First of all, remember that you will be spreading this out over quite a number of years. Of course, if you are beginning with older children the printing will be much heavier to begin with. But still, print books as needed and children can share much of the same reading - as great literature is great literature at any age. The read order is as flexible as you need it to be. Presently out 5th year, 3rd year and 1st year 'students' are all reading the Pony Rider books.
To save costs, browse your local used book sales for some of the titles - often the great oldies go for under $1.00. You'll find others worth owning as well.
The public library still has some of the original classics (such as Alcott's lengthy books, Little Women, Little Men) that you could borrow rather than print.
One advantage to printing your own 'old' books is being able to enlarge the print, especially valuable for younger eyes. Another advantage is that the books you print and put in binders are more 'user friendly' than the old and aging copies one can purchase. Binders don't suffer if left open, and individual pages that have been damaged can be reprinted and inserted back in. Books that you own are also more likely to be reread and you can't acquire library fines for them!
Printing for the First\Second Year
Let's look, for instance, as you asked, specifically at what the printing requirements might be for a first year student. If a child is progressing slowly it will be first and second year.
I have listed the books previously, under the section Teaching Younger Children: Literature for the first year that you will find in the Robinson Curriculum. There is a total of 28 books plus Penmanship Practice pages. This is a total of 5,214 pages.
Dr. Robinson has also included two of Josephine Pollard's history books (in one syllable words) early in the reading list and if you were to include these in the first year the book total would be 30, the page total would be 5,509.
Well...this will depend to a great extent on your printers capabilities and where you purchase paper and ink (see Printing Recommendations) - we estimate our costs to be about 1 cent a page (not including the cost of the printer). To print all 30 of the first year books it cost us $110.30. Binders can be found at real discounts once you have your 'eye out' for them. So far, our first 50 binders have cost from $0 .00 to $1.00 a piece. (See: http://www.binding.com/binding.cfm for more professional type binding equipment. They have binding machines that start at only $60.00 and will bind up to two inches thick.) Our shelving is brackets and boards (painted white) in a 'user friendly' basement.
Does this seem formidable? At this 'stage' of reading (1st year), I think it is absolutely possible to use the library to the maximum if printing costs are a hindrance. If you don't own the McGuffey Readers already be sure to print these out as well as the Josephine Pollard books. Using your own careful discretion you could make a reading list for your youngster. Be sure to gradually increase the level of difficulty (vocabulary and length of story) and include fiction and non-fiction (children's bibliography is probably your best resource. Books Children Love, A Guide to the Best Children's Literature by Elizabeth Wilson is our best used one.
When a child is 6 years old, the focus is to get them to read, to love reading, and to increase their ability to read. Then they can move forward in their quest to learn more and more and more.
In conclusion, the assumption, regardless of age, is always... the best literature available. And, I believe, the books offered in the curriculum are a large part of why our children have come to love reading.