Readers in Residence Sleuth (Volume 1) Review

Who doesn’t love Apologia Educational Ministries? We are always excited when we hear that they have something new! Since language arts is a subject that is dear to my heart (and not so dear to my older son’s yet) I was thrilled to learn that Reader’s In Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth), the newest edition to Apologia’s language arts program, was something we were going to get to use and review. This set includes the All in One Student Text & Workbook as well as the Answer Key book.





When it comes to Apologia’s materials I have never been disappointed. And I want to say right away that when it comes to Readers in Residence, yet again they give so much more than you could imagine. When this arrived I was stunned! A bit overwhelmed too, I admit it. But as I looked through the 500+ pages that make up this amazing language arts program, I was so giddy! I love that this is a reading comprehension program (did I mention how much my oldest does not enjoy reading? *gasp*).  This particular program is recommended for grades 4 and up; this can also be used for those who have more difficulty with reading comprehension or even a reluctant/struggling reader.


  Debra Bell writes that, “Understanding how a musician composes, how an artist paints, or even how a coach outwits an opponent increases the pleasure we derive fro experiencing music, art, or an athletic contest. A close analysis of an author’s craftsmanship in a few select books deepens a child’s appreciation and enjoyment of books read…and whets an appetite for more.”


While this may seem a bit overwhelming to some of us mommas, rest assured that this program comes with a suggested daily schedule to help ease any tension or fear we may have in teaching with this program. Only 32 weeks, for four days a week, this really is so easy to do. She also offers ideas for hosting a book club throughout the year. What can be more fun for our kids than the chance to get together and talk about the books we are enjoying with friends? I know my favorite friends are the ones who read “with” me!


There are six books to read in all; three are specific titles: Sarah, Plain and TallBecause of Winn-Dixie and Charlotte’s Web. 




Students are also asked to read three additional titles of their choice.  One is to be historical fiction, another an animal fantasy and the last one is completely their own choosing.



I think it wonderful that in the very beginning there is discussion as to Why Read? Since my oldest isn’t much of a reader, I think he appreciated seeing that there was more to reading books than just reading a book. For him too see and read (from an authority other than mom) how you expand your world and develop empathy towards others; the power of a book to join you to a community and help you to better understand who you are. These are great things and indeed when we read, we truly do learn that we are not alone. 🙂




From the very beginning this book is filled with fun activities to help encourage our children to really get involved in this! Putting together a book club? She offers tips on how to make a great book commercial; theme ideas for book club meetings. How can we not be excited about reading and sharing our favorite books with others?


Ever since my son met this girl last year at junior youth camp, his brother and sister have been singing and teasing about the ay they will get married. So it was funny to read about Sarah, Plain and Tall was a very fitting story for learning about marriage and history.  My oldest son was fascinated, maybe horrified even, that someone would marry another “via mail”.


 One of my son’s favorite things was creating his own character from a historical time period showing all he learned about character in the unit of study. He also had to create a character map to organize all of the information about his character. What I liked most, as a momma, is that my son who is quick to give up when the going gets tough, saw through this story and others (as well as his own characters and story) the value of those hard things and the various ways we can learn and grow in our trials. Certainly there is great value in our children “seeing” in this way how it is possible to rise up and be blessed in those times that may seem impossible. With God all things are possible.


As we work through each unit within this program we learn and explore:  character development, plot development, and setting. There are various sections along the way to encourage deeper understanding like: Aha! or  Sowing the Seeds and Word Sleuth. These help us to connect events in a story with greater Biblical truths; they build up our vocabulary encouraging the use of words in context practicing decoding those strange words. Then there are those comprehension questions which help ensure that we got it. Are we connecting the dots as we read? Reading between the lines can be tough for even us mommas so it is a real treat to see the how of this particular strategy laid out for our kids in just a few simple steps!



In this family, since I love to read, it is important to me to cultivate that love somehow, in each of my children. I strive to read aloud in our home daily and when I am unable to do so we enjoy audio books and as much as possible, older siblings reading to the younger ones. There is nothing better than when we read together and then have discussions about those very books we read. Seeing my children acting out different stories; listening to them retelling some of those stories to others, this is a powerful and beautiful thing. And anything that can help us to go deeper, understand and love a story and its characters just a bit more, is a needful thing, to me.




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