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Read for the Heart: Whole Books for Wholehearted Families Review by Amy M. O'Quinn

Sarah Clarkson
Apologia/WholeHeart--An Imprint of Apologia Press
1106 Meridian Plaza
Suite 220
Anderson, IN 46016

Most homeschool moms have at least a couple of "books about books" in their educational arsenals. I have at least half of one bookshelf filled with resources that summarize, suggest, or correlate great works of fiction and non-fiction to specific periods or events in history, and even ideas for books that can be used in the areas of science, math, geography, etc. I have consulted a couple of my trusted favorites over and over since I began homeschooling back in 1997, and I have found them to be great time-savers when trying to match up literature with our current studies.

However, now it is my pleasure to make room on that bookshelf for a brand new favorite "book about books"! Sarah Clarkson, daughter of Sally and Clay Clarkson of WholeHearted Ministries and an author in her own right, has created a wonderful resource entitled Read for the Heart: Whole Books for WholeHearted Families, which is sure to become a beloved classic. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Sarah Clarkson is an excellent writer, and I think that her first chapter, "Reading to Live," is probably the best explanation/essay of why we all need to cultivate a reading life that I have ever read. She proposes that a life steeped in literature produces a wakened heart, a strong mind, and a steadfast soul. I was especially stirred by her inspiring words:

To sum it all up, I read to live. Every book I've read and every story that has made itself a part of my imagination has taught me something about what it means to live well. I'm passionate about reading because I'm passionate about life. Great stories influence the way I live in the here and now.

Read For the Heart is a paperback book with about 384 pages and contents include:

Foreword by Tina Farewell
1. Reading to Live
2. Reading Lost: The State of Literacy in America
3. Life By Books: How to Begin
4. A Roadmap for Using This Book
5. Picture Books
6. The Golden Age Classics
7. Children's Fiction
8. Fairy Tales and Fantasy
9. History and Biography
10. Spiritual Reading for Children
11. Poetry
12. Music, Art, and Nature
Appendix I: Caldecott Medalists
Appendix II: Newberry Medalists
Appendix III: Historical Fiction by G. A. Henty
Appendix IV: Landmark History Books Appendix
V: The Trailblazer Series Appendix
VI: A Few of My Favorite Things
Index of Authors and Illustrators
Index of Titles

The book lists in each chapter are organized alphabetically by the author's last name, and the chapter on historical fiction and literary biography is organized by time period and series. Miss Clarkson also gives a short review of each book and any cautions regarding mature or questionable content when needed.

Read for the Heart is comprehensive and easy to use, and it will make a wonderful addition to any homeschooler's bookshelf. However, in order to really create a true reading life, we must take Sarah Clarkson's words to heart and read with and to our families. We must foster a love of literature within our children--and encourage their ability to think about, process, and discuss what they read. And as she so aptly puts it, "one of the keys to forming the habit of reading in a child is simply to make books accessible." This book, Read for the Heart, will help you make wise decisions and excellent choices to do just that!

Product review by Amy M. O'Quinn, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2010