Alright ladies, I think I have a little time here to answer a few of these questions. The main difference between the storytime part of the plans and DITHR is that you read aloud the books for the storytime section to your child
and your child reads to you
the books for DITHR. There is some overlap in "Beyond..." or "Bigger..." in the Storytime section and DITHR. The reason is that until your kiddos are reading independently enough to start DITHR, we want to make sure that the area of literature study is covered through read-alouds instead.
Once kiddos are past the emerging reader stage and are ready for DITHR, we will switch the storytime box of our guides to take a different tack. This will be true for "Preparing Hearts..." where the storytime box will be aligned with the history instead (and not be a study in the various genres anymore). The genre study than moves completely to DITHR.
We do advise doing both the Storytime section of the plans and DITHR if your kiddo is ready for it. There is no reason to stay on the same genre, however. There is also no reason to pre-read any of the books your child is reading for DITHR (if you are using our book choices or recommendations). We have done the pre-reading for you and checked for appropriate content.
Also, at the 2/3 level the kiddos read-aloud to you every day, so you hear all of the book that way. At the 4/5 level they read aloud to you a few pages every other day and that is enough to get the gist of the story. I skim the rest as needed during our lessons. At Level 6/7/8, I just have the book in hand as we discuss to refer to as needed. Whenever I am holding the book and paging through it during a discussion for DITHR, my sons are much more careful with their responses!
You also should know that DITHR varies greatly from other literature programs in that we are not looking for kiddos to come up with THE one right answer for their assignment questions. DITHR is a dialogue-type curriculum where we work with the students to think more carefully about what they have read. We are prompting them to watch for certain things and guiding them to think more deeply as they are reading. So, instead of you having to frantically page through the book to see if your kiddo has the "right" answer, you'll be probing to help them reach conclusions on their own. We're working to develop life-long discernment about what they read and also develop reading skills that will serve them into their adult years.
The Deluxe Package selections are for you to read-aloud to your child. The DITHR Book Packs are for your child to read. The Deluxe Package and DITHR Book Packs need to be added to the Economy and/or Basic Packages for "Bigger..." (if you wish to utilize our book packs). With our Storytime part of the plans or DITHR, you are also welcome to use your own book selections instead.
Our packages are set up so that you start with the Economy Package for any of our programs (which include the Teacher's Guide). Next, you add any star item choices you need. Then, you add the Basic Package items you need. Last you look at any additional package items you desire to add on (Extension Package, Deluxe Package, DITHR Book Packs).
Let me know if this isn't clear enough! I'm sure the other moms will chime in with comments about DITHR or how it fits with the storytime plans.