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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!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, I may get a small commission at no extra charge to you. You can read my full disclosure statement here.

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.

Booklists: finding great reads for your children and yourself! These are my favourite sources for wholesome & classic literature selections for our family and homeschool

More booklists!

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.

12 Books for 12 Months — My 2016 Reading Plan!

Earlier this year I began my journey into becoming more a “learning mama” by getting intentional about my own self education. My journey began with just one simple step – a commitment to read daily for just 30 minutes. Just one simple thing to begin setting the example of lifelong learning to my children and to feed my own mind and spirit.

I’m going to try to kick it up a notch in the new year by planning my reading. I’ve never even kept a record of my reading before, let alone laid it all out in advance, so this is new territory for me! I’ll also be keeping a bit of a reading journal or “Commonplace” to help me digest what I’m learning, keep a record of what I’ve read and jot down anything I think I will like to remember.

12 Books in 12 Months! - My 2016 Reading List!


My list for 2016 contains light reads, those of a practical nature, some with spiritual significance, and some with much literary merit. Some of these are my own choices and some I will be reading along with an online book club group.  A few I already own, others I will borrow from the library, and at least one  I will need to purchase. Its not much, and I know some who read a book a week – but I’m trying to be realistic here, and for me, this seems achievable while also leaving a little wiggle room for some impromptu selections along the way.

Here they are!

The Awakening of Miss Prim (Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera) I know nothing about this one but it is a January selection for my online book discussion group. [spacer height=”20px”]

Surprised by Joy (C. S. Lewis) February selection for online book discussion group.[spacer height=”20px”]

Mere Christianity (C. S. Lewis) April selection for online book discussion group.[spacer height=”20px”]
The Four Loves (C. S. Lewis) June selection for online book discussion group.[spacer height=”20px”]
The Abolition of Man (C. S. Lewis) August selection for online book discussion group[spacer height=”20px”]

Teaching from Rest (Sarah Mackenzie) I have been wanting to read this one for a while.[spacer height=”20px”]
History of the Ancient World (Susan Wise Bauer) This one I started almost two years ago but had to return it to the library before I was even close to finishing it. I’ve got my own copy now, and I ‘d like to read it and the next two books. So far my education in history has consisted of reading SOTW with my children and I should probably have a deeper knowledge of history than that of a grammar stage child![spacer height=”20px”]
Jo’s Boys (L. M. Alcott)My online book discussion group is currently doing Little Men which I have read several times (as well as doing the audio currently with my girls) and I realized that I have never read it’s sequel![spacer height=”20px”]
Plutarch’s Lives This one is also for my online group. I admit that I had never even heard of Plutarch until somewhat recently. We will be doing two lives every two months starting in January. It is my understanding that this is very heavy, so I hope I will be able to keep up![spacer height=”20px”]
Margin I have heard this one recommended from many different sources, so I snagged a copy from Thrift Books.[spacer height=”20px”]
For the Family’s Sake I’m interested in this one mostly because I absolutely LOVE For the Children’s Sake and recommend it to everyone.[spacer height=”20px”]
Heartfelt Discipline (Clay Clarkson) I already own this one and started it last year. I figure I should get around to finishing it![spacer height=”20px”]

So there you have it — 12 books for 12 months! Hopefully I will be able to keep up and still have room for whatever comes across my path as I go along! What are you hoping to read in the New Year?

Living and Learning at Home

Our Must Read Books for 2016 {Dad & Mum's Book Stand}

Top 5 Favourite Homeschooling Books

This post combines two of my very favourite things: homeschooling and books! Today I’d like to share with you my top 5 recommendations for homeschooling books — especially if you’re after a literature rich, classically leaning, wholesome education for your children. I’ve read a lot of homeschooling books — as many as I could get my hands on through our public libraries, but these all have a permanent home in my own personal library.

Must Read Homeschooling Books - these are my top 5 recommended books for new homeschoolers


The Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer

I list this book first because it is the single, most used reference book in my homeschooling library. I began by checking this book out regularly from the library, was constantly renewing it, requesting it, etc. until I decided that I just needed my own copy. It provides a good insight as to the why of homeschooling your child, but even better, it explains the how. This book was my first taste of classical education, and it had me hooked from the beginning. It lays out in a simple format the progression of a child’s learning through the various stages of the trivium (which it names grammar, logic, and dialectic), and what and how to teach each level. It is full of practical information, including such things as approximate length of time to spend on each subject, curriculum recommendation and how to organize your child’s notebooks. This book is gold, and I need another copy just to loan out to friends because I recommend it so much!

For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay

For the Children’s Sake is a lovely read which introduced me to many of the educational principles of Charlotte Mason. What I really appreciate about this book is that it puts the relationship into education. This is the furthest thing from current textbook, workbook, one-size-fits-all, and checklist education models we see today. I love the focus on building habits, relationship, and appetites in our children as the basis for education. There is so much loveliness in this book!




Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay Clarkson

This book focuses on educating the heart of your child, and educating them with the motive of helping them to become the person God has made them to be. It sets forth home education primarily as discipleship, which I really love. It is quite Charlotte Mason-y in many ways, but refers to books as “wholehearted” instead of “living” as do the Charlotte Mason educators. It’s definitely the same thing though. There are also many examples from the Clarkson’s own experiences home educating their four children as well as inspirational quotes, recommended reference and literature books, and practical forms and helps. This book is a good combination of inspiration and application.


102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy

This book is purely practical. It is a great starting point for people who are new to homeschooling as it provides overviews of teaching styles, educational models, and learning styles as well as providing comprehensive curriculum reviews. It is perfect for helping you decide what to use based on your own preferences and the needs of your children.





Honey For a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt

This is such a lovely book! It is not a homeschooling book per se, but it is an amazing resource as you search for quality books for your children. This book is so helpful in selecting books that will furnish your child’s imagination with beauty, wonder, delight and adventure. It discusses role of reading and books in giving your children a large view of the world, encouraging imagination,  and developing good use of language. It has booklists with over a thousand recommendations organized by age and subject including both classics and new books. In my opinion, this book is a must read for parents who want their children’s hearts and minds to be positively influenced by the books they read.



iHomeschool Network Must Read Books

What are your top picks for homeschooling books?

This post is linked up at Trivium Tuesdays and the Hip Homeschool Hop


Top 5 Canadian Picture Books

Today, I’m excited to be sharing over at Mother Daughter Book Reviews, about one of my favourite things: Books! Here is a little preview of my post, click on over to their site to get the full version!

My children, like their mama, are confessed book lovers. We are routinely walking the line for the maximum number of books our library allows to be checked out (100). We enjoy books of all types: fiction, non-fiction, fairy tales, history, mythology, classics, readers and novels. We especially love picture books, and there many that we have enjoyed over and over again. As a Canadian, I’m always a little bit pleased when I discover that one of the books that we love is also Canadian. The books I’m sharing with you today are among those Canadian books we have checked out over and over again or belong to our personal collection. These are books that my children love, and that I love to read with them! [READ MORE]

Top Five Canadian Picture Books!

What are your favourite picture books? Have you enjoyed any of these?

Kid Lit Blog Hop

It’s All Fun and Games…

Along with my “second grader” I am also “schooling” an active 4 year old.  If we were public schooling, she would have started JK this fall which is now full day, every day school. But that’s not how we roll around here 😉

At the beginning of September, this fun loving, free spirited gal could only identify a handful of letters of the alphabet. In contrast, her big sis at this age new all of her letters and “what they say”.  I wasn’t exactly worried, but I did feel a little uncertain. I felt a little guilt that this sweet gal of mine doesn’t get near the amount of attention and one on one time that big sister did. She didn’t get half the read aloud time. To my dismay, she often gets just one little story from Mama a day. Big sister has loved books from birth and we read HOURS a day. So I was wondering if this slower start to reading and less voracious appetite for books was due to my neglect or if it is just a difference in development or preference.

I am so pleased however, and encouraged, that within the span of 3 short months my little gal has almost perfected letter recognition and sounds!  Did we start a phonics program? Buy some boxed curriculum? Nope!  All that has changed in our day to day around here is once a week she helps me give baby sister a bath while big sister is at  piano lessons. And while baby splashes to her heart’s content, she plays with the foam alphabet letters putting them into alphabetical order and telling me what sounds they make. She also watches Leap Frog Letter Factory while I put baby sister to bed. Ahem. Carry on.

So what do we do for preschool around here?

Not much.  When Big Sister was preschool age we were reading A LOT. I used booklists from Ambleside online, Sonlight and Five in a Row/Before Five in a Row. We spent hours a day reading. Once she had her letter sounds all figured out, we started in with Bob Books, but that’s as intense as it got. My current preschooler is not getting all that attention from Mommy due to my needing to work with her older sister and take care of her ever wakeful baby sister. Although she would love nothing more than to play all day (which would be OK with me) she doesn’t like being alone so she joins her big sister at the table for all of her school time. We call this “Table Time”. Here she works on worksheets, makes puzzles, colours, plays with play-dough, or uses some of the lovely learning kits/busy bags I have put together using the help of Pinterest.

Don’t you just love Pinterest?!


preschool learningHere are the links to the preschool/kinder booklists we have used. I continue to use the Classical Education Loop’s list of 1000 Good Books for my second grader as well as the books listed in the Ambleside online curriculum:

 Five in a Row

Before Five in a Row

Sonlight PreK 

Sonlight Kindergarten: 

Classical Education Support Loop’s List of Good Books:  

Ambleside Online Year 0


Also invaluable resources for helping you find good quality literature for your children are the following books:

Honey for a Child’s Heart By Gladys Hunt.

The Read Aloud Handbook   By Jim Trelease

What to Read When By Pam Allyn