Phonics and reading are arguably the most important academic skills anyone can acquire, since they open the door to every other realm of study. Christian Liberty Press illustrates this with their reading program by offering readers that double as history, science, and character-development texts. While their reading program isn’t monolithic, their phonics course is and provides an excellent introduction.
Adventures in Phonics is a to-the-point course for grades K-2. There are few frills to interfere with instruction, which (obviously) requires direct teacher supervision. The course was developed primarily with classrooms in mind, but it is adaptable to a home school setting without too much work. At the center of each year’s work is the black-and-white consumable student text; the kindergarten level also includes a CD for pronunciation, flashcards, a phonics chart and four readers.
The reading program is a collection rather than a series of readers for grades K-6. The Nature Readers for K-5 is the closest to a coherent reading program and grows to accommodate students’ abilities—each reader contains brief discussions of various plant and animal life. Other readers from CLP include biographies of famous Christians, compilations of history and science sketches, character-building stories, etc.
One of the strong points of these courses is their clear Christian perspective (from a Reformed point of view). While the texts sometimes tend to get a little preachy, there is enough well-written information in them that this isn’t really a big deal. Some people will want a more cohesive reading program, but we don’t see a lot of reason why readers are preferable to good books themselves, and most of these are pretty good books for kids.