Books that Build Character

We wish this list were much longer. Please email us if you have any suggestions or contributions.

  • Picture Books (Pre-school & up)
  • Elementary (1st - 6th)
  • Intermediate (4th - 9th)
  • Advanced (9th grade & up)
  • Christian Anthologies
  • Secular Anthologies


    Picture Books (Pre-school & older)

      Beskow, Elsa   Pelle's New Suit
      Brenner, Barbara   Wagon Wheels
      Burton, Virginia Lee   Katie and the Big Snow
      Carroll, Ruth & Latrobe   Digby The Only Dog
      Cohen, Barbara   Molly's Pilgrim
      Cohen, Barbara   Make a Wish, Molly
      Cooney, Barbara   Chanticleer and the Fox
      Cooney, Barbara   Miss Rumphius
      de Paola, Tomie   Now One Foot, Now the Other
      de Paola, Tomie   "Charlie Needs A Cloak"
      Ets, Marie Hall   Play With Me
      Fatio, Louise / R. Duvoisin   The Happy Lion and the Bear
      Fatio, Louise / R. Duvoisin   The Happy Lion's Treasure
      Flack, Marjorie   The Story About Ping
      Fluornoy, Valerie   The Patchwork Quilt
      Fulton, Ginger Adair   When I'm a Daddy (Moody Press)
      Fulton, Ginger Adair   When I'm a Mommy (Moody Press)
      Gackenbach, Dick   Claude and Pepper
      Galdone, Paul   The Hare and the Tortoise
      Galdone, Paul   The Little Red Hen
      Gantschev, Ivan   Otto the Bear
      Gunn, Robin Jones   Mrs. Rosey-Posey and the Chocolate Cherry Treat
      Hader, Berta & Elmer   Little Appaloosa
      Hall, Donald   Ox-Cart Man
      Hallinan, P.K.   I'm Thankful Each Day
      Hest, Amy / P.J. Lynch   When Jessie Came Across the Sea
      Hoban, Russel & Lillian   A Bargain for Frances
      Hoban, Russel & Lillian   Bread and Jam for Frances
      Hopkinson, Deborah   A Packet of Seeds
      Hughes, Shirley   Dogger
      (Hort, Lenny &) Locker, Thomas   The Boy Who Held Back the Sea
      Johnston, Tony   Amber on the Mountain
      London, Jonathan   What Newt Could Do for Turtle
      Kraus, Robert   Come Out and Play, Little Mouse
      Martin, Charles E.   Island Rescue
      McClintock, Mike   A Fly Went By
      McCloskey, Robert   One Morning in Maine
      McCully, Emily Arnold   Mirette on the High Wire
      McGovern, Ann   Too Much Noise
      McGinley, P.   The Horse Who Lived Upstairs
      Mitchell, Margaree King   Uncle Jed's barbershop
      O'Grady, Alice / Frances Throop   The Cap that Mother Made
      Peet, Bill   Kermit the Hermit
      Peet, Bill   The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock
      Piper, Watty   The Little Engine that Could
      Polacco, Patricia   Mr. Lincoln's Way
      Polacco, Patricia   Thank You, Mr. Falker
      Polacco, Patricia   Thunder Cake
      Roop, Peter & Connie   Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie (biography of Abbie Burgess)
      Roop, Peter & Connie (editors)   Pilgrim Voices
      Seuss, Dr.   Bartholomew and the Oobleck
      Seuss, Dr.   Green Eggs and Ham
      Seuss, Dr.   Horton Hatches the Egg
      Seuss, Dr.   Horton Hears a Who
      Surany, Anico   The Covered Bridge
      Thurber, James   Many Moons
      Turkle, Brinton   Thy Friend, Obadiah
      Wolff, Ferida   Seven Loaves of Bread
      Wright, Courtni C. / Gershom Griffin   Journey to Freedom: A Story of the Underground Railroad
      Yashima, Taro   Crow Boy


    Elementary Readers (1st - 6th grade)

