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Who Should We Then Read? Volume Two: A Busy Reader's Concise Guide to the Best Authors of Living Books Review by Kendra Fletcher

Jan Bloom

Teaching a child to read is an exciting adventure that so many of us homeschoolers get to experience--and with our own children, to boot. Once they're off and reading, however, the question of what to hand them to read looms large. One glance at the shelves at many public libraries has us scratching our heads, wondering if this is all there really is. Stories are often trite, silly, offensive, or contain a modern political agenda that is inappropriate for a budding reader. We are faced with the same questions when it comes to reading aloud to our children. Really, who should we then read?

Veteran homeschooler and knowledgeable second-hand bookseller Jan Bloom saw the need to compile mini biographies of great authors and lists of their wonderful books, most of them written with children and young adults in mind.

She is exclusive in her choices, writing of her first book, "The purpose of [Who Should We Then Read? Volume One] is to introduce or reacquaint readers with favorite authors of another age who invented their characters, developed their plots, and wrote their books during a time when the virtues we esteem as Christians were the accepted values of most of society. These men and women wrote books that are true to who we are as people: made in the image of God, yet fallen, broken, and in need of redemption."

Who Should We Then Read? Volume Two: A Busy Reader's Concise Guide to the Best Authors of Living Books maintains the same goal. Clarifying her choice of 155 authors highlighted in Volume Two, Jan says, "What does it mean to feature authors who wrote books true to a Christian worldview? It means that the author acknowledges both the glory of man and his fallen nature. The author has an underlying belief in God, sin, pain, love, hope, and restoration."

The book's layout is evidence that Jan spent many years homeschooling her three children. She knows exactly what a homeschooling parent would be looking for in a book list and how to organize the information. She cross-references every author's list of books with the catalog of the Library of Congress. Reading levels are suggested, and books are split into categories (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, etc.). She makes special note of books that are particularly excellent or important, and that can be very helpful when you are trying to decide between one book or another.

We homeschoolers can be a funny bunch, screeching our cars to a halt when we see the sign for a library sale or when we spot a used bookstore. Because Jan is one of us, she knew instinctively to publish her book in a size that can fit right into a purse and to give it laminated covers that are long-lasting and a spiral binding that can lie flat while we peruse the shelves. My copy of Volume One is dog-eared, highlighted, and much loved.

If you can only buy one thing this year for your homeschool, may I suggest you consider Who Should We Then Read? Volume Two: A Busy Reader's Concise Guide to the Best Authors of Living Books? With such an excellent and unparalleled guide in your hands, you can fill an entire school year with valuable and twaddle-free literature that can serve as springboards of learning for each of your students. You might even discover gems you never knew existed.

Product review by Kendra Fletcher, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2009