We used Sonlight in a secular fashion for years before switching to BookShark. This is a collection of links to posts about Sonlight and/or BookShark.

*General Posts*

  •  Handling All the Reading - A few ideas on fitting in all the readings these two programs require, especially when using multiple Cores. 
  •  My Working Binder - Rather than lugging around those huge Sonlight/BookShark binders, I rely on a smaller binder to hold only the weeks we are working on.
  • A Review of the Timeline Book - Both Sonlight and BookShark offer a timeline book. Here's why I love it!
  • Setting up a Core - How I set up to teach Core P 4/5 & Core C.
  • Simplifying Sonlight - This post is a bit out of date - we are definitely no longer done with schoolwork by 12:30! But I do still prefer to start Sonlight/Bookshark in the middle/upper age level of each Core.
  • Oak Meadow Versus Sonlight - We left Sonlight for awhile to try Oak Meadow. Here's why we came back.

*Core P 4/5*
(used for 2010-2011)

Click here to see how I made this Core secular when we did it. And click here to see what a typical day looks like with Sonlight's Core P 4/5.


Children's Book of Virtues- This is a book that, on first glance, I thought was going to be quite religious. In fact, it is not. It contains poems and stories grouped by virtue (honesty, courage, compassion, etc..). Think stories like George Washington and the Cherry Tree. Update: Rose still loves many of these stories two years later!

*BookShark K*
(used for 2014-2015)
This is the equivalent of Sonlight Core A. I reviewed this program here. Peek inside the Instructor's Guide here.

*Core B (with grade 3 readers)*
(used for 2011-2012)
What we omitted and/or substituted to make this secular

A Question of Yams & George Muller-  Omitted with no substitutions. 

Leading Little Ones to God - substituted with Tomie de Paola's Bible Stories for exposure to the stories.

Missionary Stories with the Millers - Omitted with no substitutions. We just didn't do a lit read-aloud for these weeks and caught up on other subjects. 

Sing the Word CD- Omitted with no substitutions.


A Child's History of the World - There have been some complaints about religious bias in this book. It is there, but in sufficiently small quantity that the book is still very readable and worthwhile. Occasionally there is a statement such as "of course the Egyptians did not believe in one God as we do"and I either skip reading that, or read it and point out that not everyone believes the same thing and that doesn't mean they are wrong! It doesn't detract much, if at all, from the book, in my opinion. The best place to buy CHOW is from Sonlight, since Amazon only carries expensive used copies. 

From Abeku to Zapotec- I decided to keep this one. We enjoy reading along with the CD and hearing the stories about people from other cultures. The only religious reference is a single line at the end of each short story stating that the people "do not have the bible in their own language".

*Core C (with grade 4-5 readers)*
(used for 2012-2013)

*This core is a the second half of Core B, above*

Click here for a detailed look at what we included, omitted, and substituted!

Other Notes: 

See note on CHOW above - we did use and enjoy this book.  

Strawberry Girl & More Tales from Grandma's Attic- Some folks choose to omit these, but I saw no reason to. The characters are certainly religious, but there is nothing preachy here and the stories are great. Strawberry Girl, in particular, is  a household favorite. 

The Awesome Book of Bible Facts- I chose to keep this one because it looked like a fun way to familiarize the kids with Bible stories. They really enjoyed reading through this.
*Core D (with advanced & regular readers)*
(used for 2011-2012)
What we omitted and/or substituted:

 Sing the Word CD- Omitted with no substitutions

Incredible Creatures that Defy Evolution DVD- We substituted Born with a Bang, From Lava to Life, & Animals That Morph

American Indian Prayer Guide- We kept this one, and I just edited as we read.  We skipped the prayers. There is a lot of good information in this one and it was not very difficult to read from selectively.

Sarah Whitcher's Story- We kept this one because I heard that it was a worthwhile adventure story in its own right. The kids enjoyed reading it, but I wouldn't say it's exactly great literature or anything and could definitely be skipped.

*Core F*

More info on how we used this Core in a secular way is on this page

From now on, I am planning to just use Bookshark since it is already secular.  I will be using Sonlight's Core B (and probably C again), just because I already own them and don't see a reason to buy a new BS instructor guide. I did end up buying BookShark's equivalent of Sonlight's Core D, even though I already owned Core D.... this was because I wanted the updated Landmark History.

Update March 2017 - we have used BookShark levels up through American History 100, and for the high school years we are heading back to Sonlight since BookShark hasn't released higher levels of their program yet. So keep an eye out for a post soon on how we are using Core 300!

*Core 200*

We will not use this Core "properly" because it is a history of the Christian church. However, there were many literature titles I wanted to cover with my kids, so we are doing those as read-alouds. More about that (and which books we chose) here

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