Cover image of Read-Aloud Revival
(1964)
Education
Kids & Family
K-12

Read-Aloud Revival

Updated 13 days ago

Education
Kids & Family
K-12
Read more

Make meaningful and lasting connections with your kids through books

Read more

Make meaningful and lasting connections with your kids through books

iTunes Ratings

1964 Ratings
Average Ratings
1863
64
13
15
9

I tell every one about this pod cast

By MysteyNight - Jul 29 2019
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Every parent needs to listen to this, especially home school parents.

Love

By Sarokes - Apr 14 2019
Read more
Thank you, Sarah, for soooo many wonderful ideas!!

iTunes Ratings

1964 Ratings
Average Ratings
1863
64
13
15
9

I tell every one about this pod cast

By MysteyNight - Jul 29 2019
Read more
Every parent needs to listen to this, especially home school parents.

Love

By Sarokes - Apr 14 2019
Read more
Thank you, Sarah, for soooo many wonderful ideas!!
Cover image of Read-Aloud Revival

Read-Aloud Revival

Updated 13 days ago

Read more

Make meaningful and lasting connections with your kids through books

Rank #1: RAR #01: Reading Aloud to Older Kids, a Conversation with Andrew Pudewa

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Welcome to the first episode of the Read-Aloud Revival Podcast! You’ll find all of the Read-Aloud Revival episodes right here. In this very first episode of the podcast, Andrew Pudewa from the Institute for Excellence in Writing and I talk about… why reading aloud to kids who are old enough to read to themselves is […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Apr 27 2014
54 mins
Play

Rank #2: RAR #134: Author Access with Sally Lloyd-Jones (author of The Jesus Storybook Bible)

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In this very special episode of the Read-Aloud Revival, we’re sharing an Author Access with the wonderful Sally Lloyd Jones.

This was an event celebrating her book Goldfish on Vacation, which we read together as a community in RAR Premium.

Sally even reads aloud to us in this one (twice!)

Sally also shares …

  • beautiful tips for young writers
  • which was the most challenging Bible story for her to write
  • something that means even more to her as a writer than medals and awards

To get the FREE Family Book Club Guide that goes along with this Author Access, text RAR to 33777, or put your email in a little lower on this page.

You can listen to this one, or watch the video.

Listen here:

… or watch the video:

Get the FREE Family Book Club Guide

GOLDFISH ON VACATION

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Listener Guide

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

2:09Books by friends4:38A seat to Sally Lloyd-Jones7:05A completely true made-up story10:37A story told in two languages13:02Fiss (fish) names16:33Working with illustrators21:09The form of picture books23:22Writing Goldfish on Vacation27:09Lady Coco Fitz-Tulip31:09Sally reads Goldfish on Vacation37:30Questions about The Jesus Storybook Bible43:22Sally’s favorite Bible story49:10A book for writers53:07Beautiful words54:30Sally reads Hats Off to Mr. Pockles1:01027Let the Kids Speak

Books from this episode:

Episode 134

Nothing Found

Links from this episode:

Books Sally recommends for adult writers:

Quote to remember:

A picture book is a story told in two languages.” – Sally Lloyd-Jones

“One of the things I love about The Jesus Storybook Bible is how it helps me see each story in a fresh and new, in a different way.” – Sarah Mackenzie

“It’s the power of one person to make this huge difference: He did one thing, he was generous with his time, and had this lovely vision… and out of that came all this joy. Then I got an idea for a book.” – Sally Lloyd-Jones

Get the FREE Family Book Club Guide

GOLDFISH ON VACATION

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Rank #3: RAR #82: Why Fidgeting is a Good Sign (and what brain science has to say about reading aloud), Dr. Michael Gurian

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Rank #4: RAR #02: Engaging Conversations- How to Talk to Your Kids About Books, a Conversation with Adam Andrews

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Rank #5: RAR #95: The Lowdown on Reading Aloud to 4-7 Year Olds

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Rank #6: RAR #73: What your kids can do while you read aloud (they’ll probably listen better than ever)

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Rank #7: RAR #120: Focus on What Matters Most (psst, that’s your relationships with your kids)

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Rank #8: RAR #107: Dr. Michael Gurian on The Minds of Girls

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Rank #9: RAR #132: Books for Teens, and Why YA is a Genre (not a reading level)

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If you’ve got teens (or kids who will be teens before you know it), this episode is for you. We’re talking about books for teens, and why the YA/teen section of your library or bookstore is not a reading level.

In this episode, you’ll find out:

  • what YA is and what it isn’t
  • a few issues with YA/teen books
  • whether it’s essential for teens to read YA on the way to adulthood

Of course, I’m also going to recommend some books… because that’s what we do best around here!

