Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Wonderful Alternative to TV - Sugar Creek Gang


Have you been searching for something that could take the place of the computer or the television in your children's lives if just for a short time?  Do you see old pictures like the one below of families entranced by the voice emanating from the radio and wish that your family would do that every once in a while? 


I grew up with a television.  We never listened to stories on the radio.  That "tradition" carried on to my children.  Of course, they grew up with computers. They barely even know what a radio is.  Thankfully, Beloved Books has made this experience available to us.  I was fortunate enough to receive the first volume of CDs of the Sugar Creek Gang.  This was a book series written by Paul Hutchens, a Baptist minister and evangelist.  His first book was published in 1939.  The book series was recorded in a studio by Paul Ramseyer.  The audio series is now available to us.


While I was excited for my kids to have this new experience of listening and engaging their imaginations in a new way, I wasn't sure they would enjoy it as they are accustomed to visual activities.  When my daughter first heard we were going to review it, she balked at the idea.  She, however, was the one who ended up asking if we could listen to it in the car each time we went somewhere.  We actually finished the entire first volume of 12 CDs.  There are 36 books in the series, and each one is contained on 2 CDs.  In total, there are 72 CDs sold as 6 book sets, i.e., six volumes.  Each volume is $54.95 if purchased separately.  If you buy them as a complete set, the cost is only $279.70.

The stories in the first volume were "The Swamp Robber," "The Killer Bear," "The Winter Rescue," "The Lost Campers," "Chicago Adventure," and "The Secret Hideout."  Jacob's favorite story was "The Killer Bear."  Nate liked "The Lost Campers" best, and Paige enjoyed "The Secret Hideout" the most.  I didn't have a favorite story but liked the science lessons and random tips that were provided throughout like how to get rid of a tick.

While listening to it in the car once when our whole family was present, my husband asked that we stop listening to it.  He said that, while the stories are interesting, he did not enjoy listening to the different voices the narrator used and disliked the fact that he seemed to frequently correct himself.  He didn't feel like it was polished enough.  I hadn't noticed until John said something, and then it was obvious to me.  This was the only negative thing about the series.  For me, the benefits and enjoyment the kids received from listening to these stories far outweigh any imperfections.

Many Bible verses are used in the stories, and they frequently share the Gospel.  The stories are wholesome, which is a rarity these days.  Being that the books were written in the '40s, there are words that are used that we don't use today, like "rubbers" for rain boots.  So, it is funny to hear them.  My kids don't know any negative meaning of these different words because they aren't in a setting where they are used.

I feel completely comfortable leaving the room while the CDs are playing because I know there won't be anything I'll have to explain later.  Better yet, I know there is teaching on how to live a Godly life written into the stories.  This is done in such a way that it's not an adult telling the kids what they should or shouldn't do.  They are taught by "kids" through events that happen in their lives.  A great deal of admiration is given to his parents by the main character, Bill.  I find this extremely refreshing, especially when he remarks that he loves his parents because they don't let him think that doing wrong things is right and get away with them.

The Beloved Books website says that this series has had a "life-changing impact on countless young people."  We have only listened to the first volume.  There has not been any great change in my children over the past 4 weeks.  I do see how listening to this series on a regular basis, though, would do just that.  If they would fill their minds would good things, things of God, instead of junk they hear on the television, the natural outflow would be a changed heart.  There are five more volumes we haven't listened to yet.  I will be buying more.  Christmas is coming!

If you are interested in hearing the first book, "Swamp Robber," you can go to http://www.belovedbooks.com/freebie.html.  You can have them send the two CDs to you at a cost of $4.95 or you can download the story in MP3 format.  The story is under copyright, but you have permission to burn this one story to CD.  Instructions are provided on the freebie page.

Beloved Books does sell other materials such as KJV Scripture memory songs, a CD of songs set to the stories found in I Samuel to II Chronicles (sounds very interesting), The War for Mansoul (a retelling of John Bunyan's Holy War, complete with dramatized audio recording), missionary biographies on cassette (my children don't even know what these are), historical fiction on CD, G.A. Henty stories on CD, and more.

You can read other reviews of this product by going to the Homeschool Crew page.

If you would like to contact Beloved Books, their contact information is:

Beloved Books
PO Box 878
Fenton, MI  48430



If you live in Michigan or visit there, the store address is 8572 Silver Lake Road, Linden.  Store hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11-3 Eastern Time.

DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge so that I might provide an honest review of it after using it for a time.

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