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What We’re Reading – March 2019

February seems to have flown by (don’t the months always seem to lately?), but this upcoming weekend there should be some PRIME reading time as we will be headed to the boys’ state swim meet. I will be parked in the stands all day long, so I plan to have some good material with me. 

A few of the books in my pile have been sitting there for a bit, which is making me a little antsy. I really do love having a physical book to read, but paperback fiction is a little harder for me to read while trying to fall asleep at night since I need to wear my glasses. Using my Kindle makes it a little easier because I can increase the font size (cough) and also I don’t have to hold the book “just so” – or worry about dropping it. 

After February’s reading, I put a sizable dent into my 2019 Reading List.  The list started off a little smaller with twelve books (and has grown a bit as I’ve added some new releases), but that was to be expected. I often get distracted by the new stuff. :) At the moment though, seven of the now 14 books on the list have been marked off – so YAY for progress! This month NONE of the books in my pile are from my core list – they are from my “if there’s time” pile, but they look so very good. 

*all links are referral links

What the Kids are Reading


We’re switching things up a bit for Kaleb for the remainder of the year and really hitting reading fluency hard. In addition to using All About Reading 4, we are working through some Before Five in a Row titles with a friend (so his pain can be shared and commiserated – grins), but also so we can work on some FUN tie-ins with the books we read together. For example, in reading Homer Price, we are building an AM and FM radio because that is something Homer does in the story. 

What I Read Last Month (and Quick Thoughts)

Here are the books I read in February along with a more detailed look at four of them – three that I absolutely loved for very different reasons and one that I don’t think you should waste your time on. 

 

Walking With Henry by Rachel Anne Ridge – Reading this book is like sitting down with a friend over a cup of coffee and having a heart-to-heart talk together. Rachel’s writing style is not only relatable, it is one you will quickly fall in love with – along with her sweet donkey. Through the antics of her second donkey, Henderson (or Henry, for short), Ridge shares her grapplings with a new season of life and the searching it opens in her spiritual walk. As she coaxes this little donkey to understand his worth and value, spiritual truths are gently spoken to her heart. Their walks become a time of developing a new prayer life and her intimacy with God is deepened.

This book spoke to my heart on so many different levels. I appreciate Rachel’s candor and honesty in the things she questions and begins searching for deeper understanding and meaning. She is gentle and open – and incredibly relatable.On a side note, it is so sweet to read this story, having met Rachel and both Flash and Henry (and Tom!) in person as well as walking with them through the fields where she pondered so much. For me that added an extra special touch since I can envision their faces and personalities. ❤️  Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are mine alone. (5/5 rating)

The Road Back to You by Ian Moran Cron – it seems like everyone is reading and learning all about the enneagram types. After a weekend with friends where we discussed so many various things together, along with this specific book, I bought it and read it in a few days. It’s really rather fascinating. While I haven’t pinpointed my specific “type” quite yet, this specific book offers some valuable insight into how individuals function in their types when they are “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” – where they tend to divert their focus in either direction. Definitely worth the read. (5/5 rating)

It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst – this is one of those books that you want to keep on your shelf to refer to when you are going through a season of difficult. Reading through the various circumstances happening with Lysa and her family – just crazy. But God. Well worth the read if you are in the midst of trying situations and need encouragement or if you want to store some information for the future. 5/5 rating

The Light We Lost by Jill Sanopolo – I had such high hopes for this book. It started out great (minus one scene at the start of an earlier chapter 🙄), but as the book progressed it began to unravel. The premise of a love lost/the road not taken is understandable, but at some point along the way this derailed into nothing more than a girl who never grew up emotionally and cannot make up her mind and see what is right in front of her face because she is too busy pining away for what could have been. 2/5 rating

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 

 

All About Reading 4 – Full Color Version (Review)

Our family received access to the full color AAR Level 4 in exchange for our review. All opinions are our honest thoughts and we have been using the program for years during our school time. Please see our disclosure policy.

