About Build Your Library Curriculum

Build Your Library – Literature based homeschool curriculum – building young minds, one book at a time!

Have you been looking for a literature based homeschool curriculum that is secular? How about a way to incorporate narration, copywork, dictation and memory work into your child’s education? Or art study that ties into history? What about a secular science that is mostly literature based in the elementary years? Well, you have come to the right place! Welcome to Build Your Library Curriculum!

I am a homeschool mother, not unlike you. I spent years searching for a curriculum that fit my needs, and having to tweak each program to death to make it work for my family. Then one day, I realized it would be simpler to just write my own program. That is when Build Your Library was born. I thought I must not be the only one looking for a literature based program that was also secular. So I set to work to create a homeschool curriculum that would fit many needs.

I wanted a curriculum that was rich in great literature, not just old fashioned tomes, but modern children’s literature as well.  I wanted a curriculum that was history based but didn’t drown you in historical fiction. I wanted to make narration a priority, but in a way that was fun and easy. A curriculum that took passages from the books you and your child are reading and turned them into copywork in the elementary years and dictation at the middle school level.  I wanted to incorporate art study that was connected to history and included fun art projects. And I wanted to include science – literature based in the elementary years, and I use Elemental Science’s logic stage program in the middle school years.  It was a tall order – but our children are worth it.

I hope you will try out a program and join the Build Your Library family, – building young minds, one book at a time!

Current Full Grade Level Products Available for Purchase –
Kindergarten – Grade 1 – Grade 2Grade 3Grade 4 – Grade 5 – Grade 6
Grade 7Grade 8

Current Unit Studies – Supplemental Educational Products Available for Purchase
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s StoneHarry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsHistory of ThanksgivingA Jan Brett Christmas Winter Holidays Around the World –  The HobbitDarwin and EvolutionSharks! – World War IIPrehistory

Other Educational Products –
Narration Cards
  Book of Centuries and Timeline Figures


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How to Teach Copywork

CopyworkPicCopywork can seem deceptively simple. Give your child a sentence or two and have them copy it. It can seem like pointless busy work, but the benefits are tremendous.

First, copywork takes the place of penmanship practice. Once a child learns how to write their letters comfortably, they are ready to start simple copywork. Start with very short sentences and have them copy it in the best handwriting. It is important that they give their best effort. If you find them struggling, give them less to copy. In the beginning, it’s ok if they only do one word per sitting as long as that one word is in their best handwriting. You can gradually increase the length of the model as they become more and more comfortable. However – it is important to take their age into consideration. A typical 6 year old isn’t going to be able to copy a paragraph worth of writing with their best effort.

Why do copywork at all?

Copying models of good writing teaches your child what good writing looks like. Many of the world greatest writers learned how to write through copywork. Jack London would copy out his favorite books in order to teach himself good writing; Benjamin Franklin would copy or outline essays and then try to recreate them on his own to see if he could write them better.  By copying out good writing, your child learns what good writing looks and feels like, thereby improving their own writing.

In the elementary grade levels, copywork can even take the place of formal language arts curriculum. You can use copywork to teach mechanics, such as proper punctuation and capitalization, as well as spelling, vocabulary, careful handwriting and parts of speech. You can teach them different writing techniques, such as how to write dialogue, different literary devices (metaphors, alliteration, etc.) – there are so many different ways that it can help nurture your child’s writing abilities. Just choose one thing at a time to focus on. For a beginning 6 year old, you might focus on beginning with a capital letter and ending punctuation. Your 9 or 10 year old is ready to learn about parts of speech or how to format dialogue. Focus on just one thing at a time, spending as much or as little time as necessary until they understand.

How do you choose selections to copy?

If you want to teach good writing to your children, then you need to provide them with beautiful writing to copy. Choose passages from well-written books, poetry, songs, etc. When you use a Build Your Library grade level program or unit study, your copy work passages are chosen for you from the literature you and your child will be reading.

