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BookShark Reviews: Teaching History, Geography, and Literature with an All-in-One Program

As the summer winds down, it’s time to start thinking about homeschool curriculum, lesson plans, and schedules once more. Here’s why the BookShark curriculum makes that process easier for our family.

BookShark Curriculum Review Level H

I received BookShark H Reading with History for review purposes and I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own and I am not required to post a positive review.

To Plan or Not to Plan: That is the Question

It’s that time of year again: the glorious mid-summer weeks when I’m completely torn between spending every waking hour eating ice cream, reading, and cooling off at the lake or being a responsible adult and figuring out what on earth I’m going to teach my kids when we resume homeschooling in a month.

At this point, the ice cream, books, and beach are winning, and that’s okay with me for two reasons. First, where I live in the Pacific Northwest, summer is short-lived. We usually have less than a month’s worth of days where it’s genuinely warm enough to swim in a lake or the ocean. You blink—or sit at your laptop too long—and you miss it.

But, and perhaps more importantly, there’s another reason I’m not too worried yet about choosing our books for the fall. As I head into my eleventh year as a homeschool mom, I have a pretty good idea of the programs I want to use and how I’m going to set up our weekly schedule. Plus, I have some reliable favorites I know I can depend on.

One of these winners is our BookShark curriculum. Specifically, this year, we’re using BookShark’s Reading with History H bundle, World History, Year 2 of 2. And because every detail has been planned for me, I can lay back with the latest Emily Henry novel and a chocolate vanilla swirl for a few more weeks before I have to start thinking about teaching again.

bookshark bag and books on a table

What’s Inside BookShark’s Homeschool Curriculum Packages

Each level of the BookShark program offers a complete, literature-based curriculum for one year. Using a variety of books such as literary fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and a timeline book all tied together by a unifying historical theme, you and your kids explore a wide array of cultures and events.

When choosing a BookShark package, parents typically start by identifying the level(s) that will work best for their child(ren). The levels are designed to work with an array of age ranges, rather than a specific grade so that parents can teach multiple kids with the same curriculum as much as possible.

BookShark generally recommends that if your kids fall within a three-year age range, they can use the same package. (There’s an excellent visual aid for program selection on this BookShark Homeschool Curriculum selection page).

teen sits on couch and reads a novel

Once you’ve figured out the BookShark level or levels that will suit your family best, you can start building your customized program. You can opt for an all-subject package or choose the specific subjects you want to purchase through BookShark. I tend to start my planning with a Reading with History set as my kids do a lot of online courses and co-op classes for their other subjects.

The Reading with History H set includes:

  • An Instructor’s Guide with a 4-day schedule and lesson plans for each week
  • Story of the World Volumes 3 and 4 (Early Modern Times and Modern Age)
  • Timeline Figures
  • Fourteen read-aloud books
  • Twelve independent reading novels

Families will also need access to the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia. Other recommended resources include a D-ring 3-inch binder with tabs, a markable map with wet-erase markers, and the Timeline Book.

The video below gives you a good overview of everything included in the program.

If you choose to go with an All-Subject Package instead, you will get the full Reading with History program plus:

  • A Language Arts Instructor’s Guide
  • A complete science program including an Instructor’s Guide and all the books you need for teaching a year of science (BookShark H includes 9 science books on the topics of energy, climate change, tech, the Industrial Revolution, and more); Each book includes a selection of science experiments and a science kit with all necessary supplies is provided.
  • Math-U-See curriculum

You can also build your own bundle and choose from multiple math programs (Saxon, Singapore, and RIghtStart), add a hands-on activities package, remove any required resources you already own, or add an optional Wordly Wise book.

BookShark Virtual

A newer feature BookShark offers is the option to purchase a BookShark virtual seat.

BookShark Virtual is an online platform that lets students see their reading schedules, view story maps, take assessments, and receive instant auto-grading results. It offers parents the ability to track and review student work, customize assessments, and message students directly.

BookShark Virtual is not intended to replace the existing BookShark program, but rather to supplement it. The vast majority of the student’s work will still be done offline, but the online schedule will help them keep on track without creating additional administrative work for their teacher. History, language arts, and science are all integrated into BookShark Virtual. If you are using Math-U-See, it too can be integrated into BookShark Virtual. Students can access all lessons, videos, and digital apps.

You can add this to any program by selecting the BookShark virtual seat from the customization tab.

What We Love about BookShark

Although I review our curriculum choices on an annual basis, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t over the past year, I find myself coming back to the BookShark history programs again and again. I have used these programs almost every year, except for those that cover American history, which I always sub out with my own Canadian history program (#loveyourcountry).

girl sits in a chair and reads a poetry book

Here are a few of the things I love about the BookShark print curriculum:

  • 4-Day Schedule. The BookShark curriculum is spread out over four days, leaving us a full day each week for co-op classes and field trips (or—let’s be honest—to make up for those days where we just don’t feel like doing school).
  • Timeless, award-winning books. Finding great books for my kids to read is one of the hardest parts of homeschooling for me. They’re all voracious readers who’ve read ahead of their grade level since a young age. Finding books that are challenging and interesting without too much edgy or mature content is tough. Each BookShark program comes with a whopping stack of amazing books (mostly historical fiction) that have stood the test of time. While we don’t fall in love with every single one, many of our favorite books were discovered through this curriculum. (Full disclosure: not every book included in BookShark is a winner in our house. Some of the older books are written in a style that just doesn’t resonate with my kids. I always give them the option of not finishing a book if they’ve tried 40 or 50 pages and they just can’t get into it. I am not in the business of homeschooling to force my kids to finish books that aren’t doing anything for them).
  • The Teacher’s Guide. The Instructor’s Guide does a good job of laying out the scheduled task for the current week so we don’t have to think about it at all. You can choose to work across the grid, diving deep into a different book each day, or down the columns, touching on each topic a little bit daily. Even though the Instructor’s Guide lays out the lesson plans for us, I feel like there’s enough flexibility to make it my own. I don’t do everything suggested, or even recommended. I skip many of the optional activities or substitute my own. I love that the work is done for me, but even more, I love that I can make it work for my family without feeling like I’m missing out on something crucial.

Check out the Instructor’s Guide for yourself: BookShark Reading with History H Instructor’s Guide samples.

Try BookShark Today

If you’re looking for a done-for-you program, rooted in great literature and filled with flexibility, consider giving BookShark a try. Your kids will get a sweeping tour of world history and you’ll get relaxed mornings where you might actually get to finish your coffee while it’s still hot.

Find the right BookShark program for your family and let the good books roll.

a girl reads a book