Interview with Rea Berg

I must say that I am very excited about this post! Along with The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine’s Birthday Bash Blog Hop, I’ve had the unique opportunity to interview Rea Berg, owner of Beautiful Feet Books. I love the classic and living books that Rea offers through BF Books, and Rea’s articles are always an inspiration to me.

Just this summer, I read Rea’s article on Medieval history in literature (in the Summer 2011 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine) and decided to change our history study this fall to the Middle Ages. It’s such a fun and exciting time period anyway (especially for my battle-loving boys), but Rea brought out so many excellent literature selections that I couldn’t resist rushing to the library (and my Amazon account) to find them all.

Welcome, Rea, and thank you for taking time for this interview!

After our children become fluent readers, what place should literature have in each student’s homeschool day?

Rea: This is a great question, and one we must revisit intentionally and often. As a bibliophile, I will always lean to the inclusion of as much literature as is humanly possible (within reason, of course), as it seems to be the very last thing we tend to include in the curriculum. Unless you are doing a literature-based history program, literature doesn’t tend to take priority over math, science, English, and other academics, and yet it is so essential for the profound impact it will have on the development of our children’s character.

If, as parents we consider intentionally what our children are studying at any given time, we can always include a classical work that will correlate nicely with the period at hand. For instance, my 16-year-old daughter, as a junior is studying American History. A perfect compliment to her study of the colonial era is The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. While much that she learns about this period will fade, she will always remember Hestor Prynne, Pearl, Reverend Dimmesdale and hopefully the destructive power of hypocrisy and self-righteousness.

Do you have any advice for parents whose children don’t particularly enjoy reading and literature?

Rea: I have had children who didn’t enjoy reading and/or literature as little ones, and even in some cases as adolescents, but continual exposure to the best books will wear down resistance (in a good way) upon even the most obdurate non-reader.

Our goal is to create life-long readers, and in particular children this may take more time than in others. The key is finding something the non-reader loves and capitalizing on that interest. When one of my daughters struggled painfully to read as a third grader, I decided to put away the phonics lessons for awhile and just read to her. This was the key that opened her heart to the joys of reading. We let go of the stress and leaned heavily into the joy of reading together.

She had a particular fondness for horses so we read all of the wonderful Marguerite Henry titles, including King of the Wind, Justin Morgan Had a Horse, Misty of Chincoteague and many more. Then we moved on to Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, Black Velvet and by the time we were through with those, she could begin reading the simple Billy and Blaze series of horse stories by C.W. Anderson. This love of horses led to a teen riding career, dressage competitions, and eventually to her writing of A Literature Approach to Equine History. Often our very weakness can be turned into a beautiful strength.

How can parents know what is “good” literature and what isn’t? What is the best resource you can suggest for parents who are looking for great literature for their children?

Rea: There are many resources to help with this, but for parents of young children, I would start out with Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart. Hunt has compiled not only a fantastic book list, but also a primer on what qualifies as truly good literature.

As children get a bit older, Elizabeth Wilson’s Books Children Love is a classic that opened up an entirely new world of children’s books to me as a young mother. William Kilpatrick’s Books That Build Character is another favorite of mine which will provide excellent choices for the teen and young adult.

One of my personal favorites is Anita Silvey’s 100 Best Books for Children. Anita was one of my professors at Simmons College in Boston where I earned by master’s degree in children’s literature and she knows more about children’s books than probably any one in the world today.

And finally, for the parent of high school students wanting to dig into more complex analysis of literature, I have two favorites: Gene Edward Veith’s Reading Between the Lines, and Os Guiness’s Invitation to the Classics. I would also point parents who would like to study history using classic literature to Beautiful Feet Books History Through Literature Study Guides which cover nearly any period of history using classic literature.

What excellent suggestions, Rea, thank you. As someone who has spent countless hours buried in a book and immersing myself in places and times that I’ll never see ‘in real life,’ I can truly see the value of literature in the lives of our children.

Reading together is one of the things that my family loves best, and you’ve given great ideas for selecting the very best books for families to enjoy. Thank you again!

As an added bonus, I have two giveaways to share with my readers today!

One winner will receive a one-year interactive digital subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, and a second winner will receive a digital copy of the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner.

One-Year Digital Subscription to The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

What do you look for as you homeschool? Motivation? A little encouragement? Perhaps a unit study? Maybe an art activity? Within each issue of The Old Schoolhouse® you’ll find amazing resources, candid interviews with business owners, glimpses into the routines of other homeschools, articles from the experts in homeschooling, as well as up-and-coming innovators helping our days run a little more smoothly. Find them all in our pages along with their insight, expertise, and honesty as we all homeschool together!

Along with your subscription, you’ll receive free access to Teacher’s Toolbox, our exclusive, subscribers-only website packed with daily recipes, “This Day in History” lessons, printables, unit studies, and more!

E-Book: The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner

Jump into a great year with The 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner! Erase the frazzled feel of disorganization with the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner and bring order and efficiency to your school year. Packed with relevant articles, clever calendars, useful forms, handy lists and so much more, this planner is the key to meeting your many goals for the 2011-12 school year. We put our heart into the 2011-12 Schoolhouse Planner so you’ll have more time to put your heart into your home. Click here to view sample pages from the Planner.

To enter, just a leave a comment here! What are your family’s favorite books? Winners will be randomly selected from the comments and will be notified via email. Entries will remain open until 11:59 p.m. EST, September 30, 2011.

Rules: Must be 18 or older to enter and provide a valid email address. TOS employees, contractors, product reviewers, and Crew members are not eligible to enter.

© 2011 – 2015, Cindy. All rights reserved.


  1. Wow! I would love to have a subscription to TOS…It's one of those things that I want and know would be a good resource to have but never got around to it.

  2. Oooh! I think I just found a new resource for my 13yo daughter – A Literature Approach to Equine History. We love reading. Though one child has vision problems we have worked to adjust her lessons so that she loves hearing and reading great books.

  3. I love to see the kids reading biographies about great men and women of the past. We have kids that like American Girl stories and others who appreciate anything about machines or any kind. Books, books, books! We just all love them. LOL. Thanks for the chance to win!

  4. Some of our favorite books are American Girl books and Little House on the Prairie series. Thanks!!

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