Archive for the 'Collections!' Category

Back again!

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Woo hoo!

Finally… Two of our all time bestselling CD collections AVAILABLE AGAIN for a limited time! Just click on either of the CD covers above and take a look at the many, many wonderful audio treasures that are included in these massive collections. (Some of our favorite stories of all time are on these.) If you’d like a huge library of great history, science & literature audio stories at your fingertips to plug into your studies whenever needed, you’ll definitely want to get one… or both… of these!

25th Anniversary Celebration!

Monday, March 26th, 2007

Hey! You’re invited to join us in a very special celebration…

… and also the unveiling of the most amazing collection of homeschool resources you’ve ever seen. Please stop by, take a look, and say “hi”!

Click here! 

Holiday Stories Update

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Well, this afternoon we were moving things around here in our world-wide headquarters (aka - the storage building/office in the woods) and to our delight, we found one more box of 25 of our HOLIDAY STORIES collections, hiding underneath Mr. Shakespeare!

I know a few people emailed us that they missed out on this, so “heads up”… the ordering page is back online, at least until these are gone. I don’t see any more boxes lurking under anything around here, so this really is the last chance to pick one of these up this season.

Click here to visit our Holiday Stories Page 

Holiday Stories Are Here!

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

And, by the way, our new and improved version of “Great Old Time Holiday Stories for the Family” collection…

… is now available!

Please check it out and start creating a new “old timey” tradition in your household this holiday season.

Click here to take a look 

Yep, They’re Just Around the Corner!

Thursday, October 26th, 2006

Thought y’all might like a sneak peek at the cover our our Holiday Stories collection, which WILL be available next Monday! These programs are such an integral part of OUR Thanksgiving and Christmas traditions, it just wouldn’t feel like the holiday season without them. Anyway, here’s the cover:

And here’s some comments on these programs from some of our long-time “listeners”…

“Our family has listened to “The Cinnamon Bear” every year since we received it….

I just asked my 9 1/2 year old son what he thinks of it  — if he even remembers it? He can’t seem to remember who Thomas Jefferson is from day to day, but he said, “Oh yeah! I remember THAT! I liked it.” That may not sound like a glowing recommendation, but coming from him while he’s engrossed in Lego, it’s huge!!

I enjoy putting the holiday cd’s on while we’re all in one room, yet doing different things. The kids are usually building something, I’m knitting, and hubby is creating something new for his G.I. Joe dioramas. It lends a much more peaceful atmosphere than if we plug in a movie.

I also play them in the car while driving around town, and the ride becomes enjoyable.

The boys seems to “hear” more when they listen to the programs while playing or riding, than if I just have them sit while I read to them.

Thank you Erskines!!” –  Julie in CO


“There were many delights as we listened to your Holiday Stories Collection… We listened starting as soon as it arrived and continued on into January.

One of the greatest treasures we found on the MP3 was a version of  “A Christmas Carol” featuring Lionel Barrymore.  I sat utterly amazed when I first heard his voice.  The first few seconds of the program brought back such a familiarity to me –  I had previously thought I would NEVER hear that version again and have missed it every Christmas since getting married and leaving home.  My parents had an old LP record of the very same show that we would listen to on our family’s old stereo when I was growing up.  We listened to it “to death,” helping bump the needle whenever it got stuck on    scratches.  =^) That old record has long been lost.

How excited I was to tell my two children that this program was the VERY SAME ONE their mommy and her siblings used to LOVE listening to every Christmas when they were young!  I thought there was no way to ever hear that program again, but thanks to you, we are carrying on the tradition of listening that that old favorite, along with many new ones, during the holidays!

