A Note from Sara:
As a reviewer, I do a little writing. I am a child of the 1980s, and my education in writing and grammar was mostly caught rather than taught. From extensive reading and being around well-read adults, I developed a good vocabulary and a certain sense of how things should look and sound. The rules of grammar, however, are a foreign language that I never learned.
I turned out alright. I write well enough. Diane and Kathy are excellent editors. Teaching my kids to write, however? Wowzers. That is hard. Not impossible. But hard. As a homeschool mama, writing was the subject that terrified me the most, probably because it is where I feel the most like a fraud.
Several years ago, Diane was teaching an English Literature course to some homeschool students. She chronicled their experience here. And she included writing samples from the girls as they went along (scroll down to see links for those writing samples). It was an ah-ha moment for me. I realized that what she accepted as “acceptable” from her teen students was very encouraging to me as a homeschool mama. It re-framed my expectations. And so, to that end, I am hoping to build on that in the hopes that we can bless more anxious mamas.
My children love to watch me write reviews for books they have loved (or not loved, as the case may be). And they love to watch me record the reviews for the Plumfield Moms podcast. Honestly, I was a little surprised that they cared at all about what I was doing. I figured that it was just background noise in their lives. But when I caught them talking about their own reviews, I had another ah-ha moment. Why require papers or comprehension questions? Written narrations are great for memory and recall, but I want to know what they think of something. And so, I realized that writing critical reviews of books would be the kind of writing sample I would most like to read, and that would most likely help them develop into good writers. Once they did one for school, they fell in love and offered to review many other books… for the fun of it. I love that.
And so, what you will find below are their reviews of books that they have read. I offer them as writing samples of children their ages and also as a child’s perspective on books that I have chosen to include in their feast. It is my hope that these reviews might be fun for your children. Also, they have more free time than I do and so they can write reviews of books I haven’t gotten to yet. Obviously, I will always prioritize reviews for books that need a careful mother’s eyes. Still, there are many books for which their reviews are going to be just as valuable as anything I would write.