Drawn into the heart of reading

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  • Reviewed on Thursday, November 1, 2012
  • Grades Used: 2-7
  • Dates used: 2010-2012
This literature curriculum is great because you Can use all grade levels together. Lower levels are more teacher intensive and discussion led. But by the time the child gets to level 6/7/8 they are working almost totally independently and just checking in with you. We have tried using it in the past 2 school years but this yet (our third time trying it) has been the most successful. the children are older and able to read more and do more independently.

There are extensive book lists for each level and genre of literature with recommended books to read. We used some of the recommended suggestions but sometimes I picked books that fit in the genre that weren't on the list and that worked out just fine.

At first I was confused about the 1,2 or 3 books for the genre, but when I tried to implement this the third time (and the time we had the most success) I picked a book that was at or below their independent reading level (which is different than their instructional reading level). Then instead of worrying about having them read an entire chapter or two each day, I just divide the total number of pages by 15 days of reading. It went so much smoother! They only read small portions of the book--which is the Charlotte Mason way of savoring a book--and they enjoyed it!

The projects in the DITHOR manual are ok. One project is based on the character traits which may or may not have something to do with the book. The second project listed in the DITHOR manual is a group project which means that 2 or more of the children have to have read the same book in order to complete this project. If you want to complete the third project listed in the DITHOR manual then you must purchase the additional title--Book Projects to Send Home--this is the project that seems to be a book base project. These books are sold by Heart of Dakota and I have not seen them for sale elsewhere unless you can find them slightly used. The book based projects are very fun and the child makes a nice keepsake project. We have enjoyed completing two of these book projects. These projects are great for displaying and the students are proud of the finished results. An example of one project that we did when we read an adventure book was to make a brochure describing the setting of the adventure book. It was simple but was a great way to review and enforce the literary term setting.

Each genre focuses on literary terms--character, plot, setting, theme, etc. there is also vocabulary practice as well as Godly character traits. These are a little tricky to find in some stories. It can be a little frustrating but it is not the total curriculum so if we get stuck no problem, just talk about the trait and go on. Don't get hung up on it. Maybe talk about how we can demonstrate that trait or how the characters don't show that trait. This can be tricky to do if you haven't read the book along with your child, but as your child gets used to this type of discussion it should come easier.


  • Reviewed on Tuesday, March 22, 2011
  • Grades Used: 3rd and 4th grades
  • Dates used: 2010-2011
I selected "Drawn into the Heart of Reading" for our Language Arts Curriculum after reading about it in Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks. We loved it at first, but ended up abandoning it after about 5 months. I'll list the pros and cons here:

1) It uses real books. You will be provided with an extensive list of great choices of books when you purchase the curriculum from Heart of Dakota. I was excited that the curriculum worked with any books we chose.

2) It can be used with many levels of elementary aged children. (grades 2-8). I used it with 2 children at once and was able to use the curriculum easily for both of them reading different books. You could also use the curriculum year after year and move through the levels (you would have to purchase a new workbook every other year as they are consumable)

3) It integrates Biblical character qualities. You examine characters in books according to qualities such as faith, perseverance and courage. Each character quality has a key Bible verse with it. You also read Bible stories and compare Biblical characters to the characters in your book.

4) Cost- the initial investment is somewhat steep but if you plan to use it for multiple children for multiple years, it's a good value.

CONS: (or why it didn't work for our family)

1) In each unit you read 1,2 or 3 books depending on length. If you use this curriculum, I recommend you choose all your books for the year ahead of time. I consistently found myself scrambling to "get the next book". Then if I couldn't find the book I wanted at the library or at the bookstore or on-line, We got frustrated that one child wasn't in synch with the other one and we lost the benefit of being able to synchronize the lessons for more than one child.

2) After a few units, we began to find the worksheets and activities to be repetitive, tedious and well... to put it bluntly... boring. We were okay for a few months and then we realized we were dreading doing Language Arts. Many of the character qualities began to seem the same too.

3) We found it difficult at times to draw the connections between the Biblical characters and the characters in the book. One week we found ourselves giggling as we were trying to compare Ben Franklin to Queen Esther, for example.

4) With this curriculum, you really have to read the books ahead of your kids in order to have meaningful discussion. This is not necessarily a "con" but I would recommend you not use this curriculum if you are simultaneously using another reading-intensive curriculum for another subject. We were trying to use it at the same time as we were using Sonlight American History (Advanced) which also uses real books and I simply could not keep ahead of my kids trying to read all those books.

5) Cost- I know I listed this as a pro as well. But if you are only planning to use this curriculum for one year or with one child it's a little pricey (you invest $85-$90 for the Teacher's guide and one workbook)