You can even use copywork to aid in memory work – I find that when we use our memory work as copywork it helps them to learn it quicker because they are using more of their senses – mind, hands, eyes, etc.

So what does copywork look like in a typical homeschool environment?

For a young child, I write their copywork very neatly on the top of a sheet of their writing paper. I read it over with them, pointing out anything of note and have them copy it out in their best writing. If your child is a dawdler, you may wish to set a timer. It should take no longer than 10 – 15 minutes to complete.  For an older child, I like to write out their copywork on a white board. I recommend doing copywork three days per week.

Remember, copywork isn’t only for children! We can keep our own “Commonplace Books” where we can jot down quotes from our own readings that strike our fancy. Not only is this good for our own self-education, it’s encouraging for our children to see that we are learning too.

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Shop the Summer Sale!


I am so excited to announce that Grade 8 – History of Science is complete and ready for purchase! I’ve been working really hard the last several months to get Grade 8 written before the new school year begins and I can finally say I’m finished!

To celebrate, I’m having a summer sale! For the next two weeks (July 3 – 17) you can take 20% off your entire purchase! Just use the code SummerFun20 at checkout.

So whether you are planning for the new school year or just wanting to try out a unit study or two over the summer, this is a great time to buy!

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Recommended Readers for Grades 1 and 2

One of my twins around the age of 4 happily reading about the Solar System in a laundry basket.

One of my twins around the age of 4 happily reading about the Solar System in a laundry basket.

This could potentially be a pretty long post – but I wanted to share some books that would work well with the Grade 1 and Grade 2 programs. I scoured my own personal bookshelves, as well as my town library and Amazon, to provide you with a list of great books for your children to enjoy. There is a lot of  “twaddle” out there for early readers, but there are also some real gems to be found. As reading abilities at this age vary so greatly, I will try to divide up the lists by reading level, without trying to label the books with “grade” levels.

Beginning Readers

By beginning reader – I mean just starting to sound out cvc words.

My favorite place to start is Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers. These are very simple little stories and are just right for the child just beginning to read. Since each book is only a few pages long, it’s very satisfying for a new reader to read a “whole” book.

Once they are comfortable with cvc words you can expand out into these books:

The Cat in the Hat

Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read It All by Myself Beginner Books)

Hop on Pop

Danny and the Dinosaur

Planets Around the Sun – Level 1 (See More Readers)

We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

Elephants Cannot Dance! (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

Should I Share My Ice Cream? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

Biscuit Storybook Collection

Inch and Roly Make a Wish (Ready-to-Read. Level 1)

Inch and Roly and the Very Small Hiding Place (Ready-to-Read. Level 1)

Next Step Readers

This is the stage where they’re still building confidence in their reading. The above books are too easy, but they’re not quite ready for chapter books yet. This list get’s more advanced towards the bottom.

Little Bear Boxed Set: Little Bear, Father Bear Comes Home, and Little Bear’s Visit

The Frog and Toad Collection Box Set (I Can Read Book 2)

Owl at Home (I Can Read Book 2)

Mouse Tales (I Can Read Book 2)

Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping (I Can Read Book 2)

Calling Doctor Amelia Bedelia (I Can Read Book 2)

Nate the Great

Nate the Great and the Monster Mess

Fox and Crow Are Not Friends (Step into Reading)

A Poor Excuse for a Dragon (Step into Reading)

Tut’s Mummy: Lost…And Found (Step-Into-Reading, Step 4)

Discovery in the Cave (Step into Reading)

The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War (Step-Into-Reading, Step 5)

Pompeii…Buried Alive! (Step-Into-Reading, Step 4)

Ancient Egypt: Tales of Gods and Pharaohs

Greek Myths

Iliad and the Odyssey

Tales from Shakespeare

Favorite Medieval Tales

Eric the Red and Leif the Lucky

Beginning Chapter Books

Magic Tree House Boxed Set, Books 1-4: Dinosaurs Before Dark, The Knight at Dawn, Mummies in the Morning, and Pirates Past Noon

