Review: Home School Learn-To-Read Set (The Family Readers)

by The Homeschool News Network, Vol. 8, Issue 4, pages 19 and 49.

Begin To's Home School Learn-To-Read Set is a multi-level, complete line of reasonably-priced early-reading products designed to help parents teach their young children to read and then some. The program is phonics-based and provides the rudimentary work that is the core of phonetic reading. The entire Home School set consists of 72 brightly-colored booklets, from 12 to 16 pages each, arranged in sets of 6 booklets, with each set focusing on a specific vowel sound, a variety of consonant sounds and then a series of words created from combining the two. The booklets center around a cartoon boy named Max, his friend Kim and his cat, Razz. As one progresses through the books in a set, the sentences that utilize the vowel and consonant combinations becoming increasingly complex and long, so that practice is realized simply by performing the lesson.

Each booklet also touches upon a stated value, providing the parent an opportunity for discussion, i.e., Book 1, Set 1 has as its value "friendship". Book 2 of the set has as its value "companionship", etc. For parents who appreciate this broader application of teaching more than one topic, such a "moral" value provides an added bonus beyond learning to read using phonics. The last page of each booklet provides a list of six discussion topics, arranged by level in ascending degrees of intellectual difficulty, so that the list can serve more than one age group as well. For instance, in Book 1, the Level 1 topic is Knowledge of Details, Facts and Information suitable for a younger child and for the parent to ascertain how much information the child retained. For an older child, Level 6 covers Drawing Conclusions and Judging Ideas, and allows for a discussion of whether the action in the story was wise or not.

In addition to the 72 books, the Home School Learn To Read set also includes two CD-Roms. One allows the parent to supplement the daily one-on-one teaching with playing and learning with the material found on the CD -- which are the same characters and the same sequence as that presented in the books. The other CD-Rom, I am Learning To Read, is the perfect companion to the first 36 books of the series, offering activities to supplement the books. The set also contains a two-binder set of reproducible writing lessons that compliment the reading program, with creative writing and art assignments. Each of these components can be purchased separately, so the family on an extreme budget could purchase one portion at a time and then add on as the funds became available. I would encourage you to visit the website and see for yourself how thorough and yet inexpensive this complete reading program is.