When I was homeschooling, one of the debates among homeschoolers was, ” Do I only use the classics in my homeschool or do I use some of the more popular series books?”
My daughter was my homeschool educational guinea pig. Not only did I experiment on her at home but she also set the standard for the co-op I ran. Actually I used both methods with her.
When she was in second grade, she read the entire American Girls series (that was available at the time). We used Abeka Grammar and various writing activities. While she thoroughly enjoyed reading the books, I decided she was not challenged in her reading.
The next couple of years we read classic children’s books and I made study guides. Talk about work! I did this because money was very tight. She did well but I didn’t.
When she entered 6th or 7th grade, I found The Well Trained Mind (1st edition) by Susan Wise Bauer. I used that book for two or three years and it became my “homeschool Bible.” And my poor daughter only read the classics. She read 8-10 classics per year and it just about killed her. She had no time to read for enjoyment and did an tremendous amount of complaining. The fault did not lie in the resource but in ME. Due to fear, that she would not get into college, find a job, live a productive life, and all the other fears that overachieving homeschool moms have with their first born, I almost zapped the joy out of reading for her. It got to the point that my son hid the The Well Trained Mind because he was afraid I’d make him work that hard. I had to buy another book and it was several years before he told me he hid it.
So my advice to you is to do both. There are certain books that everyone should read as an educated person but they don’t have to read all of them in one year. Think about it this way, when you go on vacation, what do you pick up to read, Charles Dickens or Karen Kingsbury?
I am happy to report that in spite of my overzealous teaching, my daughter majored in English and reads Shakespeare for fun. So I guess it wasn’t all bad!