Jan 032015
 

Other than answering the dreaded socialization question, teaching reading at home may be the scariest thing for a new homeschooler. This week’s Virtual Curriculum Fair topic is Loving Language Arts and is co-hosted by  Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds and Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses. You can read other posts about reading as well as other language arts topics.

What if I mess it up and ruin my child’s life forever?

This is our 12th year of homeschooling, and I have 5 children ranging from 4 to 16 years old. So far, I have taught 4 children to read and each one was different. Not surprisingly, each one is still different both in his or her ability and enjoyment of reading. I don’t have one of those stories about the kid who learned to read at 12, but was reading War and Peace at age 13.

There is no magic formula for raising readers.

David, my 16 year old, began reading at 4 years old. (Some of that may have been over eager homeschool parents, but he was ready to read.) He read a lot when he was young – both fiction and non-fiction. I also read books aloud to him from his infancy until he was about 12. My husband and I read for pleasure frequently and our house is filled with books. We did everything “right” and guess what. He doesn’t like to read. He especially doesn’t like fiction. He’s a “just the facts” kind of kid. Maybe his long-time use of the computer has turned him into a scanner. Since he especially doesn’t like literature, I have had him take an outside class for that. He’s infinitely more motivated to read books when he’s in a class with a fixed schedule and accountability. To help himself pay attention, he often listens to the audio while he reads.

Teaching Reading at Home

Sometimes a child is too young to learn to read.

Anna is almost 15. We started trying to teach her to read when she was 5, probably closer to 5-1/2. She wanted to learn to read so badly. It was almost comical trying to teach her to blend sounds. She just couldn’t get it until after she turned 6. Then it sort of clicked and she took off with it. She also listened to read-alouds frequently and had essentially the same learning environment as her older brother, but unlike her brother, she loves to read, especially historical fiction. She’s also much happier to read from a textbook and has good comprehension.

If you think there is something wrong, check it out. People will tell you to relax and wait, but you know your child.

William is almost 13. He has been diagnosed with ASD. He has many learning issues that may (or may not) be related to ASD. He is my only child that I actually had to teach letters. My other children all picked them up naturally around 3 years old or younger, from alphabet books, letter toys and puzzles. At 4-1/2, I decided I needed to teach William his letters. He was able to learn them fairly quickly. I used the Handwriting without Tears Wood pieces and cards.

Reading continued to be a struggle for William. I tried various phonics programs. He couldn’t read c-v-c words consistently. I started a couple of new things with him that finally seemed to help reading click for him. I used both Brain Integration Therapy by Dianne Craft and All About Spelling. I don’t know if it was either of those programs, the passage of time, or some combination of all three that finally enabled him to begin reading. But there was no sudden burst of speed or rapid improvement in skills allowing him to catch up to grade level. Instead, it’s been more like plodding. He can decode pretty well and his spelling is pretty good too. (I love All About Spelling!), but his comprehension is almost non-existent, and his inflection is bad. We’re trying immersion reading on the Kindle Fire to see if that will help with comprehension. We also do dictation with All About Spelling and use the repeating of the sentence to work on inflection. (The problem is not just with reading, it’s with his speech in general.)

Some children love to read. Others don’t.

Lizzie is 8. I honestly don’t remember teaching her to read. She didn’t exactly teach herself to read, but I think she learned using a combination of computer programs like Reading Kingdom and Reading Eggs plus her older brother and sister showing her things. She is a voracious reader and loves to curl up with a book and read it. She even reads aloud to her little brother, Andrew. She is using the Memoria Press Literature Guides, among other things, and we like those a lot.

Teaching Reading at Home

Find time to read to your little ones.

Finally there is Andrew. He just turned 4 and is not reading yet. He does love to listen to books and he has known his letters for a long time. I feel hopeful, that it won’t be a struggle for him to learn to read. I still want to spend some time using Before Five in a Row with him.

Virtual Curriculum Fair

Photo credit http://www.mymemories.com/store/designers/StoryRock

This post is part of the 2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair and is also linked to House to Home at I Choose Joy.

