Summer Reading Adventure ~ Product Review

by Dawn Oaks on July 17, 2016 · 0 comments

I would imagine by now that it is not a well hidden secret that we are a family that loves to read.  We incorporate great literature in our studies, but there are also times that we just love to snuggle up for some pleasure reading.  Our latest review is from Shiloh Run Press with their new release, The Glass Castle by Trisha White Priebe and Jerry B. Jenkins. When we saw that Jerry Jenkins was one of the authors, we knew we were in for an action packed adventure that would be hard to put down. For those of you that do not recognize his name, Jerry Jenkins was one of the authors of the well-known Left Behind Series for both adults and children.

This novel was written with ages 10-14 in mind, but is certainly an engaging read for those older as well.  Depending on the child, you may wish to reserve this for future reading pleasure if younger than the recommended reading age.  Allow me to explain by telling you a bit about the book.

The Glass Castle is a 250 page book broken into 41 relatively short chapters.  The text is medium-sized making it inviting for younger readers.

The story line is fast-paced from the very opening chapter. It begins with Avery and her younger brother, Henry, wandering the woods when they suddenly get kidnapped.  When set “free”, Avery finds herself within the walls of the King’s Castle, but without Henry.  In her desperate attempts to find her brother, she comes upon the inner circle of the other children who have also been kidnapped.  The strange coincidence is that all of the children are orphaned and all 13, except Avery.  Avery is 13, but her father is alive and waiting at home.  Her mother disappeared two years prior, but was never confirmed as having died.

The intrigue of the storyline continues as Avery seeks her freedom and reuniting with her brother.  Will she find him?  Who do you trust?  The children were brought to the Castle in attempt by an old woman to protect them.  Protect them by hiding them in the least likely place – right under the king’s nose in his own castle.  For this reason, the children realize that they can not distinguish which adults to trust and which they must stay hidden from.  As Avery learns more and more from the inner circle of children, there is one realization that hits her.  The things she is learning about life in the castle tie into stories her mother told her from her younger years.  What connection does her mother have in this new sequence of events in her life?

Are you curious about the answers?  You will be even more so if you begin reading even the first couple of chapters of The Glass Castle.

Our Thoughts…

My 12 year old son and I both read the book independent of one another.  What did we realize?

  • The plot is very addictive – you will not want to put this one down.
  • There is always an imminent sense of danger and adventure, but there were not any scenes in the storyline that would prevent me from having my child read it.
  • Children who have an unusually high fear of being kidnapped, have been kidnapped, or those that have been adopted, may be more sensitive to the turn of events and themes of the story.  Parental discretion is definitely warranted in these cases.

When I asked my son if he had a favorite part of the book, he really just stressed all of the adventure and intrigue.  Conversely, when asked if there were things that he didn’t like, he did have two comments:

It went by too fast!!!

The sequel, The Ruby Moon, won’t be out until Fall 2016.

As always, you don’t have to take our word for it.  Check out the other reviews from

The Glass Castle {Shiloh Run Press Review}
Crew Disclaimer

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From the moment I knew that our family would be reviewing the Forbrain headset from Forbrain – Sound for Life Ltd, the wheels in my brain began to really turn as to how we would push it to the limits.  The company’s website touted that it had applications for short term memory improvements, increases in attention span, clarification of vocal patterns and speech clarity, and targeted response in the area of reading comprehension. My background in music therapy as well as being a homeschool mom to a child with some special learning needs laid the ground work for being intrigued by what this device would accomplish.

When the package arrived in the mail, we found the headset exactly as pictured on the company’s website. It came in a specially designed hard-shell case with a foam insert that provides optimal protection of the device when not in use.  Also in the package were a charging cable, user guide, and educational support guide. In the event that there is a problem, the company offers a 2 year warranty.  They are so confident that you will see the benefits of using the device that they also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee within the first 30 days.

 

The Forbrain – Sound for Life device is most definitely not your regular headset.  A lot of scientific research has been done leading to its development.  Forbrain is an internationally based company with offices here in the US.  This is important as researchers and scientists from around the globe have contributed to this design.  The research spans the academic areas of speech development, auditory processing, and the cross over into the realm of reading and reading comprehension.  The outcome is this specialized headset that utilizes bone conduction as well as the auditory feedback loop to impact the benefits identified above. To read some of the research related specifically to the headset from Forbrain, please follow this link.

We chose to use this primarily with our teenage son.  When he was just a year old, he had suffered significant hearing loss due to repetitive ear infections.  During one of the episodes, his left eardrum ruptured.  As he got older, he no longer experienced difficulties with ear infections, but his full hearing was not restored.  His speech was significantly delayed.  As he matured, we found that he struggled some with word finding skills.  His struggles with reading were further compounded by issues with visual tracking, split dominance processing, and dyslexia.  We invested an incredible amount of hours in various therapies.  Now in his teenage years, dyslexia is no longer an issue and we have found methods and coping skills to compensate for some of the other struggles.  However, we have always wondered how much of our son’s challenges related back to his ear infections when he was a baby.

