Finding Real Books

This article is part of a series for new home educators. In this, and several other articles, we cover What style of education is right for our family? And where do I get our curriculum?

As mentioned in a previous article of this series, Real Books are the types of books you find in a bookstore or library, but how do you know which ones are good and worthy of reading–of assigning to your children to read? The resources listed below contain lists of books that the authors have chosen as good reading. You may or may not agree with all their choices, but most give a synopsis that will help you make your choice. Many of the books listed are “classics” that have been well loved and stood the test of time. Many times the same books appear in several of these lists, giving them a little further credence.

The first two resources below give an overview of each book to further help you choose. The next two just list title, author, reading level, and perhaps a few words of description, with books listed by time period, location, and reading level.

The Book Tree: A Christian Reference for Children’s Literature by Elizabeth McCallum and Jane Scott highlights the best of children’s literature. Top quality fiction and biography classics are presented with delightful descriptions, recommendations, and quotes scattered throughout. Arranged by age group; indexed by title, author and subject.

Books Children Love by Elizabeth Wilson is one of the best guides to the best literature, giving a personal description and warm synopsis of classic favorites and others less unfamiliar. Organized into topical categories that are more varied than the other books listed here. In addition to literature from fables to realistic stories, you’ll find chapters listing books for crafts and hobbies, drama, celebration days, horticulture, physical education, outdoor activities, humor, art, music, math, language, science, animals, and more.

Let the Authors Speak by Carolyn Hatcher lists books by their time period and place setting, to help you choose appropriate books to study, as you travel through God’s HisStory throughout the “time and space” of the earth.

All through the Ages by Christine Miller is similar, yet more extensive referencing of over 5600 books from various sources and catalogs.

Honey for a Child’s Heart by is similar to the first two above. It is my least favorite of these.


Now that you know what to look for, where do you find them? In many places, it is getting harder to find an abundant supply of good, worthy books in the public library. Building a home library is a worthy investment though. Family libraries, large and small, have been passed on as an inheritance, blessing many generations. Begin yours today! It can be as extensive and elaborate (or not) as you choose. Whether you choose to build with collectors editions and antique treasures, or ebooks on an eReader, your home library will be a blessing to your family, and perhaps many others. Just build your library with only the best of books.

Besides shopping at general bookstores, you may find wonderful treasures at used and antique bookstores. There are also many online sources for great Real Books, including our Partners, such as ChristianBook, Amazon, and others listed in the sidebar of this site. Used book websites, such as AbeBooks and Alibris can help us find treasured out of print books, or just inexpensive used copies. Even Ebay can be a good source for finding great books inexpensively.

Ebooks are also available, for reading on Kindle, other eReaders, or your computer. Many of the older, classics are available to download for free from sites such as Project Gutenberg, Internet Archive, and others. The Kindle Store also has many free ebooks, in addition to ones you can purchase. More links to free ebook sites can be found in this article. The Internet has enabled us to get more than enough great Real Books (for free, even) to keep us busy reading for a lifetime.


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