A little over a month ago, All About Learning Press released an update to All About Reading Levels 1-4 – and truly, they are stunning! What was already an amazing product and tool for homeschool families has stepped up to the next level and is now full-color – both inside and out! 

I can honestly tell you all that we have owned all of the products from All About Reading and All About Spelling, use them daily, and love them tremendously. Their curriculum is one of the first that really got me excited about teaching and I KNOW that they are getting solid teaching using the programs! But – enough about that – I cannot wait to share the updates that have been made to their reading program!

Our previous All About Reading Reviews:

Introducing the *Updated* All About Reading 4

All About Reading is a step-by-step reading program for children and uses a multisensory approach. Lessons are sequential in order, building on material  learned in prior lessons and levels, and ensure that your child is fully grasping concepts and successful in reading before moving on. Just because the lessons and levels build on each other though, doesn’t mean you can’t jump in at any time. We’ve had kids that have worked through every level and some that have gone through only a few.

If you have used any of the All About Reading levels in the past, you are well familiar with the cute graphics, well laid out lesson plans, and the hands-on learning the program provides. The only thing the program didn’t provide was full-color print. 

Previously all of the go-along activities, book illustrations, and even the teacher’s manual were available only in black and white. Until now. (Insert happy dance).  While I love, love, love the color illustrations in the readers – can I pause for a moment and share my *joy* with the full-color teacher’s manual??

The teacher’s manual alone is so much bigger than it used to be (thanks to the paper quality). The content though is the same step-by-step lesson plans, just in full color, ready for you to literally open the book and start teaching your child. 

For those of us who are visual learners, this manual is flat out amazing. Seeing what color the cards are, letter tile colors, and even pages in the activity book helps so much, especially when you get into the upper levels of reading and add in extra letter tiles with new colors. 

The readers have so much to love. In addition to their colorful illustrations, they all feature whimsical stories you won’t find anywhere else. These aren’t your “cat sat on a mat” type stories – they are funny and include lots of concept review. In addition, the illustrations don’t give away what the story is about, limiting kids from word guessing – they have to focus in on their decoding and reading skills. 

While I loved the classic look of the black and white illustrations in the previous version of All About Reading, these hardcover readers are so much more engaging than before (and that’s a good thing for those picky kiddos). They are still the same compact size, fitting perfectly into kid’s hands, and lay flat when open for reading. 

What Comes with the Level 4 Program

The All About Reading Level 4 Kit comes with the following items:

  • Level 4 Teacher’s Manual
  • Level 4 Student Packet {includes word cards and an Activity Book}
  • Heirloom Antics reader
  • The Voyage reader

You will also need a Reading Interactive Kit to complete the program. Choose between the Deluxe Reading Interactive Kit {$43.85} or the Basic Reading Interactive Kit {$21.85} ~ or buy the pieces individually. The reading kits are a one-time purchase and will be used in all levels of the program.

A peek at what’s covered in AAR Level 4

Decoding (Phonics)

  • Learn phonograms EY, EAR, UI, IE, PH, GU, GN, AUGH, EI, OUGH, SI, MB, OUR, CI, and RH
  • Read words containing the new phonograms, such as honeyearlyjuicefieldphaseguestgnatdaughterbeigeroughmissioncombjourneyspecial, and rhyme

Decoding (Structural Analysis)

  • Decode multisyllabic words
  • Read words with multiple suffixes, as in thankfully
  • Read words with a variety of suffixes, including -ible-able, –ance-ence-sion-ic-al-ous-ist-ism-ity-ize-ary, and -ery
  • Read words containing unaccented syllables, as in pirateAlaska, and doctor
  • Read words with silent letters, as in half and comb

Fluency

  • Read with accuracy
  • Read with meaningful expression
  • Read with natural phrasing

