Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advent 2009

We've posted Cay's first meditation on this page on the Hillside website. This week's meditation features the children's picture book Angela and the Child Jesus by Frank McCourt. This is a true story adapted for children from the stories about the author's mother and beautifully illustrated by Raul Colon. The free meditation is intended for you, the adult reader, but the picture book can then be shared with your family. We have limited copies of each book featured in Cay's meditations available on the website as well.

Check back each week to download the new meditation!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Little Advent Treat from Cay Gibson

Please hop over to Cay's blog and check out what she has planned as a gift for moms and families this Advent. She will be offering for free a set of meditations to accompany four Advent/Christmas-themed picture books. We will make the meditations available for free download from the Hillside website starting the first week of Advent. (First week available now! Nov. 25)

Wishing you a blessed Advent as you prepare for the coming of the King.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thoughts on Literature and the Publishing Business

I've been taking a class to maintain my teacher certification in the state of PA, and it has been so interesting. It's on children's literature and looks at all the cultural and social factors in books for children. This week we're focusing on commercialization and what it does to the content of children's books. And you know, it's something I've always known, but to be hit with it so explicitly has been somewhat startling. How much of what is "sold" as children's literature is merely advertising for other things (like movies)? How many books are based purely on what will sell or will encourage sales of other things instead of on ideas that are good for children to think about? Some people in education circles call these commercialized books "twaddle," but to my mind that's not half a strong enough word to describe the insipid diet of consumerism we feed our children through licensed characters and inane stories.

One of the articles I read this week traced the history of book publishing and it's track to "fast" capitalism. It explains why publishing houses no longer keep rich backlists, why some of the best books for children are out of print and most likely to stay that way: they have no cross product potential. The 5 largest children's book publishers are now owned by huge media conglomerates who no longer have the "Idea" as the main criteria for whether a book gets published, but the dollar value instead. No longer is literature held aloft from the market and so able to pursue and debate ideas. The market now rules literature and naturally this has limited what gets published. (Of course there are still some great books being published, but look at any bookstore and you'll see what's really being promoted.) I heard that publishers must attend expensive conferences put on by one of the big bookstores chains just to get books on their shelves. A small, very small, publisher like me doesn't stand a chance in a system like that.

This has made me reflect seriously on what we are doing at Hillside. We began just publishing study guides for different time periods in history. But when I couldn't find books for particular historical periods in print, I decided to jump into publishing out-of-print novels. It has been an incredibly creative and exciting process. I love every single one of the books we have published. They are all great stories . . . and they are not part of some multinational corporation's scheme to make money by any and every means conceivable. They have great ideas for kids to think about and leave open the possibility for hope. And yet, I can hardly stay in business; 2009 was a particularly difficult year.

Nevertheless, stupid though it may be, or certainly outside of conventional business sense, I have 3 novels scanned and almost ready to print, and I'm reading 3 others that I hope to prepare as well. What is the matter with me? Am I crazy? How can I possible stay in business much less compete with Sponge Bob Squarepants or everything Harry Potter? How can I get a business loan when my business plan shows that huge sales are not likely? And yet, how can I walk away from these truly great books that have been discarded by the market?

My only hope is that other people out there are looking for something other than the diet the mega-publishers put out. And if I can't compete in a crazy market, at least in my little corner of the publishing world, we'll still have great things to talk about.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Lingua Mater Americana

AKA Lingua Mater 8, is now available. We decided to keep costs down by just offering it as a 3-hole punch copy that you can pop into a binder. 

We are printing it on-demand and have just a few copies in stock right now. All copies ordered at conferences will go out this week. 

For details on what's in it, visit the Hillside website.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Michigan Conference

If you placed an order at the Michigan conference June 19 and 20, please contact us at

We've filled orders for all conferences except a few remaining from the SCCHE conference (Alhambra, CA),  and those who ordered Lingua Mater 8 at the IHM conference. So, if you ordered something at a conference and haven't received it yet - please do contact us!

We will have a table at the Tampa, FL conference this weekend and the Dallas, TX and Lancaster PA conferences next weekend. See you there!!

It's been an incredible summer getting to (or orchestrating a Hillside/mater et magistra presence at) almost every conference! I have enjoyed meeting people and hearing about heroic home educating adventures. But, I am now ready to kick back and can 50 quarts of beans and make 20 loaves of zucchini bread! Sitting in the sun with a glass of lemonade (well, I'd probably really be drinking water, but lemonade sounds more romantic) while the kids play softball sounds pretty good, too.
Happy summer!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In His Image

We're pleased to announce the publication of our latest title:
In His Image: Nurturing Creativity in the Heart of Your Home
by Mary C. Gildersleeve.

Mary explains that by letting our children and ourselves "create" we participate in the life of Our Divine Creator and cultivate many positive skills and habits. In addition, the book is full of resource recommendations and project ideas.

From the back cover:

Nurturing creativity in our children and in ourselves is a critical need today. We all know that research has shown that art and music are good for fostering healthy brain development, but they are good for our souls, too. Through creativity, we imitate the Divine Creator and practice the skills needed to battle the despair produced by a pre-made, manufactured, cookie-cutter world.

Made in the image of God, there is a creative desire placed in all of us. Nurturing this desire in our children is not only thoroughly satisfying, but an essential part of our parenting duty. By instilling in our children a love for the good, the true, and the beautiful, we can help to reshape our world for the good of all.

From the foreword by Elizabeth Foss

Education in the arts is no less important than academic education. Creativity will launch our children beyond the boundaries of their intelligence. A creative child knows how to think outside the box—to seek fresh approaches and novel ways of understanding things. More importantly, a creative child will have a greater, deeper, truer understanding of God. There can be no understanding of philosophy or theology without imagination and creativity. 

You can preorder this book now. Ship date is approximately June 15.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Conference Season

The homeschool conference season has begun!!! Last week Cay Gibson represented Hillside and mater et magistra magazine for us at the Louisiana conference in Covington last weekend, and she had a great time meeting folks and hearing what everyone is up to for the coming school year. 

We look forward to meeting you all in the coming weeks, so if you live in any of these areas, please check out our table at the following conferences:

Acworth/Atlanta April 17 and 18

CHAPLET in Berlin NJ April 25

ARCH in Houston TX April 24 and 25

GMCHE in Milwaukee, WI April 24 and 25

Northwest (Tukwila, WA) May 1 and 2

Chicago May 8 and 9

Minnesota May 29 and 30

Kansas City June 5 and 6

New England (Chicopee, MA) June 6

IHM in Chantilly, VA June 12 and 13

Lansing, MI June 19 and 20

Sacred HEART in Orange NJ June 20

Cleveland, OH June 26 and 27

SCCHE (Southern California)  June 25, 26, 27

Tampa FL July 17 and 18

Dallas/Fort Worth July 24 and 25

We will have samples of all the Hillside products, samples of the magazine, and some things for sale!
Hope to see you!

It's Spring

We welcome the coming of spring with a big sigh!! It's been a long hard winter, but in the midst of the commemoration of Our Lord's passion, we get slivers of hope in the light (and warmth) to come. We hope you and your families have a Blessed Triduum and Holy Easter!!