The Minstrel in the Tower (Stepping Stone)

The Sword in the Tree (Trophy Chapter Book)

A Place in the Sun

The Ch’i-lin Purse: A Collection of Ancient Chinese Stories (Sunburst Book)

Mercy Watson to the Rescue

Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride

The Making of a Knight: How Sir James Earned His Armor

The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, No. 1) (Boxcar Children Mysteries)

Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest (Scholastic Junior Classics)

King Arthur

The Adventures of Sir Givret the Short (The Knights’ Tales Series)

The Squire’s Tale (The Squire’s Tales)

Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #14: Ancient Rome and Pompeii: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #13: Vacation Under the Volcano

Magic Tree House Fact Tracker #10: Ancient Greece and the Olympics: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #16: Hour of the Olympics

Roman Myths

Space Explorers (The Magic School Bus Chapter Book, No. 4)

Food Chain Frenzy (The Magic School Bus Chapter Book, No. 17)

Advanced Readers

This is a list for those of you who are using Grades 1 or 2 with older children and are looking for good material for them to read:

Maroo of the Winter Caves (This book is also included in the Prehistory Unit)

Warrior Scarlet

Tales of Ancient Egypt (Puffin Classics)

Mara, Daughter of the Nile (Puffin Story Books)

The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone

The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1)

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1)

Abel’s Island

The Trojan War

Theras and His Town

Galen: My Life in Imperial Rome

The Secrets of Vesuvius (The Roman Mysteries)

The Thief (The Queen’s Thief, Book 1)

The White Stag

Black Horses for the King

The Blue Sword

Pigs Might Fly

The King’s Swift Rider

Catherine, Called Birdy

Girls Who Looked Under Rocks: The Lives of Six Pioneering Naturalists


There are more than enough books here to get you started – many of the chapter books are series. Beginning readers tend to love reading a series of books. There is something about really getting to know a set of characters and sticking with them book after book. While some might consider things like Magic Tree House as twaddle, I think they are great for getting children started in reading, especially if you offer them plenty of other choices as well.

As far as a reading schedule goes – there isn’t any specific order in which to read these – some would be better with Grade 1 while others are more suited to Grade 2. Many can go with either – depending on your child’s reading level. Aim for very early readers to read aloud to you for at least 10 – 15 minutes a day. This may mean they only read a few pages of a reader, but a full chapter or even a whole book will soon be possible. Build up to 30 minutes of reading time every day, eventually reading silently. Having them read aloud is very important, even once they become comfortable, as you want to be sure they are pronouncing words correctly, enunciating, and reading with fluency. It is good practice for public speaking as well.

I hope this list proves to be helpful to you. It is important to instill a love of reading in young children, so go gently in assigning these books. If they adore Frog and Toad, it’s ok if that’s all they read for a month straight. Re-reading is totally acceptable! Your goal is to get them to enjoy reading, so let them have some freedom in their choices. There is plenty of time later for assigned reading.


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Free Earth Day Mini Unit Study

It’s Earth Day! This is a great day to get outside, especially if you’ve had a long winter. I know you can probably all enjoy a little fresh air and sunshine today. Hopefully your weather is cooperating.

I put together this fun little unit that you can do with minimal planning. Because, if you’re anything like me, you probably forgot to plan anything for Earth Day and are scrambling to throw something together this morning. No worries! I did the work for you. :)

Do it today, or turn it in to Earth Week at your house and spread out the reading and activities over the next couple days!



Books to Read:

Where Does the Garbage Go?: Revised Edition (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)

Earth Day–Hooray! (MathStart 3)

A Tree Is Nice


Websites to Visit:

Sheppard Software: Earth Day for Kids

EcoKids: Celebrate Earth Day

Time for Kids: Environment


Take a nature walk – you can use this nature scavenger hunt to help you look for interesting things.  Download the Nature Scavenger Hunt Freebie here

Plant something! Go to your local garden store and pick our some new flowers, or plant a small tree. Buy some seeds and start your summer garden. Get your hands dirty and grow something!

