet, or make model airplanes, for example, which is so encouraging for active or kinesthetic learners.
I loved that she gives her favorite Bible to read aloud as well - with the encouragement that "It's important that we don't turn Bible reading into didactic teaching lessons."
I love that she says you don't have to read ALL the books on a book list. I deal with that myth all the time, because as people read the books on my College Bound Reading List. Some parents treat it like a checklist, when it's really more like a buffet - you shouldn't eat them all, and certainly not all at once.
I love how she talks about the HABIT of reading aloud - and how to develop that habit. "When I go downstairs in the morning, I don't stand there deciding whether to have coffee that day. I just start the coffeepot. it's a habit." page 125. Same should be true of reading aloud - you just do it.
I love how she provides balance to the idea of twaddle, reading "junk food" books. She says, "In the name of helping our children love what is good, true, and beautiful... we have the unfortunate habit of disparaging books... We want to cultivate good taste in literature, yes, but there is a marked difference between good taste and elitism." page 148. From my perspective, this become more true in high school, as reading ability increases and we have the ability to force certain books on our children, whether it's optimal or not.
I absolutely loved the book, no kidding! I find myself hoping my family doesn't read this blog post, because I know what they are all getting for Christmas this year.