Monday, January 25, 2010

Review: Beehive Reader

A couple of months ago, I reviewed the All About Spelling program.  Well, this past week, I received another product from the AAS folks -- Beehive Reader 1.  I was thrilled to get this, because, uhh, well, {because my Beehive Reader is missing in action.}  

I was even more excited about a bunch of information that Marie Rippel of All About Spelling provided us.  Such as... there is going to be another book in the series soon, and they will be unveiling their new website -- -- this summer.  And there will be four readers and a teacher's guide by the end of the year.

I adore the Beehive Reader, pictured here with its silver medal from Moonbeam Children's Book Awards.  I can't say enough good things about it.

Why do I like it so much?
  1. The stories follow along with All About Spelling perfectly... starting about halfway through the AAS Level 1 steps.  So your child has learned to spell the words used in the story. (There are a couple of "sight words" that have not been taught... "the" and "a" are the two I noticed.)  Starting with Step 15 of All About Spelling 1, there is a chapter in the reader to go with every step in AAS (except Step 16), and an additional story to go with the final step.
  2. The illustrations are bee-you-tee-ful.
  3. The stories tend to have an actual plot.  (The very first story, not so much.)
  4. The book is just on such high quality paper.  The binding is sturdy. And hardcover.  It feels like "real book."  No, it is a real book.
  5. The text has faint dotted lines that make tracking so very much easier for the kids who need it, but unobtrusive for those who don't. (the example page below doesn't do it justice, but you can get the idea.)
  6. The illustrations are gorgeous.
  7. The stories are actually fun... I can assign a child to read aloud to a younger sibling, and the younger sibling doesn't walk away in boredom.
  8. There are no fat cats.
  9. The illustrations help to move the story along, but don't make it easy to guess at the words.  (You thought I was going to tell you how adorable the illustrations are, didn't you?)
  10. The sentences are not stilted.  For the most part, they sound natural.  
  11. Okay, well, the illustrations are charming...
  12. For an older, struggling reader, the stories don't feel babyish.  My kids understand a good story, they've heard enough of them.  They don't like reading silly nonsense.  My 11 year old (who was 10 when we first bought the Beehive Reader) particularly liked the At Camp story (the third story in the book, one page pictured below).

I love this reader.  I want the next ones now. 

Negatives?  Of course, there are some.  At $19.95, this is a lot of money to spend for a child who picks up reading pretty easily and races through the beginning reading stages.  For a struggling reader, I think it is worth every single penny (and I did pay for a copy).  Even for a non-struggling reader (I'm thinking of Richard, my 5 year old, here) it is wonderful to have a "real" book though... not flimsy little paper books that have two or three words to a page.

For my family, I have four children who have or will benefit from this book.  And this is one I will keep (assuming it isn't permanently lost under a child's pillow) for my grandkids.  I cannot say that with any certainty about any other beginning reader I've ever purchased.  But that is $5 per kid for this book.  While Connor did pick up Beehive Reader, and he enjoyed reading it (it's a lot more fun to read than The Iliad, his current school-book!), I refuse to calculate any value in it for him!

For a true beginning reader, you may want to start with something like the BOB Books.  But the Beehive Reader is just so much nicer, I'd highly recommend taking a look.  And did I mention that the illustrations are simply wonderful?  Visit them, and check out more sample pages here.

You can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about Beehive Reader at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.
Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive this book for free from All About Spelling.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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