About Build Your Library Curriculum

Build Your Library – secular homeschool curriculum, literature based – 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 secular literature based science lessons.  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 PDF Products Available for Purchase:
Level 0 – Level 1 – Level 2 – Level 3 – Level 4 – Level 5 – Level 6 – Level 7 – Level 8 – Level 9 – Level 10 – (See Levels vs. Grades vs. Ages)

Current PDF Unit Studies – Supplemental Educational Products Available for Purchase:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Unit Study
History of Thanksgiving Unit Study
A Jan Brett Christmas Unit Study
Winter Holidays Around the World Unit Study
The Hobbit Unit Study
Darwin and Evolution Unit Study
Sharks! Unit Study
World War II Unit Study
Prehistory Unit Study

Other PDF Educational Products:
Narration Cards
Book of Centuries and Timeline Figures

Books:
A Literary Education: Adapting Charlotte Mason for Modern Secular Homeschooling (Paperback)

A Literary Education: Adapting Charlotte Mason for Modern Secular Homeschooling (Kindle Edition)

NEW:
BYL Family Reading Crate (subscription-style book box)

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#bylcrateselfie Contest!

Request for pictures of you with your BYL Family Reading Crate!

We are looking for some pictures of you with your reading crate box for our use with future marketing efforts (webpage, Facebook, etc.).

If you would like to participate, please upload a picture of yourself with the hashtag #bylcrateselfie to your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account, and/or post as a reply to our Facebook post. Please use last month’s January box if you still have it, or use your February box after it arrives in a week or so.

All #bylcrateselfie pictures posted by Feb 28, 2018 will be eligible to win an April 2018 Family Reading Crate, one random winner* will be announced on March 1, 2018 when the April 2018 Family Reading Crate pre-order goes live.

 *Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received throughout the Sweepstakes Period.

Fine print contest mumbo, jumbo:

  1. Any pictures submitted will be cropped to a square if used on our website, as seen in the examples. You do not have to do any cropping yourself, but pose in a way that accommodates that final shape.
  2. Please do not submit a picture with your child if you do not wish for that picture to possibly be used in our marketing (no names, just box selfie picture).
  3. Pictures become property of Build Your Library for normal marketing uses, such as webpage sidebar or collage pictures.
  4. Previous purchase of a BYL Family Reading Crate is required, simply because you need one of our boxes to snap said selfie 🙂
  5. Winner must provide a US mailing address for free shipping of crate, or purchase the shipping upcharge for an international USPS package

 

Actual Standard Fine print (we are official here… 🙂 )

By submitting any photo or information to Build Your Library, you hereby grant to Build Your Library an irrevocable, perpetual and royalty-free right to use, reproduce, edit, display, transmit, prepare derivative works of, modify, publish and otherwise make use of the submitted photo or other information in any and all media, whether now known or hereinafter created, throughout the world and for any purpose. In addition to other things, the rights granted to Build Your Library includes but is not limited to the right to resize, crop, censor, compress, edit, feature, caption, affix logos to, and to otherwise alter or make use of the submitted photo. By submitting any photo or information to Build Your Library, you hereby represent and warrant that the submitted photo or information does not and shall not infringe on any copyright, any rights of privacy or publicity of any person, or any other right of any third party, and you have the right to grant any and all rights and licenses granted to Build Your Library herein, including but not limited to all necessary rights under copyright, free and clear of any claims or encumbrances.
You acknowledge and agree that Build Your Library shall have no obligation to post, display or otherwise make publicly available any photo or information submitted by you, and may, in its sole and unfettered discretion, remove, edit, modify or delete any photo or information that you submit to Build Your Library.
You understand and intend that any photo or information submitted by you to Build Your Library may be available for viewing, rating, review and comment on by the public, and understand that comments or ratings with which you disagree or are unhappy about may be published or otherwise become associated with any photo or information you submit to Build Your Library. By submitting any photo or information to Build Your Library, you hereby waive any privacy expectations that you may have with respect to any such photo or information submitted by you to Build Your Library.
You hereby agree to hold Build Your Library harmless from and against, and hereby waive any right to pursue, any claims of any nature arising in connection with the inclusion in, publication via or display on any Build Your Library site, or any other use authorized under these Terms, of any photo or information submitted to Build Your Library by you.
Photos or information submitted by you to the Site shall be the property of Build Your Library, and Build Your Library shall have no obligation to preserve, return or otherwise make available to you or others any photos or information so submitted.
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Skip this book.

