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TOS Homeschool Crew Product Review ~ "Read For the Heart" by Sarah Clarkson (Apologia/WholeHeart Ministries)

Many of you have heard of Whole Heart Ministries, the homeschool ministry founded by Clay and Sally Clarkson. Whole Heart Ministries has joined with Apologia Ministries, and the book "Read For the Heart" by Sarah Clarkson (the daughter of Clay and Sally Clarkson) is a product of the combination of these two wonderful ministries.

For a book lover like me, it doesn't get much better than reading a book all about books. It's even better than a list-maker's dream (which would be a book of lists)! It is a delight to review Sally's wonderful compilation of recommended reading - and this is an exceptional first book from this young author. I look forward to her future work (Sarah is working on a children's novel and a collection of essays).

"Read For the Heart" contains 12 chapters and a whopping 6 appendices! Chapter 1 is filled with examples of "memories" and character traits established by reading large volumes of quality literature. Chapter 2 focuses on literacy in America today. According to a 2004 report, less than half of the adult population now reads literature. Wow! What a tragic statistic! Sarah includes a fascinating description of what occurs in the brain while we are reading (page 36). Chapter 3 explains how to develop a more "reader-friendly" home. Chapter 4 lays out how to use the book "Read For the Heart" ~ how the book is organized, etc. Different types of books are discussed in this chapter,too (audio books, living books, textbooks, books of literary excellence, out of print books, etc). he next few chapters divide books into categories, such as Poetry, Classics, and Biography. Each chapter opens with a lovely quote regarding books. Overall, this is a very inspiring book!

Here are some ideas of how to use this resource in your family's homeschool:

~ In Chapter 4, the History & Biography section divides the reading lists by time period beginning with Creation. You can find the era you are currently studying and choose books that suit your family's needs from the lists provided in Sarah's book. Add them to your daily schedule or, better yet, make those books a part of your family read-aloud time!

~ Consider assigning a chapter of this book to one of your older children. Have that child study the chapter and research a few of the suggested titles. After checking in with mom and dad to ensure the chosen books meet their approval, the older child could start a family book club with one or more younger siblings. Pick up a few copies of the book or books (try for affordable used books). Have the older child choose set the pace for reading and pick the dates and times for the "book club" to meet and discuss the book. Viola! You have a family book club :)

~ Take advantage of anniversaries! On April 12th of this year our country remembered that 150 years ago the Civil War began. What better time to read about the Civil War? Sarah's book provides ample ideas for books you can read as a part of your homeschool. For Civil War books, grab a copy of "Across Five Aprils" by Irene Hunt or "Go Free or Die" by Jeri Ferris. (Our family has read books relating to the Lewis & Clark Expedition, the Wright Brothers first flight, Kansas State history, and more)

To see a sample chapter, or to purchase this 384 page book for $17, visit
I cannot encourage families enough to read, read, and read some more! Mom, make sure you are reading (first your Bible, and then other quality works of fiction and non-fiction). Let your children SEE you reading. Take them to the library. Read aloud to them. Have them read aloud to you. Buy them books for birthday and Christmas gifts. And read aloud as a family. Our family just finished the book "True Grit" aloud, and have started on "The Scarlett Pimpernel". When we travel, we typically have a book or two that we read while we drive (one of our favorites is "Holes"). My husband and I almost always have a book that we read together in the evenings; we are currently reading "The Retreat", a World War II book which delves into the German Army's retreat from Russia (specifically their attempt to take Moscow). It compares their defeat to that of Napoleon Bonaparte so many years before. Reading ought to be a way of life for homeschool families, and not just during the school day.

The book "Read For the Heart" by Sarah Clarkson will become a treasured resource in the home of any book-loving family and I am so pleased to finish my product reviews for the 2010-11 academic year with such a fantastic book!

Lord bless you and your family as your read for your hearts!

Day 98 done :)

Jan L. Burt


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