Monday, April 9, 2018

Review: The Read-Aloud Family

The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah Mackenzie
Date: March 27, 2018
Format: Paperback + Audible audiobook
How did I get this book? Purchased

It's no secret I'm a big fan of Sarah Mackenzie's Read-Aloud Revival podcast. I hardly ever pre-order books, but I pre-ordered this one so I could get her free bonus video class. (And so the book would land on my doorstep on publication day. Ahem.) The last time I started a book on release day was probably Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but The Read-Aloud Family now has that honor as well. Though to be honest, I didn't actually read that pre-ordered paperback copy yet... because it was the Audible edition I dove into as soon as I possibly could. So yes, I purchased the same book in two different formats and I don't regret it one bit. Sarah narrates the audiobook herself and it was a really great way to experience her book because she is so friendly and encouraging -- just like on her podcast! I can tell you right now that I will be re-reading/re-listening -- and probably more than once. I'm a little over the top, I know.

As you can probably already tell, I absolutely loved The Read-Aloud Family. I found it to be inspiring and encouraging as well as giving me a boost of confidence that all the time I spend reading with my toddler son really is time well spent. As with the podcast, it makes a solid case for the value of continuing to read aloud even beyond the time he will someday be able to read on his own. I really loved having the RAR "philosophy" in one coherent place. This book pretty much ties together all the ideas and concepts and approaches from the podcast -- with some new material as well. I think it's important to note that there IS a lot of overlap with the podcast. There were parts I had heard before -- sometimes verbatim -- from previous episodes, but I personally don't feel this diminished the book. First of all, I'm probably in the minority of podcast listeners when I say I've listened to my favorite episodes multiple times. So, 1. I clearly don't mind hearing some of the same stuff on repeat and 2. I probably have a better memory for those repeated bits simply because I have already heard them several times before.

So, yes, I really enjoyed the audiobook, but I'm also glad to have the paper copy as reference -- particularly for the Ask Compelling Questions chapter and the book lists. (However, the Audible edition does include instructions for accessing a printable booklist divided by age if that's the only thing holding you back from going the audio route.) The booklist chapters were done in a really interesting way I haven't personally seen before. Each age grouping has 20 (or so) favorite read-aloud titles, but embedded in the descriptions of those 20 main titles are additional ones to try. So, I'm loving how I can go to the entry for a title I already know I love and find a few others that are similar in some way or that might complement it.

As an avid RAR podcast fan, I was curious how the recommendations would break down in terms of what's already in our home "library," so I did a little tallying:

TOTAL titles: 389

Titles I've Already Read: 96

TBR titles (own, but haven't read): 97

That leaves 196 books I've neither read nor own. Of course, I have heard of many of those remaining titles, but there were more than a few brand-new-to-me as well. Between the TBR books already on our shelves and the other 196, I shouldn't run out of recommendations any time soon!

One final thing to note is that this book is published by Zondervan, a Christian publisher. The author is Catholic and the book is most certainly written from a Christian perspective, including recommendations for favorite Bibles to read aloud. I think there is a whole lot that any family can get out of this book, but if you are of a different faith, this may not be quite what you are looking for. I personally appreciate how Sarah has woven her faith into this particular topic and enjoyed reading her perspective. If you're on the fence, maybe try borrowing it from your library first :)


  1. I'm going to have to check this one out! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I am so eager to pick this one up! I just need to find time in my reading schedule to do so (which is only my own fault for overloading myself with library books and "have-to" reads). I am definitely most excited for those book lists, and I think you have an impressive amount in your house! My number probably won't be quite that high, so I'll just have to do something about that. ;)

    1. I tend to be better at picking up the recommendations than actually reading them...hence the backlog! Can't wait to hear how you like the book once you get to it :)

  3. This sounds wonderful. Ha, I buy both the audible and hardcover formats or sometimes kindle for books, particularly from authors I love. I think it's awesome that the Audible edition came with instructions to download things.

    1. I find that Kindle and audio is a particularly useful combination when I want to flip back and check a name or something -- so much easier to search a Kindle book than to rewind the audio!

  4. Somehow stumbled upon your blog today and so glad I did! I just read and absolutely adored this one myself, then promptly downloaded some of her podcasts! I haven't gotten to listen to any yet but I am hoping to try one tonight! =D

    1. Thanks for stopping by! The podcast is great -- and now you have sooo many great episodes in the archive to listen to :)


I'd love to hear what you think :)