Every book that has been scheduled into Build Your Library products has been specially curated for a specific purpose. It has been pre-read, evaluated and assigned to be read aloud by the parent or read independently by your child in accordance with the specifically themed topic being covered.

But what do you do if your child hates the assigned reader, no matter how much encouraging, poking and prodding you do?

Read it aloud

If the book was scheduled to independently read by the child, try to read it aloud to them or find an audio version. Sometimes a child is just not able to comprehend as well when reading alone, and that makes them dislike reading. If you are finding the books too challenging, let them choose easier books for a time. Reading aloud those challenge books will take the pressure of decoding off of them so they can just listen and enjoy the story.

We have several post on how to read aloud if you have additional issues.

See also: Read Aloud SabotageThe Importance of Reading Aloud, or The Benefits of Reading Aloud to Teens

Try again later

Sometimes coming back to a book, topic or assignment later on will be enough reinvigorate your child’s interest. There have been plenty of times in my personal reading life when I picked up a book I expected to love but just couldn’t get into it. Often, just setting it aside and coming back to it later did the trick. So why should we expect that our children shouldn’t have the same issue? Maybe they aren’t ready to leave Ancient Egypt yet, so set aside the books about Greece and let them linger where their interest lies.

Perhaps it is not the book, but the reader? Just because a book is considered great, does not mean that every reader will enjoy it. That doesn’t make the book less great, it just means it’s not for you, or not for your child. Learning what kind of books we personally enjoy is an important skill, and letting our children know that they have some control over their reading preferences can go a long way into making them readers.

See also: How to Hook a Reluctant Reader

Swap it out

If there is another book on that topic, perhaps you can try to find an alternate. Perhaps a book written by a different author will speak to your child differently. Perhaps a “thinner” book will look less intimidating, or shorter book will appeal to your child a bit more if the topic isn’t high on their interest list.

A perfect example would be the Little House in the Big Woods assigned in our Level 0 program. This book is often either beloved or hated – there doesn’t seem to be a lot of in between. So if you find yourself in the hating camp, you might choose to read some of the picture book versions of the stories and call it good. Or you might seek out a different pioneering family book, like Caddie Woodlawn or Sarah, Plain and Tall.

Especially in the younger grades, it is more important to become a fluent reader in general, rather than absorb a lot of information certain specific topics. So feel free to seek out other options if a book is just not working for your child. There are too many wonderful books out there to get stuck on a book that isn’t working.

Video break

If you think your child just isn’t getting into the topic or can’t (or won’t) picture what is going on, you might try to find an engaging documentary that gives a visual representation of the time period or events that the book. Then go back and read the book with the visuals fresh in their mind.

If the book has been made into a movie, you can try to let your child watch the first half hour of the movie to see it that will trigger an interest. Typically we try to encourage reading the book before watching the movie… but if you are particularly stuck on a certain book, this might just be the thing to build some interest.

Insist

Sometimes you just need to stick it out. If this is a particularly important book, perhaps you can turn it into a family book club, and have mom or dad read it with them. Besides the normal discussion questions, you can talk about what you both liked and disliked about the book. Talk about what could be improved or changed. This becomes especially important when you hit the high school years. There will be challenging books that you just have to get through.

You can also look up online discussions or book reviews by other people to see what they thought about that piece of literature. Make sure you can cover the finer points of the book that might be missed by an unenthusiastic reader skimming through and point out what the most important parts were.

Skip it

If all else fails, or if this is not a battle worth fighting… can this book simply be skipped? If your child regularly reads everything else, but this book is particularly difficult to get through… and if this book isn’t the most important book of his or her academic career, skip it.

You won’t hurt my feelings. 🙂

I have a longstanding rule in my house that we have to give a book at least 3 chapters. After that, if a book isn’t holding your interest, or it feels like drudgery every time you pick it up, then you can stop reading that book. There are too many books in the world to waste your time on one that isn’t working for you.

