We are switching from Sonlight to Bookshark for Storyteller’s 1st grade year. Both of them are literature based programs but Bookshark is a secular version of Sonlight. Both companies focus on history and geography in their main program but also offer language arts and science. Sonlight offers both 5 day and 4 day options but Bookshark only offers a 4 day schedule. Obviously, families are free to spread or condense days as they need with any program they use. I wanted to do a comparison to see which books are different between the two programs. I also compared Sonlight’s A Science program and Bookshark’s K Science program.
UPDATE: Sonlight has many some changes since I first published this post. I want to keep this post intact so I have published a post with the new information. You can check it out here. Thanks!
We opted to do Bookshark’s K program, called Reading with History, for 1st grade. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the history topics get into some dark topics in the 3rd grade level so many veteran Sonlight users, and now Bookshark users, recommend delaying what is labeled as 3rd grade until the 4th grade especially for sensitive students. I’ve heard that Bookshark may be relabeling their programs to reflect this. Each level also has an age range so it’s easy to use with children close in age. Skill based subjects such as math and language arts are still taught based on the student’s skill level. I compared Sonlight’s Core A (5 day program) to Bookshark’s Reading with History K (4 day program). Both companies list these programs for 5-7 year olds. Both programs are titled Intro to the World: Cultures.
Religious Books excluded from Bookshark
Egermeier’s Bible Story Book
I Heard Good News Today
Sing the Word from A-Z (CD)
Bookshark, being a secular curriculum, doesn’t have the Bible study portion of Sonlight’s Cores. Bookshark isn’t just for secular homeschoolers though. Many people use Bookshark and incorporate their own Bible studies.
Additional History Books in Bookshark K – 4 Day Program
The Story of Exploration
Out of Darkness
Bookshark has added books to replace the religious books that were removed. In this level, it is two history books.
Additional Read Aloud Books in Sonlight Core A – 5 Day Program
The Story about Ping
In Grandma’s Attic
Five True Dog Stories
Least of All
Complete Adventures of Curious George
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
After reading the descriptions for the Read Aloud books on Amazon, it looks like Least of All is the only book that is not secular. None of them directly tie in with the history portion of the curriculum but they sound like great books to put on our reading list. We’ll be checking them out of the library throughout the year. All of these books are in Sonlight’s 5 day program, not their 4 day option. This is a great example of how both of these programs are much more than simply a history curriculum.
Additional Science Books in Sonlight’s Science A – 5 day program
Tadpoles and Frogs
Caterpillars and Butterflies
Eggs and Chicks
Under the Sea
Sonlight also offers their science program with 4 and 5 day options. Bookshark’s is a 4 day program. The above books are only found in Sonlight’s 5 day program. At this level, Sonlight’s science books are secular. Storyteller is very excited about science right now so I somewhat regret the decision to buy the Bookshark science since it only has four days. However, we’ve already read a lot about these topics so I don’t feel like we’re skipping anything. I did notice, after we bought it, that this Bookshark program is the same price as Sonlight’s 5 day version and Sonlight has four additional books with it. When it comes time to buy next year’s science, I will definitely look more closely at the options and their prices.
I didn’t compare the two language arts programs because we are not using either one for this level. I will mention though that Sonlight’s Core includes a language arts program that can be customized based on the child’s level. Bookshark’s Reading with History program comes with the Language Arts Readers that can also be customized for the child’s level. But it does not come with the actual language arts program which includes the L.A. Instructor’s Guide and a few odds and ends (like a Bingo game) depending on the level. Since they were included, we choose the 1st grade readers for Storyteller. She can read most of them fairly easily already but it looked like the second grade readers would be too much for her.
Some Final Thoughts
We’ve really enjoyed Sonlight’s P4/5 Core. We weren’t thrilled with the Bible portion. It may be fine for other families but it wasn’t a good fit for us. So, we were happy to find out about Bookshark. One of my hesitations in choosing Bookshark is that I don’t want to miss out on something. I’ve heard it said that Bookshark is the same as Sonlight’s 4 day program but without the religious books. I would rather it be the same as Sonlight’s 5 day program. This is what prompted me to do an item by item comparison of the two options so that I could really understand the differences in the book lists. I’m happy to see that Bookshark includes two additional history books so it doesn’t feel like we’re missing out by choosing their 4 day program over secularizing Sonlight’s 5 day program. I would love the extra read aloud books in Sonlight’s 5 day program however I am happy that the excluded books don’t tie directly in with the history portion of the program…at least not at this level. We will have countless extra books to read from the library regardless of which curriculum we choose so adding these books to our list is easy. We are really excited to get started with this big pile of books for Storyteller’s first grade year!