Thursday, June 9, 2011

3rd-7th Grade Classical Summer Reading List

I want my nieces exposed to good literature. But I'm fighting what seems to be a losing battle. The titles in the juvenile section of our library are flashy, appealing, and frankly, rather scary. Shelf after shelf contain disrespectful teen attitudes, witchcraft, elementary school romances, vampires, demons, psychics, new age ideologies, and other cheap junk that isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

Then there are the suggested Summer reading lists from our library filled with titles in popular best-seller literature. While the titles aren't necessarily objectionable, they're not exactly great reading, either. Yes, reading can be frivolous fun and you can occasionally enjoy pop-culture paperbacks. Books aren't bad because they're new, the classics were modern once, after all. But a nod to greater minds, a debt of gratitude to greater writers, and a reverence for greater literature aren't bad ideals to foster in youth.

By no means exhaustive, here's a little list of classic books (most are in the library) I put together for my nieces to pick and choose from this Summer. The grades are loose suggestions, you might consider some too simple or too advanced for the specified level (I may have goofed on a few of the links if they go to an abridged version). And if you choose to use any of these, parental discretion is, of course, paramount.

3rd-5th Grade

Chanticleer and the Fox by Barbara Cooney
Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
Ox-Cart Man by Barbara Cooney
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
Pippi Longstocking and others by Astrid Lindgren
The Happy Prince and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde
Little House in the Big Woods and others by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mary Poppins and others by Pamela L. Travers
Misty of Chincoteague and Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard Atwater
The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning

3rd-6th Grade Transitional/Lighter Reading

Black Beauty: the Autobiography of a Horse by Anna Sewell
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming
Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis
House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne
Justin Morgan Had a Horse by Marguerite Henry
Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
National Velvet by Enid Begnold
Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
Stuart Little by E. B. White
Tales of the Arabian Nights by Andrew Lang
Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne
Wonderful Wizard of Oz and others by Frank Baum

6th-7th Grade

Kind of Easy:

Blue Willow by Doris Gates
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
Evangeline by Henry Longfellow
Strawberry Girl and Judy's Journey by Lois Lensky
The Gift of the Magi by O'Henry
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling
The Story of Dr. DooLittle by Hugh Lofting

A Little More Advanced:

A Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
The Door in the Wall by Marguerite de Angeli
The White Company by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

More Advanced:

Anne of Green Gables and others by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Christy by Catherine Marshall
Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton
Hound of the Baskervilles & others by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
O! Pioneers by Willa Cather
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggen
Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis
Tevye the Dairyman by Sholom Aleichem
Time Machine and others by H. G. Wells
White Fang by Jack London

Very Advanced Literature:

Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Moonstone and others by Wilkie Collins
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
Pilgrim's Progress and others by John Bunyan
Silas Marner and others by George Eliot
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

What are you and/or your kids reading this Summer?


Molly said...

I love book lists!  We're reading or have read several of these.  I wanted to add that "Boxcar Children" was a summer favorite for us last year.  We also enjoy the "Happy Little Family" series and "Betsy-Tacy" series.  Clara's book club read "The Hundred Dresses" and "Kitchen Madonna" this past year.  I LOVED both of these books (and cried through the last several pages of "Kitchen Madonna"). 

Jules said...

Can I just say Thank You for this list?! I love lists. And my kids love to read, so we will be hopefully checking some of these out this year. My 8 year old just picked up the Narnia series this month; my 10 year old vacillates between Nancy Drew and American girls mysteries. My 12 yr old son seems to stick with non-fiction about the various wars, and other historical books. But this list will help me poke some other books in front of their faces this summer.

Farmer's City Wife said...

I definitely read Boxcar children (actually it was read aloud by my teacher) in elementary school :).

Kitchen Madonna? Isn't that published by Bethlehem Books? I love their stuff, I'll have to check it out! Thanks for the recommendation!

Haus Frau said...

What--no "P&P" by Jane Austen in 7th grade--even if advanced?  ;)

I'm with you on the "suggested booklists."  Luckily we have a good one from Seton Home Study School, and I have a running tab at Amazon for great works I've discovered from perusing other homeschool mom blogs--and we're only starting 1st grade! 

Molly said...

My teacher also read "Boxcar Children" to us in elementary school.  It was so odd because I remembered a very random detail of the story (that the children cleaned the dishes using sand) and for years and years I wondered if I had remembered it correctly.  When I picked up the book with the kids last year and came to the part where the children washed the rusty dishes with sand, I was so excited!  :)    Yes, "Kitchen Madonna" was written by Rumer Godden and it's a delight!  

Christine said...

