teen boy reading outside

The Everyone Booklist

*Note: print out to take to the library or used book sale.
Last weekend I had the privilege and delight of speaking at the IHM NationalConference. In conversations with parents afterwards, I received many requests for book recommendations. Here are some incomplete lists, rapidly thrown together and clumsily categorized. In my experience (as a child and as a mother) many books which are suitable for an older audience are accessible to younger readers when read aloud. I’ve thrown in some asterisks to indicate some of the “read aloud” selections we have really enjoyed in the last few years. For reference, our children are seven, five, two and a half, and six months old.

Early Chapter Books (for confident readers)

  • Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus*
  • In Grandma’s Attic by Arleta Richardson
  • The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder *
  • The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories by Betty MacDonald*
  • The Encyclopedia Brown stories by Donald Sobol*
  • Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater*
  • Sisters of the Last Straw series by Karen Kelly Boyce
  • Ben and Me and other books by Robert Lawson

Books accessible to grade schoolers or younger (read independently or read aloud)

  • The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting*
  • The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye*
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chaseby Joan Aiken*
  • Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glassby Lewis Carroll*
  • Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kästner*
  • D’Aulaires Greek Myths and Norse Myths*
  • The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm*
  • The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Anderson*
  • The “Fairy Books” of Andrew Lang*
  • The Light Princess by George MacDonald*
  • The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss*
  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri*
  • The Anne books by L.M. Montgomery*
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame*
  • The Secret Garden and A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett*
  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis*
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien*
  • The Paddington Bear stories by Michael Bond*
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens*
  • Silas Marner by George Eliot
  • The Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace*
  • Compendiums of children’s stories by James Herriot*
  • The Mary Poppins novels by P.L. Travers* (though, as a dear friend pointed out to me recently, Mary Poppins’ behavior is not at all what I would recommend in parenting!)
a girl reading a book

Books that might appeal more to your middle/high school sons (though, honestly, your daughters are likely to enjoy these too—I certainly did!):

  • Anything by Rosemary Sutcliff
  • The Redwall books by Brian Jacques
  • The Living History Library from Bethlehem Books
  • The “Vision Books” Saints Biographies
  • The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls
  • Various works by Marguerite Henry*
  • The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling*
  • Treasure Island*, Kidnapped*, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander
  • All Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Horatio Hornblower novels by C.S. Forester
  • The Aubrey-Maturin novels by Patrick O’Brian
  • The Biggles stories by W.E. Johns
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps, Greenmantle, and Mr. Standfast by John Buchan
  • Lord Jim by Josef Conrad
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
  • The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer
  • The Aeneid by Virgil
  • Beowulf
  • The Nibelungenlied
  • The Kalevala
  • The historical novels AND the histories by Thomas B. Costain
  • The full works of James Herriot
  • The Civil War trilogy by Shelby Foote
  • The Quiet Man and Other Stories by Maurice Walsh
  • The Man Who Never Wasby Ewen Montagu
Books for high schoolers and adults:
  • EVERYTHING by Jane Austen
  • Nicholas Nickleby*, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, and Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
  • The Barsetshire Chronicles by Anthony Trollope (The Warden, Barchester Towers, Dr. Thorne, The Small House at Allington, Framley Parsonage, and The Last Chronicle of Barset); Also He Knew He Was Right
  • Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Space Trilogy by C.S. Lewis
  • Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray and ALL THE PLAYS by Oscar Wilde
  • Cranford, North and South, and Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • The Moonstone and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The novels of Georgette Heyer (ladies, this one is for you!)
  • Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Agnes Grey, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Villette by the Brontë sisters
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • EVERYTHING by P.G. Wodehouse (just start reading and never stop)
  • The Ball and the Cross, The Flying Inn, and the Fr. Brown stories by G.K. Chesterton
  • Various novels by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham, and Josephine Tey
  • Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre
  • Declare and The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
  • Jennifer the Damned and Cinder Allia by Karen Ullo
  • TheLetters of Magdalen Montague and A Bloody Habit by ME!
NB: Joseph Pearce has catalogued contemporary Catholic fiction very well and since he has a much wider knowledge of that field than I do, I link one of his catalogues here!

Other works I mentioned (positively) in my talks:

  • An Experiment in Criticism by C.S. Lewis
  • Nihilism: The Root of the Revolution of the Modern Age by Fr. Seraphim Rose
  • After Virtue by Alasdair MacIntyre
  • Evangelii Nuntiandi (Pope Paul VI)
  • Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist (which has endless, wondrous, glorious book lists!)
  • “The Last Tools of Learning” by Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Leisure, the Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper
  • Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
  • The Light of Christ by Fr. Thomas Joseph White
  • The Hillbilly Thomist bluegrass band (not a book but exemplifying true genius!!!)
  •  Present Position of Catholics in England by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman
  • “The Dirty Linen of Literary Studies” by ME!

Books I am currently reading:

  • Whisper Music by J.B. Toner
  • Death’s Dream Kingdom by Gabriel Blanchard
  • More Walls Broken by Tim Powers
  • The Catholic Writer Today by Dana Gioia
  • The Mummy by Jane Loudon (Thank you to the awesome ladies who told me about this uproarious early Gothic piece!)
  • An Episode of Sparrows by Rumer Godden

And now I am destined to lie awake endlessly cataloging the innumerable books I have forgotten. For more comprehensive lists, there are wonderful resources including Laura Berquist’s books and, of course, the works of our dear, incomparable Maureen Wittmann, especially: For the Love of Literature: Teaching Core Subjects with Literature, and her many book lists (most recently, this gem). You can also check out the brilliant and hilarious writings of Susannah Pearce, especially her recent “What Makes Great Children’s Literature Great?” and “Great Books I Wouldn’t Want to Be In (And Some I Would!)”.

Parents who have favorite books I’ve neglected to list: feel free to add your suggestions at the Homeschool Connections’ Community! Parents with particular questions about any of the above, feel free to reach out to me personally at ebourgnicholson at gmail dot com.

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