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Read-Aloud Revival ®

Author: Sarah Mackenzie

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Sarah Mackenzie helps your family fall in love with books, and helps *you* fall in love with homeschooling.
256 Episodes
It’s our favorite time of year over at Read-Aloud Revival! It’s time for Christmas School!Most of us have too much on our plates before the busy holiday season begins. Then December hits and we feel behind on … well… everything. But for homeschoolers, December should be the best month of our entire year.That’s what Christmas School is for.Christmas School is a whole-family curriculum from Read-Aloud Revival that helps your family slow down, savor the season, and wait in joyful hope.Join thousands of families and replace your current curriculum with a month of Christmas School to make December a different kind of month in your homeschool year.A better one.Today, I’m sharing what you can expect in this year’s Christmas School, plus we’ll hear from families who have participated in and loved Christmas School in the past.In this episode, you’ll hear:  What’s included in your Christmas School guide How Christmas School works for students ages 4-17 (no, really!) An extra-special read-aloud to look forward to Learn more about Sarah Mackenzie: Read Aloud Revival Waxwing Books Subscribe to the Newsletter Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →I know that if you’re an RAR Family, you are raising kids who love to read, because that’s what we do around here!And with a love of reading often comes the inspiration to write. And those young writers will come to you looking for feedback on their stories. But what if we, as parents, don’t see ourselves as experts or writers and feel like we don’t have much to offer in the way of feedback?It happens for a lot of homeschoolers. We know that homeschools are fabulous places to grow young writers, but that we can also feel a little ill-equipped as their writing mentors.Which is where today’s guests come in. Brett Harris and Kara Swanson were both homeschooled and they share a commitment to mentoring young writers and helping parents become better mentors to their own young writers.They’re here to reassure you that you do know what makes a good story, and share some of their best advice for giving your child useful feedback on their creative writing.In this episode, you’ll hear:  Six key elements of story that you probably already know, but just didn’t have words for Questions to ask your young writer that will set them up for future story–and even career–success Why expressing your support for your child’s writing is probably the most important thing you can do Learn more about Sarah Mackenzie: Read Aloud Revival Waxwing Books Subscribe to the Newsletter Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →I want to introduce you to one of my new favorite authors.She's younger than most published authors. In fact, she says she decided to publish her first book at nine years old. When she was 10, she attended her first writing conference. When she was 13, she self published her first book. She was homeschooled. You probably could have already guessed that. And she has been on a roll ever since.Now she's 20 and she's making books I know your families are going to love.Millie Florence shares her journey from whispering stories to herself under the covers to published author, plus her advice for aspiring young writers and their parents.In this episode, you’ll hear:  How Millie’s homeschool experience informed her writing, and vice versa Why it was so important that Millie’s parents took her professional writing aspirations seriously Why Millie encourages young writers to choose quantity over quality in their projects Learn more about Sarah Mackenzie: Read Aloud Revival Waxwing Books Subscribe to the Newsletter Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →On today’s Best of Read Aloud Revival episode, I’m replaying one of our most popular episodes.Without fail, at every homeschool conference, at least one person comes up to me and says, “Dyslexia was not even on my radar until I listened to the episode with Marianne Sunderland.”And that’s because most of us don’t understand what dyslexia really is and the signals to look for in our kids. And we don’t know what to do when they do show signs of having a dyslexic brain.It’s important to remember that a dyslexic brain is not a disorder. Nothing needs to be fixed. It’s the way God made your child’s brain. And it’s genetic, so it’s the way God made your brain or your husband’s brain too.Dyslexia means your child processes language differently, which means we need to teach dyslexic brains in a way that makes sense to dyslexic brains.If you have any academic frustrations with your kids of any age, listen to this episode. Even if dyslexia is nowhere on your radar, I encourage you to listen. You might be surprised.In this episode, you’ll hear:  Dispelling myths about dyslexia as a learning disability or sign of low intelligence Signs and signals to look out for beyond difficulties with reading How homeschooling can provide better support for dyslexic kids than traditional schools Learn more about Sarah Mackenzie: Read Aloud Revival Waxwing Books Subscribe to the Newsletter Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →By far the most popular episode we’ve ever done here on Read Aloud Revival is the episode with my oldest daughter, Audrey, when we looked back together on homeschooling from her vantage point as a sophomore in college.We discussed what worked, what didn’t, and about our homeschool experience in general.And last spring, at the Great Homeschool Conventions, you all kept asking me when Audrey would be back on the podcast.She’s now about to start her senior year at Franciscan University, so it seemed like a great time to check back in with her and get her perspective now that her college experience is almost complete.Today, she’s answering your questions from inside the RAR Premium forum and the RAR Instagram.In this episode, you’ll hear:  What gave Audrey the solid foundations for writing as an English major Audrey’s advice for high school students and college freshmen What parents can do to help their children build a strong sense of faith Learn more about Sarah Mackenzie: Read Aloud Revival Waxwing Books Subscribe to the Newsletter Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →There is one question that plagues us, that we all ask, and that we ask all the time: Am I doing enough?When we constantly ask ourselves if we’re doing enough in our homeschool, it makes it difficult to stay present and engaged and actually enjoy it. Whether you’re relatively new to homeschooling or a seasoned veteran, we all wonder.Today, I'm sharing the last of my sessions from The GHC Conferences 2023.This one is all about taking the overwhelm out of that question and practical advice for putting your worry to rest.In this episode, you’ll hear:  Why “Am I doing enough?” is an incomplete question Why we have to remember that our kids are not recipes What’s at the heart of good education Learn more about Sarah Mackenzie: Read Aloud Revival Waxwing Books Subscribe to the Newsletter Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →Today, I’m sharing another session from the Great Homeschool Conventions in 2023 all about homeschooling with babies and toddlers.If you are homeschooling