(By the way, my daughter was in a thrift store this spring and found a paperback copy of Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.”  She insisted she was old enough to read it and bought it with her own money (she was then 6). Your radio shows spur on much love, familarity, and reading of original classics at our house.  Thank you!” — With Thanks, Karla

Listening to Holiday Stories

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Well, we’re getting close to releasing our new and improved Holiday Stories Collection next week, and thought we’d share some of the comments we’ve received from folks who have been listening to these programs from our earilier collections. Here’s the first…
We have all three of your holiday CD’s, and we love them! In November, we listen to Thanksgiving stories all month. I wish there were more Thanksgiving shows! If you did an entire Thanksgiving CD I’d be the first person to order one! (Note: While we don’t have a complete CD of just Thanksgiving stories, we do have a dozen excellent ones in our collection. — JE)

We listen while we make Thanksgiving crafts, while we do art, while the children are building with blocks, spool knitting or sewing, etc. We listen while we eat lunch too; we don’t want to miss out on hearing a single great Thanksgiving show!

The day after Thanksgiving, we listen to Christmas stories while we put up the Christmas tree and decorate it. And we listen every day in December, just like in November. We have a Playmobile nativity set, and my daughter loves to play with it and act out the story of Jesus’ birth, while listening to the shows about it.

And of course, who can forget The Cinnamon Bear! (A classic series of 26 15-minute children’s programs, meant to be listened to from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas eve — JE) We listen to an episode each night before bed. We have done this every year since we got the CD. We love it so much we have never ever gotten to Jonathan Thomas and his Christmas on the Moon. Each year, it’s a hard choice, but the children both end up voting for The Cinnamon Bear. This year, we are all determined to listen to both of them! We don’t know if we’re going to hear one episode a night of each, or if we’re going to hear two episodes a night of one, then when it’s finished do the same with the other. Or maybe we’ll listen to one show during the day, and one at night. Whatever we end up doing, we’ve decided that this year we will hear both shows!

My son (9) uses the holiday CD’s all year! He loves Burns and Allen, and when he has some free time, he often gets a holiday CD and listens to all the Burns and Allen shows. I think he may have them all memorized.

I must confess that sometimes I listen without the children. I like to listen while I’m working in the kitchen, wrapping gifts, or just sitting still with a cup of tea. I especially love listening while I am sewing. I usually end up with company before I’m through; once they discover that I am listening it doesn’t take long before they join me.

To tell you the truth, I don’t think that any of us can imagine the holidays without these CD’s. They have become an integral part of our family holiday observances just as surely as turkey and pumpkin pie. The question is, who is going to be the first one to grab a holiday CD on November 1st? And the next question is, can we wait that long? I think these collections are just wonderful. Not only do they help us remember the true spirit of the holidays, then take us back to a time when America was a nation that worshiped God, and when families were the cornerstone of our society. And, I think they inspire us to keep that spirit alive in our own families. Thank you for offering these great holiday collections.

Blessings on you,


Thanks for the peek into your family’s holidays, Kelly! We hope lots more folks start some listening traditions too this year. - JE 

Mr. Shakespeare has arrived!

Monday, September 25th, 2006

Good Morning,

Just a super quick note.
Home Study Collection IS NOW AVAILABLE!


You can check it out at this link:

WARNING: The introductory discount is good only until Midnight, Oct. 1st…
after which it will be the regular price.
A word to the wise is sufficient.

Best Wishes,

The Erskine Family

Our Three Readers

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

The cornerstone of our upcoming SHAKESPEARE FOR THE EARS collection is a our newly recorded version of E. Nesbit’s classic retelling of Shakespeare’s plays, BEAUTIFUL STORIES FROM SHAKESPEARE. When originally published, this book was subtitled “A Home Study Course”, and it is indeed that, so we kept that for our new version.

BEAUTIFUL STORIES is a much beloved,  time-tested classic “Living Book” adaptation of Shakespeare’s stories, especially geared to younger listeners. Our brand new audiobook version makes it all the more accessible and “painless” for those who want to introduce the Bard’s work to their children.

Now, some of you might remember we recently sent out an email asking for “readers” for some of our upcoming projects. Well, this is the first of those projects. We had dozens of folks send us their sample readings, and out of those, we chose three delightful voices for this audiobook.
They are all wonderfully talented homeschooling moms, who (of course) have a great deal of experience reading out loud to their families, and thus they make wonderful, homey readers for these stories.