Vocabulary

  • Discuss new words in the context of the story and one’s own life
  • Explore varying dialects and regional language
  • Understand homonyms and heteronyms
  • Understand synonyms, antonyms, onomatopoeia, alliteration, idioms, personification, acronyms, and hyperbole
  • Explore words containing influences from Greek, French, Spanish, and Italian

Comprehension

  • Connect text to one’s own experiences
  • Read stories with alternating points of view
  • Make predictions and inferences
  • Compare and contrast main characters and stories
  • Discuss main conflict and character transformation
  • Skim for specific information
  • Discuss shades of meaning
  • Summarize the text

 

Our Thoughts on All About Reading 4

Our youngest, Kaleb, has struggled with reading from the beginning, and All About Reading has been a great fit (and help) for both of us. We’ve tried to add in additional things over the years, but they only end up confusing him more. 

The steps and rules in All About Reading help continually reinforce what he has already learned and build on his learning. While we have already worked through and finished Level 4 last year, we decided to go through it once again to build Kaleb’s reading confidence. He struggles with rushing through things and then freezes and gets flustered when he realizes he doesn’t have it right. He KNOWS the rules and has a solid base, but needs to realize 

The beginning of the book offers a mini “test” of sorts to see if your child is ready for the level. You can also try out their online reading placement tests to find the correct level for your child. 

One thing we love about the reading programs from All About Learning Press are the hands-on activities and manipulatives that go along with each level. Each interactive kit includes Letter Tiles, Magnets, the Phonogram Sounds App, and Divider Cards. (This is a one-time purchase and can be used with all levels of All About Reading.)

Probably the most time-consuming (and we’re talking about 20-40 minutes depending on what you decide to do) is the pulling apart of the phonogram and word cards that are a part of the student packet. (It’s here that I will note: I timed myself and came in just under 20 minutes to organize them – they are perforated and tear apart easily. If you decide to use the letter tiles, magnets need to be added to the back of each tile. You can alternately choose to use the Letter Tiles app instead.)

We alternate between the whiteboard with letter tiles and the letter app – and then sometimes just use our BoogieBoard or paper to work on any concepts we are learning. In just the few short weeks we have been working through Level 4, it’s already made a huge impact on his confidence in reading and his reading aloud. Reviewing the concepts and refreshing the phonics rules has given him time to pause, recall, and slow down as he reads. 

Each level of All About Reading also uses a go-along student activity book. Children can tear out the pages and complete the activity, making a great hands-on/tactile addition to the lesson. Below is a quick video clip inside the Level 4 Student Activity book. 

 

Things for Parents to LOVE

  • The bulk of the components are non-consumable (only the Activity Book and the stickers cannot be used again). This means that you will be able to use the program with your younger children and just grab a new activity book. 
  • Pre-planned lessons ~ taking extra time to plan lessons is tough, so let the book do the work for you. You can literally open the book and start teaching since all the lessons have been laid out for you.
  • Minimal prep-work. The word cards are perforated, but need to be torn apart (took me 20 minutes – I times it), and the letter tiles need to be assembled with magnets. Once that is done, you can grab your manual and go. Or you can save a step and use the new letter tiles app instead of the tiles.
  • The Go Ahead and Use It One-Year Guarantee’. You and your child have a full year to try out the program! If you find that the curriculum does not meet your needs, simply return the materials at any time within one year of purchase for a full refund of your purchase price.

 

 

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A Few Frequently Asked Questions (and Answers) 

Q: Will my current editions work with the new color edition?  
A: YES! If you already own a current version of All About Reading, there is no need to upgrade. The new Color Edition materials can be correlated seamlessly with the current black-and-white editions. Easy-to-use Correlation Guides for all levels will be available on our website after the new edition is released. The only exception to this is Level 1/1st edition which does not correlate with either the 2nd edition or the color edition.
 
Q: When can I order the All About Reading Color Edition?
A: We will begin accepting orders and shipping product on January 10, 2019. All About Reading orders placed before January 10 will be for the black-and-white version.
 