When I wrote the Instructor Guides, they are just that, guides or suggestions. While all of my suggestions are well thought out, meticulously scheduled and cross-related to other topics and reading selections, you as the parent have the ultimate control of following, tweaking and swapping out any of your homeschool materials as you see fit, to perfectly suit your children.


BYL Book Selections that might be skipped or swapped…

Story of the World (Levels 1-4) – There are some issues with this series, except it is the best resource of its kind for that age bracket. Is it 100% secular? No. Does Build Your Library skip or point out what material may be questionable? Yes. Is 99% of the rest of the material great? Yes.

Girl in a Cage (Level 2) – I include a caveat about this one in the Instructor’s guide, because it can be a difficult story for sensitive children. But that being said, this is one of my favorite children’s historical fiction novels. Jane Yolen is a fantastic author and she does such a great job bringing the time period to life. Marjorie is a wonderful heroine – she’s so strong and brave despite all of the terrible things she has to go through. But if you think that this story might be too much for your child, feel free to skip it.

Rebel’s of the Heavenly Kingdom (Level 4) – This, again, is not an easy story to read. But it is one of those rare gems, in that it covers a time period that you rarely see in children’s literature – the Taiping Rebellion in China in the mid-1800s. It’s a raw and gritty story, which is why I scheduled it as a read aloud rather than a book for children to read on their own. But like Girl in a Cage, the author does a masterful job of bringing this time and place to vivid life.

BYL Book Selections that are non-negotiable…

Harry Potter Series – We can’t be friends, if you don’t like Harry Potter. Just kidding, (not really 🙂 ).


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

Have you seen my new book?



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Read everyday. I love books.

We use several reoccurring phases at Build Your Library. If you have purchased one of our new Family Reading crates, you will find them printed on the sides of the box. “Read everyday.” “I love books.” Our catch phrase “Building young minds, One book at a time…” Even our name “Build Your Library” implies a two-fold reading themed meaning, building your home library by filling in with good literature and building a vast library of personal knowledge in the heads of your children.

With each curriculum level of Build Your Library, you and your child will read dozens of assigned books from the topics covered throughout the year. But it doesn’t have to stop there. Many times you will find that your children will long to delve deeper into a particular subject matter. Which is one of the best things about homeschooling your child, the flexibility and time to do just that!

More by author

Just like you probably have favorite authors, perhaps Stephen King, Neil Gaiman or George R.R. Martin, and you read as many of their books as you can get your hands on… the same can be true for your children. If you read an assigned book that your child particularly likes, look up additional works by the same author, just for fun. One of our favorite authors is Kate DiCamillo, and we use The Tale of Despereaux in BYL Level 1The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane in Level 2 and Because of Winn-Dixie in Level 4.  But I’m sure your local public library has several other of her wonderful works available to check out, such as Flora & Ulysses or The Tiger Rising.

Another favorite author in our house is Roald Dahl. His books are delightfully silly and thought provoking. You’ll read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in BYL Level 1, and from there you might want to check out Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Twits, or The Witches. Anytime a book seems to particularly speak to your child, search out more of that author’s work. They may discover another new favorite!

More by subject

I’m sure there are many assigned topics that become instant hits, prompting many further discussions and stacks of library books. Dinosaurs, sharks, knights and mythology have always been prolific and productive rabbit trails. If you have been following our blog posts here in the past, you know that even with over 50-60 books on dinosaurs in our personal home library, we have still carried several piles of dinosaur books from the public library at the request of our one-time aspiring paleontologist. And all of these borrowed books were actively flipped through, read and prompted many newly learned facts to be shared at the dinner table.

More by time period

There are several fascinating time periods that get too briefly covered throughout your children’s years of schooling. The ones that pique the most interest make wonderful segues into inspiring further research. We have found many popular time periods throughout our homeschooling studies that our children just begged to be covered more thoroughly.

But one of our personal favorites is when we can pull some family genealogical tie ins into a historical time period. My husband has been researching our family tree for many years, so we have a rather extensive set of branches that we can trace to many significant historical events. Our children have 8th great grandfathers in the Revolutionary War, 4th great grandfathers in the Civil War, 4th great grandparents living during the Irish Potato famine, and even 13th great grandparents traced back to the Mayflower. It comes up every year on TV watching the Peanuts (Thanksgiving)/Mayflower Voyage when they name our ancestors landing at Plymouth Rock with Charlie Brown.

It doesn’t even have to be that specific. If you know you have French ancestry, you can expect that certain events around the time of Napoleon must have occurred within the lifetimes of not-too-distant relatives. Perhaps that could spawn a desire to research your own family history, or at least inspire a more personal connection to certain historical events directly relating to cousins several generations back.

More by other media sources

Educational inspiration can come in many forms. While reading can be an exceptional learning tool on its own, I think that collaborating with other media sources can offer an even deeper understanding and richer illustration of topics. With YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos or your cable on-demand offerings, you should be able to find a vast assortment of (mostly) historically accurate movies and documentaries.

We have had several instances when after we read through some literature, watching a visual representation on TV prompted many discussions on “Oh, that’s what the streets of medieval London or the Native American Indian settlement looked like…” Which in turn, can spur seeking out additional books to be read with an newly enlightened outlook to the conditions and hardships that occurred.

It can also be beneficial to giving your child pegs in which to remember when and how things happened and are related. An example from my own experiences – I adored the movie Lady Jane as a girl. It wasn’t until I’d seen the movie a half dozen times that I decided to learn more and found out how incredibly inaccurate the film was. I ended up devouring books, movies and documentaries about the Tudor family and was able to firmly place the events of the time period in my mind… all starting with that one movie.

Read, Read, Read.

While Build Your Library strives to do just that, fill your house with books, and fill your child’s mind with libraries of knowledge, we are also hoping to help foster a love of reading and a quest for learning. Using the assigned books and topics in the Build Your Library curriculum, Unit Studies or Family Reading Crates are great springboards into reading and learning more and more.

You can find many additional book suggestions contained within each of the BYL Level Instructor Guides, my book A Literary Education: Adapting Charlotte Mason for Modern Secular Homeschooling, other blog posts here or in our Family Reading Crates.

Happy Reading!

Other Related Article(s):


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

Have you seen my new book?



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Build Your Library on Tour 2018

2017 SEA Vendor Booth in WV.

Its that time of year again when we can start to announce our 2018 travel plans so you can try to attend a secular homeschool convention and catch Build Your Library in person. So far, we have 2 conference appearances scheduled. We will update this page if any new dates or events come up.

[MARCH 2018 – Glen Allen, VA]
Build Your Library will be at the 2018 VaHomeschoolers Conference and Resource Fair on Friday, March 23, and Saturday, March 24, 2018 at The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen, Virginia.

Their annual two-day conference usually yields over 1,000 homeschoolers from all around Virginia and the surrounding areas. Attendees will enjoy dozens of sessions featuring speakers (2018 Keynote Speaker: Melissa Wiley) and topics ranging from a wide variety of homeschool philosophies and approaches, as well as an exhibit hall (with a Build Your Library booth), used homeschool resource sale and several social events.

[JULY 2018 – Atlanta, GA]
A few months later, the S.E.A. (Secular. Eclectic. Academic.) Homeschoolers will be hosting their second annual SEA Homeschoolers Conference 2018 on Thursday, July 12 through Sunday, July 15, 2018 at Marriott Marquis, in Atlanta, Georgia.

They have a full 4-day schedule of events, over a dozen speakers (2018 Keynote Speakers: Julie Bogart / Blair Lee) and a bunch of secular homeschool related vendors.


If any of you are anywhere near or within travel distance to either of these conferences in Virginia or Georgia, we would love to see you in person at our Build Your Library vendor booth. If you have been looking for one of the few-and-far-between secular homeschool conventions, the SEA Homeschoolers Conference 2018 may be the one you want to make plans to get to. Last year the SEA Conference was in West Virginia and they plan on rotating locations around the country each year. Both of these events have close and affordable lodging options for those traveling from out of town and are both packed with activities and talks to keep you busy.

Please swing by one of our booths and say hello, grab some Build Your Library swag (BYL bookmarks, pencils, and catalog flyers), talk to us about our homeschool products in person or get a signed copy of my book A Literary Education: Adapting Charlotte Mason for Modern Secular Homeschooling. We might even have some of our past Family Reading Crates available too. See you there!

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Purchase: Family Reading Crate

Welcome to the second installment of the Build Your Library Family Reading Crate! The February 2018 theme is The World of Birds! I’m including five books in this box – two picture books for younger children, a family read aloud, a book for older readers, and a book for you, the parent! These books are handpicked by me so that you are all reading quality literature.

Every box will include a booklet with discussion questions and rabbit trail ideas, as well as a link to a page on our site with additional links, booklists, movies and documentaries, and printable activities to go along with the books.

You’ll also always receive a few exclusive crate bookmarks, and at least one or two additional items that go along with the monthly theme.

It’s like getting an all-inclusive family-wide unit study in a box each month!

See the full BYL Family Reading Crate (FAQ) here.

** Pre-Order for the March 2018 – BYL Family Reading Crate will be live on February 1, 2018 **

 

February 2018 – The World of Birds – BYL Family Reading Crate

January 2018 – Alaska: The Last Frontier – BYL Family Reading Crate

 

Posted in Books | 2 Comments

2018 Practical Homeschooling Magazine Reader’s Choice award

For the fourth year in a row, Build Your Library has been nominated for the Practical Homeschooling Magazine Reader’s Choice awards!

While I am not particularly one for receiving accolades, I really do appreciate being able to describe Build Your Library as an Award Winning Homeschool Curriculum! Three years ago, our first year nominated, we received an Honorable Mention green badge in 2015. The following two years in 2016 and 2017, we received Third Place yellow badges.

If you are so inclined and you enjoy Build Your Library, we would love your vote this year!

Also be sure to vote for the other fantastic secular homeschool curriculum that has been nominated! Real Science Odyssey, All About Reading, Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts – this is a great way to support your favorite homeschool companies!

Vote in the Practical Homeschooling Reader Awards Here

Voting is open until December 25. Thank you so much for your support.

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Unit Study: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I am very excited to announce the next installment in our Harry Potter unit study series! It’s time to head back to Hogwarts for Harry’s fifth year in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

This year Harry has a lot on his plate. The Ministry of Magic is actively working against him, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor is taking over the school, and school work as doubled as the fifth years prepare for their O.W.L. exams.

In this unit, like the units preceding it, you’ll continue your Magical Terms and Spells Glossary, Magical Devices Guide, Magical Creatures Field Guide, Travel Guide to the Wizarding World (Magical Places), and the Weekly Prophet. As always, there are copywork/dictation passages taken from the novel, as well as vocabulary and discussion questions to help you get the most out of the story.

This unit also includes a Defense Against the Dark Arts Hogwarts course – just like Harry and his friends had to work together to fight against the rising evil in the Wizarding World, you and your child will be learning about Activism and how they can fight against the evils in our own world. You’ll be reading about children who saw a problem and stood up to do something about it in It’s Our World, Too: Young People Who Are Making a Difference. The major project in this course will be working on a service project, using the book The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects for inspiration and guidance.

The Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix unit study will take approximately 4 weeks to complete and is appropriate for upper-elementary and up. The PDF file is 53 pages and includes a full schedule, project ideas and 9 activity pages.

Purchase the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Unit Study – $5.99

Add to CartView Cart


** Our PayPal e-Junkie powered shopping cart will process your order. All our digital programs are in PDF form. They cannot be returned or refunded. Once you place your order, you will receive a download link to your items.

As a reminder, if you are going to purchase books we would greatly appreciate the use of our provided Amazon Links or our Amazon Store! Thanks!


Harry Potter Unit Study Frequently Asked Questions:
Do we have to start with the Sorcerer’s Stone unit study, or can we jump in at any of the books?

Yes and no. While these unit studies are semi-standalone if they had to be, they are designed to be completed in the order that the book series ran. Like the storyline in the books, the unit studies continue to build off of each other as they progress. You will start several activities such as keeping a glossary of magical terms and spells or creating a field guide of magical devices, to name a few. These will be used through the unit study series and new activities and additional entries will be completed in subsequent lesson plan.

If we already read the book, do we have to read it again to complete the unit study?

