The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie

I have been a reading to my kids since they were little, because I love books myself! After

connecting with Sarah Mackenzie in her Read-Aloud Revival community a few years ago, I had a clearer picture of why reading aloud is important and what to read. However, her new book covers deeper the why-to-read-aloud and the how-to-make-it-work. It also includes read-aloud book suggestions for different age groups, which are great book lists.

I have book darts all through this book, because as the subtitle states I want to be “making meaningful and lasting connections with [my] kids”.  I will keep the rest of this review brief, because the book darts are mostly just reminders for me. For example the reminder of the importance of reading aloud at ALL ages, EVEN when our days are busy. I need to actually “steal” time from other areas to make it a priority in my family. I want to build memories and connections with my children through stories now, even if it’s only ten minutes each day. During these times, I want the kids to be inspired by heroes, walk in other’s shoes and have compassion, and learn to think. Also, I simply want them to love stories and dive into books themselves for the rest of their lives! Those are just a few of the reminders I needed from The Read-Aloud Family.

**Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Read-Aloud Revival in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Why is Great-Grandma So Sad? by Susan Heagy

I have been in WWII so often in my reading recently — from our history for homeschool,Why is Great-Grandma So Sad? cover books I’m reviewing, a book for book club, and now a book meant for children. The subtitle is “Discovering the Holocaust Through the Eyes of a Child.” I planned to read this with my kids, but kept pushing it off. I wasn’t sure why. Maybe because I get tired of fighting my tears…and usually losing. However, there are events that are worth the tears.

As I pulled the book out to read last week, my oldest daughter immediately brings me the tissues! (They know me so well!) And yes, as I read I fought the tears and still lost, but we will NOT forget.

Susan Heagy shares in the preface that these are fictional characters but the experiences are true. True stories from Holocaust Survivors are combined to bring us Why is Great-Grandma So Sad?. Also, included in the back of the book are some short biographies of the survivors who’s stories are a part of this book.

Sarah, a 7 year old girl, notices that her grandma is very sad one day, so she asks her mom and then the action unfolds. The grandma’s story is told clear with simple illustrations. It isn’t an easy read, because of the subject, but it is a book that I would consider well written for and appropriate for kids. Working through it together as a family was a perfect way to handle the book and the questions that came with it. I also think it would be a great resource to use in any curriculum whatever the educational setting.

“With the revelation of history came the gift, and the responsibility for Sarah to be the new Survivor. She would remember her Great-Grandma’s experience, and not forget it—not ever. The gifts of life, hope, and determination were now passed on to the next generation.”

**Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookCrash. I was not required to give a positive review, but to solely express my own thoughts and opinions.

The Candle Bible Handbook Blog Tour

by Terry Jean Day and Carol J. SmithCandle Bible Handbook book cover

Edited and revised by Dr. Tim Smith

The Candle Bible Handbook is a very colorful and sturdy reference book that goes all the way through the Bible – book by book. It’s filled with interesting facts, information, “frequently asked questions”, and even study questions for each book. The maps, timecharts, pictures, and photos are of excellent quality and great additions to this resource. This book also has topics in the appendix that cover more on the “big” ideas, promises, and people of the Bible.

As I went through this book, God used it to inspire an increasing desire to go through His Word more regularly and deeper with my kids. This is not a devotional-type book, but would be an excellent resource to add to our learning.

I would recommend The Candle Bible Handbook for families and homeschoolers, but also for an easy go to reference book for Christians to add to their Bible studies.


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review.

“Women Living Well” Book Review AND GIVEAWAY

I was excited to dive into Courtney Joseph’s new book — Women Living Well. And with a subtitle of “Finding Your Joy in God, Your Man, Your Kids, and Women Living Well book coverYour Home”, I suspect most Christ-following women will be interested in what is shared and how she shares. Not everything she does you will want to do, not every tip you will utilize…but you can tell that she has a heart for God and for helping us to grow – closer to God and our family. Also, it’s very encouraging to see the influence her mom was in her life growing up, because we as moms all desire to leave a legacy!

Women Living Well is split into four sections, which are mentioned in the subtitle. Here are just a few great quotes from each area…

**Our relationship with God: “I learned that I could not throw in the towel when the hike with God got tough. It was this duty of listening to God’s voice in His Word and prayer that maintained my daily life. Time with God was as crucial to me as breathing.”

