After many years of loving and reading books with my own children, and in Christian and homeschool classrooms, I continued sharing my love of learning and literature with young families through a weekly storytelling program, Tale-Spin Stories with Miss Kathy lasting seven years.
Here's a tip-of-the-iceberg list of classic books, series, poetry, and more to establish a top-notch Family Literacy Lifestyle in your home library. I've included books that you'll find recommended by many other lovers of literature and learning, as well as many of my own personal favorites.
I hope you enjoy your family reading adventures. Many of these books will intrigue and delight you as an adult, becoming much-loved stories you’ll want to return to again and again.
No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond. ― C.S. Lewis
TIPS FOR OPTIMIZING FAMILY LITERACY LIFESTYLE MOMENTS:
CUSTOMIZE your title selections to the reading capacity of your child (i.e. students in the 3rd-4th grade levels may be able to manage books listed in the 5th-6th grade levels).
READ ALOUD books with elevated language and concepts to young children (i.e. a 5th-6th grade level story to 1st-2nd grade level students). Younger children have the ability to process and understand elevated stories that are read aloud, even though they cannot read them yet, on the printed page.
DISCUSS what you read and help your child develop the critical thinking skills to discern biblical principles within the story. Use Charlotte Mason's "narration techniques to further comprehension.
MARK-UP the pages of chapter books with a highlighter and pencil in notes to collect new words or grammatical figures of speech to review. Read to enjoy--but read to learn how to write, too.
Preschool & Kindergarten (read-aloud) Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, by Richard Scarry Good Night Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown Aesop’s Fables, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle Storytime and the Millers, by Mildred A. Martin The Complete Tales of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter A Home for Virginia, by Patricia St. John The Real Mother Goose, by Blanche Fisher Wright The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge, by Hildegarde H. Swift Visit the library each week and allow your child to choose books that interest them. Choose books with interactive elements, tight texts, rhymes, repetition, and engaging illustrations. Make time to “visit” with the storybooks you borrow from the library every day before returning them for new titles.
Grades K, 1, & 2 (read-aloud/beginning reading) Bob Books – Box sets by Bobby Lynn Maslen (great for teaching HOW to read) The Little Engine That Could, by Watty Piper The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton Maybelle the Cable Car, by Virginia Lee Burton Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton Mother Chicken’s Eggs: Choosing to Grow into Greater Things, by Kathryn Ross Bugaboo-Bee’s Bop: Patience for the Prize, by Kathryn Ross Wisdom and the Millers: Proverbs for Children, by Mildred A. Martin (series) The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Suess Blaze and Thunderbolt, book series by C.W. Anderson Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish Curious George, by H.A. Rey Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey Stone Soup, by Marcia Brown Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban Loving One Another, by Neta Jackson Frog and Toad All Year, by Arnold Lobel Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf Lentil, by Robert McCloskey Fritz and the Beautiful Horses, by Jan Brett Tuesday, by David Weisner The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey Song and Dance Man, by Karen Ackerman St. George and the Dragon, by Margaret Hodges The Brambly Hedge Series, by Jill Barklem When I Was Young In the Mountains, by Cynthia Rylant When the Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant Bunny Bungalow, by Cynthia Rylant The Boy Who Held Back the Sea, by Thomas Locker Roxaboxen, by Barbara Cooney Only Opal, by Barbara Cooney Miss Rumphius, Barbara Cooney Emily, (about Emily Dickinson) by Michael Bedard and Barbara Cooney The Young Artist, by Thomas Locker The Bear Who Heard Crying, by Natalie Kinsey Warnock All the Places to Love, by Patricia MacLachlan A Song for Lena, by Hilary Horder Hippely Make Way For the Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey Autumn with the Moodys (5 book series), by Sarah Maxwell Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch The Boxcar Children, book series by Gertrude Chandler Warner Mr. Popper’s Penguins, by Florence Atwater Richard Atwater Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan James Herriot’s Treasury For Children, by James Herriot The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh Missionary Stories and the Millers, by Mildred A. Martin Little House on the Prairie boxed set of 9 books, by Laura Ingalls Wilder The Velveteen Rabbit, by Marjery Williams Town Mouse, Country Mouse, by Jan Brett Winnie the Pooh, by A. A. Milne Roxaboxen, by Alice McLerran The Raft, by Jim LaMarche The Spider and the Fly, by Mary Howitt and Tony DiTerlizzi The Book of Virtues, by William J. Bennett (read-aloud for all ages)
