I received this product for free and am being compensated for my time to write this review. All opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.
Up to this point, we have not used a formal reading curriculum. Caroline basically taught herself to read, hated phonics, and really took off playing games on the computer and using the closed captioning on videos. (I have no idea why she started doing it, but I think she progressed three or four grade levels quickly just reading closed captioning.) When I had the opportunity to do a homeschool reading curriculum review of Apologia’s Readers in Residence by Debra Bell, I was interested for a few reasons.
One, it looked great. Two, I’ve heard so many positive things about Apologia but we’ve never utilized anything from them (being relaxed unschoolerish homeschoolers and all). And three, I felt that as Caroline moved toward middle school that she needed to learn more about the finer points of reading and understanding literature.
Readers in Residence Homeschool Curriculum
Readers in Residence was written for learners in fourth grade and above. Depending on how relaxed you have been with your learners and how advanced they are (or aren’t), this could easily work for fourth, fifth, and sixth grades.For example, if you’ve never done any kind of formal reading program with your children, this could easily slide in for an older child.
The curriculum comes in two parts. There is the Student Book and the Answer Key (Parent Book). The chapter books are purchased separately. (More on that later.) The curriculum covers six books:
- Sarah, Plain and Tall
- Your own historical fiction choice
- Charlotte’s Web
- Your own animal fantasy choice
- Because of Winn-Dixie
- Your own fiction book choice
The All-in-One Student Text and Workbook is gorgeous. Caroline was interested in looking through it as soon as it came which was a good sign since she’s really picky about design and layout.
Apologia seems to have struck the right balance between making it visually appealing without being overwhelming.
If you’ve read reviews I’ve done before, you know that visual clutter has been a BIG problem for us with both print and computer materials.
If there is one negative it is the fact that the student book is SO THICK. It’s an inch and a half thick which doesn’t sound big, but it is. I think we would have preferred two smaller spiral bound books. It’s not enough to override all the great things about the curriculum, but it’s a big whopper of a text/workbook for a kid.
Benefits of Readers in Residence
A number of things jump out at me regarding the benefits of this curriculum.
One, it’s easy for mom to implement. You buy the curriculum, you purchase the chapter books, and you read along. It’s very self-directed for the student which is really nice. I don’t know about you, but I prefer to have things as easy to implement as possible.
Two, it provide kids with solid information and tools related to reading fiction. These include understanding aspects of literature such character development, plot, genres, setting, etc. Bell goes into depth with many of these from many different angles. Again, I think they strike a good balance of providing real value but making it accessible for kids in this age group.
Third, I think they did a great job of selecting books that will be high interest and also have strong literary merit. Creating the curriculum to include three selected books, but then having the children choose three other books was a great idea. It shows children that they can take what they learn in one module and apply it to other books they will choose for themselves.
Don’t Make My Mistake
Remember I mentioned that you purchase the chapter books separately? Make sure you purchase the correct versions of the paperbacks. I had no idea that we had to have specific editions until after I had already purchased the first two books. We were at Barnes and Noble and I decided to grab Sarah, Plain and Tall and Charlotte’s Web when we were in the children’s section. I got the correct edition of Sarah, Plain and Tall, but the wrong one of Charlotte’s Web. By the time I realized my mistake, it was too late to return it. So make sure you read the parent Answer Key BEFORE buying your books. The student text and workbook references page numbers when asking questions and if you have the wrong edition, it might not work for you.
Check Out Apologia’s Readers in Residence!
There are a number of ways you can check out this excellent reading curriculum. Click here to download a large sample and FAQ information.
If you are interested in purchasing Apologia’s Readers in Residence, you can do that here.
And, lastly, if you would like to see more about Readers in Residence, Apologia has created this video.
You can follow Apologia and learn more about them at any of these places!