Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Review: Salem Ridge Press

Here's the thing about having kids whose reading levels shoot ahead of their maturity level: you will be stumped (and I do mean stumped) for material by the time the child reaches 8.

I tell people this all the time, and still, they do not believe me.

Of course they don't. Their children are brilliant. Beyond brilliant, really. Smart enough to glow in the dark, their little brains are just that effervescent. So really, they NEED to read Anne of Green Gables at age six. Nothing else will do. Really!

If only I could understand.

((insert rolling eyes))

Well, I do understand. See ... I was that homeschooler. There's just a wee bit of (very humbled) experience speaking here, folks, so listen closely:

Jo was my first stunningly adept reader. Ability, comprehension, interest: check, check, check. All of her reading neurons were firing and there was no way I was holding her back. So I threw open the doors to every classic that crossed my path and watched, gleefully, as she devoured them. Little Women. Anne of Green Gables. The Secret Garden. The Little Princess. The Borrowers. All of a Kind Family. Eight Cousins. The list goes on and on.

This worked very well for a while. Truly, she understood what she was reading, she enjoyed it, and she was learning like blue blazes.

But all good things must come to an end. And this little book blitz was no different.

By the time Jo reached the third grade, she was able to read books from many college reading lists. Here's the rub: she had already exhausted most of the "clean" classics, and what was left were those books that covered themes, events or characters that were far too coarse, advanced or disturbing for the mind of a young girl.

The Sonlight readers were fabulous, but not enough to quench Jo's thirst for books. I was left with a choice. Resort to the teenie twaddle that fills the shelves of most bookstores and libraries or begin the laborious process of unearthing the lesser-known literary gems of days gone by in an attempt to keep our book baskets filled.

I went with the latter choice, of course. It was time consuming, often expensive and nowhere near an exact science. Some of the books I found were hits. Others were woeful misses. Lots of serial fiction (such as Nancy Drew) began to find its way into our house. And still I searched ...

Knowing this, you'll understand why I was so excited to find Salem Ridge Press. While the list of available titles is still rather short, I think that this publishing company has real promise in the area of providing challenging, clean, quality books for homeschoolers. My first impression of these books was that they fell somewhere along the Henty vein--historical fiction written for children back when adjectives were still important and a plot was more than a vehicle for scoring a cartoon series. I think that my initial impression was partially accurate, but Salem Ridge books seek to fill a greater niche. Church history, adventure and allegory are all addressed

in these reprints of early novels. They even have titles for reading aloud to your

These books are not all overtly Christian, and several center on time periods where practices run counter to Christian ideals. If that bothers you, you'll want to select titles carefully. If, like me, you have already explained to your children that not everyone believes in Christ, you won't have any concerns. These books have modernized text, but not so modernized as to contain sassy little siblings who tell one another to shut up, if you know what I mean. :-)

I still say that the very best way to avoid backing yourself into a literary corner with your kiddos is to let them enjoy age-appropriate books no matter what their skill level. But if you've already jumped the gun, or if you just need a few more titles to choose from, check out Salem Ridge.


Brandi said...

Thanks for stopping by, fellow TOS Crew Member! I've enjoyed reading your reviews! I'll be posting mine for Salem Ridge later this evening...


Luke said...

Mary Grace: Brilliant as always.


Anonymous said...

If you haven't already taken a peak at Lamplighter Publishing for reprints of early novels, you really should! Our children LOVE their books and they're chock full of great morals and values. True treasures in our house. Our children, too, are leagues beyond most in their reading and we are SO greatful for Lamplighter - haven't found one above their age level that we wish we hadn't handed over.