I Choose Joy!

 

See my previous Playing with Words posts at:

It Starts with the Alphabet

Loving Language Arts

Don’t miss these great posts!

Building a Foundation of Words by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Language Arts for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses

Bible-Based Language Arts Resources by Tauna M @ Proverbial Homemaker

Relaxed Homeschooling: Language Arts in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom’s Heart

Loving Books and Words by Sarah@Delivering Grace

5 Language Arts Resources We Love by Becky @ Milo & Oats

Teaching Reading at Home: A Tale of 5 Readers by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

A More Simplistic Approach to 7th Grade Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Language Arts Reading for Delight-Directed Learning by Susan @ The Every Day of Education

How To: Spelling Dictation by Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity

The World of Words in our Homeschool by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Unschooling and Words, Words, Words by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Learning With Literature and Language Arts Resources by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Words and More Words! by Michele @ FamilyFaithandFridays

Language Arts in Our Homeschool (2014 ñ 2015) by Laura O @ Day by Day in Our World

Our curriculum choices ~ Language Arts by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun

The 2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts in Our Homeschool by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life

Loaded Pistols: Virtual Curriculum Fair Playing with Words by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

A Renewed Focus on Reading Aloud by Debra @Footprints in the Butter

Language Arts in our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm

Logic of English Foundations: The Grand Prize Winner of Phonics by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

A Sentence a Day Teaches Grammar the Fun Way by Amy A @ One Blessed Mamma

Tackling Language Arts by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning

Middle School Monday – Lightning Literature and Composition by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break

The Great Grammar Discovery by Laura @ Four Little Penguins

Aug 252014
 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Have you ever requested a book to review and you were expecting one thing, and it turns out it was entirely different?

I have.

Mother’s Book of Home Economics is one of those cases.

The title suggests that it might be a training manual of sorts. A “How-to Train your Daughters” type of book. It might have step-by-step lists of projects to do, or maybe a home economics bucket list i.e. “Things to do with your daughter before she’s grown.”

All those sound like great books. They are ones I’d be interested in reading.

But that is not at all what Mother’s Book of Home Economics is.

The sub-title provides more insight.

Remembrances, Letters, and Essays from a New England Housewife

So if you’re looking for a practical how-to book this isn’t it. Not that what Mrs. White shares isn’t practical. It’s just so much more.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 16 years. I’m starting my 12th year of homeschooling. I believe completely that motherhood is a calling. We have made great financial sacrifices in order for me to stay home. So a book that’s a call for homemaking didn’t seem to be something I needed to read. But I was in for a surprise. This book really made me think. I was convicted many times.

First, let’s think about the shift in our society. Now we call ourselves stay-at-home moms or in my case, a homeschooling mom. The focus is on being a mom. Mrs. White reminds us that the focus used to be on being a wife. The old term was housewife. There was a dual emphasis on house and wife. Certainly the children are important and a major part of what our job consists of, but when they’re gone is our time at home over? Is there no purpose for us to stay at home once the children have moved away or should we just stay at home with our children for a season?

Those are interesting questions.

Mrs. White challenges women to work at keeping their homes neat and clean. She encourages cooking for our families. These are all things that to an outside observer, I do a pretty good job at. Relatively speaking anyway.

But the difference is in attitude.

“There is joy in dusting and polishing. There is pride in cooking for the family. There is happiness in creating a pleasant haven in our homes….

Ironing is done in a slow and careful manner. It forces one to be peaceful.”

Mother's Book of Home Economics

Ouch! I’m usually rushing to iron on Sunday morning and grumbling all the time. Or cooking and feeling irritated that no one appreciates all the work I do for them.

“A wife who does not complain is a virtuous asset to her husband.”

I do make an effort not to complain, but I’m usually complaining on the inside and patting myself on the back for not saying anything.

What about this?

Being quiet. . . We often talk too much, worry too much, think too much, and want to multitask every minute away! Being quiet and content takes effort, but it will bring peace and gentleness to the family.”