**Our marriage: “Let go of your expectations, remain steadfastly faithful to your marriage vows, and remember that you married a sinner who needs grace–the same grace Christ gave us at the cross.”

**Our parenting: “I had to learn to strive for progress, not perfection, and to focus on the character traits that I wanted to see in my children rather than on the negative things they sometimes did.”… “Dear mamas, do not lose heart. Do not grow weary of doing good (Gal. 6:9). We are raising the next generation, and we can’t do it alone, We need to daily be on our knees in prayer, not just for our husband and children, but for ourselves!”

**Our homemaking: “God does not base your worthiness of His love on the cleanliness of your home. We stand before God justified by the blood of Jesus! But I want to encourage you, do not grow weary in your mundane tasks. Mundane tasks are the hidden treasure to creating a home that is a haven.”

Courtney Joseph shares some of her ups and downs, but always points us to God’s truth! She also reminds us (and I believe this is a VERY important element of this book) that all these areas of our lives will look different from each other’s because we are all individuals who are married to their own husband and raising unique kids in varying home situations. Her emphasis throughout is that God is our living well and filling up with Him daily and purposefully will transform our marriages, our parenting and our home management. What a clear and encouraging message she shares through out Women Living Well!! Read it with a highlighter and then make it personal — apply God’s truth shared in her practical tips, lots of very practical tips!

More about the author… “… After over a decade of leading women’s Bible studies, mentorships and workshops in her local church, she decided to move her ministry on-line at and WomenLivingWell.TV. Courtney’s desire is to see women living well through discipleship in God’s Word. … This led her to co-found the rapidly growing, on-line Bible study community at  There thousands of women globally, join together daily, to dig into their Bibles through on-line devotionals, videos, free Bible reading plans and tech-based accountability groups.” –from her “About Me” link on her website

Disclosure: I received this book free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group’s book review bloggers program, BookSneeze. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

I also received an ebook since I was a part of ithe launch team for this book. I was familiar with Courtney Joseph through her websites, especially Good Morning Girls and the Bible studies available there (my kids and I LOVED the last Christmas one!). I looked forward to getting an advanced glimpse at her new book, however I still reviewed this book as I would any other –with honesty and grace.



***Because of my involvement in the launch team, I have been given the privilege of giving away a signed copy of Women Living Well!!

What do you need to do? Well, I’m keeping it simple…

  1. Comment below — What interests you the most about this book? (Make sure to include a way to contact you, like email address.)

  2. Then share — Facebook, Twitter,… you choose.***

The winner will be drawn by my kiddos Saturday (October 5) morning, so comment and share by Friday.


****And the winner is…. Kelly! Congrats and enjoy the book!!****



Have a moto?

Carpe Diem — Latin for “enjoy the day” or “pluck the day [as it is ripe]”. Oh how I love that and what to live that out!

I tend to have so many things that I’m trying to do… focus, focus, go, go… that I tend to not truly enjoy my days. But I want to “pluck” this time with my kids “as it is ripe”!!

So we start our school day with breakfast outside…


Home School Heartbeat: Liberated by Grace

Liberated by Grace

(Daily Transcript – Program Audio–Click here to Listen Online.)

Author Elyse Fitzpatrick’s paradigm of teaching through grace could inspire you to start parenting in a totally new direction—and it could impact more than just your children! Today onHome School Heartbeat, she joins host Mike Smith with some good news for weary parents.

Mike Smith:
This week, Elyse, you’ve been talking about how grace-based, rather than rule-based, parenting makes a tremendous difference for children. How does this shift in foundation affect the parent, though?

Elyse Fitzpatrick:
Thanks Mike, this is actually the happiest news of all. As we’ve talked with parents about grace-driven parenting, we’ve seen something really wonderful begin to happen in their lives. Parents are being freed from the crushing burden of trying to carry the sole responsibility for their children’s salvation, and have been liberated to really enjoy their kids. When we focus primarily on the law, we become nitpicky and all the time looking for sin or disobedience in our kids. It sets up an us-versus-them mentality; we think, “Oh, I can’t believe they acted like that! Why can’t they be more like us?” On the other hand, when we focus on grace, we’re able to partner with them in the war against unbelief and sin because we’re living as forgiven, adopted, and justified sons and daughters who desperately need grace too. It makes us “grace detectives” rather than “sin-sniffers.” This is a wonderful freedom that comes to a parent who recognizes that salvation is of the Lord and there is only one good Parent and one good Son.

