Common Questions Answered

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About Our Books


About Rod and Staff Publishers

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General Questions and Answers

What is your Return policy?

See our Return Policy.

What are your shipping rates?

See our Shipping Rates.

What payment methods do you accept?

We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, PayPal, checks, and money orders. For check or money order payments, we will wait until it arrives before shipping your order.

Do you accept purchase orders?

An institution with an established purchase history of at least one pre-paid order may request a credit account. When that is in effect, purchase orders may be sent to us via email, fax, postal mail, or on our website. (If via our website, select the "Pay by Mail / Invoice" option at checkout.) The credit account has payment terms of net 30 days.

What discounts do you offer?

We offer discounts on some categories of items at various times of the year, as well as quantity discounts on certain items year-around.

We offer quantity discounts for the Little Jewel Books series (also in German here):

  • buy 5 or more to get a 10% discount
  • buy 10 or more to get a 15% discount

There are also some discounts when you buy certain items as a group, such as the Miller Family Series.

Discounts may be combined, and will appear at checkout, applied below your subtotal. (Please note that discounts do not apply to shipping costs.)

Do you have an affiliate program?


About Our Books

Do animals talk in your books?

The general answer is no, except in the case of Balaam's donkey. You may find expressions that a certain animal or bird "seems to say...."

An exception has been found in the 5th Reader. The story "Rebellion in the Hive" tells a moral tale, in which bees are portrayed with human thoughts and emotions.

If you find anything other than that, please contact us.

What version of the Bible do you use?

Rod and Staff uses the King James Version for English books and the Reina-Valera 1960 for Spanish books. This is true of most books we sell from other publishers as well, though not all.

Are your books sectarian?

Most of the books we sell are from publishers with an Anabaptist background, with the majority from Mennonite publishers. I like to sell these books because there is a very serious effort to make the scriptures practical in everyday life. While you may not agree with every detail, I believe you will find these books true to the Bible and a blessing to you and your family.


Do you have placement tests?

We currently have placement tests for the Rod and Staff curriculum in the follow subjects:

Email us to get the answer keys.

For determining placement on the rest of the curriculum, we offer the following general suggestions:

The table of contents is available online for every grade and course we offer, as well as sample pages from each book, to help guide your choice for placement. We also offer assessment tests prepared by an independent testing company. When properly applied, your child's scores in these tests will indicate the grade level at which he should be working.

As a general rule, your results from the assessment test should be adequate to place your child in the appropriate grade in Rod and Staff's curriculum. A child who is average or above should be able to work at the same level compared with most other curricula.

One exception is the English curriculum [see placement test above], which covers grammar and composition. If your child has basic knowledge in these areas, they will probably do fine in grades 2 through 5. From the feedback we've received, grades 6 and above don't provide as much review of the basics, and are more advanced than average. (While Rod and Staff only publishes the English series through 10th grade, it is equivalent to completing a high school grammar course.) For students switching in the upper grades, especially those weak in grammar, we usually recommend that they drop back a grade or two, sometimes back to the 5th grade text, which is a good foundation for the rest of the series. If you feel confident they are up to grade level then start there and see if they can manage it. If you find it too advanced, you can always save it for later while you drop back to an earlier grade.

Also, in the lower grades of the Math curriculum, a lot of focus is given to mastering basic arithmetic, and so may seem "behind" in areas such as geometry, compared to other curriculums, until about grade 4.

If your child has not been doing well in school, we recommend that you back off a grade or two. Don't try to push a child beyond their level of understanding. You will be far better off to work from a level where your child has a solid footing in the area he is studying. Then you can make real progress.

Finally, it should be remembered that changing from one curriculum to another will often present some challenges to begin with, considering that publishers take different approaches in the way they present their material.

A handy reference is Rod and Staff's scope and sequence charts, showing the new concepts taught in each grade.

Should I buy the teacher's manual?