Make trash art – use egg cartons, bottle caps, paper towel tubes, old newspapers or magazines, buttons, old greeting cards and other recycled objects to create a fun art project. Let your imagination go wild and create something new and beautiful with the garbage.

Clean up your neighborhood – take a walk around your block and pick up the trash. You might inspire some of your neighbors to join you. Talk to your children about why we need to keep our environment clean.

Learn about biomes and create a poster or a diorama of your favorite.

Feed the birds – you could make a simple pine cone and peanut butter feeder or a milk carton feeder, or just toss some birdseed in the grass and watch as the birds flock to your yard. Keep a small notebook by your window and make a list of the various birds that come to your yard over the next several days.

I hope you have a wonderful Earth Day with your children, enjoying nature and working towards creating a better planet for our children’s future.

Did you enjoy this free mini-unit? Why not give one of Build Your Library‘s literature based Unit Studies a try?



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Shop the Build Your Library Spring Sale!

spring20Spring is slow in coming to New England, but I can finally see it taking hold. The snow is melting, the air is getting warm and that sweet smell is back in the air that means Spring is right around the corner. This is a time of waking up, going out into the sunshine and for homeschoolers, thinking about their next school year.

Which is also an excellent time to buy Build Your Library curriculum, especially during our 20% off Spring Sale! Why not check out one of our programs for your next school year? We currently offer full year lesson plans for Grades K – 7. Each year of lesson plans includes a full daily and a weekly schedules, your reading list, our exclusive Narration Cards, copywork/dictation passages, discussion questions and other activities based on the literature you and your child are reading. There are also timeline figures, research projects, art and science lessons and so much more… All you need to add is math and grammar!

Check out Build Your Library’s full year curriculum guides – Kindergarten – Grade 1 – Grade 2Grade 3Grade 4 – Grade 5 – Grade 6 Grade 7 

Now is also a great time to dive into one of our unit studies! We have a wide variety of units ranging from literary titles (The Hobbit, The Harry Potter series) to science (Darwin and Evolution, Sharks) to History and Holidays (Prehistory, WWII, The History of Thanksgiving, Winter Holidays, Jan Brett Christmas). There is something for everyone! Every unit comes with a full schedule, reading list, and a wide variety activities, from map work and writing projects, to art and science experiments to cooking and baking. There is more than enough to keep you and your child engaged in learning!

Just use the sale code: Spring20 at checkout to take 20% off your entire order. You can shop as often as you’d like, just be sure to purchase by April 15th to take advantage of the sale!

Happy Spring everyone! Don’t forget to spread the word!


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Teaching With Living Books: A Tutorial

You often hear the words “living book” tossed around in homeschooling circles, but what constitutes a living book? Can it be subjective? What are spine books? Do we have to read only literature that was written over a hundred years ago? How can I use living books in my homeschool? Today, I want to explore these ideas and discuss the nuts and bolts of educating our children with living books.


What is a Living Book and What Isn’t?

First, lets talk about the definition. A living book is one that was written by one person who has a passion for the subject they are writing about. It is a book that draws you into the story, expands your imagination, causes you to care about the subject or characters and makes you think. A living book should enrich your life in some way, either by teaching you something or expanding your point-of-view.

Living books are often classics, but they aren’t limited to them. While everyone can agree that the works of Twain, Shakespeare and Austen are worthy of study, there are many modern books, from writers like J.K. Rowling, E.L. Konigsburg and Roald Dahl, that are just as worthy and often more relevant to our children.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, we have “twaddle.” Books in this category are those that talk down to a child, are badly written or overly predictable, and are the equivalent of eating junk food. For example, a long series of books, or books that are based upon popular children’s television shows are twaddle. They are often poorly written fluff, with very little or no substance whatsoever. And like junk food, a little won’t hurt you, but too much will make reading real literature more difficult. Twaddle trains your mind to be weak. If you want to build up your brain, you must feed your mind beautiful ideas.