      Arnold, Elliott   Brave Jimmy Stone
      Bishop, Claire Huchet   All Alone
      Bishop, Claire Huchet  Twenty and Ten / The Secret Cave
      Brown, Drollene P.  Sybil Rides for Independence
      Buff, Mary & Conrad   The Apple and the Arrow (The Legend of William Tell)
      Bulla, Clyde Robert   A Lion to Guard Us
      Bulla, Clyde Robert   John Billington: Friend of Squanto
      Bulla, Clyde Robert   Pocahontas and the Strangers
      Bulla, Clyde Robert   Star of Wild Horse Canyon
      Butterworth, Oliver   The Trouble with Jenny's Ear
      Cavenah, Frances   Jenny Lind and Her Listening Cat
      Cavenah, Frances   Marta and the Nazis
      Clark, Margaret Goff   Freedom Crossing
      Dalgliesh, Alice   The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
      Dalgliesh, Alice   The Courage of Sarah Noble
      Dalgliesh, Alice   The Columbus Story
      DeAngeli, Marguerite   The Door in the Wall
      Edmonds, Walter D.   The Matchlock Gun
      Estes, Eleanor    The Hundred Dresses
      Forbes, Esther   Johnny Tremain
      Fritz, Jean   And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?
      Fritz, Jean   George Washington's Breakfast
      Fritz, Jean   Stonewall (biography of Stonewall Jackson)
      Fritz, Jean   The Cabin Faced West
      Fritz, Jean   Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?
      Gackenbach, Dick   The Leatherman
      Gates, Doris   Blue Willow
      Grahame, Kenneth   The Wind in the Willows
      Hamori, Lazslo   Dangerous Journey
      Henry, Marguerite   Benjamin West and His Cat Grimalkin
      Henry, Marguerite   Justin Morgan Had a Horse
      Kästner, Erich   Emil and the Detectives
      Mills, Lauren A.   The Rag Coat
      Reit, Seymour   Guns for General Washington (true story)
      Reit, Seymour   Race Against Death (true story)
      Sidney, Margaret   Five Little Peppers and How They Grew
      Sobol, Donald J.   The Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk
      White, E.B.   Charlotte's Web
      Wilder, Laura Ingalls   Little House on the Prarie & The Little House series


    Intermediate Readers (3rd - 9th grade)

      Alcott, Louisa May   Little Women, Little Men, Jo's Boys
      Bagnold, Enid   National Velvet
      Beatty, Patricia   Charley Skedaddle
      Brink, Carol Ryrie   Caddie Woodlawn
      Church, Richard   Five Boys in a Cave
      DeJong, Meindert   The House of Sixty Fathers
      DeJong, Meindert   The Wheel on the School
      George, Jean Craighead   Julie of the Wolves
      Gibson, Fred   Old Yeller (But we don't recommend any of Fred Gibson's other books)
      Glines, Carroll   The Wright Brothers: Pioneers of Power Flight
      Juster, Norton   The Phantom Tollbooth
      Hunt, Irene   Across Five Aprils
      Keith, Harold   Rifles for Watie
      Kerr, Judith   When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
      Kingman, Lee   The Saturday Gang
      Latham, Jean Lee   Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
      Latham, Jean Lee   Drake: The Man They Called A Pirate
      Lomas, Steve   Pacific Blue
      Lowry, Lois   Number the Stars
      MacLachlan, Patricia   Sarah, Plain and Tall
      McSwigan, Marie   Snow Treasure
      Meadowcroft, Enid LaMonte   By Secret Railway
      Meigs, Cornelia   Wild Geese Flying
      Moody, Ralph   Little Britches
      Moody, Ralph   Man of the Family
      Moody, Ralph   Mary Emma & Company
      Moody, Ralph   A Horse of a Different Color
      Morrow, Honore   Seven Alone / On to Oregon
      Mowat, Farley   Lost in the Barrens / Two Against the North
      Petry, Ann   Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad
      Serraillier, Ian   Escape from Warsaw / The Silver Sword
      Sewell, Anna   Black Beauty
      Sorensen, Virginia   Miracles on Maple Hill
      Speare, Elizabeth George   The Sign of the Beaver
      Speare, Elizabeth George   The Witch of Blackbird Pond
      Sperry, Armstrong   Call It Courage
      Spinelli, Jerry   Maniac Magee
      Stein, R. Conrad   Benjamin Franklin: Inventor, Statesman, & Patriot
      Stephens, Peter John   The Perrely Plight
      Taylor, Mildred   Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
      Taylor, Mildred   Mississippi Bridge
      Taylor, Theodore   The Cay
      Walsh, Jill Paton   Gaffer Samson's Luck
      Wibberly, Leonard   John Treegate's Musket
      Wibberly, Leonard   Sea Captain from Salem
      Wibberly, Leonard   Leopard's Prey
      Wyss, Johann David   The Swiss Family Robinson
      Yates, Elizabeth   Amos Fortune: Free Man
      Yep, Laurence   Dragonwings