with babies and toddlers underfoot, this one's for you. Or if you have a friend who is homeschool with babies and toddlers, this one's for her, so please share it!Full disclosure: My favorite part about going to the Great Homeschool Conventions is all the babies I get to snuggle and hold. So I created a session that would ensure I got maximum baby snuggles. This session was so much fun because the room was absolutely packed with babies and toddlers and there is something just next-level about being in a room with so much life. I LOVED it.In this session, I talked about the lessons I learned from homeschooling with my own babies and toddlers underfoot, and strategies for not just surviving this time, but enjoying it, too.In this episode, you’ll hear: Why your babies and toddlers are not a distraction Three strategies for handling fussy, grabby toddlers in your homeschool Practical tips for doing less in your homeschool Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →Are you struggling with how to tackle reading in your homeschool?Maybe you have a child who’s a later reader or is having a tough time connecting with reading. Or maybe you have a kid who’s an advanced reader and they’re outpacing books that fit their emotional and social development.Either way, it can be hard to know what to do to help your child build a strong relationship with reading that they’ll carry with them throughout their lives.Today, I’m sharing a session from the Great Homeschool Conventions that I led with my friend and colleague Colleen Kessler of Raising Lifelong Learners.In this conversation, we’ll talk about the challenges that come up with readers at both ends of the bell curve and how to help your differently wired kids fall in love with reading.In this episode, you’ll hear:  Three practical strategies for helping struggling readers: read-alouds, phonics, and time Signs your child might be dyslexic and recommended resources for working with a dyslexic brain How to help your advanced reader develop discernment in their book choices Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School → Watch the RAR Premium Preview on video (so you can see everything we show you on screen) Get RAR Premium Learn more about the Circle with Sarah Retreat
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →During my hardest year of homeschooling, I had a 12, 10, 8, and 1 year old, and twin newborns. Life was… a little chaotic.One week, a friend of mine who had homeschooled all three of her kids asked, “So how's homeschooling going?”And naturally, I burst into tears. I’m not sure she saw that coming. But then, maybe she did. Anyway, she asked me how I was keeping the kids on track for their schoolwork and how much they could do when I wasn’t able to lead them, and when I looked at her with a blank stare, she said, “Okay, I’m going to come over tomorrow and I’ll bring some spiral notebooks.”So, I cleared a path to the door and she came and she showed me how a 25 cent notebook could completely change our homeschool for the better.Today, we're going to talk about those spiral notebooks-- the one simple tool that has had the biggest impact on my homeschooling life.In this episode, you’ll hear:  How the spiral notebook system combats overwhelm when you’re being pulled in too many directions How I used the spiral notebooks in our homeschool The modified system that we use in our homeschool now Find the rest of the show notes at: 
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →Imagine that your child is grown up, and his or her reading life looks a lot like yours does right now.How do you feel about that? Is your reading life something you want your kids to emulate when they’re adults? What if we built for ourselves the kind of reading life that we’d be delighted for our own kids to imitate? Novelist Katherine Paterson once wrote that “a fondness for books is catching.”I think she’s right. It’s much easier to be drawn into a reading life when the people around you also have a rich reading life.And if you’re someone who wants to raise kids who love to read - that’s probably why you’re here, right? Modeling our own rich reading life is an incredibly important strategy in making that a reality.Which means that reading – not just to your kids, not just for your kids, not just about how to be a better mother to your kids – but reading for the sheer joy of reading, is one of your most important jobs as a mother.And regardless of what your reading life looks like today, it’s OK. Keep listening. In this episode, you’ll hear:  Why modeling your own enjoyment of reading is such an important piece of raising kids who love to read How reading reduces stress, makes us happier, improves focus and more! How to overcome the hurdles and read more (in fact we have a printable for that!) Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →Today, in this Best Of Read Aloud Revival episode, we’re revisiting a conversation about a series I absolutely adore: The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall.The Penderwicks follows the escapades of four spirited sisters, Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty. The books are a modern nod to Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and they’ve won tons of awards including the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, several ALA Notable Children’s Book Awards, and the Massachusetts Children’s Book Award.Since recording this interview for RAR episode 100, Jeanne unknowingly planted the seed for my own book, A Little More Beautiful, the Story of a Garden when I visited her and her Northampton, Massachusetts, home. So now, of course, we like to call A Little More Beautiful “our book.”The first book in the Penderwicks series, The Penderwicks, A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy is our RAR Premium Family Book Club pick for this summer.That means we’ve got a full Family Book Club Guide with all the trimmings available now for members AND if you and your kids sign up for RAR Premium, they will have a chance to meet Jeanne Birdsall live on Zoom on August 25th.In this episode, you’ll hear:  How Jeanne got her start writing in her 40s and why it’s never too late to follow a dream About Jeanne’s character-driven writing process and why she always envisioned the Penderwicks as a series Where Jeanne gets her inspiration  Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →In this episode, I’m answering more of your questions.You’ve sent in some fabulous messages and I’m going to tackle them rapid-fire for you and answer as many as possible today. Today I’m sharing about when to use Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) or teach composition, when and how to start using the library, and what to do when a teenager doesn’t enjoy reading.In this episode, you’ll hear:  Why you don’t need to rush your kids into composition, and what I do instead Strategies for handling books you’d rather your kids didn’t check out of the library How to encourage older, dyslexic kids in reading Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →Full show notes can be found here: You Don't Need to Make the Most of Your SummerGet RAR Premium HERE>>