Thanks, Elyse, this is really good stuff, as we know parenting is truly a life-transforming task. And until next time, I’m Mike Smith.

What’s in the Bible’s DVD 5, Israel Gets a King! (Free copy available!)

We parents are excited about the What’s in the Bible series! It is a fun and engaging way to teach more about the Bible to our kids. We are also learning along with them!

This DVD, Israel Gets a King!, covers 1 and 2 Samuel, which talks about obedience and wisdom. Buck Denver and friends discuss three kings – Saul, Solomon and David. They all made bad choices, but the important thing is what they did next. King Saul made excuses. King Solomon acted like he was too important & knew better than God. However, King David asked for forgiveness and then asked God to help him to do better next time. That is why David is known as a man after God’s own heart!

Some questions posed to the kids…

  • Which king do you want to be like?
  • What do you do when you mistakes?

Great reminders from the video:

  • I am a part of God’s rescue plan!
  • I am a child after God’s own heart!

The kids were singing along and laughing in the first few minutes! That is a great compliment for any movie. They liked Clive and Ian’s addition of the slide projector! In the extras, there was a short movie called “The Boy Who Cried ‘Melon Monkey’”. It’s about honesty and is a favorite of the kids from JellyTelly.

Check out more of the What’s in the Bible series from Tyndale House Publishers. You can see samples of the series at or here. This series is from VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer and produced by Jellyfish Labs. There is also curriculum available to help you use it for Sunday school classes and homeschooling groups.

(As a member of the What’s in the Bible Street Team, I was provided with a complimentary copy of this DVD for an honest review.)


I have a free copy to give away of What’s in the Bible’s DVD 5, Israel Gets a King!.

Please leave a comment by noon on May 6, 2011 to be included in the drawing.

I plan to post the winner by May 7th.

HSLDA’s Famous Homeschoolers II – Agatha Christie

“Agatha Christie
Mystery writer Agatha Christie remains one of the best-selling authors of all time. Join Michael Farris, chairman and general counsel of Home School Legal Defense Association, as he talks about Christie’s education today on Home School Heartbeat

Michael Farris:
Agatha Christie was the third child born to Clara and Frederick Miller, a family that lived in Victorian England. Unlike their first two children, who were witty and outgoing like their father, Agatha was a shy, quiet girl.

Fortunately, Agatha’s wise mother was quick to see and understand the nature of her daughter. Rather than sending her off to school, which would have likely been quite painful for the shy girl, Agatha’s mother educated her at home. The attention young Agatha received from her mother allowed her to blossom into a successful woman who lived a long and happy life.

Another important factor that helped to positively develop young Agatha was the love shared between her mother and her father. Later in life, Agatha claimed that her parent’s marriage was one of only four completely successful marriages she’d observed in her long life.

Whether you homeschool or not, Agatha Christie’s life contains some important lessons that all parents can take to heart.

  • First, remember that when it comes to your children, you are irreplaceable.
  • Second, like Agatha Christie, your kids will benefit tremendously by seeing a husband and wife who consistently demonstrate love for each other.

(From HSLDA’s Home School Heartbeat’s volume 104, Program 9
Airdate: Thursday, April 21, 2011
Originally Aired: Thursday, March 11, 1999
at HSLDA’s Famous Homeschoolers II – Agatha Christie)

Have a great Easter Weekend celebrating the death and life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

God’s Promises for the American Patriot (Deluxe Edition) by Richard Lee, Jack Countryman

This is a lovely, high quality gift book by Richard Lee (author of the God’s Promises series) and Jack Countryman (author of The American Patriot’s Bible). Quotes and stories from great Americans of our past are shared along with verses from the Bible. Through this book we are reminded of the importance of Biblical values and how they influenced the framework of our county and of our constitution.

What a perfect combination– American’s story and God’s Word! God’s Promises for the American Patriot could be used as a devotional, but it is so much more. It’s a combination of education and inspiration. I enjoyed it as a lover of history and of our Christian heritage. I also plan to use it later alongside our homeschooling curriculum. Very clear, small pictures of the people whose quotes and stories are also included. God bless you as you read this! And may God bless America!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.