Our family are book lovers who have learned together for over 10 years. The foundation of our education curriculum is the reading of good books coupled with thorough mathematics. We focus on reading good, classic, “living books” rather than a textbook or workbook approach. Over the years, we’ve found many recommendation lists. All suggest many quality books for each age level, all focusing on various historical periods or other broad themes.
A wonderful problem exists for teachers – there’s too much good material to teach! As we were confronted with a dozen or more solid reading-based plans, each recommending hundreds of books, choosing what few books to read each year became a fun, but difficult, problem. We would see what books the various lists had in common for a given reading level, what we could find affordably online, and what we could find at the library. We’d narrow down further based on the type of work – classic literature vs. biographies vs. general narratives, etc. and then the historical period the book covered – ancient vs. middle ages vs. modern, etc. In this way, we planned very personalized, interesting reading. This is a difficult yet rewarding process. It works but there are other helpful methods.
Rather than forming your own personalized plan, another idea is to just pick one of the many published plans and ignore the others. Some of the plans we recommend are from Sonlight, Veritas Press, and Robinson Curriculum. Another solution is to use one of several book guides that help categorize books. These include Honey for a Child’s Heart, The Book Tree, All Through The Ages, and Invitation to the Classics. These are flexible and helpful but still require a lot of page turning, indexing, and offer no direct online access to book vendors or libraries that can help quickly determine what is available at a reasonable cost.
The best solution is an online book list that can be easily searched and sorted by different criteria of reading level, historical era, type, price, etc. There are many online lists, though most are static lists you cannot easily search or sort. Many bloggers maintain lists of favorite books. Several sites provide more powerful search and sort capabilities. One popular example is Library Thing, tagging books for various categories. Another powerful site is Every Good Book providing searching and sorting of classic books, based on the book’s time period, type, reading level, popularity, and even cost.