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →In today’s episode, I’m answering your questions!Listeners have sent in some fabulous questions for me, and I’m going to attempt to tackle them rapid-fire, including about where I get my favorite art prints, what to do with late-night readers, what to do if you don’t feel like you read aloud well, and more.In this episode, you’ll hear:  My favorite places to find bookish art What I do if my kids stay up too late reading How I handle assigned reading in my homeschool Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →Two weeks ago I shared the first 5 of 10 mistakes I’ve made in my homeschool -- believe me, I’ve made many, many more than that! But I’m highlighting 10 that stick out most prominently to me.So in the last “Best of Read-Aloud Revival” episode, I shared the first 5 and today I’m sharing the next 5. Hopefully, hearing these will keep you from making the mistakes I have. Homeschooling is a joy and a gift and it’s hard and wonderful and messy and effective -- it’s all of those things at once. I can promise you won’t get it perfect, and I can also promise that you don’t NEED to get it perfect. In this episode, you’ll hear:  Two big mistakes new homeschool parents often make Why you have to avoid the comparison trap in your homeschool Why more isn’t better when it comes to your homeschool One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned in my years of homeschooling Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →I’ve been homeschooling for a long time, and just like every other homeschooling mom I know, I’ve made a ton of mistakes. When I was new to homeschooling, I craved the insight of people who had been doing it for a while: What do you wish you did more of? What do you wish you worried less about? What would you do differently if you were starting over again?These are the kinds of things I wanted to know.At the time I’m airing this particular show, I have two college students who were homeschooled the whole way through. Our third child is about to graduate this spring and will also head to University. And then we’ve got three more -- ages 11, 9, and 9. And yeah… we’re doing things a little differently this time around. A couple of years ago I shared on this podcast some of my mistakes in homeschooling-- and they all remain true. So, it seemed like a good idea to talk about those mistakes again. Over this episode and the next one, I’ll be sharing 10 mistakes I’ve made in my homeschool -- five in this episode, and five in the next. If you heard these a few years ago when I first aired them, you might have a new take -- after all, you’re new in a new season of life than you were then. And if you haven't heard, I hope you enjoy. In this episode, you’ll hear:  What really makes a difference in the quality of your homeschool (hint: it’s not agonizing over which curriculum to use) What I wish I’d known then that keeps overwhelm at bay now Why it’s okay for your homeschool to be ordinary Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →Why do we make things mean more than they actually mean?We all do it. We realize a kid doesn’t know how to tie their shoes at age 12, and we tell ourselves we’re forgetting to teach SO MANY IMPORTANT THINGS. We feed our kids frozen pizza for dinner twice in a week and think it means we don’t care about their health. We sleep late and tell ourselves we’re lazy. We have a late reader and think it means we’re not good at this “teaching reading” thing. We make things mean what they don’t mean ALL THE TIME.And today? Today we’re gonna talk about it.I’m sharing something we’ve been talking about in Circle with Sarah, which is our homeschool coaching program in RAR Premium. Recently I did a couple of episodes on why we need to keep data in its place in our homeschool and not make things mean what they don’t mean. I wanted you to hear it, so I’m sharing those two episodes in one RAR Podcast for you here. In this episode, you’ll hear:  Why you have to learn to separate the data from your self-worth and value  How to make use of what the data is actually telling you Journal prompts to help you suss out what the data is telling you and what you’re making it mean Learn more about Sarah Mackenzie: Read Aloud Revival Waxwing Books Subscribe to the Newsletter Find the rest of the show notes at:
🎄 Join us for Christmas School →Today, I’m sharing a conversation with my friend and colleague, Cindy West.Cindy teaches at No Sweat Nature Study, a homeschool nature study program that takes the guesswork out of nature study by teaching your kids directly. Cindy is also the host of the No Sweat Nature Study podcast, which features short episodes about nature. (My kids absolutely love it!)Cindy and I recently had a conversation for her community about how to use picture books to teach nature study and today, I wanted to share it with you.Because nature study kind of has a name for itself in the homeschooling world. We've sort of built it up as the supreme science activity and it can be wonderful - getting out in nature, observing and learning about the world around us …But we also tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves about it. There are just times in life when getting out in nature is harder than others – maybe you have a new baby, maybe someone has allergies, maybe the weather is just plain terrible. There are plenty of reasons why you might need or want to do some of your nature study from the couch or the kitchen table.And that’s why on today’s episode of the Read-Aloud Revival Podcast, Cindy and I are talking about teaching nature study through books.In this episode, you’ll hear:  How “living literature” helps you kids make connections between books and the world around them How making connections through picture books can relieve some of the pressure around nature study Why picture book biographies are great launching points for all ages Find the rest of the show notes at:
I have a theory that if I were to ask a hundred of today’s children’s book authors and illustrators to name a book that had a profound impact on them, I bet an unusually large number of those authors and illustrators would mention the work of E.B. White.I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard authors say that E.B. White’s books have made such a huge difference in their lives and writing.I’m a big E.B. White fan myself, and while I love Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little, my absolute favorite is The Trumpet of the Swan.And that’s what we’re reading this spring in RAR Premium for our Family Book Club. Plus, we’re going to look closely at first-lines (E.B. White was a master of this) for a WOW: Writer’s on Writing Event.It’s going to be quite the fabulous E.B. White spring here at RAR!  So today, we’re revisiting an episode from 2017 with children’s book illustrator Melissa Sweet discussing her children’s biography of E.B. White, called Some Writer.In this episode, you’ll hear:  How each story informs Melissa’s process of creating mixed media illustrations How a family of crafters and makers inspired Melissa to become an artist How Melissa’s research into E.B. White’s work led to the visuals for Some Writer  Learn more about Sarah Mackenzie: Read Aloud Revival Waxwing Books Subscribe to the Newsletter Mentioned in This Episode:RAR #202: For Kids Who Don't Like Sad StoriesBooks Mentioned in This Episode:Charlotte’s WebStuart Little The Trumpet of the SwanSome WriterA Boy, A Mouse, and a SpiderThe Baby Bear SeriesThe Pinky and Rex SeriesThe Boy Who Drew BirdsBrave GirlBalloons Over BroadwayA Splash of RedYou Nest Here with MeThe Right WordA River of Words
Comments (11)

