General Reading List for Children and Young People

"Books We Enjoyed As Kids"


Because both Esther and I are educators and avid readers ourselves, several of our friends have asked us to recommend books for their children to read. Many "children’s books" on the library shelves are not what Christian parents would consider appropriate reading for their children. Conversely, there are hundreds of children’s books written in the earlier part of this century that are excellent literature but have become harder to find and less familiar to the general public in recent years.

Educationally speaking, one of the best habits we can encourage in our children is the habit of reading. With reading, proficiency increases with practice. Even reading good literature "for fun" can have a profound effect on academic ability, because good readers can grasp and retain information much better than infrequent readers. Reading good literature educates children, helps spark creativity, uplifts their ambitions, and broadens their horizons. Even without these benefits, reading would be valuable for the single reason that it keeps children away from the television. Television makes children passive and stifles their imagination. Television viewing has been linked to shorter attention spans and increased violence in children, making it more difficult for them to learn in school. Television has also been one of the major factors in the breakdown of traditional American culture, substituting instead the "Hollywood values" of violence, immorality, and instant gratification.

Encouraging a good reading habit starts with the parents reading aloud to their small children. Children of all ages love to be read to by their parents, and a family reading time encourages a strong bond between parents and children. Furthermore, developing an appetite for good literature early in life gives children a great head start toward developing a habit that will help them the rest of their life.

Of course, some of the recent children’s "literature," while educationally more beneficial than television, is still full of amoral values that we do not want transmitted to our children. We want the children to read, but we want them to read wholesome books, too. Hence, this list of good children’s books.

We did not select the books in this list based on their educational value or their moral message, but rather just tried to select books that are wholesome and that provide good, entertaining reading (but see our other reading list, Books that Build Character). Some of these are our favorite books from childhood; others are books we discovered for our students or our children.

In this list, we roughly categorized the books by reading level: Beginning readers (picture books), elementary readers, intermediate readers, and advanced readers. However, all of the books on this list are fun even for adults to come back to and enjoy! Click here to see our children’s reading list, Books We Enjoyed As Kids.

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