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Drawn into the Heart of Reading Review by Teri Lucas

By: Carrie Austin
Heart of Dakota Publishing
1004 Westview Drive
Dell Rapids, SD 57022
(605) 428-4068

It is not a unit study, but it can be used for the literature and reading portion of a unit study. It is not a comprehension guide, per say, yet if you use this program, you won't need one. It is not your traditional reading program; however, it can be used as your complete reading program. Just what is it?

Drawn into the Heart of Reading is a wonderfully unique multi-level reading program that will include literature, vocabulary, creative writing, oral reading, character, and even selected art projects. This program works with any book. If you are doing a unit study, using the Charlotte Mason method of teaching, using a prepackaged reading program, needing to measure comprehension, or using it just for the literature portion of your studies, it will expand your literary understanding. Activities are varied and interesting. Still, it is not so much a curriculum or exercise that it becomes overwhelming to the reader.

Drawn into the Heart of Reading is broken into nine units as follows: biography, historical fiction, mystery, nonfiction, realistic fiction, adventure, fantasy, folk tale, and humor. Units may be taught in any order. They are divided into four basic program components: story element, Godly character, vocabulary, and projects. Story element lessons are varied depending on the genre. They include character, setting, conflict, mood, prediction, compare and contrast, cause and effect, theme, and point of view being expressed. Godly character lessons evaluate a character's actions based on faith, fear of the Lord, responsibility, brotherly love, loyalty, virtue, obedience, joy, and integrity. Vocabulary activities help the student learn strategies in decoding the meanings of unfamiliar words. The project portion contains three options: Godly character studies, book based projects, or group projects.

Drawn into the Heart of Reading program follows a general daily format of 20 days. After the initial "kick-off" activity, the daily schedule varies slightly depending on the grade level. This is neatly mapped out for you in the teacher's manual on one page, eliminating the need to page back and forth if teaching multiple levels at the same time. Days 1 through 14 consist of the reading portion of the program. Days 15-19 are project time. A day-by-day teaching guide follows for each genre. Day 1 shows the schedule for grades two and three, four and five, and six through eight, respectively. Again, this makes the teacher's manual quite easy to follow since there is no need to flip back and forth for the various grade levels. Student manuals are consumable as they contain all the worksheets needed for each unit. The only other purchase you may want to make is the book, Book Projects to Send Home by Instructional Fair. Project option two (the book based projects) for each genre are taken from this book, but if you have any of the other popular "project books" on the market, you could easily substitute those ideas. Even if you choose not to make the additional purchase, there are two other project ideas from which to choose.

The author, Carrie Austin, holds a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education with a middle school endorsement from the University of South Dakota. She received her Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Sioux Falls. Mrs. Austin has 11 years of classroom experience, as well as graduate level teaching experience.

I found the teacher's manual easy to follow. Everything is well organized. One manual contains all that is needed to teach grades two through eight. Student manuals are laid out by genre in consecutive day-to-day order. Drawn into the Heart of Reading is readily available through Heart of Dakota Publishing and most major homeschool retailers.

If you remember nothing else about this review, remember this, the program can be used with any literature, reading program, or unit study! Overall, Drawn into the Heart of Reading, is a GREAT program, one that you will use again and again.

-- Product Review by: Teri Lucas, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine