TOS Crew: Read for the Heart (Apologia)

I can’t believe that this year’s TOS Cruise is nearly over. This is the last review for 2010-2011. A new Crew has signed on, and is getting ready to embark.

Well, we saved one of the best items for the last review.

Sarah Clarkson’s Read for the Heart resonated with me, from the first time I peeked under the bright cover. It brought me back to the first steps of our home education journey.

We had no clue as to what we were doing. All we knew was that we thought we could do better by our special needs daughter than the System was doing, and at the very least we could keep her safer from the bullies who were tearing her down, making her so miserable that she’d stopped trying.

She ended first grade not even confident of 1+1. I figured out, not long after I began to work with her, that her brain was tricking her. She’d add 1+1 so quickly that she didn’t believe she was finished adding, and so she’d take that “2” and add it and get 4. Thus, 1+1=4. Her teacher, busy with a classful, didn’t have time to troubleshoot. All she did was mark our daughter’s answers wrong with a bold red pen.

Anyhow, my husband knew a homeschooling father (this was back when homeschooling was barely legal, so homeschooling hardly seemed like a viable choice, but it kept getting brought to our attention). He convinced me to try to teach our daughter the addition tables (up to 10+10) over the summer. If I could do that, I’d have done way more than her certified first grade teacher.

Working together, one-on-one, with the loving patience (and sometimes not so patience) that is more likely to come from a mom than a stranger, we worked our way through the addition tables. Before the end of July, she could add up to 12+12, and not only that, but she could add columns of multi-digit numbers (thanks to the math curriculum we chose, well-suited to special needs as well as average and gifted children).

That was it. We notified the authorities and we were on our way.

One of the best pieces of advice I got from the wife of that homeschooling dad (yes, the one who suggested homeschooling to us in the first place) was to start a family readaloud time. I’m so thankful that my husband’s work schedule left his evenings free at that time. Every night, he read aloud for half an hour to an hour, usually at the rate of one chapter a night. Occasionally we’d be successful in entreating him to read more. One night, eleven chapters from the end of Pollyanna, we were all so eager to find out what would happen, we kept on reading (well, he kept on reading, and we kept on listening), chapter after chapter, until long past bedtime!

This is what Read for the Heart is all about — establishing a reading habit, and planting and growing a lifelong love for good books. For each of a number of genres (see the Table of Contents here), the author introduces the genre and follows with a list of authors, titles, and series.  These aren’t bare booklists; for every book listed you get a brief description/synopsis, and often an aside from Sarah Clarkson as to her own reaction, or her family’s thoughts, on a favorite book.

For a sampling, check out this sample chapter. I can vouch for many of the books included here. They’ve been favorites of our own family, pulling us from chapter to chapter. (I can always tell a good book: The end of a chapter leaves the girls begging for more.) What makes Read for the Heart so valuable to us, when we already have so many good books under our collective belt, is all the books listed that we have not yet read! Hoorah, more grist for the mill…

Read for the Heart is available from Apologia Press (check out their great list of Resources for Parents for $17 in softcover.

Read more TOS Crew impressions here.

Disclaimer: Members of the TOS Crew received a free copy of Read for the Heart for review purposes. No additional compensation was involved.

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