Here are some things to consider:

  1. The teacher's manual gives you the answer, which saves you the time required to work the problem yourself, and reduced errors.
  2. Most of the teacher's manuals feature copies of the student pages, which makes it easier to guide the student, as well as faster to check their answers.
  3. Designed for non-professional teachers, many of the manuals will provide an overview of the course along with any recommended teaching aids, offer general scheduling advice, provide a brief statement of the purpose of each lesson, and include other features designed to make the subject easier to teach.
  4. Some manuals offer oral exercises or questions to refresh the child's mind before he starts the lesson. For example, in math he may be asked to review some addition or subtraction facts orally. In English he may be asked something orally about a previous lesson to refresh his mind. In spelling, when you give out the words, the manual gives you a sentence with the word in it so you don't have to make it up.
  5. Since most manuals are hardcover, with some care they can outlast your teaching, to be passed on to a friend or recycled in our Buy-Back Program. (Note: if you find a used teacher's manual elsewhere, make sure it is the same edition as the student books you have, or the current edition available from us.)
How much teacher involvement is required?

Rod and Staff textbooks have been prepared for use in traditional classrooms, where teachers teach the material and monitor pupil progress.

In the lower grades, teacher involvement is more essential than in upper grades. The textbooks for fourth grade and above explain the material on the student's level.

Can Rod and Staff textbooks be used with limited teacher involvement? For fourth grade and above the answer is "Yes" if—

  • the student is a good reader, can comprehend what he reads, and can understand pictures and diagrams.
  • the parent is satisfied with less-than-the-best education for his child.

People in general (and children in particular) learn best when a teacher guides them in understanding. As an adult, picture yourself learning a foreign language or a new skill by reading a book. Consider the benefits of discussing the lesson together.

While a teacher should not spoon-feed his pupils, he should introduce the lesson and reinforce the main concepts. Then, let the students study the lesson on their own. Rod and Staff strives for a balance of teacher involvement and the student working independently.

What do I do if there is something in the curriculum I do not understand?

The teacher's manuals are designed to answer most of your questions. I strongly encourage you to read the introductory material in the various manuals to get the lay of the land before you begin using that particular course. If then you come across something that baffles you, you can contact Rod and Staff Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm Eastern Time, at 606-522-4348. They will try to help you.

Are the test booklets important?

Here are some things to consider:

  1. The unit or chapter tests (offered for many courses in grades 3 and up) will help monitor your child's progress, and highlight any areas that need to be reviewed.
  2. Test booklets are inexpensive, and can provide a permanent record if you are ever called upon to defend your school.
Bible Nurture and Reader Series—Purpose and Plan

The Bible Nurture and Reader Series has been written to teach children to read. The parents of children who learn from this series are delighted to find their first graders reading quite well already after only 4 or 5 months, and sounding out new words with surprising ease.

We have found, as other researchers have also concluded, that a strictly phonetic approach to reading hinders comprehension, whereas a strictly sight-reading approach impedes both reading and comprehension. The Bible Nurture and Reader Series uses a combination of phonics and sight-reading: the students learn to read a few words by sight immediately, thereby getting off to a prompt start in comprehension; phonics is taught from the very beginning, enabling the child to sound out words for himself.

This approach to teaching reading is employed in this series for the following reasons:

  1. Learning the sounds enables a child to identify most of the vocabulary words for himself. It takes no longer to learn sounds that compose words than it does to memorize whole words, and the phonetic sounds are the tools that enable the child to sound out every new word that he sees. Phonics gives the child an orderly way of learning to read. He sees that words are composed of small parts, sounded consecutively.
  2. Since the child is able to sound words for himself and to become an independent reader early, the phonetic method gives him a meaningful, challenging, and satisfying approach to the learning of words.
  3. In a classroom setting, the phonetic method makes it easier for the teacher to keep the learning progress of all the pupils in a class together. In the sight-reading approach, the children who have difficulty recognizing and remembering sight words become confused and frustrated and drop behind others in the class and are left with no means or tools with which to recover themselves.
  4. Phonetic sounds are more easily remembered than sight words because the child continues to use them with regularity. He is far more ready to begin the second grade after the vacation months, during which time a child usually forgets many of the sight words he has memorized, because the basic phonetic sounds are retained more easily and are more readily recalled.
  5. An effective study of phonetics requires disciplines necessary for the development of good habits such as good listening, concentration, diligence, perseverance, and acceptance of personal responsibility.

