Several years ago I posted Build Your Library: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. It is one of my most viewed blog posts, so I thought maybe it would be a good idea to give an updated review as we have moved into the older elementary/early middle grades!
When I first started I loved the concept of BYL. It worked very well for my little kids but I kept thinking, “I just don’t know how it’s going to be enough for big kids?”. Turns out, it does a wonderful job of keeping up with bigger kids and the more I see of each grade (like the Grade 10 book list!), the more excited I get. There are some amazing titles in the middle and high school grades!
I have really enjoyed how flexible the schedule is. We only do four day weeks due to other scheduled activities we have going on and it is SO easy to fit a full week of curriculum into four days *or* just keep doing it one day at a time, whichever works best for your situation or even changing it week by week as needed.
Right now, for example, we double up reader on one day, history on another, and then spread out the activities as needed (like documentaries, biography pages, etc).
Also, in Grade 6 (what we are doing now) one of the literature books is The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. That same title is also used in the Evolution unit study so I ended up deciding that we would do that for science AND reader all at the same time, which is just another excellent example of how flexible the curriculum is.
I am always thrilled with the discussions that arise as a result of reading the books with my kids. I do try to read what they are reading on their own as well, for the readers, just so I know what to talk about with them. Once in awhile I also like to ask them questions about those books, mostly so I have something to give to the state to show “progress” as required by our homeschool laws. It’s something that’s easy enough to google “questions for *insert book here*” and find lots of good questions that other people have come up with.
The only place I have had trouble with Build Your Library is in science. The middle grades use Elemental Science, which overall isn’t *bad* it’s just not completely secular (so I would never teach biology with it). It’s a little bit dry too, but not horribly so. ALL that said, Emily (author of Build Your Library) is currently working on switching out Elemental Science for the completely secular REAL Science Odyssey and it appears that she is going to be adding in a few living books as well, which is amazing.
The only things I have really felt the need to add in while using this curriculum is math (which is a given) and I do like to add little bits of comprehension for the readers. I have also added in Bravewriter mostly because my kids are EXTREMELY reluctant writers and this is a new approach I haven’t taken before with them. I don’t think comprehension or a writing program are “required” but I think adding them in works better for my family.
So the long and short of it is, 3.5 years later I am still very happy with Build Your Library! Even though we just started week three of Grade 6 I have already purchased and had printed out (my preference, easy to use in PDF form on the computer too) Grade 7 and I look forward to the learning that is ahead of us!