Most homeschooled students are avid readers. However, finding good clean books to satisfy their voracious appetites can be a real challenge in today’s world. In this article I’m going to list some books that my sister and I enjoyed as young people. Most of you are familiar with traditional classics, such as the Chronicles of Narnia or the Nancy Drew series. I’d like to give you a list of some lesser-known books that your children might enjoy. Many of these are out of print (I will designate them OOP), but can be purchased used at www.amazon.com or other used books sites.
Some of these books are not necessarily “Christian” books per se, but they are clean and engaging. The age range listed is not hard-and-fast, just a rough indicator. I will list whether girls, boys, or both will enjoy them. (Unfortunately, since I’m a girl myself, there are more girl books listed than guy books. My apologies!)
Search hint: When I list a series instead of individual titles, googling the name of the series along with the author’s name should turn up the titles.
Cherry Ames series by Helen Wells or Julie Tatham. OOP. Published in the 1940s and 1950s, these books are about a young nurse named Cherry. Follow her through her service in World War Two, along with many other adventures. Ages 10-13, girls.
Ivan series by Myrna Grant. Stories about a Christian boy in Communist Russia. Ivan is an excellent role model and the stories are terrific. Ages 10-13, girls and boys.
Ken Holt series by Bruce Campbell. OOP. Mystery stories along the lines of the Hardy Boys, only much less formulaic and more intricate mysteries. Very good reading. The authors take time to research the mystery topic and readers will actually find these books somewhat educational as well. Ages 12-15, girls and boys.
The Moffats series by Eleanor Estes. Fun stories about the Moffat family and their everyday life, set in the 1940s. Ages 8-11, girls.
The Railway Children by E. Nesbit. A heartwarming and fun story. Delightful! Ages 9-13, girls and boys.
Marjorie series and Dick and Dolly series by Carolyn Wells. OOP. These books were written in the early 1900s and were some of my very, very favorites as a child. Ages 7-9, girls.
Peabody Adventure Series by Jeri Massi. Six books about the Derwood family and their adventures. Exciting and amusing. Overtly Christian! Ages 9-12, girls and boys.
Bracken Trilogy by Jeri Massi. Stories of princes and princesses in the imaginary country of Bracken. Ages 9-12, girls.
A Boy Sailor with John Paul Jones by H.C. Thomas. OOP. Originally published in 1946, this is a good piece of historical fiction. Ages 10-13, boys.
The Girl Who Won by Beth Ellis. OOP. A melodramatic tale of Jacobite intrigues in the 1600s. Ages 12-14, girls.
Men of Iron by Howard Pyle. A fabulous story of knights in shining armor. A great read! Ages 12-15, boys and girls.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Don’t let the lurid title fool you—this book is a hilarious story detailing the adventures of a boy named Milo in an imaginary world that he enters by driving a toy car through a toy tollbooth. This book is crammed full of nonsense and hysterical puns—even adults will enjoy this one! Ages 9 and up, girls and boys.
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. A heartwarming tale of a girl who goes to live with her “country cousins” and learns to become more self-reliant. One I still love to reread. Ages 9-12, girls.
G.A. Henty books. G.A. Henty was a prolific historical fiction author in the late 1800s. Most of his books have been reprinted and cover eras ranging from Bible times to the 1800s. His characters are good role models and the books are very educational. Ages 13-16, girls and boys.
With Daniel Boone on the Caroliny Trail by Alexander Keys. OOP. A wonderful adventure story about the imaginary boyhood adventures of Daniel Boone, based on historically probable circumstances. Excellent book. Ages 10-13, boys.
Change for a Penny and Jackknife for a Penny by Sam and Beryl Epstein. OOP. Two stories about a young American boy during the American War for Independence. Interesting plots. Ages 9-12, girls and boys.
Roger Baxter Mysteries by “Martin Colt” (pen name, sometimes listed under the real authors’ names, Sam and Beryl Epstein). OOP. Three exciting (but believable!) mysteries about Roger Baxter, his younger brother Bill and their detective friend, Slim. Ages 9-12, girls and boys.
Chip Hilton Series by Coach Clair Bee. These are great sports stories and the hero is an excellent role model of good character. Highly recommended. Ages 11-14, boys.
Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. I included this classic on the list because most people don’t read this series beyond the first book—if they read it at all. (By the way, the movies don’t even come close to doing this series justice.) There are a total of eight books in the Anne series and they are all fantastic. There are also two companion books of short stories to this series, Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea. (Parental caution: On a few rare occasions, Montgomery alludes to someone having “second sight” or has her youthful characters believe some people are witches. Young people with ordinary discernment can easily discount this, however.) Ages 12-15, girls.
The Story Girl, The Golden Road, Magic for Marigold, Along the Shore and Akin to Anne by L.M. Montgomery. These five books from the author of Anne of Green Gables are charming. The first two give us the Felicity, Sara, Felix, etc. of the Avonlea TV series. The last two are collections of short stories. Delightful reading. Ages 12-15, girls.
Mother by Kathleen Norris. One of my favorite books of all time, this is a wonderful little story that exalts motherhood. To get the accurate story, be sure to get the reprint version edited by Jennie Chancey. Ages 10-14, girls.
Sugar Creek Gang series by Paul Hutchens. Adventure stories for boys, written in the 1940s and 1950s and reprinted today. Overtly Christian. (Note: The reprinted versions are often foolishly re-titled with lurid titles such as Screams In The Night. The stories, however, are not even remotely horror-like.) Ages 8-12, girls and boys.
Hopefully this will help you find some summer reading for your children!
Raquelle Sheen was home-schooled all her life and obtained her college degree from home also. She and her family have been active in the homeschooling community for many years, having served with state homeschool organizations in several states. For more articles by the Sheen family visit www.homeschoolfamilyforum.com.