We do family reading (almost) every night. My kids are slightly younger than your nieces, but for reading aloud we have enjoyed Beverly Cleary's Mouse and the Motorcycle trilogy, and are now well into the Henry Huggins and Ramona series. (My husband never had these read to him by his teacher and is thoroughly enjoying the experience now!) We will eventually get around to the Boxcar Children and the Little House books as well. For reading on his own, my son (7 years old but with a very advanced reading level) really loves the original Hardy Boys series. (The new ones are not nearly as good; they even make really crappy "edgy" graphic novels now - definitely not recommended.) Encyclopedia Brown is a good choice for a child interested in logic and problem solving, with Cam Jansen for younger kids.

Jen&Eric said...

Fabulous!  I think your 5th grade list should also include "The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew" and "The All of a Kind Family," though.  Both books are classic and just plain fun.  What's more, I think they both have sequels, so if your nieces enjoy them they'll easily be able to find five or six more wonderful books to follow up!

Oh yes, "Hattie, Her First Hundred Years" is also an interesting read.  I would say 4th grade just off the top of my head but I haven't looked at the book in awhile so you will probably want to check it over and make your own assessment.  Unique story-line follows the "life" of a wooden (?) doll.

Marie said..., I have a bunch of boys who dont like to read much...Any ideas on how to get them reading? I might just need to print this list and get them to the library..Thanks for taking the time to do this!

Farmer's City Wife said...

You're welcome! :)
Ah yes, Nancy Drew and American Girl are very popular around here..

Farmer's City Wife said...

LOL... P&P was no oversight -- my niece read it last Summer and this list was for her ;). She wanted to read a lot more Austen this Summer but I want to save it until we can analyze it together during the school year :-D.

Starting 1st grade? How fun!!

Farmer's City Wife said...

That's awesome :).
I have a similar memory from Encyclopedia Brown. It was the only one I ever figured out -- something about how he ate an ice cube before downing spicy mustard and somehow that kept him from reacting to the spice...? I always hoped I could revisit the books to find out if that was the real story :-D.

Farmer's City Wife said...

Good to know about the new Hardy Boys books.
Read-alouds are so great, and you never outgrow them. My husband still reads to me most evenings :). So much more enriching and entertaining than the magical box (tv).

Farmer's City Wife said...

Will suggest 'em to the nieces :). Thanks for the recommendations!

Farmer's City Wife said...

#1. I'm not a mother. #2. I'm no great educator. #3. My current pupils are girls who love to read. As such, I feel utterly unqualified to offer advice :).

Anybody else want to weigh in here?

Taking a stab in the dark, paraphrasing Aristotle: virtue is only its own reward if you're an adult, but as a kid you need to have virtue rewarded (and vice punished). So while reading is its own reward for a lot of kids, others might need to be (dare I say it?) bribed with incentives.

Are your boys competitive? Playing off of that with reading list competitions might help.

Are they good readers? Sometimes an aversion to reading has nothing to do with not liking books and everything to do with difficulty reading the words on the page.

Utterly unhelpful, I know, but maybe somebody else can offer sage advice :).

Carrie-Ann Biondi said...

Your reading lists are awesome!  Your nieces might already have read these, but I know that in these age ranges also I read and loved the following:

A Wrinkle in Time and the rest of the time quintet, by Madeleine L'Engle
The Rascals from Haskells Gym (about a gymnast), by Frank Bonham
All of the Trixie Belden mystery novels, which I think is much better than Nancy Drew

Happy summer reading!

Tessa said...

Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott is one of my favorites :)

Jules said...

Have you tried Stephen Bly's children's books? Nathan T. Riggins series is an old west series that my son and daughter both enjoyed (and I did too ;) ) He has also written a series called The Lewis and Clark Squad that they both liked.

Becky said...

I'll take a shot at it...but you didn't mention ages, so this may or may not be of any help.  My son hated reading when he first started out, but he loved nature, so that is what I focused on.  He would read non-fiction nature/animal books, and read Kjelgaard (sp?) Big Red, and the rest of his.  These other titles come to mind, but I don't remember what level each are:  Call of the Wild, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Yearling, Frosty, My Friend Flicka.
Other books not animal stories:  Robin Hood (Howard Pyle version), Otto of the Silver Hand (Pyle), and here is a real favorite of mine...The Tom Playfair series by Fr Francis Finn, the story of a young boy at a Catholic boarding school that follows his spiritual growth and social adventures through the year.  Very very good.  My son really liked it as well. I'm thinking 6th grade on those.   He also likes Tom Sawyer (he's 9th grade now), Louie Lamour, and Redwall (but these get redundant, so I wouldn't recommend the whole series. I would have more if I actually checked my bookshelf, but that's it off the top of my head.