We wanted to introduce you to these ladies, since they added so much to our audiobook. Here’s a brief introduction to our three readers (in their own words):

Anna Sul

We live deep in the furrow of the central San Joaquin valley of
California. My husband and I have been homeschooling since the first of
our three children was born seven years ago. E. Nesbit’s Beautiful
Stories from Shakespeare is not only an enjoyable introduction to
Shakespeare but also a bit of an historical work in itself. I so enjoyed
reading for this project that it inspired us to begin regularly
recording the children reading from the Psalms. I may even record some
of my own poetry. 

Reading to our children and sharing favorite stories is a joy that is
worth fighting for the time to do so. As a child I fondly remember being
read to by my parents and later reading to my younger siblings. Now our
oldest is reading to all of us! Listening to these new Living Books for
the Ears together I’m sure will add variety to our literature diet and
whet our appetites for more!

Ramona Voight

I am mom to one son, almost 13 years old. We live in Minnesota, and have been homeschooling for 6 years now, and loving every minute. It has been a joy and pleasure to learn about the world with my family.

This Shakespeare project was great fun. My mom is a born storyteller, and I have inherited that love of a good tale. I have newfound respect for recording artists. The time I spent in my ” recording studio” (the bathroom with the door shut!) was hard work, but rewarding. I hope this compilation helps everyone enjoy the Bard a bit more.

Rose Lee

I live in Te Puke, the Kiwifruit Capital of the World, in New Zealand.  
I have been homeschooling since 2000, and have two children.  
My son is 13, my daughter 7.  Reading aloud to the children has for many years 
been the way we started our day, and  often ended it as well.  Sometimes it would 
also make a great break in the middle. Reading for this project has been an 
opportunity to explore an author I otherwise might have skipped following my 
scant experience of him in High School.  I love bringing stories alive, and hope 
I have managed to achieve that for the listeners.

You’ll get to hear a sample story from BEAUTIFUL STORIES FROM SHAKESPEARE next week as our “Living Book for the Ears” program… so be sure to “tune in” then and enjoy!

Shakespeare For the Ears — What’s In It!

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Well, whoops. We kinda, sorta alluded to what is going to be in our new SHAKESPEARE FOR THE EARS collection in an earlier post. So (since a couple of folks have already fussed at me about this), I think we better go ahead and give you an “almost” complete rundown of what will be included in this collection.

Here you go……………

A Home Study Course For the Young At Heart
20 Stories from Shakespeare’s plays retold for all ages
Narrated by Rose Lee, Anna Sul, and Ramona Voight
A Midsummer Night’s Dream * The Tempest * As You Like It * The Winter’s Tale * King Lear * Twelfth Night * Much Ado About Nothing * Romeo and Juliet * Pericles * Hamlet * Cymbeline * Macbeth * The Comedy of Errors * The Merchant of Venice * Timon of Athens * Othello * The Taming of the Shrew * Measure for Measure * Two Gentlemen of Verona * All’s Well that Ends Well

* READMEFIRST — How to use “Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare” to Introduce Young Listeners to Shakespeare (PDF)

* Ebook edition of E. Nesbit’s “Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare” (PDF)

* 56 Page Shakespeare Coloring Book (PDF)

* Pronunciation Guide to Shakespeare’s Names (PDF)

* Famous Quotes from Shakespeare: A Memorization and Copywork Book (PDF)


Great Plays Dramatized
(full hour classic radio adaptations of these Shakespeare plays)

* The Tempest

* Love’s Labor Lost

* The Merry Wives of Windsor

* Julius Caesar

* Macbeth

* As You Like It

* Hamlet

* Othello

* Selected Short Readings from Shakespeare

Bonus Audio Programs

* An Interview with William Shakespeare

* Shakespeare’s Hometown

* English Restoration Plays


* Tales of Shakespeare retold for Children
by Charles & Mary Lamb
A classic “living book” of retellings of Shakespeare’s plays for the young at heart. This is a great complement to “Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare” by E. Nesbit (PDF)

