Booklists: Finding Great Reads for Your Children (and Yourself!)
I don’t know about you, but I’ve often been discouraged and annoyed by the books my children bring home from the library. I’ve even hid some of them. And as much as I want to and believe it would be ideal to do so, I just can’t pre-read everything before handing it over to my children. So what’s a mama to do?
Well, the very best thing to do (next to reading them all yourself of course) would be to get book recommendations from someone you trust and who has similar values to your own. Families differ, so be sure to ask questions if you are at all unsure regarding content and age-appropriateness. Reading level, age suitability, and maturity vary greatly from one child to the next, and what is acceptable to one family may not be to another.
Another great option is to find a quality booklist and work from there. Now there are a lot of booklists out there that are riddled with junk. I’m not going to get into the “what is twaddle?” debate because everyone seems to have their own definition of twaddle, and even those who agree on a given definition may actually differ in whether or not they allow it into their homes.
The booklists I’m sharing with you today I believe will likely be considered by most, if not all picky readers as twaddle-free. I obviously haven’t read every book on these lists (I’m the busy mama who can’t pre-read her voracious 8-year old’s books, remember?) but they are from sound, trusted sources.
So fill up your library requests queue with books from these online booklists, and keep your kids so busy reading great books that they forget all about those captain underwear and rainbow fairy nonsense books!
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Here are some great, online booklists:
- Five in a Row/Before Five in a Row: FIAR is a popular literature based unit study program. While I’ve never used or even previewed their curriculum, their booklists are full of wonderful children’s classics for the younger years.
- Sonlight: Sonlight is a literature based complete package homeschool curriculum. I have no experience with their program at all, but I love their booklists. Full of rich classics with a strong emphasis on history.
- Ambleside Online: Ambleside is a free, online, Charlotte Mason homeschooling curriculum. Great living book selections from the early years through to high school.
- Mensa for Kids: The Mensa for Kids Excellence in Reading Program is pretty cool. Your kids can earn a certificate and t-shirt for working through their booklist!
- 1000 Good Books List: This list, put out by Classical Christian Education Support Loop, is a real gem. The lists are arranged by from primary all the way through high school. I used this list extensively when looking for high-quality books for my oldest when she was a new reader — most of the selections commonly labelled as “easy readers” and those “first chapter books” are drivel at best — and this list provided some great alternatives.
- Classical Reader: This list is also available in print from Classical Academic Press and is a new favourite of mine. You can filter books by author, level, grade, genre, and even by medals/awards won! I love that this is a searchable list, and has been put out by such a trustworthy source.
If you are searching for books that will be especially great as read-alouds (not all great reads make great read-alouds), Sarah MacKenzie from the Read Aloud Revival has put together a great list that is categorized by ages & genres. The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease is also a great resource for this.
My absolute favourite resource for choosing books for my children would have to Gladys Hunt’s Honey for a Child’s Heart; it is so much more than a booklist! It includes books by topic, age, & genre from picture books all the way up to young adult. And it provides so much inspiration and encouragement for creating a reading culture within the home.
What about mom?
Don’t forget to get your own nose in a book! You certainly don’t want to be so busy feeding the minds of your children that you forget to set a feast for yourself too. Children learn by example above all else, so if you want your children to be lovers of good books, you need to be one yourself. There are tons of great booklists available for children’s books (my favourites are mentioned above), but what about mom? Well, you could explore the Senior Reading Level list from the Classical Christian Homeschooling Support Loop, or other high school aged selections in the above mentioned lists.
If you would really like to get started in earnest with self education but don’t know where to begin, I would recommend both Adler & Van Dorren’s How to Read a Book and Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had. Both books contain excellent information on how to read challenging works from different time periods and genres as well as book lists to get you started.
The very best thing you can do though, is to find someone to explore books with you, like a friend or book club, where you can discuss what you are reading and exchange ideas. My greatest source of support has been an online book club full of true bibliophiles, and I get most of my book recommendations from them. I started the year by scanning the list of books that were going to be covered in the coming year and picked out for myself a modest number that I could be sure to get through.
Do you have a favourite source for booklists that isn’t mentioned here? Let us know in the comments!
This post is linked up at Trivium Tuesdays.