Developing comprehension is another objective of the series. To comprehend, children must learn to think. Many subjective-type questions have been used in the Bible Nurture and Reader Series that require the pupils to think. Few pictures are included in the readers, since comprehension is improved when pupils are allowed to form their own mental images.

Bible stories are used in these readers because they are the admonition of the Lord. Parents and teachers must share with children what God has revealed in His Word, and children must share with parents and teachers their questions and understandings. The Word is for all to know—grownups and children. As babies love milk, so children will be more apt to love the milk of the Word if they are in a healthy, spiritual home and/or school setting and are fed the pure Word of Truth.

Teacher's manuals are designed to include all the necessary help for teachers or parents who take their work seriously and who have some aptitude for teaching.

Pupil's material includes readers, reading workbooks, phonics workbooks, worksheets, printing practice, and flash cards.

Changes in Rod and Staff's revised Grade 1 Reading curriculum

The underlying focus and goals of the revised course (3rd edition, 2016) are similar to the previous version (2nd edition, 1985-1986). However, the materials are not compatible between editions.

The major differences are:

  • greater emphasis on phonics / fewer sight words
  • more drill and practice

The "pre-reading" lessons of the 2nd edition have been expanded into their own unit of 15 lessons, with the additional length providing a slower start for young minds just getting started with the course. There are now a total of 160 lessons in 6 units. Some changes have also been made in the grouping of the individual component books that make up the course.

Changes in Rod and Staff's revised Math curriculum

Grade 1:

The basic concepts of the revised curriculum (3rd edition, 2011) are much the same as in the previous version (2nd edition, 1991). However, the materials are not compatible between editions.

This revision provides improved Bible tone, offers more variety in artwork, and gives more drill in some weak areas. Complete practice sheet sets are available for the revised curriculum, eliminating the need for extensive copying.

The major differences are:

  • Art changed to reflect Bible stories or the warmth of Christian family life as opposed to stylized animal theme. This makes themed "carrier" concept less prominent.
  • The "zero" is taught as "nothing" and as a placeholder. A first grader is no longer taught to starting counting at zero or to number 100-block grid as 0-99. Rather, we comply with standardized math manipulatives by having a 10-by-10 grid contain 100 squares.
  • Fractions have more teaching. The denominator concept is taught first: halves, thirds, and fourths. The numerator concept is also taught in the last quarter of the year; distinguishing between one or two thirds, and between one, two, or three fourths.
  • Place value is taught with quantative association instead of a fictional carrier: one crayon, one box of ten crayons, one case of ten boxes.
  • Practice Sheets are provided as a complete set. Permission is given to copy them just like the blacklines could be. The Practice Sheets are categorized as: Strengtheners; Required; or, Challenge (fun).

Other than that, the coverage, flow, and academic content have been little altered.

Grades 2 - 4:

Years of use have shown that the transition from grade 3 to grade 4 has been especially difficult, so revisions of the lower-grade courses are being prepared that will help smooth progress through these grades.

Revision schedule:

  • Grade 2: available

  • Grade 3: available

  • Grade 4: in early stages of development, no publication estimate currently available

At the Grade 2 and Grade 3 levels, students were expected to know how to do the various exercises or needed to receive their direction from the teacher by a running look at the pages during class time. The revisions will include simple directions in the workbooks, such as "Trace and finish the rule" or "Draw hands on the clocks to show the time," which will guide the students through the exercises and help to lessen teacher involvement.

The emphasis on triplets is being lessened. Although triplets seem to be a valuable teaching aid that links several math facts together, we do not want to chant triplets until we forget to emphasize the concept. After the triplets in a family have been learned, the revision presents the facts arranged as a fact family.