* The Sonnets of Shakespeare
All 154 sonnets by Shakespeare. (PDF)

* The Age of Shakespeare
by Algernon Charles Swinburne
A survey of the OTHER great writers of Shakespeare’s day, and how they influenced (and were influenced by) Shakespeare’s writings. (PDF)

* For Whom Shakespeare Wrote
by Charles Dudley Warner
Another very well written survey of the people and times in which Shakespeare lived, and how they viewed his works (PDF)

* Study Guide for The Merchant of Venice
(Each of these has an Act-by-Act summary, with discussion questions)
* Study Guide for The Merry Wives of Windsor

* Study Guide for Comedy of Errors

* Study Guide for Two Gentlemen of Verona

* Study Guide for Taming of the Shrew

* Study Guide for Love’s Labour’s Lost

* Study Guide for Much Ado About Nothing

* Study Guide for As You Like It

* Study Guide for Twelfth Night

* Study Guide for The Tempest (all PDF)


* Shakespeare for All Seasons - An Introduction for Homeschoolers (PDF)

* Homeschool Tips on Teaching Shakespeare (PDF)

* Spooky Shakepeare: A Guide to scary Shakespeare scenes for Homeschool (PDF)

* A Shakespeare Timeline (PDF)

* Shakespeare Picture Gallery (PDF)

*’s Teacher’s Guide (PDF)

* How to Make Your Own CDs & Cassettes (PDF)

* How We Use these Programs: Tips from Families (PDF)

* Listening in the Car: How to set it up so it sounds GREAT (PDF)

… plus a few MORE extras and surprises we are still adding as we wrap up this project in the next few days! D.V., we will be releasing this new collection NEXT WEEK… and yep, we plan to offer it at a special introductory price for the first few days, so you can grab a copy of this and save quite a bit. If you’re interested in this at all (for use this school year, or for later if your kids are a bit too young), this will be THE time to pick it up.

More details will be coming soon!

Families share “Why We Like Shakespeare”

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

In our survey last week, we also asked families that are already familiar with the works of Shakespeare WHY they enjoyed them so. Here’s a representative sample of the replies we received… could these be YOUR family’s testimonials once YOU “get into” Shakespeare?


- They are beautiful, complex, sometimes hilarious, sometimes creepy views into the human heart and mind. Taken together I think his works tell the story of the human heart in its struggles, loves, and tragedies.

- Admittedly, I havve never been one to ‘read’ Shakespeare in the traditional sense. Even in High School I would find a friend to read aloud with or read it aloud to myself using different voices. He wrote for performance and the sound to the ears, not a dry textbook writing. In college I had friends with Shakespeare-phobia. We overcame by doing a quick research on the timeperiod of the setting then would gather in someone’s room to read aloud. Even those who didn’t become fans understood.

- The stories are wonderful, full of suspense. The story is always a surprise.

- So many words, phrases & situations in other literature are based on Shakespeare. I love that my kids get to be a part of the culture of the English language. I also like that hearing Shakespearian English gives them a clue about how language changes over time and about how sentences can be structured in unusual ways.

- great one-liners - great imagery

- lots of biblical allusions and Christian themes that generate some great discussions

- “in medias res” beginnings captivate the audience immediately — no slow starts

- I love how his writings show that there truly isn’t anything new under the sun. People still do the same kind of trechery as they did then.

- I enjoy his play with words, his wit. I also enjoy the tragedies which explore the deeper things of humanity; death, meaning, etc. I love the comedies for their fun and for the more humorous look at human foibles. I love the historical plays for the way they bring people from history to life and help cement the events in your memory. Also, as someone who was involved in theater in my younger days, I can tell you, Shakespeare is a blast to act out! There’s lots of fun, physical comedy and action to protray as well as the emotional/relational parts that make for an blissfully exhausting experience.

- I’m intrigued with the Olde English and how he breathes personality and passion into what is often portrayed as dusty old history. The way he frames life is interesting to consider.

