To see more reviews, check out the item in its previous packaging (the content has not changed) by looking up ISBN 0439145449.
Bob Books come in 5 sets on 3 levels, and they cover the fundamentals of reading through about half of the Kindergarten level, which is lower than either of the other programs. Each set contains 8-12 books for the child to read, with a line or two of text per page.
Unlike many programs, there is little to no direction for the parent. However, they are carefully crafted to introduce the sounds in a systematic and maximally rewarding way, as well as carefully choosing sight words. The very first book requires that the child know the sounds of only four letters (M, A, S, T) and one sight word (on). The rest of the first set of 12 books (12 pages each) introduces the rest of the alphabet and short-vowel sounds, carefully reviewing everything learned, as well as a handful of high-utility sight words. The second set of 12 books (12 pages each) reinforces what was learned in the first set with more text per page, more plurals, more sight words, and a few blends. The second level begins with the third set, which has 10 books (16 pages each) and introduces more text, more blends, and some compound words, while the fourth set (4 with 16 pages and 4 with 24 pages) has more blends, more sight words, and long compound words. The final set, in the third level (4 with 16 pages and 4 with 24 pages), has longer stories and introduces long vowels.
The thing my son likes most is that I'm not telling him what to do most of the time, and he doesn't have to repeat books!
Some parents find that the level of progression slows after the first set, but we're going to do them all. It helps my son acquire speed and fluency painlessly.
This isn't sufficient to bring a child to the end of the Kindergarten level, but it gets them reading basic books very fast! Many people like the later part of Nora Gaydos' series to follow up. I will use an out-of-print series that I got from my aunt for free :-) called Scholastic Phonics Ready Readers (ISBN 0439325099 and others) starting with books 37. Afterwards, there are many classic early reader books that he can read, like Little Bear and Frog and Toad.
The only bad points: The words are handwritten, which means that despite the excellent handwriting, there is some inconsistency in spacing and letter shapes that will give some readers problems. Also, if your child likes to gaze for a l-o-n-g time at every picture, painless swifty becomes agaonizing. For that case, I recommend McGuffey's Eclectic Readers