A wide variety of reading problems puts the triplet facts to work, introduces multi-step processes, and helps students apply math to everyday scenarios from home, school, and church life.

Although fact copying remains an essential memorizing aid, too much becomes tedious. The revision replaces some copying with exercises requiring the pupils to write only the answers.

Other tedious copying has given way to skill-building exercises in a variety of other math concepts. Second graders will study fractions to tenths and identify simple equivalent fractions. They will read time at the five-minute marks, measure in half-inch increments, and round to the nearest ten.

Third graders will round to the nearest thousand. They add, subtract, and compare fractions. They measure in quarter-inch increments, identify the five-dollar bill, and work with greater-than and less-than symbols.

At both grade levels, the revision will take mental arithmetic, place value, and money counting to a higher level. Simple graphs and calendar exercises will provide interesting diversions.

In summary, the revision is an effort to introduce simple directions to the Grade 2 and Grade 3 pupil books, replace some of the tedious copying and chanting with concept-building exercises, and stretch the average second and third grader to his full potential in a variety of other math skills.

The Grade 4 revision will follow later with an effort to pull the difficulty level down at that grade, helping the young scholar to take the stair step into fourth grade without losing his balance. More details will be available as the revision progresses.

Is the Rod and Staff curriculum old and outdated?

We occasionally get inquiries from people who have heard that the Rod and Staff curriculum may be too old, is not up-to-date, and/or has errors. We will address a couple of arguments:

Rod and Staff started publishing their reading program over 50 years ago. Other subjects were added since then, and most of the curriculum is in its 1st, 2nd, or 3rd edition. The publisher's criteria has been to do extensive testing and review to improve the courses and remove errors before publishing for the public. Some errors have gotten published, but all known errors are corrected in later printings, which usually happen every couple years or so. (Because of this ongoing error-correction being done, no errata sheets are published.) So, although some courses are from editions that are over 20 years old, the printing date is usually much more recent, unless you get a used copy. The general feedback we've received indicates that most people are quite happy with the level of accuracy in the books. If you do come across an error, please report it for correction.

As for the concern about whether the long intervals between editions make the Rod and Staff curriculum outdated, consider what we are told in Ecclesiastes: "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun." There are of course different philosophies of education, but Rod and Staff uses a traditional approach that is designed to make a child well-equipped for a useful life. Although children have diverse learning strengths, and some learn better with other methods, the same methods used to learn reading and math a generation ago will still work today.

Concerning the rapid advances in science and technology, there are perhaps two points to address. Rod and Staff has not embraced the modern content-delivery methods of ebooks and internet publishing, but has favored traditional printed book based learning. This has both benefits and drawbacks as far as ease-of-use, but does not limit the value of the education being given.

The other point, which is probably of most concern to you, is how current the curriculum is. We only see this as being an issue in the subjects of science and, to a lesser degree, history. The current editions of the science series have the following publication dates:

  • Grade 2 (2021)
  • Grade 3 (1991)
  • Grade 4 (1999)
  • Grade 5 (2004)
  • Grade 6 (2006)
  • Grade 7 (2008)
  • Grade 8 (2011)
  • Grades 9-10 (2016)

Since Rod and Staff only publishes through 10th grade, if you're planning on higher education, we recommend switching to a full high school science curriculum from some other publisher, such as Apologia (see notes above). Read more about high school and beyond.

Concerning the social studies/history curriculum, the publication dates for the current editions are as follows:

  • Grade 2 (1982)
  • Grade 3 (2006)
  • Grade 4 (1997)
  • Grade 5 (1994)
  • Grade 6 (1997)
  • Grade 7 (2002)
  • Grade 8 (2005)
  • Grade 9 (2007)
  • Grade 10 (2021)

You might also want to take a look at the scope of the entire series.