Ann B

This was just lovely and so appropriate for today (10 y, 6y and 19 month old and pregnant). It made me both laugh and cry and I'm delighted with the very practical advice (not just, "work while the baby naps.")

Sep 6th

Michelle B

Nearly a year later & I still think about & tell people about this idea. Kudos to the people who came up with the classroom book a day & kudos to Sarah for promoting it! It's a great practice & reminder for teachers, families, & anyone who thinks picture books are just for little kids.

Jul 7th


This works really well for us, thank you! Facing same issue here. Help is appreciated.

Mar 15th

Anika Enger

where in Mitten Strings did you read that quote from? thank you!

Dec 4th

Elisabeth Bodey

This is soooo encouraging to me! I've even read the Read Aloud Family, but hearing Sarah read about her own experience makes it feel so much more real. 🤣 Lots of good reminders in here. I'm going to listen to the episode about what your kids can do during read aloud time next!

Oct 18th


His ending is spot on. This was such an interesting episode. He's a very wise and generous man.

Mar 17th

Alisa Jones

I really liked everything he had to say about reading aloud but I really could have without the snide tone about public schools and teachers.

Jun 19th

Hannah Zimmerman


Mar 13th

Danielle Evans

One of my favorite podcasts. I enjoy the guests and the book recommendations.

Nov 13th


sooooo happy for my RAR fix!

Jul 10th

Chris Kimmel

loved it

Aug 16th
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