Friday, November 11, 2011

VocabCafe by CollegePrepGenius - SAT Word Building Skills

VocabCafe by CollegePrepGenius

  • Novellas Include 300 SAT Level Vocabulary Words
  • Mastery is Achieved Through Definition, Repetition, and Reinforcement
  • Christian Authors Promise no Foul Language, Sorcery or Illicit Scenes
  • No Dictionary Needed
  • Written for High School Students
  • $12.95 per Individual Title
  • 4 book Bundle$51.80 - Currently reduced to $38.85 (buy 3 get one free)
  • Offered by CollegePrepGenius -
My boys and I enjoy language and vocabulary very much.  Often, if we hear a new word in context, we can guess what it means before we look it up.

The authors of the VocabCafe Series have created books that allow high school students to learn SAT vocabulary words in the same manner.  It is definitely a bright idea.  I think most students would prefer to read a story than to go over pages of definitions that are not linked to any source material.  Nor is it fun to read vocabulary rich books and stop mid sentence to look up meanings.

VocabCafe teaches by placing SAT worthy words within a story, bold and italicized. If the student does not know the meaning, he should look to the bottom of the page.  He will see the word, its pronunciation, and the definition there - footnote style.  Quickly glancing back up at the text, the sentence can be re-read, this time with understanding, and in context.  Hurrah!  A new word has been learned.  At the end of each chapter, words are all re-listed for review, and at the end of the book there is a glossary where each one is listed with pronunciation and definition.

There are currently four titles available, and more are expected to be released.  At this time, The Summer of Saint Nick, Planet Exile, I.M for Murder and Operation High School are all available for $12.95 each.  If you'd like to buy all four titles, the price is $51.80.  (Right now, there is a buy 3 get the fourth title free promotion, so all four titles are $38.85, but I do not know how long that price will last.)

Keeping in mind that these titles are meant for high school students, I read the books before giving them to my eleven year old sons.  In my opinion, typical students in the 14-18 year old age range would probably not bat an eye at the content.  On the other hand, if a home is more conservative, the children are not exposed to cable television, and recreational reading is limited to classic selections, there are some things that a parent should consider.

For example, the characters experience lying, arson, vandalism, secrecy, initiation, mischief, a serial killer, and a pet cat meets an untimely end in an unkind way.  The books have "good" and "bad" characters.  That said, I did not personally feel that anything was over-the-top or too graphic.  I gave the books to my boys, except for the one with the serial killer.

Because of their Asperger Syndrome, my kids are not the biggest fans of light fiction.  Long, dramatic, epic tales are more their style.  They read these easily and thought they were "okay".  They preferred reading the glossaries in the back and quizzing each other on the vocabulary.

When I compare and contrast VocabCafe to the "teen non-fiction" books I have read, these are tame.  I understand that there has to be something in the story to hold the main stream high school audience and each of these has an element that would appeal to different kinds of kids.

Here is what the author has to say about the content: (bolding mine)
***A WORD ABOUT CONTENT – These books were written with an intended audience of high school teenagers, although many parents find them appropriate for their middle school or younger students. As a family-based company, our goal is to make a quality product that can be enjoyed by everyone. Thus, these stories contain no magic, sorcery, swear words, illicit situations, nor do they encourage negative behaviors. However, we recommend that parents should read every book that they give their children (not just ours) to make sure the messages coincide with their beliefs and standards. The VocabCafĂ© Book Series does contain boy-girl relationships (non-sexual), mild violence, and mature thematic elements.
Apart from the clearly defined, advanced vocabulary, the stories could be considered middle school reading level.  The stories are straightforward.  Since the students who truly need these books might require stories that will not tax them, or make them feel stressed, I think this is wise.  If a student can enjoy classic works and symbolism, they are not going to need assistance learning words like coddle or repugnant.

These titles are currently available:

The Summer of Saint Nick - A young boy becomes the owner of an abandoned home and finds an amazing surprise inside!  Over the course of a summer he learns the joy of helping others and the sorrow of loss.  The ending is not exactly what I expected, but everyone does live happily ever after.

I.M For Murder - Through the story of three boys and their online encounter with a serial killer, the reader is reminded about internet safety.

Operation High School - A girl who feels rather ordinary is excited when she is invited to be part of a secret club.  Her experience teaches her the value of true friendships and self reliance.
Planet Exile - This futuristic tale is about a boy and his friends.  They have some interesting, inter planetary adventures as they overthrow and evil dictator and save a princess.

If you prefer a more traditional approach to SAT preparation, CollegePrepGenius might be able to meet your needs through their SAT prep Classes, DVDs, workbooks and textbooks.

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CollegePrepGenius is a Better Business Bureau accredited company.

I was provided with these books in order to write an informed, blogged review.  I was not paid to write this post and my opinions are my own.