Build Your Library: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Okay, so there really isn’t any ugly. ūüėČ

We are officially halfway through the grade 1 edition of this curriculum and I know there is a giveaway starting soon (April 15th) so I thought I would take the time to write an updated and more detailed review.

If I were to give this a rating out of 5 stars I would give it a solid 4, if not 4.5. ¬†I really enjoy using this curriculum and I like how it is structured. I feel like it gives a good, solid knowledge base without being too “flighty” for my tastes (not everyone has my tastes of course!).

My favorite part of the¬†curriculum¬†is that there is a lot of wiggle room. ¬†For example if I want to check on reading¬†comprehension¬†(which I do from time to time) I can easily take out copywork and add in a few handwritten questions for my kid(s) to answer. As another example, since we stared later in the year than most science was supposed to be outside but it didn’t jive with the weather here at that time of year so I marked that section and skipped ahead, in just science, to the section that was more geared toward winter and now we are getting ready to start the section we skipped since the weather has improved.

My kids’ favorite part has been hearing the awesome stories. ¬†There has been a lot of adventure and¬†excitement¬†in them. ¬†They are always sad to finish a book but excited to start the next. ¬†Reading aloud to them has been awesome for me too because I never read a lot of these books when I was younger.

“Pros” worth noting:

РThe cost of the curriculum itself is VERY affordable.  You can use it mostly in PDF form or you can print the whole thing out, 3-hole punch it, and put it into a binder (which is what I did since I had access to a free printing set up).

– The books are nearly all available via Amazon and are pretty inexpensive. ¬†I am told most libraries have the books as well, but as a family we enjoy having books as our own so we don’t go that route.

-Since the books are used at different times during the year it is easy to spread out the spending. ¬†You don’t have to drop $300 (costs less than that) on a full year worth of anything. ¬†When you finish Charlie and the Chocolate Factory you can order the next book. ¬†This is great for families on a tight budget that don’t have a large sum of money to spend all at once.

– Very flexible both in the content and in the age ranges. ¬†My 4 year old gets a good chunk of information out of hearing what I read to her 6 year old brother. ¬†I imagine it would be very easy to use one curriculum year to tailor it toward 2 (or more) kids of similar ages (though I haven’t actually done much of that yet).

“Cons” worth noting:

– There is no math included. ¬†This isn’t a big deal for us as it lets us try different math programs since that is one area that kids can vary *greatly* on.

– There is no phonics included. ¬†Again, not a bit deal for us. ¬†My Big Kid never did phonics, ever and reads like a champ. ¬†Little Kid is following in his footsteps quite well too, so the lack of phonics didn’t stop us from purchasing.

– The books in the 1st Grade edition do include a lot of death. ¬†This isn’t an issue in my home since we just take things as they come and the kids haven’t been sheltered from the idea of death. However if you are morally/ethically/etc against having your kids hear stories where mice die or Greeks get eaten by 6-headed monsters, this probably isn’t the best choice for you.

– Grade 1 science focuses on nature with quite a few outdoor trips etc. ¬†Living where we do, this isn’t an issue as we have woods, lakes, and lawns all easily accesible. ¬†If someone lives in a city it might be more difficult to manage but as long as there is a good local park it would probably still be possible to complete.

– There aren’t a ton of projects. ¬†There are SOME just not a lot. ¬†This can either be a pro or a con depending on your/your child’s style. ¬†If it is something you want more of, particularly for history, it is very easy to buy the activity book that pairs with the history spine and pick things based on the chapter you are reading.

I am sure there are more things that I am forgetting to mention so if anyone has questions please feel free to ask!  I highly recommend this curriculum and have already purchased the 2nd Grade edition!

UPDATED! Second Review Here! 

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14 Responses to Build Your Library: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. lilbearsmama says:

    Looking at the kindergarten program. Thanks for this awesome review!

  2. roxy1stmommy says:

    Since you’ve gone through the 1st grade curriculum, do you think it would still be beneficial to do the 1st grade curriculum with a child that will have been through 1st grade in public school? I’m going back and forth between 1st and 2nd since I really don’t believe they are covering any of the curriculum in this program. The medieval history looks super fun.

    • I think starting with 1st grade is a good option just because you are starting at the “beginning”. It is a good intro into the program and the poem memorization is a bit easier in 1st grade too. We are 17 weeks into grade 2 right now and will be there until part way through “3rd” grade. We also started 1st grade when we were about halfway through actual 1st grade (6 weeks of which was public school).

  3. Did you ever post your schedule? I would like to see it, too!

  4. Samantha Petrulak says:

    My kids went through kindergarten & 1st grade in public school. I pulled them & started homeschooling last year for 1st & 2nd. They are now both working on a 3rd grade level. I’m not sure if the 3rd grade level will be too advanced for them though. Could I tweak areas if they are too tough (poem memorization etc.)

    • Hello!

      I think I would start with the 2nd grade BYL level. There isn’t much that you couldn’t tweak and it’s not really set up to be at a certain grade IMO. The only difference would be the readers. It’s VERY easy to tweak all the things needed in BYL.

  5. Shanna says:

    I want to take advantage of their sale but am not sure which pdf to buy. My son will be 7 in June and has officially graduated Oak Meadow grade 2. My daughter is 4, turning 5 in December. Should we do grade 1 together or can I manage grade K (looks so fun) and grade 1 at the same time?

    • Hello! I think that depends on preference. I never got a chance to do K as it wasn’t available when I started HSing but am super excited to do it with my now toddler when he’s old enough. *I* prefer to combine my two kids into one grade just because it’s what’s easier for me with all the running around we do. That said with the sale I would probably buy both K and 1 and then do K on an accelerated scale (maybe fit a full 5 days into 3 or 4 days) and start it this summer just as a “for fun” type of thing without worksheets etc then “officially” have them in 1st starting in the fall.

      I’ve heard a lot of good things about K and am excited to use it in a few years!

  6. Pingback: Build Your Library: Several Years Later | New Adventures in Homeschooling

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