Reading is the backbone of learning. When educating at home or tutoring, good literature can be the backbone of your curriculum (or course of study). The task becomes creating a great reading list. Here are our six tips for creating a reading list:
Tips for Creating a Reading List
1. Include the Youngest
Start early. We began reading to our oldest when she was days old. That habit continued through adulthood! It is never too late to share a story.
You’ll want to include titles for the very youngest reader, while at the same time including titles slightly above his level to read aloud.
2. Use a Template
There are an unlimited supply of reading lists. The key is to find one from a source that you trust, that adequately reflects your worldview and interests. Then using this list as a template, begin adding and subtracting titles until the list morphs into your very own.
As you may guess, this is not a one-off activity, but a process that continues throughout your tutoring and mentoring years. You will always find books to add, and after spending time with your list you may find books that don’t end up fitting your family.
3. Aim at Quality
There is no end to the books today. But there are enough gems that we don’t have to include books of low quality.
Aim at including books that:
- Reflect excellent writing.
- Express a high enthusiasm for the subject.
Think of it this way: Is this a book that I want my student imitating in his writing?
4. Include a Wide Variety of Books
With a reading list as the backbone of studies, you’ll want to include science, math, geography, and other titles.
Also include biographies, memoirs, how-to books, and those that cover a variety of interests.
Finally, you’ll want to explore the family interest with books, and feed the interest of each child.
5. Avoid Twaddle
We all enjoy taking a break and interspersing a lighter read in our day. But the purpose is different. If all we read are the lighter books we are doing our minds a disservice.
Some say it doesn’t matter what a child reads as long as he is reading. If I have consumed a steady diet of chocolate, I’m not going to enjoy my spinach salad too much. If on the other hand I have healthy eating habits firmly established, then the occasional bonbon isn’t going to hurt me.
Feeding a child book candy is not going to develop a lifelong reader. In the long run this approach backfires. You may end up with a child who loses his appetite for quality books.
If you have a reluctant reader, try reading to him. Choose books that he is interested in — especially those books that reflect his current interest.
And then, exercise patience!
Resources for Creating a Reading List
Here are a few places to search when looking for titles to add to your list:
Books About Books
Books Children Love
This is one of the first books-about-books we encountered. Now in its second edition, it remains a favorite. The books are listed by topic. All of the books included can be considered “living books.” Read our entire review.
The Book Tree: A Christian’s Reference for Children’s Literature
This is a more recent favorite. The authors choose “well-written” titles that are reader-friendly. Read our entire review.
Honey for a Child’s Heart
The author obviously has a heart for reading! She does a great job explaining the joy of reading aloud and sharing stories as a family. Meanwhile, you will find her enthusiasm for the books she reviews catching — whether or not you share her opinion of every book series.
Looking for a Good Book?
A compilation of our favorite reading lists.
Other special interest reading lists we have compiled over the years.
Tastes differ, but this is our growing collection of books — most in the public domain.