“For the children? They must grow up upon the best . . . There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told. Let Blake’s ‘Songs of Innocence’ represent their standard in poetry DeFoe and Stevenson, in prose; and we shall train a race of readers who willdemand literature–that is, the fit and beautiful expression of inspiring ideas and pictures of life.” ~ Charlotte Mason

But what if a book that is deemed “twaddle” is your child’s favorite book? I had one child who devoured the entire Magic Tree House series when he was 6. These books would definitely fall under the definition of twaddle – more than 30 books in the series, very simply written and quite predictable. However, he was a reluctant reader and was wary of making the leap from beginner books like Frog and Toad and Little Bear to chapter books, and those books helped him cross that bridge. They also sparked his interest in a variety of topics, from Vikings to the Titanic. So while technically they are considered twaddle, they did hold merit for my child.

While some books are obvious twaddle (a Spongebob Squarepants picture book, for example), others might be just what your child needs at that particular moment in time. No one should be book-shamed because what they are reading may not be something that Charlotte Mason herself would have chosen for her students. However, I have always refused to read aloud those kinds of books. If they want to read it in their free time, fine. But if they want me to read to them, I will choose a better book. Free reading time should be just that – free for the child to read whatever they want. But something that tends to happen when a child is served a steady diet of beautiful literature – they lose their appetite for twaddle. Suddenly they’ll notice the bad grammar or stilted dialogue, and they’ll begin to choose better books all on their own.

But what about text-books? What Are Spine Books?

With rare exception, textbooks are not living – they do not breath life into a subject. They are often written by committee, and while they can be useful for research purposes, they tend to be very dry and boring. Textbooks tend to focus on surface level information – names, dates and definitions, without going very deeply into any one subject. Instead of textbooks, you’ll use spine books. What is a spine book? A spine book will form the backbone or “spine” of your subject. It’s a book that you’ll use over the course of a semester or the full school year, and everything else within the subject will revolve around it. Living books aren’t limited to fiction. Non-fiction can be written with great literary quality, covering a wide variety of topics – biographies about historical figures or scientists, subjects within science, history and geography.

How can I use living books in my homeschool?

11069598_10205382525618468_3052024490172869765_nNow that we know what a living book is, let’s talk about how we can use them to educate our children. For some, a Charlotte Mason style, living books education can feel scattered, maybe even disjointed. One reason for this, is that when you educate this way, you’ll be reading several books at once, and often covering a wide variety of topics. While that may seem overwhelming at first, let me assure you, it isn’t. Not when you consider the idea of short lessons.

Charlotte Mason insisted on spending no more than 20 – 30 minutes on any single lesson for young children – no more than 45 minutes for an older student. That might not sound like enough time to devote to a subject, but the purpose of short lessons is to keep your child’s interest. You don’t want to turn into Ben Stein, droning on and on while your children fall into a stupor. Short readings keep their attention and insure that they are getting the most out of the materials.

“As I have said, knowledge, that is, roughly, ideas clothed upon with facts, is the proper pabulum for mind. This food a child requires in large quantities and
in great variety. The wide syllabus I have in view is intended in every point to meet some particular demand of the mind.” ~ Charlotte Mason

Another factor that comes into play here is slow reading. If you happen to have a voracious reader, the idea of slow reading might seem absurd. But hear me out. When you take your time with a book and really savor it, you will live with the characters, ponder over the ideas and have plenty of time to dwell within the pages of the book. When you live with a book for a little while, you will be able to suck all of the marrow from it’s bones. Your child will remember a book that was read slowly for a much longer time. I know the books we really lived in are the ones my children still talk about today. Not every book needs to be read slowly though – those “free reading” periods, where my children can pick whatever books they want, can be read at whatever pace they prefer. But books I have specifically chosen for educational purposes we take our time with and ruminate over.

So what does this look like in practice?   

20150316_091655Over the course of one school day, you may read a chapter from a history spine, and add something to your timeline. Maybe you’ll do a writing assignment or project pertaining to the topic being studied.

Then you might read a chapter from a read aloud, possibly historical fiction that ties into the time period being studied, but often just a beautiful piece of literature. You’ll ask your child to narrate what they heard, or copy a particularly interested or lovely passage for their copywork.

Later you’ll enjoy a poem or three, and maybe read about a scientist or a topic in your science study. Possibly you’ll work on an art project or study an artist who lived during the time period you are studying in history.

I like to divide my day so that we aren’t trying to do everything in one sitting. So, the mornings are devoted math and language arts, with our current read aloud being our kick-off in the morning. I like to read aloud at meals, because everyone is sitting down and occupied. (I either eat before or after.) Then before lunch we’ll do our history or geography lesson, followed by a science or art lesson after lunch. Over the course of the day, we’ll read from our various books, covering a wide range of subject matter, from history, to literature, to poetry and science, but everything kind of flows together.

I like to line up books in such a way that they connect – not always – but often, and then my children can make those connections. Sometimes it’s serendipitous and unplanned, like the time we were studying WWII after having recently finished reading aloud the entire Harry Potter series and one of my children had the epiphany that Voldemort and the Death Eaters were doing to the Muggle-born witches and wizards the same thing that Hitler and the Nazis were doing to the Jews. Children should make their own connections – relationships between subjects and books being read. This is when the material they are studying will really stick in their mind. It’s real learning that happens when a child soaks up engaging literature, history and science lessons; when they have time to ponder over the ideas they have been reading – this is when connections are made and that learning sticks, because they made the discovery themselves.

Another thing to note – you don’t need to do every subject, every day. So, maybe Mondays and Wednesdays we’ll have a history lesson, and Tuesdays and Thursdays we’ll do Science. I like to save anything especially fun for Fridays. It’s just a nice way to end the week, so that’s when we’ll often do our art or science experiments. Do what works best for your family! You may find that it’s easiest to do all of your reading in the evenings, rather than broken up throughout the day. Or maybe your child likes to have the final say in which order they do their lessons.

“Our business is to give him mind-stuff, and both quality and quantity are essential. Naturally, each of us possesses this mind-stuff only in limited measure, but we know where to procure it; for the best thought the world possesses is stored in books; we must open books to children, the best books; our own concern is
abundant provision and orderly serving.” ~ Charlotte Mason

Living books can be the foundation for a beautiful and rich education. It will give your child a feast of ideas, heroes to emulate, a rich vocabulary and provide a wide and varied education. These books will bring delight to your child, filling their mind with the best of the best.

You can read more about giving your child a literary education in these articles:


If you want to give your child a literary education, check out Build Your Library’s full year curriculum guides – Kindergarten – Grade 1 – Grade 2Grade 3Grade 4 – Grade 5 – Grade 6 Grade 7  as well as our wide variety of literature based Unit Studies

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Homeschooling: Keeping it Simple


I remember when I first started homeschooling. My oldest was four, and I excitedly poured over dozens of homeschool catalogs. There were so many options and all of them seemed necessary if I wanted to have a well rounded student. So, I bought way too many things and didn’t even use half of them. This same scenario would play out year after year until I finally had an epiphany.

I don’t need to cover everything every single year.

Let that sink in… because it took me a while to really let myself believe it. But it’s true. You don’t need to cover every single subject every year.

One of the things I adore about the Charlotte Mason style of education is that you can present your children with a wide array of beautiful ideas, with short lessons and in a way that connections are easily made. We don’t need to spend hours studying grammar and spelling and handwriting and reading comprehension and vocabulary and writing every year, because we can cover those things through reading, narration, copywork and dictation. That doesn’t mean that we never have to study grammar in depth – but you certainly don’t need to every year. We can let the literature, science, history and art blend together as one easily flows into the other. To me, this style of learning just makes sense.

20140812_111230One of the things I often hear from people, is that they aren’t sure if they are doing enough. How does one define “enough?” When I look at a typical course of study for each grade level, it can be intimidating. There is just so much there! And when it comes to science and social studies especially, the subject matter can seem choppy and scattered. How can one teach all of those subjects within a cohesive framework? This type of homeschooling leads to a long list of items that must be checked off each day. It leads to tedious busy work and overwhelmed mothers trying to make sure they cover everything.

Rather – I look at the overall goal: what do I want to cover over the course of their school years? What do I want them to care about? What books do I want them to read? What is important to my individual child? There is no one size fits all when it comes to education! When you look at their education as a whole – everything makes more sense. The pieces all fit together, like a puzzle.

So what does a simplified Charlotte Mason style eduction look like?

Literature is the foundation – reading great books can fill your child’s mind with ideas, leading down rabbit trails into other subjects. Reading a wide variety of great books will set the tone for your schooling. Your child will narrate what they read – first orally and eventually in writing, leading them to learn to craft essays and begin to analyze literature. They’ll learn vocabulary in context and use passages from literature as copywork and later dictation.

You study history chronologically so that you can begin to see the flow of centuries and how one leads to another. We aren’t memorizing dates and names, we’re watching the pageant of time unfold before us, finding out about the people that really lived and how they changed our world. You’ll learn geography as it pertains to history, watching empires rise and fall and seeing how the maps change through the course of time. You’ll get a glimpse of life in other cultures through beautiful stories and well chosen documentaries and movies.

Art and literature both tie into your history – you’ll see the art work that came out of the turbulent times in which the artists lived, and read books that will allow you to “visit” those time periods.

You’ll focus on only one or two science topics per year, really digging in and exploring with well written books, fascinating documentaries and enlightening experiments.

With this type of schooling, you’re using the best resources so that while you aren’t checking off endless boxes each day, you’re still giving your children a powerful and thorough education. Each piece of the puzzle brings it’s value and worth to the table. There is no busy work to “get through.” Your child’s time is more important than that.

DSC04267When you simplify – you give your child freedom. You can do your lessons in the morning and leave your afternoons open to explore, to play, to daydream. You’ll give your children time to try new things, time to just be. In this world of rush, rush, rush, it’s a real gift to allow our children that space to just breathe.


So yes, mothers, you are doing enough. You are giving your children a beautiful education, filled with ideas, and heroes, the poetry and lyricism of language and and exploration of the world around them. You’re giving them the freedom to imagine and explore. What could be more important than that?


For more simplified homeschooling – check out Build Your Library’s full year curriculum guides – Kindergarten – Grade 1 – Grade 2Grade 3Grade 4 – Grade 5 – Grade 6 Grade 7  as well as our wide variety of literature based Unit Studies



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Beating the Winter Blues

10868272_10205046604820658_183271199238241884_nIt happens every year, right around February. The thrill of the shiny new school year has worn off, the daily grind has started grinding on your nerves – maybe the cold weather is keeping you inside and your family is suffering from a bout of cabin fever. Winter burnout hits all of us, homeschool newbies and veterans alike. Maybe you feel like it’s time to throw in the towel, send the kids to school and be done with the whole thing. But take a moment first and get some perspective!

That is a yardstick - and I didn't push it all the way down through the snow.

That is a yardstick – and I didn’t push it all the way down through the snow.

There are many reasons we end up burned out, but I think the chief reason is the simplest – boredom. It’s halfway through the year and if you follow a routine, you’re maybe getting bored. Change things up a little bit and you will all feel better for it. Now I don’t mean drop everything and buy all new curriculum. But if things are feeling a bit stale, maybe take a week or two and do a unit study, or focus on an interest – art or space or whatever strikes you and your children’s fancy. Taking some time off from your routine and when you come back to it again, everything will feel fresh again.

