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Family Program for Reading Aloud, A: Second Edition
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Family Program for Reading Aloud, A: Second Edition

Printer Friendly Version

Publisher: Foundation for American Christian Education
Author: Rosalie June Slater

List Price: Softcover: $19.95

Ages: All Ages

Reviewed By: Virginia Jones

 
Let me preface this review with the admission that we are not homeschooling according to the Principle Approach. At least, I don't think we are. I mean, we might have a few things in common, from what I've heard, but since I haven't made a systematic study of this homeschooling method, I can claim only passing acquaintance. A quick overview using an Internet search engine reveals that those practicing the Principle Approach view all subjects through the lens of Scripture, with an emphasis on Biblical worldview. They use notebooks in learning and employ the 4-R approach: research, reason, relate and record. They also espouse providing students with plenty of time and opportunity to explore. All of these would fit quite well with what our family is doing, though I suspect our notebooking is a lot less structured, and we're not familiar with the books that form the foundation of this homeschooling method.

A Family Program for Reading Aloud was first published in 1967. A revised edition became available in 1983. The Second Edition, copyright date 1991, contains added material. See discussion of Part II, below.

In Part I, the author sets out a reasoned argument for reading aloud at home, with purpose and a systematic approach. Herein you'll find a solemn charge: to restore America to its Christian roots, through restoring Christian character within the home as the first sphere of government in our society. (We will not debate in the context of this review whether our Founding Fathers were Christians; that debate belongs elsewhere. This reviewer is simply giving you the context for A Family Program for Reading Aloud.)

Brief descriptive passages exemplify the role of good reading in the lives of a couple of famous authors, Lew Wallace (author of Ben Hur) and children's author Kate Douglas Wiggins. (Actually, these snippets made me want to look into the authors' biographies!)

Next is a section outlining the skills needed for reading aloud, followed by recommendations for reading, starting with nursery rhymes, poetry, picture books, and stories. Books are listed by title, author, and date of publication, with a summary and sometimes descriptive comments for each. We found a lot of "old friends" on these pages! Within this section, you'll also find a thought-provoking essay analyzing Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak as being more of a cautionary tale for parents than suitable children's reading. My one quibble with this section would be that, in several places, the author mentions the necessity of the parent properly preparing the book to be read aloud, without really going into the details of what such preparation might entail.

The next section is aimed at "introducing America in your reading aloud." Again, this is a list of books with commentary on each. The books are categorized as follows: Family Sentiment, Unity and Diversity of America, the American Indian in Our Literature, and Literature of the Bible Lands. Each of these categories is headed with introductory material followed by a list of books and descriptions. This section also contains an author study or essay on Marguerite Henry, and another on teaching the Principle Approach with the illustrated biographies written by Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire. The Principle Approach pages (in my book, pages 28-36) assume that you are also reading Teaching and Learning America's Christian History: The Principle Approach by the same author. Quite a few out-of-print books are cited in the book lists.

Wrapping up Part I, we read about how to evaluate our family's reading aloud, including attitude, learning, habit, self-government, and parental example. Again, it is assumed that the reader is familiar with, or perhaps embarking on a study of, Teaching and Learning America's Christian History. Part I concludes with an evaluation form that you can fill out to consider your own family's reading-aloud habits.

Part II, newly added to A Family Program for Reading Aloud in the Second Edition, is entitled "Expanding Your Interests through Reading in Depth" and is aimed especially at adults and high school students. Five subjects are presented as examples in a program of self-education employing reading and sharing information: the ocean, pioneers, teaching and learning, the French Revolution, and author studies. Each of these subjects is introduced with a discussion of the topic, followed by a list of suggested books for further reading.

Next, the author goes into the subject of heroes and heroines. I'm sure you're well aware of the modern love-affair with the anti-hero. "Heroes have gone out of fashion," the author states, and proceeds to present an argument on the need for heroes in our lives, someone to look up to, someone's example to follow - especially in the endeavor to develop leaders with a solid Biblical foundation. Heroes and heroines included in the discussion are Admiral Byrd, Charles Lindbergh, Eddy Rickenbacker, Anne Bradstreet, Lydia Darrah, and Mercy Otis Warren. I have to admit, in reading this section, that once more my appetite was whetted, making me want to seek out biographies of these amazing men and women who lived their faith. A chart is appended to this section, showing "the chain of Christianity moving westward with liberty and law."

The book concludes with an essay on the women who preserved Mount Vernon as a national monument, concluding in a list of books about George Washington and his home. Following this is a page on "The Charter Oak," which made me rather scratch my head. It's an interesting story, but I'm not sure what the significance of its inclusion in the book might be.

The last pages of A Family Program for Reading Aloud comprise lists of the books mentioned in the booklists, by author and by title, and a list of publishers and their contact information for ordering books. Black and white illustrations are sprinkled throughout, many taken from the books listed. You'll find a lot of good books mentioned, and the author's descriptive comments are helpful in regard to unfamiliar titles. Quite a few of the books are out of print, and more recently published books that we've found to be excellent choices in a reading program are not mentioned here. However, we found a lot of good food for thought in this book, and Part II, on reading in depth, was of particular interest to our older students who have experience with embarking on a systematic topical study.
More Information
Available From: Foundation for American Christian Education
Address: P.O. Box 9588, Chesapeake, VA 23321-9588
Phone: 800.352.3223
Website: www.face.net
Email: info@face.net
Other Notes:
 

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Virginia Jones
Virginia Jones hails from a small town in the Midwest, where "Nothing ever happens, thankfully!" Her family's interests include horseback riding, cross-country skiing, swimming, and, when they can manage to sit still, reading.
Copyright © 2008 Eclectic Homeschool Association
 

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