Emily Sparks said...

Hi!  I must chime in with a few more recommendations.
King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry

The Black Stallion and the ensuing series, by Walter Farley

The Bantry Bay trilogy by Hilda von Stockham

The Mitchells trilogy by Hilda von Stockham

The Winged Watchman and The Borrowed House by Hilda von Stockham

The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald (truly hilarious!)

Encyclopedia Brown series

the ORIGINAL Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys.  The new ones are crap.

IMHO, Lewis' Space Trilogy is a bit too much until at least high school, since the third book has a lot of adult content.  Nothing bad...just adult.

Cheaper by the Dozen has an equally enjoyable sequel few know about called Belles on their Toes.

The Robe by Lloyd Douglas

The Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp

Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse

Rachel said...

Just a few more books I remember reading over my summer vacations:

* The Black Stallion - by Walter Farley (+ any of the Black Stallion Series, for that matter!)
* Where the Red Fern Grows- Wilson Rawls
* The Giver - Lois Lowry
* Flowers for Algernon (not sure who wrote this..)

karlab71 said...

OOOh! We love so many of these books! Another great series is the Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.  I second the "Happy Little Family" series as well as the " Betsy- Tacy" books...I am a Minnesota native, after all.  The Mitchells Series, and "Baby Island" are some our all time favorite books as well!

Haus Frau said...

Excellent!  I did my undergraduate thesis on Jane Austen, and I imagine I might just have to have a class on her for my kids as they get (a lot) older.  My thesis director told me that Real Men love Jane Austen, so the boys might get it too.  Mwa-ha-ha ;)

Farmer's City Wife said...

One of my nieces does gymnastics -- she'd probably enjoy the second title :). Thanks for the recommendations!

Farmer's City Wife said...

Excellent -- I added it to MY summer reading list :-D.

Farmer's City Wife said...

No, I'm actually woefully under-read in the children's books genre, and I don't know what my nieces read outside of school hours. But they sound fun. Thanks!

Farmer's City Wife said...

All good ones :). Too bad there are so few days in a Summer!

Farmer's City Wife said...

I wish I'd read the Black Stallion books as a kid. I kinda feel too old to read them now but I get the feeling I missed out.

Farmer's City Wife said...

Very good :-D. Thanks!

Farmer's City Wife said...

What a fun subject for a thesis!
My husband (the manliest man I know) is an Austen fan. Real Men Love Austen for sure! :-D

Emily Sparks said...

It's never too late!  They are fun.  No one describes horse races like Walter Farley.

Emily Sparks said...

Hatchet is a great book for boys.  They might enjoy that.

Stacie.Make.Do said...

Oh, I second the Swallows and Amazons series recommendation, and the Betsy-Tacy series.  (I always think of B-T as the US version of Anne of GG.) 

What are we reading this summer?
I'm reading Agatha Christie.  My boys are currently reading Don Quixote (age 16), The Two Towers (LOTR) (age 12), and The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (age 8).

Farmer's City Wife said...

I'm reading LOTR this summer myself :-D.

Stacie.Make.Do said...

I have three boys.  One is a voracious reader, the other two like to read too, but often like their Game Boys more.  Sometimes I just declare "No more screens!" and if they say they're bored, they get a job to do - so then they tend to read more.

I  have a few ideas for you:
Sign up for the summer reading program at your public library.  I don't understand how the trinkets offered as prizes can be so motivating, but my kids love them, not to mention earning t-shirts, free books, and swim passes.  The prizes for the older kids are actually pretty cool, too. 

Find a good series.  Listen to the first one in audio book form, then if they like the stories they might be willing to read the others.  We often listen to books in the car or during meals, where the kids are a captive audience.  Getting the language into their brains through their ears can be as good as through their eyes.

Find stories that have been made into movies.  Read the book, then have a special movie night to watch the show.  Talk about the differences afterward.

Find books that are part novel, part graphic like The Invention of Hugo Cabret and/or let them read witty comic books, like Calvin and Hobbes.

Good luck!

Elleth13 said...

Aww, so many awesome books!! This makes me want to visit the library. :)

Just as a note of caution, the unabridged version of "Christy" has a  scene in which the people go upstairs after a wedding to watch the marriage being consummated. (Apparently a form of entertainment in the hills.) I don't remember it being particularly detailed, and it may go over a younger reader's head, but it may be a little too much for a 6th-8th grader, even one with strong reading skills. Anyway, just wanted to mention it! :)

Farmer's City Wife said...

Eek! I had no idea! Good to know -- thank you!

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