Grade 3 & 4 Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin, by Marguerite Henry Betsy-Tacy Treasury: First Four Betsy-Tacy Books, by Maud Hart Lovelace Tales from Shakespeare, by Charles and Mary Lamb Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink Sarah Whitcher’s Story, by Elizabeth Yates Thee, Hannah!, by Marguerite De Angeli The Bears on Hemlock Mountain, by Alice Dalgliesh Paul Bunyan and His Great Blue Ox, by Wallace Wadsworth Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress, by Oliver Hunkin Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter Dr. Doolittle Books, by Hugh Lofting The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by Frank L. Baum Twig the Collie, by Craig Massey The Borrowers, 5 book series by Mary Norton Mountain Born, by Elizabeth Yates Stuart Little, by E.B. White Story Times With Grandma, by M.E. Yoder More Story Times With Grandma, by M.E. Yoder Brighty of the Grand Canyon, Marguerite Henry Treasures of the Snow, by Patricia St. John Scout: The Secret of the Swamp, by Piet Prins A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett Little Lord Fauntleroy, by Frances Hodgson Burnett Mary Jones and Her Bible, by Mary Ropes Shepherd of the Highlands, by Lily A. Bear Mama’s Bank Account, by Kathryn Forbes Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame Tell Me About Heaven, by Randy Alcorn The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings The Treasure Seekers, by E. Nesbit The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams The Water Babies, by Charles Kingsley The Railway Children, by E. Nesbit Mary Poppins, by P.L. Travers The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, by Sally M. Walker The Town that Fooled the British, by Lisa Papp The Scarlet Stockings Spy, by Trinka Hakes Noble Simeon’s Gift, by Julie Andrews Edwards The Reluctant Dragon, by Kenneth Grahame The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo Because of Winn Dixie, by Kate DiCamillo Ellen, by E.M. Almedingen The Journeyman, by Elizabeth Yates From Sea to Shining Sea: A Treasury of American Folklore & Folktales, by Amy Cohn Dangerous Journey, by John Bunyan Tales of the Resistance, by David R. Mains Tales of the Kingdom, by David R. Mains
Grade 5 & 6 The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick Hittie: Her First Hundred Years, by Rachel Field Miss Hickory, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey Run for Your Life, by Betty Swinford A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L’Engle The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss The Little Britches series, by Ralph Moody My Side of the Mountain Trilogy, by Jean Craighead George The Bronze Bow, Elizabeth George Speare King Of the Wind, Marguerite Henry Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr. Gentle Ben, by Walt Morey Heidi, by Johanna Spyri Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes Freddy The Detective, by Walter R. Brooks The Trumpeter of Krakow, by Eric Kelly Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson All-of-A-Kind Family, by Sydney Taylor Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite De Angeli Robin Hood: Children’s Classic, by Louis Rhead Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne Paul Bunyan and His Great Blue Ox, by Wallace Wadsworth A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain The Chronicles of Narnia (all 7 books in one), by C.S. Lewis The Sign of the Beaver, by Elizabeth George Speare Encyclopedia Brown (older books of the series only), by Donald J. Sobol Ester Ried’s Awakening, by Isabella Alden Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers, (series of 4) by Douglas Bond Amos Fortune, Free Man, by Elizabeth Yates Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott The Golden Goblet, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame The Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett Paddle-to-the-Sea, by Holling C. Holling Baby Island, by Carol Ryrie Brink The Chestry Oak, by Kate Seredy The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, by Joan Aiken Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang, by Ian Fleming Little Pilgrim’s Progress, by Helen L. Taylor The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and Chronicles of Harris Burdick, by Chris Van Allsburg (creative writing inspiration) Whatever Happened to Penny Candy—An Uncle Eric Book, by Richard J. Maybury (excellent resource series about economics, teaching critical thinking for a healthy understanding about money and capitalism from an early age)
