Before you begin on this list, please be sure you are reading the Bible together with your children every day. This list cannot even hope to replace the benefit of Bible reading for both you and your children.
This 1000 Good Books List is by no means exhaustive. Twenty-five homeschooling mothers, discussing criteria in choosing a good book, age and gender considerations, and many other exchanges on individual titles to include or exclude and why, compiled this list. If you know of books that are good that are not included in this list, by all means, do not let their exclusion stop you from reading them with your children. And similarly, if a book is included on this list that you just plain don’t like for whatever reason, then don’t read it. We firmly believe in the parents’ right and responsibility to have the ultimate choice in reading material for their children. We have posted this list as a place to start, not necessarily as a place to end; since many of us did not have the benefit of careful discrimination in our reading material in our own childhoods and education.
The criteria we used to judge inclusion are:
- Does the book have literary value?
- Does the book emphasize a Biblical worldview or the Judeo- Christian heritage in some way?
- Does the book teach what is moral or just or true?
- Does the book encourage love and good works?
- Does the book exemplify warmth, tenderness, courage, humor, and other values and characteristics to which we desire our children to be exposed?
- Does the book nourish the intellect and fire the imagination?
- Does the book cross age barriers to be enjoyed by all?
The Bible, the best of the good books and the greatest of the great books, is the backbone of this good books / great books list. The books listed are offered in addition to the Bible, but certainly never in replacement of it.
The books have been divided into reading levels for your convenience. 1-3 corresponds to beginning readers in 1st through 3rd grades; 4-6 corresponds to fluent readers in 4th through 6th grades; 7-9 corresponds to maturing readers in 7th through 9th grades; and 10-12 corresponds to college- bound or adult readers in 10th through 12th grades. The suggested reading levels are guidelines only and are not meant to be chiseled in stone. Individual children vary in their reading ability regardless of their grade; some will need easier books and some more challenging. The books listed with an “RA” designation after the entry are not- to- be- missed read alouds for young children. (Of course, any of the books will make wonderful read alouds, but the ones so marked are ones we feel no child should grow up without hearing.)
One of the things that makes a good book “good” is its timeless quality, its ability to cross age barriers from preschool children to great- grandparents. Please do not think that simply because a wonderful book like Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne, for example, is categorized in 4-6, that it could not be enjoyed by younger and older children. That is the beauty of the truly good and wonderful books.