Core Knowledge PreK–8 Book List {Free}

If you are looking for easy-to-find books that complement the Core Knowledge series, or just looking for books to add to your own list, you’ll appreciate the free Core Knowledge Master Trade Book List.

The Core Knowledge Foundation was founded by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., author of the What Your nth Grader Needs to Know series.  Back in the day (way back), we used the What Your nth Grader Needs to Know series as the backbone of our content studies.  Frankly, it was a lot of fun!  Using the suggestions in the book, we explored geography in a hands-on way, learned about dinosaurs, the weather, China, and more … all while developing those important reading, writing, and arithmetic skills.

Hirsch’s premise is that a cultural literacy is at the foundation of education:

The idea behind Core Knowledge is simple and powerful: knowledge builds on knowledge. The more you know, the more you are able to learn. This insight, well-established by cognitive science, has profound implications for teaching and learning. Nearly all of our most important goals for education–greater reading comprehension, the ability to think critically and solve problems, even higher test scores–are a function of the depth and breadth of our knowledge.

By outlining the precise content that every child should learn in language arts and literature, history and geography, mathematics, science, music, and the visual arts, the Core Knowledge curriculum represents a first-of-its kind effort to identify the foundational knowledge every child needs to reach these goals–and to teach it, grade-by-grade, year-by-year, in a coherent, age-appropriate sequence.

While you may or may not agree with that premise, many homeschool families have benefited from using parts of the Core Knowledge series.  Some time ago, Core Knowledge made their scope and sequence available at no cost.  That simple road map has helped many pull together their own studies.

The book list, a 36-page download, includes titles that were in print at the time of the writing, covering a wide range of topics PreK–8.  Naturally, these topics are arranged to go with the series scope and sequence, but you’ll find the titles very helpful for pulling together your own studies no matter the order in which you approach the subject matter.  As with most book lists, you’ll want to pick and choose those titles that fit your family.

A small sample of topics the books cover include:

  • Farms.
  • Presidents and American symbols.
  • Fables and stories.
  • Mozart and music.
  • Astronomy.
  • Animals and habitats.
  • The birth of our nation.
  • Cycles in nature.
  • Westward expansion.
  • Light and sound.
  • Ecology.
  • Reformers.
  • Cells.
  • And, oh, so much more!

Excellent help … and free!

Additional Resources
Books to Build On

Books to Build On: A Grade-by-Grade Resource Guide for Parents and Teachers by E.  D. Hirsch, Jr.
Companion book to the Core Knowledge What Your nth Grader Needs to Know series.  Set up topically by content covered in each grade making it easy to find books that go with the scope and sequence.

Cultural Literacy

Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
The book that lays the foundation for those interested, in particular the case that reading and writing are cumulative skills — the more we read the more necessary knowledge we gain for further reading — and that there is a body of knowledge we need to know to be considered “educated.”  Whether or not you agree, if you are interested in education, you’ll find this an interesting read!

Core Knowledge Sequence (K–8)
Core Knowledge Preschool Sequence
Download the scope and sequence at no cost.

Book Lists
More book list resources.

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