Thursday, May 28, 2015

Safe Reading for Youth

July 30, 2013
 A while back I began a search for books that I felt comfortable having my children read. These books needed to consist of good quality reading and safe, age appropriate subject matter. I find I can no longer go to the library and assume any book in the children’s section is safe. There are some books out there, labeled “great reading” that I’d never allow my kids to read. For my older girls I began seeking out Christian fiction after my wonderful librarian told us about a series called The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor by Melody Carlson. I do not have time to proofread everything my kids read, especially when they can read a book a day! So I feel pretty safe trusting Christian authors. This opened up a whole new world of books to us. I was thrilled to find so many wonderful authors writing quality books for children, teens and young adults. This doesn’t mean that just because I have found a great Christian author for my older girls that I will allow my younger girls to read the same books. It must be age appropriate material. Between the classics, some great fiction suggested by many homeschool curriculum companies, and the many wonderful Christian authors out there, we have managed to find some excellent books. Typically my kids will find a book they really like and seek out other books by the same author. After they have exhausted those, we find a new series or author. I have had quite a few people ask me for reading suggestions so I decided to compile a reading list, based on my kids’ homeschool portfolios and share it with you. 

  A few Notes~ I realize some of these “classics” are really for older children, but you can start them on the classics early with a few different versions. The Great Illustrated Classics, Classic Starts, or Great Classics for Children are really nice introductions to the classics. My kids will sometimes start with the easier versions and then a few years later read the original version. I have not listed the classics a second time for later grades. 

 While some of the books in the younger kids section may appeal to boys, you will find most of the books, as the grade levels increase, appeal more to girls. I only have daughters, so I can’t offer much in the way of good books for boys. I do think they may enjoy the Red Rock Mysteries and the Roman Britain Trilogy.

 Finally, the grade level break down is very general. All kids read at different levels. These are basically listed by the grade in which my kids enjoyed them most. Check the book itself for the exact grade level and of course, you know your child’s ability and maturity level best, so you can decide when would be best to read each book/series. Some Christian books that are technically written for adults, I have allowed my seventh grader to read for various reasons; the subject matter was not above her, the book may have been about a child her age etc. I realize many would not be okay with that and trust you, as the parent, will make the decision for your child based on your preferences. 

Safe Reading List!
Third /Fourth Grade Level (or above)
All time Favorites/Classics
Little House on the Prairie series-Laura Ingalls Wilder
Anne of Green Gables series- L.M. Montgomery
Sarah Plain and Tall trilogy- Patricia MacLachlan
The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson Burnett
Adventures of Tom Sawyer- Mark Twain
Robinson Crusoe- Daniel Defoe
Swiss Family Robinson- Johann David Wyss
Black Beauty- Anna Sewell
Little Women- Louisa May Alcott
Voyages of Dr. Doolittle- Hugh Lofting
Charlotte’s Web-E.B. White
Miracles on Maple Hill-Virginia Sorensen
Becoming Little Women~ Jeannine Atkins
Misty of Chincoteague- Marguerite Henry 
(and others related to Misty by same author)
Nancy Drew Mysteries- Carolyn Keene
Hardy Boys mysteries- Franklin W. Dixon
The Incredible Journey- Sheila Burnford
The Boxcar Children series Gertrude Chandler Warner
The Mouse and the Motorcycle trilogy- Beverly Cleary
The Indian in the Cupboard series- Lynne Reid Banks
Homer Price- Robert McCloskey
Rascal- Sterling North

Misc. Fun series
Big Apple Barn series- Kristin Earhart
Gone Away Lake- Elizabeth Enright
Return to Gone Away- Elizabeth Enright
Mandie series - Lois Gladys Leppard 
(this was a favorite! There are at least 40 books in the Mandy series!)
Faithgirlz series- Nancy Rue 
The Lily Series- Nancy Rue

Historical Fiction
American Girl (historic character series)
Naya Nuki Kenneth Thomasma
Sign of the Beaver Elizabeth George Speare
Sisters in Time series- Colleen L. Reece (Historical fiction based on specific time periods in our country; Mayflower, Revolutionary War etc)
Hannah’s Helping Hands Jean Van Leeuwen (and the rest of the Pioneer Daughters series)
Regina Silsby’s Secret War Thomas J. Brodeur
Daughter of Liberty- Robert Quackenbush
Sybil Ludington’s Midnight Ride- Marsha Amstel and Ellen Beier
Riding Freedom- Pam Munoz Ryan
Courage of Sarah Noble- Alice Dalgliesh
Cabin Faced West- Jean Fritz
The Mystery at Jamestown- Carole Marsh
{Carole Marsh has written many mysteries that take place in different towns and famous places. I believe her children and grandchildren are the characters for these books.}

Fifth/sixth Grade Level (or above)
My Side of the Mountain-Jean Craighead George
The Chronicles of Narnia series- C.S. Lewis
Holly’s Heart series- Beverly Lewis
Girls Only series- Beverly Lewis
The Allison Chronicles series- Melody Carlson
Camp Club Girls Mysteries series- Renae Brumbaugh
Heartland series- Lauren Brooke
Red Rock Mysteries series- Chris Fabry
Olivia and the Little Way- Nancy Belanger
Olivia’s Gift- Nancy Belanger

Historical Fiction
Voyage of Patience Goodspeed- Heather Vogel Frederick
Liberty Letters series~ Nancy LeSourd
Clara Barton and the American Red Cross- Eve Marko
Soft Rain- Cornelia Cornelissen
A Lantern in Her Hand- Bess Streeter Aldrich
Mara Daughter of the Nile- Eloise Jarvis McGraw

Amish Fiction
The Mysteries of Middlefield Series- Kathleen Fuller 
Summer Hill Secret’s series-Beverly Lewis

Seventh/Eighth Grade Level (or above)
The Forgotten Daughter- Caroline Dale Snedeker 
{Roman Britain Trilogy-next 3 titles}
Eagle on the Ninth- Rosemary Sutcliff
The Silver Branch- Rosemary Sutcliff
The Lantern Bearers- Rosemary Sutcliff
Lord of the Rings series- J.R.R. Tolkien
Sierra Jensen series- Robin Jones Gunn
Hidden Diary series- Sandra Byrd
Boston Jane series- Jennifer L. Holm
Witch of Blackbird Pond- Elizabeth George Speare
Calico Captive- Elizabeth George Speare
Lily’s Crossing- Patricia Reilly Giff


 {Jeanette Oke- has a “Classics for Girls” series that I allowed my seventh grader to read. Other Jeanette Oke books will probably wait until later years. The next 4 titles are a few from this series}
 A Gown of Spanish Lace- Jeanette Oke
The Calling of Emily Evans- Jeanette Oke
Roses of Mama- Jeanette Oke
The Bluebird and the Sparrow- Jeanette Oke
River of Time series- Lisa Bergren
The Healer’s Apprentice- Melanie Dickerson
The Merchant’s Daughter- Melanie Dickerson
Fairest Beauty- Melanie Dickerson
My Heart Remembers- Kim Vogel Sawyer
Calloway Summers Series-Jennifer Erin Valent

High school/Young Adult
Christy Miller series- Robin Jones Gunn
Alerted Hearts series- Roger Bruner
Notes from a Spinning Planet series- Melody Carlson
Diary of a Teenage Girl series- Melody Carlson
Carter House Girls series- Melody Carlson
The Secret Life of Samantha McGregor series-Melody Carlson

For a printable version of this list click here.  

Happy reading!
God bless,

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