In other words, we shouldn’t be martyrs, Sighing and weary of all our work. We should feel weary but not of working, instead we should feel tired in a good way from working hard to keep our home. How can we do this? It is only with strength from the Lord.

If you’re looking for encouragement for making your house a home and learning contentment, I recommend Mother’s Book of Home Economics. You probably won’t agree with all of Mrs. White’s ideas on the topic, but I bet it will make you think about your attitude towards cooking and cleaning.

 

Jan 172014
 

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

In November I happened to see a post in my Facebook feed about signing up for a chance to be on the launch team for Crystal Paine’s (Money Saving Mom) upcoming book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. Based on the title alone, I decided to sign up. At the time, I really felt like I was hanging on by a thread. We had finished with the very busy fall cross country season. (OK, a month earlier) and there’s something about getting through a major busy time that leaves me feeling let down. So I felt blah but without direction, and  I wasn’t making any progress on anything.

Thankfully, I was chosen for the team. I started reading and found myself agreeing wholeheartedly. The first chapter was Stop Trying to Do it All. Honestly, I’ve always prided myself in not over scheduling. I felt like I had kept our schedule pretty open. But in this season of our homeschool with my oldest in high school, we are involved in several outside lessons and classes. And they’re at an all time high this school year.

Time doesn’t expand limitlessly. When I say yes to one thing, I must say no to something else.

I’ve definitely said yes to a lot of things this year. What have I said no to?

Consciously, nothing. But certain things were not getting done.

Things like –

  • Regular Exercise
  • Meaningful Bible Study
  • Going over lessons with my children
  • Some housecleaning tasks (like ironing and mopping) – OK, so I don’t mind skipping those.

But then came the part where I was supposed to write down my own personal priority list.

And I froze.

I’ve never been one for open ended questions. And trying to come up with 4 or 5 concise statements of my priorities in life is overwhelming.

But I knew I should do it. I couldn’t go on without doing it. But I couldn’t do it. But what if the rest of the book hinges on those priorities?

Finally after being stuck without reading, I decided to keep reading.

OK. On to Chapter 2. Say Yes to the Best. Oh no, we’re going to be using the personal priorities list! Just keep reading.

Pretty soon Crystal got to topics that are more comfortable for me: things like dividing your time and  setting up a routine. Those are more my style. That’s how I think naturally. I haven’t been doing them though. I wonder why not? What happened?

The book progresses from thinking about the big picture of our goals and priorities to more practical ways to organize specific areas of our lives such as finances, the home, and giving. Crystal’s writing is informative and engaging with a good mix of personal stories and practical tips. But it’s not an exhaustive organizing book with how-to’s on organizing everything under the sun. It’s more of a big picture book with practical tips to get you started.

I kept getting called back to that big picture. What are my priorities? Why am I doing the things I am doing? What am I doing with my time? With the new year approaching, it seemed an appropriate time to be pondering  all these things. As a result of reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode  I started to implement some major changes to my schedule.

The biggest one is my no computer times I have set up every day. I have determined that I cannot do a good job with homeschooling while I am also checking e-mail, browsing Facebook, and working on my job. So I am requiring that my laptop stays shut and put away from 8-11 am every weekday. And in order to spend more focused time with my husband in the evenings, we have both agreed to no electronic devices between 6-8 pm.

Without me bringing it up, my husband suggested that we set some goals for the year and think about our priorities. Isn’t that an amazing coincidence? (I don’t think so. I love how God in his sovereignty oversees even the seemingly small details like my getting “randomly” selected for a book launch.) If I hadn’t read Saying Goodbye to Survival Mode, I wouldn’t have been prepared to set goals with my husband. I would have felt like he thought I was failing, and I needed help. But I was finally ready to admit that I did need help. And I came up with the no computer time idea. My husband had thought of that long ago, but knew better than to suggest it to me. Some things we have to see for ourselves. And I foolishly thought I could handle all that multi-tasking. And I continued to sink further and further.

