TOS Crew Review — Read for the Heart


Reading is an integral part of learning, and more so it is an irremovable part of our family life. Because of this, I am constantly on the lookout for good books. You know the ones. The ones that have withstood the test of time. The ones that both boys and girls can’t wait to hear more of. The ones during which you would never fall asleep. The ones that spark meaningful conversation even after you have closed the cover for the last time.

Sarah Clarkson wrote Read for the Heart to do more than just recommend some good books. She wrote it to help cast a vision for giving reading a place of prominence in your home. By the time you get to the book list you can’t help but be fingering your library card debating which book to put on hold or check out first. I know reading is important, but this book helped reignite my desire to pass my love of reading on to my kids.

Product: Read for the Heart

Details: A 384 page book with encouragement to make family reading and individual reading time a priority. Over 300 of the pages are lists of books that include summaries and background information to help you choose the best reads for your family and your kids.

Price: $17

What I loved . . .

  • Inspiring. I can find oodles of book lists all over the internet. While I appreciate getting a good book recommendation now and then, I really appreciated Sarah’s casting of a vision for reading. I love to read, and yet it is one of the first things I drop from my schedule when time gets tight. She reminded me with a passion how important time spent reading is in our home and school.
  • Personally and statistically supported. Creating beautiful word pictures, the author shares what crafted this love for reading in her heart. And, she shares statistics, quotes, and other encouragement as to the importance of reading. We owe it to the development of our kids’ minds to read early and read often, and this book can be a great catalyst to encourage you in the endeavor and give you the tools (great books!) to enjoy doing so.
  • Lists and more lists. Not just an alphabetical listing of books (although the index does provide that), this book breaks down the lists by popular genres (historical literature, fairy tales, picture books, etc.) Beyond that, each entry includes the author, other books by the author, illustrator, copyright date, and a brief summary of the book. A few quick lists also reference Caldecott winners, Newberry winners, and books especially for boys, girls, and families reading together.
  • Reading tips. Aside from rich motivation and abundant lists, she also gives some tips to making reading time special. From locations to treats she will stir your own imagination in this area.
  • A must have book. This book offers an incredible resource when doing your book shopping. I am always looking at books at a used book sale and trying to figure out by reading a sentence here and there if I or my kids will like the particular book. I will definitely bring this guide along with me now to see what it has to say when purchasing unfamiliar books. Obviously it won’t have all the good books listed either, but it does have many, and many that I am not familiar with as well. I look forward to bringing Sarah with me to all the book sales now and ask her advice beforeĀ  I buy. šŸ™‚

Some considerations . . .

  • One person’s opinion. You might feel differently. Her glowing opinion will not guarantee that you will like it. For example, she loved Across Five Aprils (which I have also heard many other people rave about), and I had to force myself to trudge through this book with my kids a few years ago. I was not impressed. But, we are all entitled to our own opinions and will love what others didn’t and vice versa.Ā  You will still need to determine what books are a good fit for your family’s interests, values, attention span, academic subject, and personalities.

This book stirred up an incredible amount of enthusiasm within me. I cannot wait to finalize plans for the coming school year and include some of the great books recommended in this resource. I would strongly recommend this book to any homeschooling mom needing encouragement and ideas for making reading come to life in your home. You can check out the table of contents as well as a sample chapter if you would like to see a bit of the book for yourself and accept Sarah Clarkson’s invitation to more than just a “reading list, but to a reading life.”

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out theĀ TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Apologia as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.


TOS Crew Review — Maestro Classics

The perfect cure for cabin fever — something new that won’t let you sit still.

Recently I had just my three youngest at home and we needed something. School goes much more quickly when you aren’t wrestling through Algebra, spelling lists, and creative writing assignments. So, we got to have some extra fun. We built a fort and put this wonderful CD in to listen to. The kids quickly came out of the fort as the music made them fly like birds and then hobble like Grandfather and then skip like a young boy and even prowl like a wolf.

Sergei Prokofiev wrote Peter and the Wolf 75 years ago to introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra. Generations have enjoyed this piece and his masterful creation that uses instruments to truly bring the characters to life. This incredible teaching tool took over in our house and my kids were enchanted with the instruments, the music and the story.


Product: Peter and the Wolf

Details: A CD of Prokofiev’s well known musical piece Peter and the Wolf including background information on the music and the composer. Disc also includes narration and two tracks of the whole work. In the package you also receive a small booklet with some information and activities for children to do during or after they hear the CD. It also includes information on Russian folk songs and stories and other related items.

Price: $16.98

What we loved . . .

  • Great music. Peter and the Wolf has long been a favorite of mine, ever since listening to it as a child on one of those “big black CDs” as my kids call them.
  • Fun supplements.. The little booklet has some fun goodies in it, and on their site you can even print some simple piano music (and other instruments) to go along with the study.
  • Memorable. Of course the piece itself is always a crowd pleaser, but the arrangement with the narrator was wonderful. My kids talked about it for days and continue to ask to hear it again and act it out as we listen.
  • Gets you moving. While it is perfectly okay to sit and enjoy the piece, my kids just can’t. They have to walk around and “scold” Peter along with Grandfather’s lumbering music. They get down on the ground and prowl as the wolf enters the scene. They walk along as the hunters come in and they listen for the big “guns.” They absolutely loved it.
  • Covers topics we sometimes miss. As homeschoolers we make sure we cover the basics and we also try to throw in lots of extras for fun and good measure. This product helps introduce and create an appreciation for orchestral music. We read, talked about Russian folk songs, did some impromptu acting, and reveled in a high quality musical production.
  • A great teacher. This could also be a great CD to put in for the kids to listen to when you have something else to take care of, or need to work with one child while keep others productively engaged. Without any effort on your part they cannot help but learn where this piece came from, some of the instruments in the orchestra, and enjoy some orchestral music.

Some considerations . . .

  • Only one booklet.My kids weren’t too concerned about the booklet, but they did take a look through it. If you have a child that likes to have something in his hands while listening that could be an issue.
  • That’s it. I can’t tell you much else that I think you would need to consider before purchasing. This is a great product that can be enjoyed repeatedly by a wide range of kids.

Peter and the Wolf is a treasure that kids should not make it through childhood without experiencing. It has so much to teach in a fun way. Listening to it again was like spending the morning with a childhood friend. Such a great addition to our home listening library.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out theĀ TOS Crew blog.

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge through Maestro Classics as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.