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The American Reader Review by Amy Christy

Kathy-jo Wargin
IllustratorK.L. Darnell
Sleeping Bear Press
310 North Main Street, Suite 300
Chelsea, MI 48118

Have you ever wondered how Smokey the Bear got his name? How about the story of our Pledge of Allegiance or our national landmarks? Tucked inside the pages of The American Reader you will find the answers to these questions as well as many other lessons about our rich American heritage. You'll also learn from beautifully written short stories about legendary people like Clara Barton, Samuel Morse, and Noah Webster.

I am a history buff and a collector of antique books. Even though this reader is a modern compilation of stories, plays, and poems, it is reminiscent of the McGuffey Readers and old fashioned primers that I love so much. Just as those little books taught reading, writing, and counting skills, The American Reader has it all. In less than one hundred pages you'll find a lot of content! You'll see vocabulary lists before several of the stories, and you can count along with the poem Ten Little Bunnies. You'll learn history, geography, and citizenship in stories like Our Symbols; North, South, East, and West; and I Am a Citizen of the United States of America.

In Jack's Neighbor you're taught proper etiquette and how to respectfully offer assistance to someone with a disability. Though there are meaningful, educational stories, there are also some that are "just for fun." As the author suggests, several of the poems and short stories can be turned into one-act performances. My 5-year-old son and I giggle every time we read the tongue twister A Nonsense Poem, and he asks me to read "the silly verse" again and again. The older children especially enjoyed the story of Samuel Morse and learning to send messages to each other by using the Morse Code Alphabet!

This is a truly delightful, informative book for all ages and is worthy of sitting alongside your collection of readers and classics. The charming illustrations only add to its beauty. We use it for bedtime reading, copy work, and memorization. I have ordered another copy for my mother to have in her "Grandma library" and will likely purchase other titles from this author based on the quality of this book. The American Reader, already a favorite in our home, would be a wonderful addition to any home or homeschool library.

Product review by Amy Christy, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, December 2006