Things are looking so much better. No, my life of homeschooling 5 children, keeping house, and working part-time is not suddenly easy. But I finally feel more in control. I still haven’t written out my priorities, but I’m going to. I have set aside a lot of the things that were wasting my time (mainly computer related), and I have been much more productive. Do I owe it all Say Goodbye to Survival Mode? Well, maybe not, but it certainly came at the right time and helped me to get out of the life boat and back onto the ship.

So take a look at the book. Right now it’s still pre-order only, but there are some great freebies that come with it. But hurry if you want the free stuff because the book will be released on January 21!

Disclosure: I received an advance electronic copy of this book in order to complete this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Feb 122013
 

Since my last post was the post where I admit I was wrong, maybe this one should be the post where I admit I am late! I hope I’m not the only one that has let something go far too long. I’m really good with deadlines. But when there isn’t an exact deadline, then sometimes I procrastinate.

And procrastinate I have with this book. I don’t even know how long ago I received it. I don’t even want to think about it. But I do want to keep my commitments regardless of the late hour.

how-do-we-know-the-bible-is-trueHow Do We Know the Bible is True? is a compilation of treatises on difficult topics by various authors. It was edited by Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge and published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group.

When I ordered the book, I thought it was going to be a whole book that focused on proving the truth of the Bible. It is in a broad sense, but delves into a variety of different subtopics. Some of the chapter titles include:

  • Is the Old Testment Reliable?
  • Did the Physical Resurrection of Christ Really Happen?
  • Did Moses Write Genesis?
  • Did Miracles Really Happen?

All of those topics do deal with the broad subject of the authority of Scripture, but explore the arguments for and against the each of the questions.

I found the book interesting, but it wasn’t the type of book I can read straight though. (That’s part of the reason for the LONG delay in this review.) I think it is particularly helpful in pointing out the reasons someone might disagree with the Bible’s authority. I have a rather conservative upcoming and still hold to a literal interpretation of scriptures. (For those that are supposed to be literal anyway. Some of the Bible is obviously figurative language. The question for the ages is which is which.) I do think this book helped me to see some of the arguments for different interpretations and also why I do not agree with them.

I do not think this would be a good book to hand to a non-Christian to prove to them the Bible is true. I’m not sure that actually exists, but this book is definitely written with a believer in mind. It’s meant to strengthen existing faith and provide information to help a Christian to defend his faith.

I would recommend this book to others and plan to have my 9th grade son read it. He is always asking difficult questions and I think this book will help to answer some of them.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Master Books in order to complete this review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Sep 062011
 

What is the first book of the Bible a new believer should read?

I’ve always heard you should start with the Gospel of John. But in Begin, a new book from New Leaf Publishing Group, Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge suggest starting somewhere else: Genesis.

I agree with their logic.

In Genesis we learn the origin of the world. Genesis is where we learn how sin entered the world. We see in Genesis why we need a Savior!

But rather than starting in Genesis and reading straight through the Bible, Begin suggests a different Bible reading plan. After laying the foundation in Genesis 1-11 and Exodus 20 (the Ten Commandments), it then moves on to the entire Gospel of John, Romans, and finally Revelation 21-22. Included in the book is the English Standard Version (ESV) translation of the above scriptures. On each page there is also a fact or a cross reference or two. There is room along the edge of the pages for taking notes, and there are also thinking questions throughout the book.

In between the different sections of scripture are short summaries of what happened historically between the two portions of scripture. For example, between Genesis 11 and Exodus 20 there is “A Brief Review of History from Abram to Moses and the Ten Commandments”. These summaries are brief, but would be especially helpful to someone who does not have much prior knowledge of the Bible.

At the end of the book are 2 additional sections that are very informative:

What Does It Mean to Be Saved?