    Advanced Reading (9th grade & up)

      Brother Andrew   God's Smuggler
      Armstrong, William H.   Sounder
      Benchley, Nathaniel   Bright Candles
      Bunyan, John   Pilgrim's Progress
      Conrad, Joseph   Typhoon
      Crane, Stephen   The Red Badge of Courage
      Curie, Eve   Madame Curie
      Dana, Richard Henry, Jr.   Two Years Before the Mast
      Defoe, Daniel   Robinson Crusoe
      DeKruif, Paul Henry   Men Against Death (nonfiction)
      DeKruif, Paul Henry   Microbe Hunters (nonfiction)
      Dickens, Charles   A Tale of Two Cities
      Douglass, Frederick    Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Autobiography, 1845)
      Eckert, Allan W.   Incident at Hawk's Hill
      Forester, C.S.   The Man in the Yellow Raft
      Franklin, Benjamin   The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
      Frank, Anne   Diary of a Young Girl
      Hautzig, Esther Rudomin   The Endless Steppe (autobiography)
      Hugo, Victor   Les Miserables
      Kipling, Rudyard    Captains Courageous
      Lee, Harper   To Kill a Mockingbird
      Nordhoff, Charles Bernard & James Norman Hall   Mutiny on the Bounty
      Orczy, Baroness Emmuska   The Scarlet Pimpernel
      Sandburg, Carl   Lincoln: The Prairie Years
      Shakespeare, William   King Lear , Henry V
      Steer, Roger   George Müller: Delighted in God
      Ten-Boom, Corey   The Hiding Place
      Washington, Booker Taliaferro   Up From Slavery


    Christian Anthologies

      Maxwell, Uncle Arthur   The children’s Hour (all of these "Uncle Arthur" collections are remakes of the original series published in the early 1900's)
      Maxwell, Uncle Arthur   Bedtime Stories Classics
      Maxwell, Uncle Arthur   Uncle Arthur's Storytime: children’s True Adventures
      Ministry of Life   A Hive of Busy Bees, Another Hive of Bees
      Ministry of Life   Seeing God's Wisdom in His Ways, Seeing God's Purpose in Everything
      Richardson, Arleta   Stories from Grandma's Attic, More Stories from Grandma's Attic, Still More Stories from Grandma's Attic, In Grandma's Attic
      (Pub. by Angela's Bookshelf)   Choice Stories for Children
      White, J.E. (Pub. by Angela's Bookshelf)   The King's Daughter and Other Stories for Girls
      (Pub. by Angela's Bookshelf)   Stories Worth Re-reading


    Secular Anthologies

      Santorum, Karen   Everyday Graces: A Child's Book of Good Manners
      Bennett, William   The Book of Virtues , The Moral Compass , The Book of Virtues for Young People (Bill Bennett draws on fables, both secular and religious, for some of his source material)
      Gelman, Steve   Young Olympic Champions
      Reader's Digest   Great Lives, Great Deeds
      Stephens, C.A.   Stories from the Old Squire's Farm
      Brown, Pamela   Barnyard Buddies

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