Q: Will you continue to carry black-and-white versions after the color edition is released?
A: No. Black-and-white editions of Levels 1-4 will only be available until January 9, 2019. After that date, we will give you the name of a retailer who still has black and white editions in stock.
 
Q: I just bought a level of the black and white version. Can I get the color edition instead?
A: Yes! Because of our 1-year money back guarantee, you can return your black and white version for a full refund (even if it’s partially used!) and order the color edition when it is released on January 10 at the new price. 

What We’re Reading February 2019

January felt like such a fresh slate in so many areas for me, especially reading. No matter if I felt behind on my reading pile in December, the new year offered a chance to catch up and jump right back in. Last month I attacked my reading pile with a vengeance. Maybe it’s the fresh stack of books – who knows!

And February – well, I’m feeling like I’m on a roll and need to keep the momentum going. I’ve already started on several books and am hoping to take another big chunk out of my 2019 Reading List. Already I am hearing of more and more new books releasing that I had no idea about, so I’m just going to have to squeeze them in somewhere!

If you have any suggestions to add to my list for this year, I’d love to hear! (or maybe I shouldn’t listen…)

Feed readers can click here to see my books for February

*all links are referral links


What the Kids are Reading


Kaleb has been continuing his reading of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He took a brief pause to read Who Is Bill Gates and will be working on another Who Was book this month as well. Zachary has been reading through the Harry Potter series (and says they are the best books ever), sometimes staying up late into the night to read (and I won’t complain about that!). 

What I Read Last Month (and Quick Thoughts)

One thing that seems to be happening lately – there’s a lot of WW2 fiction floating around and somehow it’s all getting thrown into my reading pile. It isn’t necessarily a problem, unless I really love one book and then another has trouble measuring up. Late at night too it does get a little hard to remember which book I’m reading (because I like to read multiple books at once!). 

Here are the books I read in January along with a more detailed look at two of them – one that I loved and one that I wanted to love, but really struggled.

Grace is Greaterby Kyle Idleman – one of my favorite things about Idleman is the natural humor he interjects into his writing via little footnotes throughout the book and just telling it like it is. He has such a practical way of explaining principles that help the reader better understand. This book definitely offered some great food for thought, review, and application. (5/5 rating)

Lilac Girls by Martha Kelly – I truly wanted to give this book a higher rating and will try to explain a bit more as to why I couldn’t. Overall, I loved the story since it gave me some great insight into various aspects of WW2 I hadn’t fully been aware of and made me dig deeper (the experiments on some prisoners at Ravensbruk, etc).  Here’s where I struggled. Two of the characters in the story are REAL people and yet both characters didn’t line up with the person in real life (Caroline had a married boyfriend?) and then the characters essentially fell flat. So much more could have been developed in each of them. At times you catch the start of some growth…and then nothing. This could have been a PHENOMENAL book, and yet it just barely skimmed the surface and in the process, failed greatly. (3/5 rating)

 

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 

 

My 2019 Reading List

Each year I like to make a list of books that will not only be fun reading, but also focus on a few areas: personal growth, spiritual growth, family, and marriage. The bulk of my choices this year have come from either personal recommendations of friends or Good Reads finds when following others (I’m LOVING using the app to track my reading and see what friends are up to as well). 

Because non-fiction books are a little more difficult for me to get through (at times), I try to limit my “to read” pile to around twelve – and then feel wonderful if/when I finish more than that. It’s the little things that keep me motivated. 

Also – I know that inevitably more books will pop up over the year that I’ll want to grab and read as well. New books are published and I have a hard time waiting to read 

Fiction is never a problem. I read it quickly and typically fall asleep each night reading with my Kindle in hand. I am ever so thankful for the book light cover that shuts off when I fall asleep and often wake up still holding my Kindle hours later. 

I also happen to know that my eyes (and desire) are bigger than my actual time to read. But they still let me check out books from the library, and for that I am thankful. 