- Shakespeare has really interesting plot twists, a lot of great humor, and beautiful poetic language. He makes you think about important issues, such as the effects of bitterness and suspicion in an individual’s life. He also has contributed so much to the English language, and is so often quoted and alluded to that a familiarity with his works greatly expands one’s understanding of other literature and the multitude of other places where one may run into references to his works.

- We try to help the children see the interweaving of the stories. We make diagrams for this, act things out, and talk about character qualities. We read the Lois Burdett storybooks (they are excellent), as well as Lamb and Nesbitt. We also read directly from the plays and sonnets themselves. My husband also has challenged the kids to find “Shakespeare in everyday life”- when we hear or see something that is from Shakespeare, the first one to identify it gets a milkshake with Dad. This is a pretty popular contest, but right now, Mom wins a lot of these :) . We have identified Shakespeare lines and titles on Sesame St., in everyday words (did you know he first used these words in print: alligator, auspicious, frugal, gloomy, puke, zany, eyeball etc.), and on radio and in other books!

- His sense of humor, and his sense of God.

- They are so true to life and can be very funny.

- I love the fact that what was funny or interesting or scary then is usually funny or interesting or scary now

- this literature has stood the test of time and is so lively and so wise… I think it is really important that we train our brains to make an effort - rather than just appreciate what comes easily… how much of what is popular now will be popular 400 years from today? Thanks for doing this!

- I like the fun way he uses words and phrases for humor, as well as the moral lessons

- What adventure! What intrigue! What romance! - Great sense of humor.

- Once you figure out the language barrier, lol….they are really wonderful stories and an added bonus is that we’ve discovered that his stories and/or ideas/concepts seem to be a part of “everyday life” and we didn’t even realize that it came from Shakespeare. He’s everywhere, lol.

- His plays describe humans and their strengths and weaknesses so well in a friendly context. He also believes showing mercy is so important and this is very prevalent throughout his plays. Some favorites are Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, A Comedy of Errors, All’s Well that ends Well, Measure for Measure, The Tempest

- The fantastic use of the English language, which is something that is slowly dying with all the “on-tap” entertainment today. Also the plots are very creative, and of historical value.

- I am like you, I thought I didn’t like him, but helped a homebound student in 10th grade by doing a table read and found out I love the plays contrary to my old high school impression. I find reading Shakespeare as a play really helped. (I also was able to go to Stratfod-upon-Avon and see one of his plays about 12 years ago and then took my young kids to a summer production last year) I think seeing a hearing his plays, or watching or listening is the best way to get to like them. Everything you said about aquired taste is sooo true.

- His ability to really, really know humankind. His quick wit. His ability to articulate difficult feelings and thoughts.

- I love the style of writing from that time period. The language seemed to have more life than most of the passionless dribble put out today. (Although it can be a bit of overkill at times!!) I also like the simple fact that authors of yore used proper grammar and sentences longer that 5-7 words.

- Shakespeare’s characters are genuine. There’s nothing fake about them at all. Evil or good, they’re completely believable. Putting the Old English aside, his plays are very easy to follow. The action and direction the story goes makes sense.

- I was an English major in college and was influenced greatly to appreciate Shakespeare by a particular professor. She presented Shakespeare as he was in his day: (not to diminish “the bard” but) he was a bit like the Stephen Spielberg of his day. He didn’t write only for the “upper crust,” (as we tend to think of his work) rather, his audience came from all walks of life. Today his language sounds aristocratic to us, but in his own day he was understandable (and wonderfully skilled at his craft!) to the masses.

- the rich language…there are levels of understanding that make it interesting to people of various ages

- The layers of it. We have a blast trying to figure out what he means in his sonnets and we really enjoy the plays

- The writing style. The language is beautiful! And I enjoy the way that complicated issues are handled with honesty, not portraying characters in static, typed modes. The characters are shown in their full complexity, and at times in full pain, without sacrificing moral choice as a reality.

- Poetry…Poetry….poetry…. He has a wonderful way with words that speaks to the soul.