Uncle Rick Audios from Character Concepts: A Review
by Sandra Modersohn
The kind people at Character Concepts sent us products free of charge in exchange for this review.
The Beauty of a Well-Told Story
There is beauty and magic in a well-told story. Fiction writers have the luxury of crafting whatever they need into a tale, but what about real-life stories? As a homeschooler I’m always on the lookout for ways to help make history exciting, interesting, and relevant to our young learners.
Of course, textbooks can be horribly dry and dull, turning many people off to this amazingly diverse subject. There is so much that is fascinating, incredible, improbable, delightful, suspenseful, dramatic, and comical throughout history that it seems almost criminal to distill it all down into a textbook. If you couldn’t tell yet, I’m a big supporter of learning history through real books, written by people (not companies!) who love their subject or who LIVED their subject.
Imagine my delight when I was given the opportunity to sample the readings of Uncle Rick Audios from Character Concepts. Have you had the chance to experience his work?
First of all, he does a fantastic job of choosing interesting subjects written by enthusiastic authors. One of the sets I was privileged to try was Uncle Rick Reads Biographies of Heroes from the American Revolution. In this set, Uncle Rick has chosen four books—written by the amazing Elbridge S. Brooks, who was passionate about creating excellent literature, both historical and fictional, or young people—and he reads them aloud to us.
For this review, I had my children listen with me to The True Story of Benjamin Franklin. We were all immediately delighted with the soft, deep voice that introduced this story to us, and we loved the easy way he carried on a conversation as if he were actually sitting there with us. I carefully watched the children as we listened to that first chapter to see if they were reacting the way I was, and sure enough, I frequently caught them smiling and laughing with Uncle Rick as he read the story and chatted a little, adding extra information for us or clearing up confusing words or phrases that the children might not have otherwise understood.
I think the thing that struck us all was how real Uncle Rick seemed to us as we listened. The best word we can come up with to describe Uncle Rick is “authentic” because it is obvious that this is not a man pretending or acting. He really is a kind uncle interested in sharing great stories with his nieces and nephews. And, Uncle Rick, I can tell you that all the children in my house are eager for your next visit!
- All of the sets we sampled were wonderful stories that were read to us very well.
- The CD versions are super easy to pop into the car and listen to on the way to anywhere, or for us to sit in the living room and craft while we learn.
- They also come as MP3s, which is incredibly convenient!
- Uncle Rick has a beautifully mellow voice that makes the listener want to hear what he has to say.
- I DO wish there were text versions in print that the older kids could follow along with or read on their own. (They are mostly available on Google Books, though!)
- It would be nice to have some follow-up activity suggestions. However, after asking my kids a few questions it was clear that follow-ups weren’t necessary to keep the information in their minds. The reading was engaging enough to stick!
What the Children Said
I have five children, ranging in age from 7 months to 10 ½ years. All of them (yep… even the baby!) enjoyed listening.
Josie (10) said: “I really like how he’s talking to us. It’s like he’s really here.”
Katie (10) said: “My favorite part was the story about Benjamin Franklin swimming. The way he told it, I could almost see him in my mind. Now I’m wondering how it could be possible to make a kite pull you along while you swim!”
Sarah (9) said: “It was funny when he started chatting to us and then he said, ‘Let’s get back to the story now.’ You do that all the time, too, Mommy!”
Anna (5) said: “He sounds so nice, like I could snuggle him.”
Jimmy (7 months): He didn’t have much to say, but he tried very hard to talk back to Uncle Rick and to press all the buttons on the CD player!
Your Turn to Invite Uncle Rick Over!
Uncle Rick audio recordings are such a great tool for the homeschooler, though I firmly believe they have a place in every home where great stories are loved. I hope you get the chance to invite Uncle Rick into your home soon. He’d love to read and explain the book of Proverbs, or share about heroic women of the American War for Independence, or any number of other amazing adventures.