NCHE: “Read to your Children!” (An Interview with Sarita Holzmann of Sonlight curriculum)

Certainly one of the highlights of today at NCHE was the chance to talk for a few minutes with the founder and president of Sonlight curriculum, Sarita Holzmann.

In all the years that we have been going to conference, this is the first year that she has attended. Interestingly enough, when I mentioned that fact, she answered that this conference is her fourth one …. EVER. I was surprised to hear that. She mentioned that when her kids were younger, she wanted to be home with them. Time since then has been spent on the development and improvement of Sonlight materials. (On a sidenote: This year, Sonlight is introducing a new round of improvements, the first major ones since 1997.)

To begin, I inquired what Sarita is reading these days. She mentioned just starting a book about God and politics, which sounds very timely for this election year. The other book that she mentioned was one called Truth in Transformation (Mangalwadi). As she described it, the book is about an Indian author’s view of Western culture and how we view Truth, all told from a Christian perspective. It sounds like a fascinating read!

My second question was “What do you enjoy about coming to conferences?” She mentioned that getting to meet the families that are homeschooling and using Sonlight is definitely a highlight.

I continued by asking, “What do you wish young homeschoolers knew?” “Read aloud to your kids!” She quickly answered. “Read any style, any material!” Sarita suggested that we read every subject with our children. The second thing that she recommended was to look at alternative views and learn about them. There are some critics of Sonlight who have criticized their use of some books with controversial subjects. Sarita encouraged home educators to take these books and use them as a platform for discussion and instruction for their children on difficult subjects.

I wrapped up our talk with the most difficult question for any reader, “What are some of your favorite books for children?” Between us, we decided to go ahead and limit our span to the elementary years.

Her favorites include:

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry (Taylor)

The House at Pooh Corner (Milne)

The Great Turkey Walk (Karr)

Twenty and Ten (Bishop/Joly)

Sarita impressed me as being down to earth and genuinely interested in both the quality books that her company promotes as well as the people who read them. A great combination for any homeschooler!


Click HERE to hear from Sarita herself about the heart behind Sonlight.

If you haven’t had the chance to learn more about Sonlight, I can highly recommend their quality living books. Click HERE for more information.

If you want to read one of my recent posts about reading a Sonlight book together as a family, click HERE.

March Update for Good Reads

So many great books, so little time! Here are some of the great samplings I’ve been enjoying ….


Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys (Hal & Melanie Young)

Hal and Melanie Young have lots of experience with boys (especially their own SIX). Their book is practical, humorous, and insightful on the unique parenting challenges one faces.  I found that their wisdom on how to train boys to behave and conduct themselves was especially helpful. This is a great read for Moms who are seeking to train their sons in a Godly but not feminine way.

For another lengthy and helpful review, read Erika from Large Families on Purposes thoughts HERE.

Click HERE to read a free chapter from the Young’s website.


The Muppet Movie

The music alone will win your heart. To hear little voices singing, “I’ve got everything that I need right in front of me!” Yes! Mom needs to chime in and sing along many days and repeat that phrase, too. The new Muppet Movie brings back all of your favorite characters from childhood and introduces them to a new generation. It’s a win/win for parent and child alike.

Currently Reading:

Bringing up Girls (Dr.James Dobson)

If you are interested in learning more about some of the other books and movies that we’ve enjoyed, you can always click on the Good Reads page.

February Update to Good Reads

It’s been a busy month, but here are some of the great books and movies that we enjoyed in February ….



The Money Saving Mom’s Budget (Crystal Paine): The author of one of my favorite Blogs (Money Saving Mom) puts many of her penny pinching ideas in book form. (Feb 2012)

Organized Simplicity (The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living) (Tsh Oxenreider): Another favorite Blogger (Tsh from Simple Mom) shares a 10-day plan for simplifying your house and clearing out the clutter to focus on the more meaningful parts. I will keep this book handy especially for all of the homemade cleaners and toiletries recipes that she shares in the Appendices. For an inside peek in to the process of writing this book, you can check out her post HERE. (Feb 2012)



Downton Abbey (Season 2) - The captivating PBS series continues with lots of action and drama (and beautiful costumes and scenery to boot!) (Feb 2012)

The Help - a MUST-SEE movie about friendship, prejudice, and the value of every person set in 1960′s Mississippi (Feb 2012)

Moneyball - an interesting look at baseball and one man’s battle with himself and the system (Feb 2012)


If you are interested in learning more about some of the other books and movies that we’ve enjoyed, you can always click on the Good Reads page.