Click the “play” button below to hear the podcast, or scroll down to read the article. The podcast show notes are at the bottom of this post.

Want the transcript?

Download the transcript from this episode
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How do we help our teens navigate their reading lives?

It’s tricky for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that our kids often read faster (and more!) than we do, so we can’t pre-read or even keep up with everything they’re reading. Also, when you visit the library or bookshop and head to the teen section, you might be…

…less-than-enthused, shall we say.

I need to define a few terms here at the top of our conversation so that we’re all on the same page.

We’re going to do a quick lesson on the difference between chapter books, middle grade novels, and YA novels:

Chapter Books:

These are the books your child first starts to read on their own when they are gaining reading fluency. They indeed have chapters. They’re pretty short, usually. They’re targeted toward kids about age 7-10, though if you have earlier or later readers, they’ll like these books both younger and older than just ages 7-10.

Think The Magic Treehouse, Nate the Great, Cam Jansen, the Rainbow Magic Fairy series, The Boxcar Children, Encyclopedia Brown.

They are incredibly useful during that stage when your child is just becoming a fluent reader, in that they allow your kids to practice a lot of words without a lot of struggle. These are true chapter books. 

Middle grade novels:

I know calling them middle grade novels makes you think of middle school, but the publishing world considers a middle grade novel any novel written primarily for kids 8-12, so more like 3rd-7th grade. ish.

Middle grade novels tend to:

  • focus on themes around friendship and family
  • center around the main character’s immediate world
  • feature a main character age 10-13

As far as content restrictions, for the most part middle grade novels have no (or very limited) profanity, and no graphic violence or sexual content. That isn’t to say that middle grade novels won’t have any problematic content or something you deem inappropriate for your kids, but explicit themes are, generally speaking, not allowable in middle grade novels.

Young Adult:

YA novels (“young adult” novels) are targeted to ages 13-18.

They tend to:

  • focus on themes that we might think of as angsty teen issues
  • feature characters who are discovering the world beyond their home and immediate life and are analyzing the meaning of things
  • feature a main character age 14-18

A characteristic trait of YA— and this is something we’re going to talk more about in a moment— is the pushing of boundaries, and indeed there are very few content restrictions on what is deemed “appropriate” for YA. Profanity, graphic violence, sexual content— from a publisher’s perspective, it’s all allowable in a YA Novel.

This is a huge distinguishing point between Middle Grade and YA.

Something important to consider…

When we step from Chapter Books to Middle Grade Novels— that is, we step from Cam Jansen to Little House on the Prairie— we take a step up in reading level. MG novels contain more sophisticated language patterns, better syntax, a more rich and varied vocabulary, so reading a middle grade novel is a richer literary experience than reading a chapter book.

It makes sense to assume that the same thing happens when we move from middle grade novels to YA… that we’re taking a step up in the beauty and complexity of the language and the sophistication of the narrative but…

… that’s just not the case.

When you go from reading a MG novel to a YA book, you actually don’t taking a step UP at all.

The reading level is often very similar (sometimes the YA books are simpler, in fact, than a well-written MG novel), and you’re not getting more sophisticated language patterns or improved vocabulary or syntax with YA.

In fact, YA is not a reading level at all.

It’s tricky because YA is grouped at your library or bookstore in a “teen” section, so it feels like a level. But it’s not. 

It’s just a step into a different genre, or reading category. It’s a different KIND of story.

What makes a YA book a YA book?

It depends on who you ask, and the category itself has not been around that long, so we’re sort of figuring it out as we go. But aside from what I’ve already mentioned—YA books have a tendency to push boundaries in a few ways:

One way is simply that “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll” feel that you probably bristled at a few minutes ago when I told you that YA books have very few content restrictions on them.

This, then is one of the biggest differences between Middle Grade and Young Adult. It is not the level, it’s the content. It’s PG-13, you could say. In some cases, it’s R.

(Not always, of course. There are some YA novels that aren’t edgy in this way at all.)

Another stark difference between MG and YA is how hopeful the ending is (or how hopeful it isn’t). Middle grade novels tend to end on a hopeful note, and YA novels often have less optimistic endings.

This is no small thing. All good books leave the reader seeing their world afresh—and that authors are duty bound to tell young readers the truth.

The truth is HOPE.

I have serious concerns about books leaving readers feeling depressed or bleak, and I’m doubly concerned when that reader is a teenager. There may be no worse time in life to leave a reader feeling hopeless, angsty, or depressed.

A book that leaves a reader feeling like “is this all there is?” is not a good book.

