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Books, Books, Books

“The reading of all good books is indeed like a conversation with the noblest men of past centuries who were the authors of them, nay a carefully studied conversation, in which they reveal to us none but the best of their thoughts.”–Descartes

I have had several friends ask me what I am having my kids read this summer and what have been their favorite books in the last year.

We love to read.  We wish we had more time to read.  Homeschooling was supposed to do that for us.  Summer was supposed to do that for us.  However, we somehow manage to fill our lives to the brim with wonderful, amazing opportunities and the long afternoons of reading are sporadically sprinkled amist action packed summer afternoons.  Luckily, books are like air to our kids (my husband attributes this malady to a lack of electronics) and they read in the car, while doing their jobs (trying to break them of that habit), during snacks, in between carpools and anytime they can sneak away.

Here is a sampling of some of books my older two have inhaled this year that they would recommend–(it is heavy on the World Wars and the Civil War because we studied that time period this year)

Older boys:

Captain Courageous-Kipling

Sackett Series, Last of the Breed, The Haunted Mesa- Louis L’Amour (Tay will read just about anything by Louis L’Amour)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin-Stowe

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Series-Tolkein

Black Beauty-Sewell

The Extraordinary Cases of Sherlock Homes-Doyle

The Count of Monte Cristo-Dumas (Jake read the Puffins Classic abridged version)


The Endless Steppe-Hautzig

The Man Who Stopped Death -Raoul Wallenberg (just Taylor read this one)

Carry on, Mr Bowditch (this is Jake’s absolute favorite- he reads it about every month)

Going Solo-Roald Dahl


The Red Badge of Courage (I disliked it as much as I had in middle school)

The Swiss Family Robsinon-Wyss

Escape to West Berlin-Dahlberg

Across Five Aprils-Hunt

The Story of My Life-Helen Keller (They also read Miss Spitfire about Anne Sullivan and really liked it)

The Yearling-Rawlings (Jake)

Do Hard Things-Harris

For The Temple

Part of the Work and the Glory Series

Elephant Run-Smith

A Farewell to Arms-Hemingway (Just Taylor-he told me it was depressing)

A Light in the Forest-Richter

All Quiet on the Western Front-Remarque (Again, just Tay)

Under a War-Torn Sky-Elliot

Don’t You Know There’s a War On?-Avi

Under the Blood-Red Sun-Salisbury

Three part series of Pearl Harbor starting with “A Boy at War”-Mazer (simple, but Jake loved them)

Revolution is Not a Dinner Party (One or two difficult scenes-preview if under 13)

Pride and Prejudice-Austen (Just Taylor)

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-(Jake)

Robinson Crusoe -DeFoe

Alas Babylon-Frank


Summer Reading-

As far as summer reading goes I give each child a box filled with books I have picked out just for them (the library shelves are empty in the summer AND I like to steer them to try things they probably wouldn’t during the school year) and work together with them for a fun reward they would like at the end of the summer if they “empty” their box.

Here are the books in their boxes:

Taylor-Taylor can choose which books he wants to read from his box (goal 8-10)

Count of Monte Cristo (Unabridged)

Education of a Wandering Man-Louis L’Amour


The Devil’s Arithmetic-Yolen

Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln-Humes

My Name is Asher Lev-Potok

New Ideas from Dead Economists-Buchholz

The Good Master-Seredy


The Deerslayer-Cooper

Hemingway-The Old Man and the Sea

The Yearling-Rawlings

And There Was Light-Lusseyran

The Longest Day-Ryan

Gone With the Wind-Mitchell

Jake insisted that his box needed to be filled twice this summer so round #1 contained-

The Prince and the Pauper-Twain

The Hound of Baskervilles-Doyle

Captain Courageous

The Adventures of Penrose the Cat (mathematical)

The Art of Keeping Cool

In Freedom’s Cause-Henty

Eight Cousins-Alcott

Way to Be!-Hinckley

Blood Brothers-Baker

Three Cups of Tea-Mortenson

Sackett’s Land-L’Amour

Drew- Drew has been my most reluctant reader so this summer his box is filled with books (some not so classic) that I think will help get him to read

The Spiderwick Chronicles

A Jigsaw Jones Mystery

A couple Childhood of Famous Americans (we love these)

A couple Amelia Bedelia

The Dragonling

Freckle Juice-Blume

Sarah, Plain and Tall-MacLachlan

Stone Fox-Gardiner

The Boxcar Children

An Encyclopedia Brown

A Bill Peet book and a few picture books

My desk is cluttered with a hodge podge of ancient history books as I try to decide which ancient books we are going to read next year–I need more quiet summer afternoons…..I’m sure they are coming.  🙂

Hopefully the list will help someone and will remind me of what they have read.

We also love books on tape/ CD/ iPod for long summer road trips.  This summer we are re-listening to Mary Pope Osborne’s “Tales of the Odyssey”, as much as we can get through of Robert Fagles translation of “The Odyssey”, The Story of the World (Year I-the Ancients), and several of the Percy Jackson series (I know not classics, but the kids insist that a refresher of these books will get them ready for their Greek studies next year).

Happy Reading!!

One Comment

  1. Julie
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 1:51 pm | #

    Thank you for these ideas! I have been searching for more books that boys might love and this is such a grat start. It is so nice of you to share and encourage others in this way.