Grade 2 is designated as "social studies" rather than a "history" curriculum: along with geographical instruction, the focus is on introducing the child to several different cultures, with little emphasis on historical context. One of the stories in this book takes place in the former Czechoslovakia. The publishers have added the following footnote in the teacher's manual: "Now that communism no longer rules Russia and several European countries, some aspects of this lesson are not accurate. Make clear to the pupils that communist disdain for Christians continues, even though political changes have occurred. Believers in communist-ruled countries must live as this lesson describes. In 1993, Czechoslovakia separated peacefully into two new nations, the Czech Republic and Slovakia."

Focus is on the culture of the region, and some understanding of what social effects a communist form of government has on a country and Christians in particular. As you can see, at a grade 2 comprehension level, it is a relatively minor point that the particular country in question is no longer under communist rule. Understandably, the upper grades require more complex thought than that, but the approach is the same.

Overall, the focus of the series is mainly on the events and influences that shaped the societies being studied from a mainly historical viewpoint such that current events are not emphasized. The goal is to give the student an understanding that will enable him/her, as they learn about current events now or in the future, to be able to put that in the context of what has happened before. It is therefore not particularly critical that the textbooks keep up with what events may have happened most recently in some region of the world, as that will be constantly changing after the student finishes school anyway. In other words, the kind of understanding that is being taught in this series is more fundamental than simply knowing recent events.

You should find that approach applies to the science curriculum as well, so hopefully that will give you a little better understanding of the viewpoint being taught.

Does Rod and Staff have foreign language courses?

Rod and Staff does not publish foreign language courses. They do publish Spanish textbooks for Spanish schools.

What is the difference between Rod and Staff and the other curriculums you offer?

In addition to Rod and Staff curriculum, which is what we primarily sell, we also offer several other curriculum courses from publishers that seem to fit with a conservative educational approach. Of particular note, we offer Pathway Publisher's reading series, Schoolaid's English grammar, math, and health curriculums, Study Time Publisher's math series, and Apologia's science series. We are not as familiar with these courses, and unfortunately don't know how they specifically differ from the Rod and Staff curriculum, but here are some generalizations:

  • Beginning Steps to Reading, by Eastern Mennonite Publications, is a phonetic approach to reading for grades 1 and 2. Whereas Rod and Staff combines sight-reading with phonics, the BSR program teaches reading through phonetic word-building for half a year. At that point, or after the second grade, the student can switch to another reading program, such as Rod and Staff.
  • The Pathway reading series is designed in an Amish setting, and teaches reading using stories of rural home and school life. By contrast, Rod and Staff teaches reading through Bible stories.
  • The penmanship series by Pentime Publishers is more extensive than the Rod and Staff penmanship, being available through grade 8. It uses the same approach of starting with manuscript, and transitioning to cursive in grade 2, and since the letter forms are quite similar to those used by Rod and Staff, students should be able to switch between curriculums without much difficulty.
  • Practical Spelling by Miller School Books is designed to be used with minimal teacher involvement, and prices are much lower.
  • The Climbing to Good English series, by Schoolaid, is designed to complement the Pathway curriculum and fill out a language arts study by teaching grammar and composition. This series has a workbook format, rather than the reusable textbook format offered Rod and Staff's English series.
  • Schoolaid's health series is available for grades 3 - 8, which is more comprehensive than Rod and Staff's.
  • Schoolaid also publishes some beginning math books for grades 1 and 2, which will prepare a student for Study Time's math series in grades 3 - 8. These courses as well are in workbook format through grade 5, whereas the Rod and Staff math uses textbooks after grade 2.
  • The Apologia science courses offer a more comprehensive high school study than Rod and Staff. See more details above in previous question.

For further comparison, please see the sample lessons, table of contents, and scope and sequence charts available on our site.

About Rod and Staff Publishers

Does Rod and Staff Publishers have a website?

No, Rod and Staff Publishers, Inc., does not have a website or email address.

How and why did Rod and Staff begin?

In 1958 a group of brethren from various Mennonite churches gathered in Amelia, Virginia, to share their concern over the degrading effect of much of the printed matter used by the churches. After consultation and prayer, in three different meetings, there was strong agreement that another publishing work was needed. In the third meeting, a statement of bylaws was adopted, a statement of ideals governing the personnel and policy of a conservative publishing work was prepared, and seven board members were chosen.