This doesn’t mean that books have to all have happy endings.

Think about Kate DiCamillo’s books — all middle grade novels, by the way— they often do not have a “happy ending” in that everything turns out peachy. (In fact I’m pretty sure they never do!)

But they always leave the reader with a sense of hope, with a feeling of “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

This is telling a reader the truth.

And this is what a good book does, always, even a book that tackles hard or weighty topics or goes to dark places: it always leaves you in the light. 

If you find yourself wandering the teen section of a bookstore or library…

… wondering why you can’t find a single thing worth handing to your teen, it might help to realize that it’s sort of like trying to find a romantic comedy in a stack of sci-fi movies.

The YA section itself is a category with teen characters, geared for teen readers, dealing with what may be considered “teen issues” with few restrictions on content or appropriateness.

I feel compelled to say that not all YA books are edgy in this way.

But once we realize that YA is not so much a reading level as it is a different kind of book… we are better suited to help our teens find good books, right?

There are several ways to navigate this. Like I said earlier, I have no intention of telling you what to do. But I do have a few ideas for how to proceed, and I’m going to offer them here:

Option 1: Stay with middle grade novels longer

This is what we do at our house. I am convinced that some of the best books ever written are middle grade novels. For example…

Middle grade does not mean “only 8-12 year olds will benefit from this.”

In fact, a lot of the books you remember having a big impact on you growing up would probably be considered middle grade.

If you’ve got my book, The Read-Aloud Family, you’ll notice my chapter of book recommendations for teens (chapter 15 for those of you following along at home) is packed with middle grade novels. 

A few middle grade novels that I recommend especially for teens:

Episode 132 Middle Grade

Nothing Found

Option 2: Navigate YA with the help of reviews

I like to peek at Common Sense Media for book reviews. They note problematic content, and I can scan the review pretty quickly to get an overall feel of a book’s appropriateness for my child.

Another place I often peek at for reviews is Redeemed Reader. They don’t have every book reviewed there, of course, but they’re pretty good at keeping up with the new and notable stuff, so you often can find books that are getting a lot of buzz.

A handy resource to have on your shelf is Honey for a Teen’s Heart. You might be familiar with Honey for a Child’s Heart, and the same authors, Gladys Hunt and Barbara Hampton, offer booklists in an assortment of categories, including descriptions of each. There are 400 recommended books here, so it’s worth owning this one.

A few YA novels that I recommend:

Episode 132 YA

Nothing Found

Something to keep in mind: if your child is reading, they are going to run into some problematic content at one point or another.

It’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”

This doesn’t need to be a reason to fret. Instead, use the opportunity as a gateway for conversation.

We are hoping to raise discerning readers, right?

Part of becoming a discerning reader is training in discernment— and you’ve got to have something to discern to get that training! 

This is another reason why having organic, frequent, casual conversations with our kids about books is really, really important. You can refer to chapters 10 and 11 of my book, The Read-Aloud Family, if you want more of the how-to on that.

For now, remind yourself that part of your job is to help your kids learn to navigate sticky situations in their life. Reading a book with an issue, worldview, language, etc that you aren’t excited about is part of that journey.

Option 3: Move on to books for adults

Remember that YA is not a level between MG and adult, so you don’t need to read YA in order to tackle adult books. Of course, you want to be cautious of content here.

Here are some adult books I’d recommend for teens:

Episode 132 Adult

Nothing Found

I would caution, however, against moving into adult books too quickly. There’s really no reason to, especially with the abundance of truly wonderful middle grade out there right now. 

There’s nothing that an adult novel can give your teen that a good middle grade novel can’t. There’s no rush.

The New York Times is written at a 10th grade reading level, and many of the popular blockbuster fiction novels for adults (think John Grisham and Tom Clancy, for example) are written at around the 7th/8th grade level (not content-wise, mind you— but as far as the complexity of the language goes).

When you move into adult books, you aren’t really taking a step UP— you are more often just widening the context.

Feel free to stay with middle grade novels longer than you expected. I think you’ll be delighted by the riches there!

I hope that you now have a clearer idea of what the YA section is, and you feel more prepared to help your teen find books after this episode.

It’s a gift to give our teens books they can fall in love with, that help them see the world afresh—that don’t leave them with a sense of “this is all there is?” but rather, “All this, and Heaven too?”

I hope you’re able to put books into the hands of the teen readers in your life that will leave them with a sense of awe, wonder, and most of all…

Hope.

