I've used Story of the World pretty much from the get-go...as a guide. Sometimes I read from the book, but more often I use the literature suggestions in the activity book. I request as many as I can from the library, plus any others that I can find on the topic that look interesting. Then when they come I pick and choose. I might read through SWB's book myself to make sure I have the history straight, and read a snippet that I think the kids will find interesting, but if I do read a chapter, I tend to not read it word for word to them. I have a lot of supplemental links tagged on my computer. I've looked for other booklists and whatnot. I sometimes use the activities in the activity book, but not very often. My kids like to color while I read to them, so I might photocopy some coloring pages. I have collected almost the entire SOTW set thanks to my husband who has been hunting ebay/half.com and paperbackswap for them for years. I don't use them enough to want to pay full price for them, but I consider them a worthwhile resource.
Other curriculum that I have been impressed with is the Beautiful Feet books. If I remember correctly, they also move chronologically. I also have liked Sonlight as a resource. I found a website that took the Sonlight book recommendations and showed how they could fit into The Story of the World - just another useful reference, as I particularly like how SOTW is broken up.
I'm with you, Andrea, I love history - particularly American. I have done American History for Kindergarten, and then I do it during the summers also. I expect my children to study it in depth in high school, but in the meantime I'm filling their heads with the stories!
If you don't want to buy the books, but would appreciate a scope and sequence and/or book suggestions...
Some of my links:
Here's another curriculum idea that intrigued me: http://www.homeschoolinthewoods.com/
So I guess I wouldn't say that I love SOTW, but I find it incredibly useful, as well as the resources that have been created around it.
As a side note - may I tell you that I purchased a real math curriculum and LOVE it. Best one I've ever used... Very easy to use and yet very easy to tailor to your child.
For Logan (who is turning 8 soon and in 2nd grade) I have been supplementing with free worksheets printed from www.learningpage.com to give him extra practice. He earns much-desired computer game time for each worksheet that he finishes.