If you don’t know me IRL, you might not know that I am a homeschooling mom of 5yo boy. I am also a bibliophile. There are shelves and shelves of books in my house. I have multiple library cards from systems across the state. I often get cards where I vacation frequently so that I can avoid toting a stack of books with me in my luggage. Used bookstores are a dangerous place for me to step foot in. I seriously have a love for books.
Within the homeschooling community (and even outside), many families emphasize literature and lots of it. I am of the school of thought that there is a lot of what I call junky children’s literature that occupies the shelves of the library. Fun, entertaining books that don’t always have much redeeming value. We read some of them just like everyone else, but we try to pick the better stuff. Don’t get me started on what I think about Junie B. Jones. I get it though. I get that people just want kids to read anything. I don’t think it is that hard to find entertaining books to interest children, so I won’t be writing about that in this post.
So, what if you want to provide good literature to feed your child’s soul? Stories that have stood the test of time. Stories that inspire the imagination of girls and boys. Stories that instill timeless values. Stories teach about courage, loyalty, honor, sacrifice, generosity, love, kindness, character, honesty, trustworthiness, family and duty. I am probably forgetting something here, but you get my point. Those are the sorts of stories I remember spending hours reading when I read through the entire children’s section at my local library.
So, instead of making my own lists of great English literature which would take ages. I pulled from existing online literature lists: Sonlight which is very well known in the homschooling community for their literature-rich curriculum, Ambleside Online which is a free Charlotte Mason (living books) curriculum, Great Books Academy reading list (focuses on classics of Western literature), and 1,000 Good Books which was compiled by a group of Christian classical homeschooling moms.
There is a fabulous list of Sonlight books that are grouped by 4 year history cycle and grouped by grammar, logic and rhetoric stages here: http://homescool-ed.blogspot.com/2007/04/sonlight-books-arranged-by-well-trained.html. I did not include this list in the spreadsheet because I wanted to respect the restrictions on sharing the list.
If you are a fan of classic literature for kids, Veritas Press has a book recommendation tool that you can find here: http://www.classicalreader.com/
It used to be that we would call a well-read person educated. That is something that I think is largely lost in our culture. I think when we fill up our minds with mindless media and junky literature, we do so at the expense of the things that are really good for our heart, mind, and soul.
So, I am sharing a google doc with you to make it easy for homeschoolers to find good books to read with your children or for you to have around for your children to read. If you don’t homeschool, then you might find this list as a place to pick out a book or two to read at night with your children. Maybe make it a goal to do a book every month or two. I would ask that you share this blog entry rather than the direct link to the doc so that I have an idea of how many are clicking through. There’s a convenient link below for your use that you can bookmark.
Edited and updated on 2/21/15:
I have added four more lists. One is a list of beloved library classics for kids sorted by grade level. The second is a list of books to read aloud to the preschoolers, toddlers and babies which also includes a selected list of picture books that correspond to a specific letter sound which works well as reinforcement for those teaching children to read. I felt that there are many parents with non-school aged children that were looking for better choices for their search for what to read next.
The third list is a compilation of the literature selections from Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing for Ease curriculum. I agree wholeheartedly with her argument that good writing springs from reading copious amounts of great prose. I have no idea how we expect students to produce good writing if all they read is the prose that is typically found in junky children’s literature.
The fourth list is going to be a work in progress as I have only completed the K and 1st grade courses. I really have enjoyed and valued the literature selections of the original K12.com language arts courses which I continue to have access to as a private user of K12. I don’t like the changes I have seen with the CC-aligned K12 and will be sticking to the older courses and those literature selections. This list contains many selections that do not appear on any other lists and should not be overlooked.
I discovered this mom’s blog where she has created lists for various interests and genres. You are sure to something that suits the tastes of your reader here:
Click though here to the list on my google drive: