Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Review of Salem Ridge Press

Have you looked at the shelves of the local bookstore lately? I've been appalled at what has been passed off as decent literature for children. How do you determine what is appropriate among the hundreds of books on the shelves? You simply cannot judge a book by its cover! My 11-year-old daughter recently checked out a book from our small local library that obviously targeted tween girls. The pink cover touted an innocent cartoon girl with a cutesy title. However, within the pages were swear words and a scene with teachers skinny dipping! Yikes! Fortunately, in such instances, my daughter will not continue reading the book and promptly tells me what she discovered so that we may discuss it. Obviously, I'd much rather have a better filter for reading material. I used to preread books for my voracious reader, but I'm finding it impossible to keep up. Thankfully, Salem Ridge Press has come to my rescue.

Daniel Mills, a homeschool graduate, has a desire to bring wholesome reading material back in the hands of readers. He was inspired by two old titles read as a young teen, At Seneca Castle by William Canfield and Our Fellows by Harry Castlemen. His visions of one day being able to republish these titles and others like them for reader enjoyment is at the heart of Salem Ridge Press. The underlying philosophy of Salem Ridge Press is Biblically founded on the following scripture:

"Whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there by any virtue, and if there by any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)"

Using this standard, Daniel has several criteria for the content of his books. Stories of high moral standards and character are a must. Additionally, one of his first rules is, "No Kissing!" You will find no embraces or kissing in any of the Salem Ridge Press books. Also edited out are derogatory comments that are considered offensive, unnecessary and non-edifying. Illustrations are occasionally modified to keep to modest standards. Most often these changes are minor but bring stories of old up to the standard of Philippians 4:8.

The TOS Crew was sent three titles for various ages as a sampling of what Salem Ridge Press offers: Glaucia the Greek Slave, by Emma Leslie; American Twins of the Revolution by Lucy Fitch Perkins; and Mary Jane, Her Book by Clara Ingram Judson.

Glaucia the Greek Slave, Ages 10 - adult, $14.95

This title, the first in the Emma Leslie Church History Series, was by far my favorite. The first twelve of the series are currently available with a total of 25 titles in all planned. The series covers the history of the early church from the time of Paul to the French Revolution and the Methodist revivals.

Without giving too much away, this story follows Glaucia, a young Greek girl who was sold into slavery to pay off her deceased father's debt. Greece and Rome during the time that Paul was preaching of Jesus Christ from the streets and jail is the setting. It is a wonderful historical fiction that truly gives you a sense of the time and the reaction and resistance of the culture to the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I appreciate the historical notes, timelines and word definitions that are included in this series. This particular title often had words defined at the bottom of the page for a clearer understanding of the culture at the time while reading.

Glacia the Greek Slave is 274-pages of substance, in content and length. My 11-year-old daughter thoroughly enjoyed it and I look forward to acquiring more from this series.

The American Twins of the Revolution, Ages 8-Adult, $12.95

Based on a true story, this title is an example of good character, determination, and sacrifice for one's country. Twins Sally and Roger, along with their mother and household slaves, help get much-needed supplies and gold to the Continental Army while under the suspicion of British spies. I especially liked that the whole family worked together to accomplish a big task. Young readers are sure to be impressed with the bravery of children in this story. This title would make a wonderful family read-aloud. For independent readers, be aware that some of the text of the household slaves is written in a deep Southern dialect and some readers may have trouble decoding these passages. I believe it adds much to the atmosphere of the story, similar to Mark Twain's writings, but did want to note for those intending to give this book to children to read on their own.

This book is 204 pages, but with slightly larger text than the Emma Leslie Church History Series, which is likely better suited for younger eyes.

Mary Jane, Her Book, Ages 6-10, $12.95

Follow the everyday adventures of five-year-old Mary Jane in her home and town while her older sister is off to school. The simple stories in this title are sure to appeal to little girls who can relate to the thoughts and observations of the main character. While I don't see young boys being attracted to this story quite as much, they may be interested in Young Robin Hood, also offered for this age range.

Mary Jane, Her Story
is 183 pages long. Prereaders will enjoy it as a read aloud. The vocabulary is simple enough that children reading early chapter books should be able to read it independently.

All in all, I am impressed with what Salem Ridge Press has to offer and look forward to future releases. Visit their website to explore titles by time period, location, title, author and age range. You can also get a heads-up on upcoming releases. At the website you will find a list of suppliers, which includes some of the well-known book suppliers as well as smaller homeschooling establishments.

With Salem Ridge Press, you can judge a book by its cover! Not only are the covers wholesome, but the inside too! These would be excellent choices to supplement your history studies or just for pure enjoyment. Under the watchful eye of Daniel Mills, I would not hesitate to hand over any book published by this company to my children.

For more reviews, please visit the TOS Crew main blog.

UPDATE, 2/17/09

For a limited time, Salem Ridge Press is offering a FREE download of Glaucia the Greek Slave in its entirety. Click here for details.

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