What church affiliation does Rod and Staff have?

The Mennonite brethren gathered in Virginia in 1958 chose the first seven board members. Since the beginning the work has been directed by a self-perpetuating board. The present board members are members of various Mennonite churches in the United States and Canada.

How long has Rod and Staff been publishing textbooks?

The first grade of the Bible Nurture and Reader Series was first published for laboratory use in 1963. It was produced with the conviction that church schools with Christian teachers also needed Bible-based textbooks. Wisdom from God was sought; tried and proven methods were employed. Other subjects were added as the Lord prospered the work. Christian parents and teachers are pleased with the results. They are working now to complete their curriculum.

What services does Rod and Staff offer to home schools?

The teacher's manuals are designed with the beginning teacher (or parent) in mind. Books may be ordered individually as needed. Rod and Staff offers telephone consultation. You can call Rod and Staff for curriculum assistance on weekdays from 8am to 5pm Eastern Time at 606-522-4348. Rod and Staff is a publisher, however, not a school.

Does Rod and Staff have anything for kindergarten?

Rod and Staff's does not offer any curriculum designated as "kindergarten," but has published a series of preschool workbooks designed to prepare the child for beginning reading and math in the first grade. We also offer coloring books as well as preschool storybooks that are excellent material to be read to young children.

Does Rod and Staff give high school diplomas? Do they grade pupil's work?

Rod and Staff is in the textbook publishing work. Their books are used in private and parochial schools, as well as home school settings. Rod and Staff offers curriculum counsel relating to the use of their books and the operation of the classroom. They do not operate a school, grade the pupils' work, offer credits for courses, or give diplomas.

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10. Limitation of Liability

10.1 While we will use reasonable endeavors to verify the accuracy of any information we place on the website, we make no warranties, whether express or implied in relation to its accuracy.

10.2 The Website is provided on an "as is" and "as available" basis without any representation or endorsement. Unless specified in separate terms and conditions related to a particular product or service, we make no warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, in relation to the Website, or products or services offered on the Website whether by us or on our behalf (including free software downloads) including but not limited to, implied warranties of satisfactory quality, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, compatibility, security, accuracy, condition or completeness, or any implied warranty arising from course of dealing or usage or trade.

10.3 Unless specified in separate terms and conditions related to a particular product or service, we make no warranty that the Website or products or services offered on the Website whether by us or on our behalf (including free software downloads) will meet your requirements or will be uninterrupted, timely, secure or error-free, that defects will be corrected, or that the Website or the server that makes it available or products or services offered on the Website whether by us or on our behalf (including free software downloads) are free of viruses or bugs or are fully functional, accurate, or reliable. We will not be responsible or liable to you for any loss of content or material as a result of uploading to or downloading from the Website.

10.4 Notwithstanding any other provision in the Conditions, nothing shall limit your rights as a consumer under United States law.

10.5 You acknowledge that we cannot guarantee and therefore shall not be in any way responsible for the security or privacy of the Website and any information provided to or taken from the Website by you.

10.6 We will not be liable in contract, tort or otherwise if you incur loss or damage connecting to the Website through a third party's hyper-text link.

10.7 We will not be liable, in contract, tort (including, without limitation, negligence), pre-contract or other representations (other than fraudulent misrepresentations) or otherwise out of or in connection with the Website or products or services offered on the Website whether by us or on our behalf (including free software downloads) for:

  • 10.7.1 any economic losses (including without limitation loss of revenues, profits, contracts, business or anticipated savings); or
  • 10.7.2 any loss of goodwill or reputation; or
  • 10.7.3 any special or indirect or consequential losses; in any case whether or not such losses were within the contemplation of either of us at the date on which the event giving rise to the loss occurred.

10.8 Nothing in the Conditions shall exclude or limit our liability for death or personal injury resulting from our negligence or that of our servants, agents or employees.