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About Us and Our Lists

This list is the result of our own family's needs and experience. Our kids are avid readers, and have read hundreds of books. Satisfying their appetite for reading material has been a challenge for the past ten years, requiring weekly trips to our local library in search of quality literature. As our children grew, we realized that we ought to be keeping track of the fruits of this labor, since we would need all these good titles again as our younger children grew into them. So we started compiling a list of good books that our kids had read and enjoyed, a list which has now grown to epic proportions.

It also bothered us a little to see other kids who had never heard of some of our favorites reading what we consider junk -- some of the contemporary series that are not, shall we say, lasting classics. And we knew the trouble we ourselves had finding books and weeding out the bad ones. So we thought we would make our list available to other families to pass on our experience as a starting point for their own explorations.

Everything on our list is a book that we approved of as parents and that our kids read, liked, and consider above average. Our "committee" --- our kids --- have rated all these books for us. If they gave the book a shrug or a "kinda weird" or a "not very good," the book is not on the list. Of course they don't agree on the quality of every book, but there is usually a consensus as to whether or not a book is worth reading. We started out with ratings of good, very good, excellent, and * which means absolutely fabulous. We are now giving just two ratings for quality: the best (all the *'s and "excellents") and the rest (good and very good).

To determine the reading levels, we sat down with the committee and discussed each book. (It helps that we currently have a child in every reading level, from preschool to high school.) We tried to take into account the content as well as the style (difficulty of the language). Our conclusions, like the quality ratings, are subjective, but may be helpful to you as a rule of thumb in selecting and evaluating books for your kids.

Some books are omitted from our list because we haven't gotten around to reading them yet, or our library doesn't own them, or we can only find abridged editions (the committee will not read abridgements). The committee is still reading, and the list is being enlarged all the time. However, you should be cautious about unlisted titles even from authors on our recommended list. Some authors (e.g., Robert Heinlein) wrote good books for kids but also other adult titles which are definitely not for children (and are not on our list). We'd appreciate any comments or suggestions you might have about the books we list or the ones we've missed.

What is Good About Reading Good Books

Children are more likely to become self-motivated readers if they are exposed to good stories and interesting characters, rather than the made-up, artificial reading they are often presented with in school "readers," or commercial "juveniles" that speak down to them.

Lots of reading of good books will make your child not only a better reader, but a better speller, writer, and speaker as well. It will increase his attention span. It will nourish his mind with ideas, and feed his imagination with positive images of virtue and beauty. He will learn a great deal about lives and times different from, yet connected to, his own. Reading good books will provide the child with a background of experiences, a perspective through which he can look at his own life, culture, and experience.

Children with excellent reading skills will be more successful in school and college, and as adults will be better able to understand, evaluate, and deal with the complexities of life.

And keep in mind: the time invested in reading good books will be time not squandered on TV, movies, and video games.