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to track my reading over the last few years has been via the GoodReads app.   Following friends, seeing what others are reading, and being able to quickly rate a book I’m reading – love that (because my memory isn’t what it used to be!). Join me there and let’s read along together!

All that said, here’s a peek at what books are in each of my piles for the upcoming year. 

My Main Reading Pile

 

Fiction Books & Series to Read


 

“If There’s Time” Pile


 

If you’re interested, here are my 10 favorite books I read last year (a mix of fiction and non-fiction). I’d love to hear what books you have on your shelf for the 2019 year and and recommendations for me to add to my list! 

Don’t forget to join me on Good Reads so we can keep up on each other’s reviews! 

What We’re Reading December 2018

I’ll admit that I’ve gotten a little distracted from my reading pile the last bit – ever since all the new Hallmark movies started airing. (cough) And this month with baking and getting ready for Christmas, it’s definitely easier to have a movie playing in the background than to sit down and read (and rest). 

The week of Christmas I’m hoping to have some time to just sit, put my feet up, and do NOTHING at all – other than read. 

Right now my 2018 Reading List is close to wrapping up, which I’m excited about! I’m also getting a bit distracted and have far too many Amazon tabs open as I am looking forward to my 2019 list and keeping it diverse (personal growth, family, marriage, and other learning). 

If you have any suggestions to add to my list for next year, I’d love to hear! 

Feed readers can click here to see my books for December

*all links are referral links


What the Kids are Reading


One of the best things happened this past month: Kaleb saw the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book at Costco, picked it up, immediately started reading it, and has been busy reading the rest of the series since then. Meanwhile, Zachary started reading one of the Harry Potter books and has been pulled into that series as well, reading well past his bedtime several nights now (WIN!). 

What I Read Last Month (and Quick Thoughts)

Overall I didn’t read too much last month (five books), managed to shelf a few (they just didn’t “click” with me and one was a little too much for me), but there was one that I did get to read and love. 

Fiercehearted: Live Fully, Love Bravely by Holly Gerth (finishing up from October) – I’ll confess – when I started, it really took me about eight or nine chapters to get into the book. For a few weeks I had picked it up, read a chapter or two, and put it back down again. Then I picked it back up, flipped forward a few chapters, and decided to just get it over with. I later went back and read the chapters I skipped. Underlined and dog-eared pages. While it isn’t a sequential writing, per se, it’s written in short snippets with various life lessons focused on in each chapter. Gerth shares life stories and weaves in lessons of faith into each one, encouraging women to embrace who we are each created to be, as we already are. Hugely encouraging. (5/5 rating)

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 

 

Small Steps That Make You Cry

Over the years I’ve shared that our two boys have struggled a bit more with their reading. For me personally, as an avid reader, it’s been really hard to comprehend at times. Both of our girls jumped into reading at an early age and devoured books. 

But the boys – not so much. 

We read the same books together. Read aloud as a family. All the same “ingredients” as far as teaching goes, but both boys were just not as keen on it overall. 

Different learning styles. Different learning struggles. Instead of reading they prefer science and math. They excel in different areas. And sometimes waiting for them to “catch up” if you will can be hard for me to wait on as a mom – and especially as a homeschool mom. 

And then there’s the whole issue of wanting our kids to read all the books they are SUPPOSED to read – you know… the ones that everyone else’s kids read years ago, and yet my kid struggles to read. 

The biggest thing though – I want our kids to enjoy reading and find FUN in it. So last week when we were walking through Costco and our youngest saw the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book and wanted to get it – despite the fact he’s never read any of the other books in the series – we threw it in the cart. 

Before we had even left the store, he had already cracked open the book AND IGNORED ANY FOOD so he could read. Four chapters in one night – a huge milestone for him. 

You all. I cried in Costco. And yes. I took pictures to document as a reminder that sometimes these small steps (and what may seem like a normal moment to others) are the ones that can be the most meaningful – especially to a momma’s heart.