Recommended Reading List

I wish the internet had been around when I was in school; you can find out so many interesting things. One of the ways I have used the net recently is to find books for my sons to read. I am not the only one.

Atypical Homeschool has a 15 year old asking what books students should read by the time they are out of high school. As a teacher of college freshmen, a homeschooling mother, and a PhD in English, I have some definite opinions. You might be surprised by what they are.

I looked to see if I had discussed this previously on my blog. I do have a discussion of reading lists. Though I said I should, I did not write a 100 list.

So what would I recommend?

I would recommend reading the Bible, especially Genesis, Exodus, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

I would recommend reading fairy tales, particulary the Grimm stories, the Andersen stories, and Aesop’s Fables.

I would recommend reading children’s classics, such as A Child’s Garden of Verses and The Little Red Hen, and The Little Engine That Could.

Other books, in no particular order:

Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Pilgrim’s Progress

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Call of the Wild by Jack London, even though it presupposes evolution

The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, again, evolution

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, dystopian, but widely read in high schools, many college teachers assume you’ve read it

Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm by George Orwell

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, about racial prejudice

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, a sad story, but a regular high school read

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Constitution of the United States

The Declaration of Independence

The Pied Piper of Hamlin by Robert Browning, the children don’t come home

The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes, a bad guy gets saved at the cost of his girlfriend’s life, her choice, and when he finds out, he comes in revenge and dies

The Short Stories of Edgar Allen Poe

Mythology by Edith Hamilton- Greek, Roman, and Norse

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank. I taught this in 10th grade literature and my older son has read it. It may not be classic literature, but I think it is worth reading. It introduces students to the idea of nuclear holocaust in a story without, usually, scaring the bejeezus out of them.

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther by Roland H. Bainton. I had to read this in my public high school. I remember reading it, talking about it, adn thinking about it.

Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery

Peter Pan by Sir James M. Barrie

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, a ubiquitous choice for high school students. Everyone assumes you’ve read it.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller, a better choice of his work. About the Salem Witch Trials.

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, watch the 1952 version of the movie, not the modern one. (Dramas should be seen, not read.) It’s a comedy.

Our Town by Thornton Wilder, again everyone assumes you’ve read it.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night by Shakespeare- comedies

Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet by Shakespeare- tragedies

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

Okay, that’s 60, with just the names listed here. I think that’s sufficient for the day.

No, it’s not.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Robert Frost
Langston Hughes
Emily Dickinson

And my previous recommendations, of the best poetry ever, are here, here, and here. It is a series of lists, with some discussion, on 66 poems that I like or have liked. (Note: The poems for PoeTree had to be short.)

6 thoughts on “Recommended Reading List

  1. We never know how high we are
    Till we are called to rise;
    And then, if we are true to plan
    Our statures touch the skies

    The heroism we recite
    Would be a daily thing
    Did not ourselves the cubits warp
    For fear to be a king.

    ~ Emily Dickinson

    Glad to see so many books I’ve read are on your lists and even populate my “library”…but when taking it all under consideration…I think I might be falling behind… hmmm….

  2. “The Constitution of the United States

    The Declaration of Independence”

    What if we’re Canadian? 😀

    Actually, given how pervasive American culture is up here, I do make sure my kids hav ea passing knowledge of things like this. I’m just teasing. 🙂

    Out of the 60 individual titles you listed, we have 27 of them – most of which I know she’s read. So she’s doing pretty good, I think.

  3. wow, that’s some serious list. Will have to wander off and read your other posts about lists now.

  4. Well, if you’re Canadian you’re going to have to find your own historical documents! 😉 But yall probably have some that a student of high school age should have read.

    And, I hate to admit this, but you should probably skip some of my “required reading” and find the great Canadian authors. I just don’t know who they are. We read British authors, from the “old” days mostly, but I don’t think there are any Aussie or Canadian authors on the list. I just don’t know their literature well enough. (Does Nevil Shute count as an Australian? He wrote about Australia. I love his work. If he doesn’t count, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything besides blogs by an Australian.)

    I guess I was more thinking along the lines of what I need to make sure my boys have read. I only have another year I think before my oldest is gone for good. He’s already taking classes at the local college.

  5. For Canadian authors, check out Michael D. O’Brien. His work is fiction, but is definitely on the intellectual side and much of it is based in Canada.

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