The Forbrain headset does utilize bone conduction.  This is significant in that if there were something anatomically or functionally wrong with the parts of the ear, the vibrations upon the bones behind the ear would enhance hearing.  On a very basic level, the best way that I can describe this is on the same principle of vibrations that allows children to connect two plastic cups together by a long string and be able to hear one another.  On a more advanced level is the use of this same principle of bone conduction is utilized in certain types of hearing aids.  A regular headset that simply projected louder or clearer sounds into the auditory canal would not have the same impact if the parts of the ear were not working as they should. Our son did say that he could hear better using the headset.  This has prompted me to put on my to do list to have his hearing checked once again.

Our Experience

From an educational standpoint, I absolutely fell in love with the fact that my son was literally hearing his own voice played back through the headset.  The design of the device actually reduces the background or environmental noise.  I think this aspect is huge.  My son was now able to read his schoolwork outload and hear himself as he read.  It revealed to him times when he read words that just didn’t sound right prompting him to ask for clarification on new vocabulary.  This also took his reading assignments from simply a visual exercise to tapping into his auditory learning abilities.  I love whenever we can take learning to a multi-sensory approach and the Forbrain headset allowed us to do that. This is of benefit to not just with special learning needs, but also any of us.  The more senses we can touch in presenting new material the greater associations that are built in the neural pathways of our brain. A side benefit was that our son instinctly began to speak clearer now that he heard how he can sometimes mumble while speaking very softly.
So what did we conclude?  Our son’s reading comprehension and attention to what he read definitely increased.  As a result, his confidence in his schoolwork as well as interest in discussing the content of his reading increased as well.  My observations were further confirmed when I had one day picked up the headset and put it away.  He came looking for it! He realized that his learning and ability to accomplish his work were greater when using the Forbrain headset.  This was enormous as he now felt confident to work independently.

The materials that accompanied the device suggested that it be used for about 20 minutes a day.  As my son realized that it was helping, he wanted to use it for greater periods of time.  However, we found that there truly was a reason for this recommendation.  The device is helping to build new auditory pathways in the brain.  For this reason, it can be exhausting and taxing to use it too much too quickly.  We became very targeted in how we chose to use it to help maximize the benefits from its use.  We do anticipate seeing a great integration of his thought processes in building greater communication pattterns in his brain that will help to further overcome the split dominance in his thought process. Over time, he did find that he was able to use it for longer periods of time or for multiple 20 minute sessions per day.

I honestly can not say enough good things about this device.  The information on the Forbrain website is definitely not a bunch of marketing spin.  We would highly recommend this device to those with hearing, speech, reading, or attention deficit issues.  I could also see remarkable applications for vocal performers.  As a matter of fact, I am sure that this list is far from exhaustive in identifying the various individuals that would benefit from a Forbrain – Sound for Life headset.  I really wonder what the implications would be for nonverbal individuals who are just beginning to overcome barriers in expressing themselves. My thoughts specifically go to a friend who also has a teenage son.  Her son is on the autism spectrum and largely non-verbal.  I do wonder what language gains he would have with the assistance of the Forbrain headset.

Use Your Voice to Train Your Brain

As much as I found benefits to the Forbrain headset for my son, I have to share with you that we no longer have our Forbrain device.  My older brother suffered a massive stroke over 4 years ago. His expressive language skills were greatly impaired as a result.  He continues to receive speech therapy, use a special tablet to assist with communication, and do speech exercises at home.  My heart breaks for him as he is aware of what is going on around him and has so much to say.  He becomes so frustrated in not being able to find the words to share the thoughts in his head.  With the help of my sister-in-law he shares that it is like all his words are locked in a filing cabinet in his brain, but he is unable to access the key.  Unfortunately, the neural pathways that would unlock his speech were destroyed by the stroke.  Much of his therapy is directed at rebuilding new pathways to unlock his ability to engage in conversation and convey his thoughts.

After seeing the results we have had with our son and reading the research supporting this device, I gave our Forbrain to my brother.  He has since taken it to his speech therapist who has now also researched it.  She feels that it may have a lot of promise in doing exactly what it claims to have the potential to do.  My prayer is that it does offer him a breakthrough that he has worked so hard for.

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As always, I encourage you to read the other reviews by those on the Crew that have also used the Forbrain headset with members of their families.

 

Forbrain – Sound For Life Ltd Review
 

Crew Disclaimer

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