The unit study is designed to enhance the reading (or re-reading) of the book. While you are going through the chapters, vocabulary words are pulled out and activities are performed that correlate with what you are reading. This is the perfect unit to complete on your first reading of the book, as well as a perfect companion for reading the book again and diving deeper into the lore and story.

Are you planning on writing unit studies for all of the Harry Potter books?

Yes, absolutely! But currently, we have the following Harry Potter unit studies completed:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Unit Study

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Unit Study

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Levels vs. Grades vs. Ages

When we started Build Your Library, we adopted the “standard” public school style naming conventions, such as Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 2, etc. Of course, there is no “standard” in homeschooling, but those grade levels seemed appropriate at the time. Appropriate and familiar. When I went to public school, I didn’t go to the Level 12 classroom… But then we started to get some pretty relevent questions about the set up of our curriculum:

“Which grade level should I begin at with my 8 year old?”

“My sixth grader hasn’t studied any American history, can we start with Grade 5 or will it be too easy?”

“Will Grade 1 be too hard for my advanced 5 year old?”

I get these and similar questions about the “grade levels” all the time. It’s probably my most frequently asked question. My usual response is that the grade levels are subjective. The material that Build Your Library covers is content based – history, art, literature, science – these courses aren’t typically measured so much by grade as by interest. No one would pick up a copy of A Wrinkle in Time and ask themselves “What grade level is this book?” Yet when it comes to history, science, or any of those other content subjects, we tend to think in terms of grade level. Why is that?

I think we have been ingrained by society to think of education as boxes to tick off – a 6 year old  is a 1st grader who must know these specific things. That is a public school model for learning. As homeschoolers, we are freed from those chains, yet we have held on to them. They are comforting. They tell us that we are on target… that our children are learning what they ought to learn.

Over the years, customers have asked me if we could change the Grades to Levels. I have been brainstorming about that for a while and I think it is finally time that Build Your Library evolves and adopts this change.

As of now, all of our full year programs will now be designated “levels” rather than grades. This currently doesn’t change any of the content. But it might make it easier to choose a level to begin at when you are first starting out, or make it easier to use one level with multiple children without the oldest thinking they are doing “baby” school work.

The levels will work like this:
(BYL Level – Approximate School Grade – Recommended Age Range)

  • Level 0 – Kindergarten – ages 4 – 6
  • Level 1 – Grade 1 – ages 6 – 8
  • Level 2 – Grade 2 – ages 7 – 9
  • Level 3 – Grade 3 – ages 8 – 10
  • Level 4 – Grade 4 – ages 9 – 11
  • Level 5 – Grade 5 – ages 10 – 12
  • Level 6 – Grade 6 – ages 11 – 13
  • Level 7 – Grade 7 – ages 12 – 14
  • Level 8 – Grade 8 – ages 12 – 15
  • Level 9 – Grade 9 – ages 14 – 16
  • Level 10 – Grade 10 – ages 15 – 17 

For those accustomed to the previous “Grade Level” format of Build Your Library, Level effectively equals Grade. If you have previously purchased a BYL Grade Level curriculum, this update is very minor and only difference is the reference to Level vs. Grade vs. Age. You would not need an updated copy of the instructor’s guide like if we actually made a change to the booklist, schedule or other functionality… that is unless you specifically want the copy that references a numeric level. We’d be happy to send you a new copy.

Please bear with us as we update the references throughout the webpage. There may still be instances where levels, grades or age ranges may still be used interchangeably.


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

Have you seen my new book?



Posted in General Homeschooling | 2 Comments

Shop Our Black Friday/Cyber Monday Sale!

It’s my favorite time of year! The air is crisp, we’re bundled up in fuzzy socks and cozy sweaters, and my children and I are baking up a storm! There’s just something so homey and warm about a Christmas tree and holiday lights. It makes me want to snuggle on the couch with a good book and some hot chocolate.

To kick off the holiday season, we’re having a sale you won’t want to miss!

From November 24 – December 8 you can take 25% off your entire purchase of our digital products when you use the code “cranberry” at checkout.

If you’ve been wondering if Build Your Library is the right program for you, this is a great time to try it out and see for yourself.