All those kits and projects and fun books you bought at the beginning of the year (or 5 years ago!) but never got around to? Pull them out right now and declare Fun School! Your kids will think it’s Christmas.

If you live in a snowy climate, spend a few days on nature study – there are lots of great winter themed nature books:

A few other hints and tips to beat the winter blues:

Spring cleaning! Yes, I know it’s not spring, but sometimes sprucing things up around the house can make you feel so much better. And just the thought of spring can energize things. Not to mention, it’s easier to think in a clean, clutter-free house.

Get out of the house – this is hard if you live in a cold climate, but if it’s not below freezing, getting outside for some fresh air and exercise can make all the difference. And mom – you too! Don’t neglect yourself here. It’s easy to send the children out and think you’re getting some quiet time, but you need that fresh air and sunshine just as much as they do! So go out and play with them. Just think of all the calories you’re burning. 😉

10269510_10205018457516993_664453979716129957_nAnd on that note – bake a treat. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE baking. Unfortunately, I also love eating all those delicious treats. So I have to make it a special occasion thing. But hey, winter burnout counts as a special occasion, right? So bake that recipe you’ve been drooling over on Pinterest and then go run around outside with your children for a while. And what kid doesn’t love to bake? Let them help and call it life-skills.

Grow something – especially if you live in a cold climate, bringing some green into your home can work wonders. Start planning your spring garden and plant your seedlings. Just seeing that green can make the whole world seem brighter.

Don’t forget to take care of you! It’s easy for us homeschool moms to get lost in the day-to-day mothering/schooling/homemaking 24/7, but we are people too, and we need to take a little time for ourselves. Burnout doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with homeschooling. We may not have the means or the time to take a week long spa vacation, but we can go out for coffee and then spend a quiet hour at the bookstore or library, or get a pedicure and a hair cut – whatever helps you relax. Even if it’s just for one hour once a week, that hour can make all the difference in your perspective. So don’t neglect yourself!

The winter blues don’t have to ruin your homeschool year – take a moment to focus on what everyone needs right now – whether it’s a clean space, more time outdoors or a week off from the routine – and then recharge your family’s batteries.

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Flash Sale! Blizzard of 2015

Build Your Library Secular Homeschool Curriculum Sale!

Here in the Northeast, we’re having a snow day! My kids had been complaining that we haven’t had very much snow at all so far this winter… I guess Mother Nature has decided to make up for it by sending us all of the snow today during the Blizzard of 2015. We already have at least a foot of snow outside!

blizzard2015So, since we’re snowed in, I thought, why not make the best of it? Let’s have a flash sale! Today and tomorrow only (January 27 – 28), you can take 15% off of everything in our store. Just use the code Blizzard15!

This is my front yard as of 8AM this morning. Chill out Elsa!

This is my front yard as of 8AM this morning. Chill out Elsa!

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A Hint of What’s to Come – Grade 8

20150125_083911For the last month or so, I’ve been on a book-collecting spree. I knew for a while that I was going to do World History for the Grade 8 plans. Then, I got my hands on a copy of The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way at my local library. I fell in love. I knew I loved Joy Hakim’s writing style, from the History of Us series. After reading some of her science series, I knew I needed to incorporate them into Build Your Library somehow. And then it hit me – why not do a History of Science for Grade 8? And why not weave in World History as well to round it out a bit more? So, rather than just a crash-course in World History, it’s become a hybrid of History of Science through World History. You’ll still touch on all the important historical events, but you’ll be seeing them through the lens of the scientific world.

As I started scheduling the three Story of Science books and weaving in the history, I got more and more excited. I have a huge pile of books – not all of them will make the cut and end up in the curriculum – but I am aiming for a science-theme. So the books range from classics to modern YA, to science fiction to living science books. I’m even hoping to work in some living math!

I’m really excited to dig in – I’ve nearly finished scheduling the science/history portion and I already know this is going to be an incredible year!


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