One of the many things I love about homeschooling my children in Philadelphia is that our children have the opportunity to read great literature, and as their teacher, I get to have a say in what literature they read! When I first started homeschooling it was hard to know which books to choose. Over the years I’ve compiled a list of excellent books that are written well, and often have a compelling message behind them. Following are books that I’ve loved and chosen for my children:
3rd grade/4th grade:
- The Bears on Hemlock Mountain by Alice Dalgliesh: Young boy encounters some bears on a trip home from his aunt’s.
- The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh: Young girl travels to a new home with her father and lives with a Native American family for a time.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: A spider helps a pig survive.
- Homer Price by Robert McCloskey: A boy in a small town helps its citizens overcome a series of ridiculous events.
- The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White: Swan learns the importance of being a great listener, rather than a great talker.
- The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary: Mouse learns to ride a boy’s toy motorcycle.
- The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden: Boy learns a little about Chinese culture by having a pet cricket.
- Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan: Woman becomes a mail-order bride.
- The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman: Boy receives a beating each time the king’s son misbehaves.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Written by my favorite author, C.S. Lewis; Christian principles, master of fantasy.
- Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink: Girl in the midwest grows up with Native Americans close to her home; sees prejudice in her community.
- The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Du Bois: Professor takes a balloon flight to the doomed island of Krakatoa.
- Sounder by William H. Armstrong: African-American boy grows up in a town filled with racism and prejudice.*
- My Louisiana Sky by Kimberly Willis Holt: Girl grows up with two mentally “slow” parents.
- The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli: Boy growing up in the Middle Ages has to live with a permanent handicap. Christian principles.
- Number the Stars by Lois Lowry: Based on the true story of the Danish resistance to Nazism during WWII.
- The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare: Boy learns to respect and admire his Native American neighbors.
- The Hobbit: J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy masterpiece!
7th grade/8th grade:
- Old Yeller by Fred Gipson: Boy becomes a man while his father is away from home.
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor: African-American family lives in a town filled with racism and prejudice.*
- Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt: Boy grows up during the Civil War.
- Diary of Anne Frank: Girl lives in a secret annex during WWII.
- Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse: Girl encounters many problems trying to immigrate to America.
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare: Girl lives with Puritan relatives after her family dies, and is accused of being a witch because she knows how to swim.
- Hatchet by Gary Paulsen: Boy learns how to survive on his own in the wilderness; deals with parents divorce.*
- Animal Farm by George Orwell: Allegory about Communism.*
- Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: Girl is raped and is afraid to talk about it.*
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Girl learns about racism in her town.*
- The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer: Issue of cloning in the future.*
- Night by Elie Wiesel: Account of a Jewish boy held prisoner at a concentration camp.*
Many of these titles are great for book discussions! Discussion questions are available online for many of these books as well. In particular, this site: http://www.nt.net/~torino/novels3.html is a great resource and has excellent discussion questions. They’re free!
I highly recommend that you read the literature that you assign to your child. Particularly the books that are marked with an asterisk(*) have parts that are heavy in subject matter, and should be read first by the parent, if it all possible.
All of these books can be found through the Free Library of Philadelphia. http://freelibrary.org/
Hope that my picks may be a help to you!
Posted by Gwen Fredette on 3/14/2012