Several years ago when my oldest 2 were very little, I subscribed to the Read-Aloud Revival email list so that I could get a recommended list of books sent to me. At the time, I didn’t really have much of an idea of what good children’s books were, except for any book that I had myself encountered as a child. The list was and is wonderful, and it was so helpful to me at the time to be able to find great books to read to my kids.
Sarah Mackenzie, a homeschooling mom of 6, created the website to encourage other parents in how to help their children love reading. The more I looked at her website and saw what she and her team offered, the more I was able to see how helpful and fun her website is. There are many ways to advantage of the good stuff for free: podcasts, monthly booklists, and blog.
About a year and a half ago, however, I decided to “take the plunge” and join Read-Aloud Premium, only open to new members at select times throughout the year. I initially joined with a monthly membership at $15/month. This way, if I didn’t think it was quite worth the money, I could cancel at anytime without losing much. After a few month, I chose to switch to a yearly renewal of $149/year (saving $31 total compared to a monthly renewal).
I will be honest and say that I initially was still not sure whether it was worth it for me. I loved everything that was offered, but I just wasn’t using it like I could. So, I decided to work hard at taking advantage of more that premium membership offers, and I am really glad I did.
Let me share my favorite aspects of premium:
- Ralph Masiello (ralphmasiello.com). Ralph is a children’s book illustrator, and Sarah often has Ralph do drawing workshops for the kids. I love to do the workshops right along with him, because it is so fun. He is funny, patient, and encouraging. He gives the kids time to catch up or reminds them to pause the video (Every live-stream video is recorded to be viewed later by premium members).
- WOW (Writers on Writing). Sarah regularly invites children’s authors to present a workshop for kids on writing. Some have been more interesting and fun than others, but they’ve all been helpful and a great supplement for teaching creative writing.
- Author (or Illustrator) Access events. After a family book club, in which Sarah recommends a picture or chapter book for everyone to read or a mama book club for the moms, she often has an interview with the author or illustrator. This is so much fun to feel like you’re meeting these people and gaining insight into their books. Kate DiCamillo, Tomie DePaulo, Lois Lowry, Andrew Peterson. . .
- Master Classes for homeschooling moms. You could totally be a non-homeschooling mom and enjoy the benefits of premium membership, but this has probably clinched it for me. Either Sarah or a guest will speak for about an hour about some aspect of homeschooling, and this has been such an encouragement to me.
- I’ve been encouraged time and again that “getting everything done is not the goal.” She speaks about setting ultimate goals for your homeschool (eg., I want my kids to look back and say **this** about homeschooling) and actually going about accomplishing them.
- She gives tips for how to start your year (a little at a time), how to evaluate your year, etc.
- She invited a guest that discussed your and your children’s personalities, and how they play a big part in how you homeschool (and parent actually).
- She invited a voice actor that gave tips on how to read with different voices for various characters. So fun and helpful!
- She has a God-centered focus. She will tell you that she grew up in a Protestant minister’s home, then converted to Roman Catholicism after much study. I do not know what she believes about the Gospel itself, and I understand that her particular beliefs about salvation are likely different than what I believe the Bible teaches, but I do not recall her saying anything yet that is unbiblical. She encourages prayer and Scripture as she speaks, and I can be encouraged by that, even if I am not agreeing with her theology.
There are even more ways to be involved in Premium, especially if you like to interact with others on the forum. Any member can start a discussion and interact with others. I’ve never seen any comment that is rude or snarky, and that is saying something! Everyone is always kind and encouraging and helpful. I do not interact much on the forum, but it’s there if you like it.
All that to say, that I have come to the conclusion that RAR Premium is worth it for me. The reason I thought I’d share this now is that the price is going up starting October 1. Membership is currently open right now as I write, so if you join in now, you can lock in your price before it goes up. (If you join the monthly renewal and then decide to switch to yearly as I did, you must do that before the price goes up to lock in the lower yearly price.)
You can get a lot more info and testimonials right here: https://readaloudrevival.com/become-a-member/.