The Power of a Great Story

My Father's Dragon

All of us have favorite books from our childhood. It seems that growing up is meant to go hand-in-hand with stories and story-telling.

Some of my own personal favorites ….

Ivanhoe (Scott)

Island of the Blue Dolphin (O’Dell)

The Sound and the Fury (Faulkner)

It’s so much fun to be captivated by a great story. All the more enthralling is to light the flame for our children to be captivated with reading. Great books written by great authors have that power. One of the privileges of homeschooling is that you get to share in the unfolding of wonderful stories right before your children’s eyes. It is the magic of read-alouds.

What is a Read-Aloud?

A Read-Aloud is any book that a parent reads to child. Typically, in the homeschool setting, they might have more advanced vocabulary or situations that lend themselves to interaction and discussion between parent and child.

There are always some common elements to a great read-aloud …

Quality Characters

Great read-alouds always have great characters at their heart. They may not be perfect, and many times, are very flawed, but somehow, the author makes them endearing and objects of empathy. We just finished The Hundred Dresses (Estes) and the main character, Maddie, grows and learns through the story in the most remarkable way. I want my children to both see themselves in her and learn from her experiences, without having to suffer them on their own.

* Imagination and/or humor

When Homer Price (McCloskey) ends up making hundreds of donuts, and then tries to figure out which one holds the lost diamond ring, you can’t help but imagine the hilarious scene. When Mrs.Piggle-Wiggle (MacDonald) starts prescribing her various parenting prescriptives, both parent and child, find themselves chuckling. When the father travels to the isle of Tangerina in My Father’s Dragon (Gannett), he discovers a lion having a bad hair day. Instantly, you are drawn in to the adventure.

Moral and lesson

Great read-alouds challenge our thoughts of humanity, draw us to the Creator, and show us another part of the world that He made. Charlotte’s Web would not be listed as religious, per se, but it clearly speaks to the principles of love, friendship, legacy, sacrifice, and faithfulness.

Some great books that we have been reading this year with our children …

My Father’s Dragon (Ruth Stiles Gannett)

The Hundred Dresses (Eleanor Estes)


Some of our favorites from last year:

Homer Price (Robert McCloskey)

Follow my Leader (James B. Garfield)

Mr.Popper’s Penguins (Richard and Florence Atwater)

Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)

Mountain Born (Elizabeth Yates)

Mrs.Piggle Wiggle (Betty MacDonald)

For more great books, check out the Newberry Award List. If you are looking for fantastic artwork, the Caldecott Medal is awarded for superior artistry in children’s literature.

** Note of disclosure: I have not read every single Newberry/Caldecott winner, so please be cautious in picking books for your children and preview them in advance. **

I can recommend Sarah Clarkson’s book  Read for the Heart: Whole Books for Wholehearted Families which provides an in-depth book list from a Christian perspective by genre and age. It has been a helpful resource to find quality books for our children that we know uphold our values.

What books have you enjoyed reading with your children? Please share in the comments!

Postcards for Moms

(Laura Winslow Photography)

There have been lots of great links recently for Moms ….

I have thoroughly enjoyed this Mom’s perspective, since she has finished the race, called Parenting from A to Z.

If you’re looking for some great solid books to grow, check out Carolyn Mahaney’s Biblical Womanhood Resource List. Carolyn is the wife of former pastor and author CJ Mahaney (as posted on her blog GirlTalk).

And for fun, you can print out this 101 bits of summer fun graphic to work through this summer with your family (Thanks to Laura Winslow Photography).
Happy reading!

Thanks for Visiting!

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