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:
Level 0 – Level 1 – Level 2 – Level 3 – Level 4 – Level 5 – Level 6 – Level 7 – Level 8 – Level 9 – Level 10 – (See Levels vs. Grades vs. Ages)

Current Unit Studies – Supplemental Educational Products Available for Purchase:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Unit Study
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Unit Study
History of Thanksgiving Unit Study
A Jan Brett Christmas Unit Study
Winter Holidays Around the World Unit Study
The Hobbit Unit Study
Darwin and Evolution Unit Study
Sharks! Unit Study
World War II Unit Study
Prehistory Unit Study

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

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What’s in our Morning Basket?

When my teens were very small, every morning we had Circle Time. It was our favorite part of the homeschool day. We would literally sit in a circle on the floor and I’d read them picture books, we’d sing songs, work on our letter of the day activities, practice memory work, and play games to practice math.

This time spent together was a way to begin our day joyfully. Circle time was sacred. When we began our school days with 30-40 minutes of stories, songs, and games, we were able to tackle the less appealing subjects (usually math for my crew) more easily, because everyone was in a good mood. The children were happy because  Mama had read them a favorite or new favorite story and taught them a new song. Mom was happy, because I had started our day with the things that were most important to me.

As they grew older, our Circle Time tradition evolved into Morning Time. I still read them stories, but the singing and games fell away as we added in other odd-ball topics or subjects that didn’t fit anywhere else in our day – art study, music appreciation, poetry, all of those things that tended to fall by the wayside when we got too busy. Now that they are all teenagers, they don’t really have “Morning Time” anymore. Although I will still read aloud to them and go over what work I expect them to accomplish each day.

But as my youngest came to be school aged, I found myself missing that morning time. So last year I reinstated Morning Time by setting up a Morning Basket just for her. Our morning basket is where I put all the things that I consider to be important – too important to let slip by the wayside when our day got busy.

Morning baskets are a great way to ensure that you get to those important things first. Do you find that poetry memorization often gets skipped, even though you really want to make it happen? Add it to the Morning Basket! Have you been wanting to incorporate a new resource but can’t figure out when it fits into your day? Add it to the Morning Basket!

Note: The following video is from last November, but you can check out more videos about our Morning Baskets at my channel: What’s in our Morning Basket playlist

The beauty of Morning Basket time is simplicity. We never spend more than 30 – 45 minutes on our Morning Basket, so I make sure to choose the best-of-the-best materials to get the absolute most out of our morning. If the rest of our day goes haywire, I can rest in the assurance that we got to the most important things first.

You can include many things in your Morning Time basket – from your daily read aloud, to poetry, to those fun activities and games you bought on impulse but have no idea how to fit into your homeschool. From foreign language to science, you can make Morning Time the best part of your day.

Here’s what I currently have in my 8-year-old’s Morning Basket:

Living history and science books are always a part of our morning time. These are books we read multiple times a week – often daily. Currently we are studying Grade 2: The Medieval World, and we’ve been studying human anatomy at my daughter’s request.

This is also where I incorporate art history. Because my youngest loves to draw and is currently obsessed with making her own comics, I’ve added this fun Usborne book for her as well. We generally only read from one of these books once a week.

Mad Libs is my favorite way to sneak in grammar instruction in the early years. What child doesn’t love making up a funny story?!  They can learn the parts of speech without even realizing they are learning. We do a Mad Lib story or two twice a week.

These books are a feast for the eyes. I am always looking for interesting ways to teach geography and history and I have been very pleased with this series. Once a week we use Maps and once every other week or so we’ll read from Timeline. Usually we’ll pick it up as it pertains to what we are studying in history.

I especially like that they come with these activity books – my worksheet loving 8 year old can have her worksheet and I appreciate that these don’t feel like pointless busy work. They give you some very creative ways to get the most out of the text. We’ll use these whenever they correspond to the days reading.

Morning Time gives us the freedom to enjoy the rest of our day without feeling like we are always missing those important subjects. After spending our 30 – 45 minutes snuggled up on the couch reading, we can more easily tackle the rest of our day.

Do you use morning baskets in your daily routine? What’s in your morning basket? Comment below, we’d love to hear from you.


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. You can also check out her author page on Amazon.

Have you seen my new book?


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