Listener Guide

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast:

2:19Reading aloud with a wide range of ages
5:11Helping teens navigate their reading lives6:06Definitions! What is YA?8:55Language differences – syntax and patterns11:30The importance of hope13:34Kate DiCamillo speaks16:27An option: stay with middle grade18:20Great middle-grade novels for teens20:53Option two: read YA (here’s what we like)22:17Training in discernment24:54Option three: move to adult books (here’s what we like for teens)28:21Let the Kids Speak

Links from this episode:

Want the transcript?

Download the transcript from this episode
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Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Jul 08 2019
32 mins
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Rank #10: RAR #31: Reading Aloud for History, Rea Berg

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This may be one of the most delightful conversations we’ve had yet on the Read-Aloud Revival. If you haven’t met Rea Berg yet… you’re going to love me for introducing you to her. :) And if you know who she is, you don’t need me to blab on here -you just want to cut right […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Sep 29 2015
57 mins
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Rank #11: RAR #121: Kate DiCamillo on Reading Aloud for Connection

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I’ve got a new favorite episode of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast. It’s no wonder, because in this episode, I’m having a conversation with Kate DiCamillo on reading aloud for connection. There is so much packed into this conversation. You’ll hear… what Kate really thinks when we ask our kids “what did the author mean?” how books help us […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Jan 29 2019
46 mins
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Rank #12: RAR #60: Your Job is to Plant the Seed, a conversation with Sally Lloyd Jones

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So many of us know Sally Lloyd Jones best as the author of the beloved Jesus Storybook Bible. Now you’re going to just love hearing her insightful thoughts about sharing stories with our kids. This is a sweet, but powerful episode that might catch you off guard- Sally is such a joy to listen to, and […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Mar 12 2017
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Rank #13: RAR #81: Eavesdropping on the Soul, a conversation with Katherine Paterson

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I think it’s fair to say this is my favorite episode of the podcast we’ve ever done.  You probably know Katherine Paterson as the author of books like Bridge to Terabithia, Jacob Have I Loved and the Great Gilly Hopkins, but if you’re not familiar with her essays about writing for children, you’re about to […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Nov 21 2017
36 mins
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Rank #14: RAR #119: Delighting in Your Own Reading Life, with Anne Bogel

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Would you like to read more in the new year? I don’t mean reading to your kids. I mean reading for you. Many of us want to read more, but we’re not sure how to make that happen. We feel like we can’t fit it in, or maybe we even feel guilty when we sit down […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Dec 31 2018
44 mins
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Rank #15: RAR #64: Helping Resistant Readers Fall in Love with Books, Laura Martin

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Before Laura Martin ever authored her amazing Edge of Extinction series, she was a middle school language arts teacher. And her specialty was helping kids resistant to reading fall in love with books. In this episode she shares: some of her favorite tips to get your kids not just reading more, but really loving books ideas […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

May 07 2017
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Rank #16: RAR #49: Why We Should All Be Reading Aloud to Children

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When I first saw Rebecca Bellingham’s TedX talk, Why We Should All Be Reading Aloud to Children, I was so moved that I watched it twice in a row. Then I shot a note off to the Read-Aloud Revival podcast manager: “can we get her on the podcast?” And we did. :) You’re in for a […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Aug 22 2016
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Rank #17: RAR #94: The Lowdown on Reading Aloud to 0-3 Year Olds

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Guess what? The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids is now available everywhere! In this episode, I’m thrilled to share a little from the book about reading aloud to your 0-3 years olds. And of course, I’ll make a couple of book suggestions … Of course. You’ll hear about: the most important thing […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Mar 21 2018
25 mins
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Rank #18: RAR #37: Cultivating a Reading Life, Anne Bogel

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We want to model a love of reading for our kids, but honestly- who’s got the time? Anne Bogel does. Otherwise known as Modern Mrs. Darcy, she’s the best person I know to talk about how to fit more reading into your life. Listen in to today’s podcast and learn: where to find good books how […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Dec 29 2015
53 mins
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Rank #19: RAR #70: How to Find Time to Read as a Busy Mom

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Today I’m addressing a question I get ALL THE TIME – how to find time to read. How do we cultivate a reading life in the midst of parenting, life, and other general busyness? In this episode I’m addressing the best ways I have found to fit more reading into my life. I’m sharing my […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Sep 04 2017
24 mins
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Rank #20: RAR #115: Are you Making this Mistake When you Read Aloud With Your Kids?

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There’s a common mistake that most of us make while reading aloud. The good news is that it’s actually pretty easy to fix! There’s one very simple thing you can do right away that will make your read-alouds better. Not only will it help your kids understand books better, it will also make you enjoy […]

Visit Read-Aloud Revival with Sarah Mackenzie

Nov 06 2018
27 mins
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