Ten Basics to Boldly Proclaim a Biblical Worldview

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I think this book provides an excellent start to studying the Bible. I appreciate the fact that this Bible Study is in fact studying the Bible. So many Bible studies contain very little Scripture, and have in its place man’s opinions of Scripture. Begin would make a great gift for new believers, seekers, or anyone who wants to gain an understanding of the Gospel.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Jul 112011
 

It seems that the Amish lifestyle is a hot topic these days. In our fast-paced, modern society, we miss what the Amish have: family, community, and simplicity. But although there is a trend towards people simplifying their lives, I don’t think many people are becoming Amish. However, the basic frugal principles that the Amish follow can be adopted by anyone. In Money Secrets of the Amish, Lorilee Craker outlines these principles and shows how they can be applied.

The tips shared in this book are not new or extraordinary. They’re just old-fashioned common sense. They include ideas such as avoiding debt, waiting to buy things, reducing spending on gifts, and bartering. But the book doesn’t read like a finance book. Lorilee shares stories of real Amish families. For example, she tells of one family who saved $400,000 for a down payment on a farm while raising 14 children!

The book isn’t just about how frugal the Amish are. Along with interesting descriptions of the Amish lifestyle are Lorilee’s own stories. Her stories are of how unfrugal she was, and how spending time with the Amish while preparing to write this book, showed her how much she was taking for granted and how many things she could do without. She writes from her heart and isn’t afraid to laugh at herself. For someone who has been already been seeking ways to live more frugally, this book probably won’t have many new ideas. Even so, I found this an enjoyable book to read and an encouragement to persevere.

I review for BookSneeze®Disclosure: I received a copy of Money Secrets of the Amish to review from Book Sneeze. I was not compensated for the review. All opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

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Jun 272011
 

Not every homeschooler chooses to homeschool for religious reasons. However, a great many homeschoolers do choose to homeschool so that they can teach their children from a Christian worldview. But after finishing high school, where should a young Christian continue his education if he chooses to do so?

State University?

Community College?

Christian College?

There are plenty of options available. Many Christian parents choose to send their children to secular universities, believing their children have been trained in the faith and are ready to face the worldly influences found there. But others feel that a Christian college is a better choice for their child.  At a Christian college their student will be surrounded by other believers. He will have Christian professors who believe the Bible is the infallible Word of God and who will help to strengthen his faith.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case. In fact, it’s probably less often the case than you think.

What do you think of when you think of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton? Elite private schools? Does anyone still remember that these Ivy League schools were founded on Christian principles? Already Compromised begins with a description of the compromise that led to the secularization of these schools. Are today’s Christian colleges going down the same path?

Ken Ham and Greg Hall with Britt Beemer of America’s Research Group sent surveys to presidents, vice-presidents, religion and science department chairmen at Christian colleges nationwide. These surveys contained a variety of questions like:

Do you believe in the inspiration of Scripture?

Do you believe in the inerrancy of Scripture?


What does your institution teach about the Bible?


Do you believe in God creating the earth in six literal 24-hour days?


The answers, found in Already Compromised, may surprise you.

I cannot say that I was surprised at the percentages of those surveyed who do not believe in a six literal 24-hour days of creation. What was surprising to me was the inconsistency in the survey answers. There were people who answered that they believed the Bible was literally true, but did not believe in a literal interpretation of creation. The book contains many other examples of these inconsistencies.

The book is more than the results of a survey however. It is a call to action. How did we get to this point? What should the church be doing? What questions should we ask before we send our sons and daughters to a Christian college? How should we teach them before they leave? There is even a chapter written directly to the student.

This book has forced me to start thinking about some of the tough decisions we’ll be facing in a few years. Our oldest son is going into the 8th grade. It doesn’t seem like college is that close, but I know that the next 5 years will pass quickly. We’ve spent more of our time worrying about how we’re going to pay for college than thinking about where he should attend. I’ve also got a renewed vision to make sure that my children understand what we believe and why we believe it. This book is a must read if you’re considering Christian colleges for your children.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review from New Leaf Publishing . I was not compensated for this review and all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains an affiliate link.