Grade 7 & 8 Safely Home, by Randy Alcorn I, Juan de Pareja, by Elizabeth Borton De Trevino In His Steps, by Charles M. Sheldon The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt by Day, by Scott O’Dell Dr. Oma: The Healing Wisdom of Countess Juliana von Stolberg, by Ethel Herr Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne I Dared to Call Him Father, by Bilquis Sheikh The Ocean of Truth (the story of Sir Isaac Newton), by Joyce McPherson Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle Around the World in 80 Days, by Jules Verne 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne The Anne Series, by L.M. Montgomery The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter (series of 8 books), by Susan Wittig Albert Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott Little Men, by Louisa May Alcott Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, by Alfred Lansing Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank Hittite Warrior, by Joanne Williamson The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom The King’s Shadow, by Elizabeth Alder Men of Iron, by Howard Pyle Sherlock Holmes Mysteries, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle A Piece of the Mountain (The Story of Blaise Pascal), by Joyce McPherson Peace Child (Sharing the Gospel with Cannibals), by Don Richardson The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien The Redwall Series, by Brian Jacques (for the child who is hard to interest)
High School and Up Invitation to the Classics, by Louise Cowan and Os Guinness (Excellent overview of Western literature beginning in ancient times through 20th century) The Bard and the Bible: A Shakespeare Devotional, by Bob Hostetler The Chosen, by Chaim Potok To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot Evidence Not Seen: The Jungles of World War II, by Darlene Deibler Rose Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift Moby Dick, by Herman Melville War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy The Idiot, by Fodor Dostoyevsky The Brothers Karamazov, by Fostoyevsky Through My Eyes, by Tim Tebow Shaken, by Tim Tebow Evangeline, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens Ben Hur, by Lew Wallace The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens Hinds’ Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard The Robe, by Lloyd C. Douglas Crime and Punishment, by Fodor Dostoyevsky Middlemarch, by George Eliot Complete Shakespeare Plays and Sonnets, by William Shakespeare The Princess and the Goblins, by George MacDonald The Princess and Curdie, by George MacDonald At the Back of the North Wind, by George MacDonald Tales of Hans Christian Andersen, by H.C. Anderson All Creatures Great and Small, by James Herriot Essays by Flannery O’Connor The Lords of the Earth: An Incredible but True Story from Papua’s Jungle, by Don Richardson Nicholas and Alexandra, by Robert K. Massie The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis Paradise Lost, by John Milton The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer Josephus Majestie, by David Weems Tyndale, by David Weems Silas Marner, by George Eliot Anne of Green Gables Complete Book Series, by Lucy Maud Montgomery Betsy-Tacy Complete Series, by Maud Hart Lovelace 1984, by George Orwell Animal Farm, by George Orwell Watership Down, by Richard Adams The Divine Romance, by Gene Edwards Christy, by Catherine Marshall A Man Called Peter, by Catherine Marshall The Caledonia Series Books 1 & 2 (Celtic Stone, Ancient Strife) by Michael Phillips The Cadfael Series by Ellis Peters Lord Peter Whimsey series, by Dorothy Sayers The Chronicles of Barsetshire, by Anthony Trollope Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey The Jeeves Omnibus, by P. G. Wodehouse North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskill All novels by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George MacDonald, George Eliot, Ted Dekker, Michael Phillips, Steven Lawhead, J.R.R. Tolken, C. S. Lewis, G.K. Chesteron. Frank Peretti, Dorothy Sayers, P.G. Wodehouse Anything from Lamplighter Books, republished 19th & early 20th century literature
Poetry 101 Famous Poems (a MUST for every homeschool library) New Treasury of Children’s Poetry, by Joanna Cole Poems for Children by Eugene Field A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein (and other titles) One Year Book of Poetry (365 devotionals featuring Scripture and classic poetry) A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson Shakespeare’s Sonnets Works of William Wordsworth Works of Walt Whitman Works of Tennyson, Lord Alfred Works by Robert Frost Works by Emily Dickinson Poetry for Young People Series (separate books include: Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Lewis Carroll, Robert Lewis Stevenson, Robert Browning, William Butler Yeats, etc.