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Apr 262011
 

Who was John Knox? He was a leader (if not THE leader) of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland. That is about the extent of what I knew about him. I also had a sort of vague idea that most of the modern history books aren’t too kind to him.

That was before I read the recently republished book, Life of John Knox, originally published in 1833 by the American Sunday School Union. Now I know more about the life of the tireless preacher of the Gospel. This short book gives biographical details of the events of his life and is sprinkled with quotes from his sermons. He was unbending in his zeal. He spent much of his adult life in direct conflict with Mary Queen of Scots, a devout Catholic, and had to flee the country several times to avoid imprisonment. His commitment to the cause of the Reformation was unwavering.

I appreciated several things about this book. First, I was glad to read about John Knox from the perspective of Protestant Christians of almost 200 years ago. I enjoy the old-fashioned writing style, and it was untainted by the revisionist history of today. Was the book unbiased? Certainly not, but is any book ever truly unbiased? I also liked that the book was short. It covered the major events of John Knox’s life without much extra. I personally need more background information on Scotland at that time, but this served as a good introduction and can serve as a springboard for more study on the Reformers. Finally, I liked the physical size of the book. It’s a lightweight hardback book that I could read in bed. That might sound silly, but I don’t have a lot of time to read right now and a heavy book that is uncomfortable to read in bed just isn’t going to be read right now.

The book is available at New Leaf Publishing, Amazon.com, and CBD.

Disclosure: I received this book from New Leaf Publishing for review. The opinions expressed are my own. This post contains an affiliate link.

 

Dec 132010
 

A few weeks ago, I posted my review of The Way Home, a DVD about the day 2 year-old Joe Simpkins got lost. Very shortly afterwards, I was contacted by Randy Simpkins, the real-life father of Joe Simpkins. He liked my review, but offered me the opportunity to read the book to help clear up a few misconceptions I may have had. Not being one to turn down books, I agreed.

Our Way Home is written by both Randy and Christal Simpkins. While the movie focuses only on 1 day, with a few flashbacks, the book gives a lot more background of the events leading up to that day. It’s fairly short and quick to read. While reading it, I felt like I was hearing Randy and Christal speak. The chapters even alternate between their two perspectives.

So did I have misperceptions? Well, not exactly, but the book did bring some additional facts to my attention. First, Randy wasn’t just your everyday, average work-a-holic. He really wasn’t home for much of his kids’ early years. Some was unavoidable (like time spent in the Navy), but most was driven by his desire for success. And Christal wasn’t just a little bit tired from “holding down the fort” for years. There is more to the story to that, but I will let you hear it from them.

In addition to giving more background about their lives, Our Way Home also provides a deeper look into the Simpkins’ faith, both before and after that fateful day. I got to see into their hearts and how God led them to make the movie. Reading the book was definitely worth it for me, but be sure to watch The Way Home first!

Our Way Home is available on Amazon.com. (This is NOT an affiliate link.)

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the authors to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Dec 112010
 

My kids, especially the younger ones, are geography nuts. And though I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about geography, their interest is mainly because of my husband. His enthusiasm for the subject is contagious!

When I saw Passport to the World as a book available to review from New Leaf Publishing Group, I knew it would be a great book for my kids. I was definitely not disappointed!

Passport to the World is unique in its focus on the spoken languages. The book is arranged alphabetically with one language representing each of the 26 letters of the alphabet.

For each language featured there are:

  • Full-color 2-page spreads
  • A small map of the country where the language is spoken and chart of vital statistics
  • How to say Hello, Goodbye, Thank you, and Peace
  • Interesting facts
  • Photos of people and places

Also included are a removable “passport” in the front of the book with stickers to be used as each language/country is “visited”.  The book is written from a Biblical world view, beginning with the history of language at the Tower of Babel, and ending with suggested websites that provide assistance to needy children around the world.

This is a great book to use as a springboard for other study or to read alone. I can’t tell you how my kids like it because once I saw it, I decided to wrap it up for them. Shhh…

Disclosure: I received this book for free as a member of the Book Reviewers for New Leaf Publishing Group. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.