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Dystopian Book List

This post may contain affiliate links. See disclosure.

We like reading at our house.

I’ve always loved sci-fi and dystopian literature and I’m loving introducing my kids to my favorites now that they’re getting older.

The greatest books scare us with their accurate predictions, character portrayals we’re starting see in the current media, and possibilities that are coming to light right before our very eyes.

Some of these novels and series have been made into amazing movies, others into mediocre movies or TV series.

The books are always better than the movies!

Some of these books are listed as YA novels, but they’re great for kids, teens, and adults. We often do family read alouds. It’s fun to compare books and authors and contrast the books to the movies. We have lively discussions!

Dystopian Book List

Here’s my list of 50+ dystopian books and series:

1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while the year 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

Animal Farm is the most famous by far of all twentieth-century political allegories. Its account of a group of barnyard animals who revolt against their vicious human master, only to submit to a tyranny erected by their own kind, can fairly be said to have become a universal drama. Orwell is one of the very few modern satirists comparable to Jonathan Swift in power, artistry, and moral authority; in animal farm his spare prose and the logic of his dark comedy brilliantly highlight his stark message.

Taking as his starting point the betrayed promise of the Russian Revolution, Orwell lays out a vision that, in its bitter wisdom, gives us the clearest understanding we possess of the possible consequences of our social and political acts.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley is rightly considered a prophetic genius and one of the most important literary and philosophical voices of the 20th Century, and Brave New World is his masterpiece. From the author of The Doors of Perception, Island, and countless other works of fiction, non-fiction, philosophy, and poetry, comes this powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations.

The Iron Heel by Jack London

Part science fiction, part dystopian fantasy, part radical socialist tract, Jack London’s The Iron Heeloffers a grim depiction of warfare between the classes in America and around the globe. Originally published nearly a hundred years ago, it anticipated many features of the past century, including the rise of fascism, the emergence of domestic terrorism, and the growth of centralized government surveillance and authority. What begins as a war of words ends in scenes of harrowing violence as the state oligarchy, known as “the Iron Heel,” moves to crush all opposition to its power.

Logan’s Run Trilogy by William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson

In 2116, it is against the law to live beyond the age of twenty-one years. When the crystal flower in the palm of your hand turns from red to black, you have reached your Lastday and you must report to a Sleepshop for processing. But the human will to survive is strong—stronger than any mere law.

Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

One choice can transform you. Beatrice Prior’s society is divided into five factions—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice must choose between staying with her Abnegation family and transferring factions. Her choice will shock her community and herself. But the newly christened Tris also has a secret, one she’s determined to keep hidden, because in this world, what makes you different makes you dangerous.

The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games,” a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed.

The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his name. He’s surrounded by strangers—boys whose memories are also gone.
Outside the towering stone walls that surround them is a limitless, ever-changing maze. It’s the only way out—and no one’s ever made it through alive.
Then a girl arrives. The first girl ever. And the message she delivers is terrifying: Remember. Survive. Run.

The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry

The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake is at once an unforgettable love story and a compelling vision of the future. Snowman, known as Jimmy before mankind was overwhelmed by a plague, is struggling to survive in a world where he may be the last human, and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake, and the beautiful and elusive Oryx whom they both loved. In search of answers, Snowman embarks on a journey–with the help of the green-eyed Children of Crake–through the lush wilderness that was so recently a great city, until powerful corporations took mankind on an uncontrolled genetic engineering ride. Margaret Atwood projects us into a near future that is both all too familiar and beyond our imagining.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (She’s my favorite author!)

In the world of the near future, who will control women’s bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth . . . but he is not alone.

An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him.

By day, he is a hunter, stalking the infected monstrosities through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn…

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

The three laws of Robotics:
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
2. A robot must obey orders givein to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

With these three, simple directives, Isaac Asimov changed our perception of robots forever when he formulated the laws governing their behavior. In I, Robot, Asimov chronicles the development of the robot through a series of interlinked stories: from its primitive origins in the present to its ultimate perfection in the not-so-distant future–a future in which humanity itself may be rendered obsolete.

Here are stories of robots gone mad, of mind-read robots, and robots with a sense of humor. Of robot politicians, and robots who secretly run the world – all told with the dramatic blend of science fact and science fiction that has become Asmiov’s trademark.

The Children of Men by PD James

The human race has become infertile, and the last generation to be born is now adult. Civilization itself is crumbling as suicide and despair become commonplace. Oxford historian Theodore Faron, apathetic toward a future without a future, spends most of his time reminiscing. Then he is approached by Julian, a bright, attractive woman who wants him to help get her an audience with his cousin, the powerful Warden of England. She and her band of unlikely revolutionaries may just awaken his desire to live . . . and they may also hold the key to survival for the human race.

The Running Man by Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

A desperate man attempts to win a reality TV game where the only objective is to stay alive in this #1 national bestseller from Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman.

“Tomorrow at noon, the hunt begins. Remember his face!”

Ben Richards is a desperate man. With no job, no money, no way out, and a young daughter in need of proper medical attention, he must turn to the only possibility of striking it rich in this near-future dystopian America: participating in the ultra-violent TV programming of the government-sanctioned Games Network. Ben soon finds himself selected as a contestant on the biggest and the best that the Games Network has to offer: “The Running Man,” a no-holds-barred thirty-day struggle to stay alive as public enemy number one, relentlessly hunted by an elite strike force bent on killing him as quickly as possible in front of an audience all-too eager to see that happen. It means a billion dollars in prize money if he can live for the next month. No one has ever survived longer than eight days. But desperation can push a person do things they never thought possible—and Ben Richards is willing to go the distance in this ultimate game of life and death..

The Stand by Stephen King

When a man escapes from a biological testing facility, he sets in motion a deadly domino effect, spreading a mutated strain of the flu that will wipe out 99 percent of humanity within a few weeks. The survivors who remain are scared, bewildered, and in need of a leader. Two emerge–Mother Abagail, the benevolent 108-year-old woman who urges them to build a community in Boulder, Colorado; and Randall Flagg, the nefarious “Dark Man,” who delights in chaos and violence.

Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon

In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, Earth’s last survivors have been drawn into a final battle between good and evil that will decide the fate of humanity. There’s Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artifact in the destroyed Manhattan streets…Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from the nuclear fallout at a Nebraska gas station…and Swan, a young girl possessing special powers, who travels alongside Josh to a Missouri town where healing and recovery can begin with her gifts. But the ancient force behind earth’s devastation is scouring the walking wounded for recruits for its relentless army…beginning with Swan herself.

The Andomeda Strain by Michael Crichton

The United States government is given a warning by the pre-eminent biophysicists in the country: current sterilization procedures applied to returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere.

Two years later, seventeen satellites are sent into the outer fringes of space to “collect organisms and dust for study.” One of them falls to earth, landing ina desolate area of Arizona.

Twelve miles from the landing site, in the town of Piedmont, a shocking discovery is made: the streets are littered with the dead bodies of the town’s inhabitants, as if they dropped dead in their tracks.

The terror has begun . . .

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A vicious fifteen-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic. In Anthony Burgess’s nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends’ social pathology. A Clockwork Orange is a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. When the state undertakes to reform Alex to “redeem” him, the novel asks, “At what cost?”

The Ender Quintet by Orson Scott Card

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut―young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.

Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

By 2021, the World War has killed millions, driving entire species into extinction and sending mankind off-planet. Those who remain covet any living creature, and for people who can’t afford one, companies built incredibly realistic simulacra: horses, birds, cats, sheep. They’ve even built humans. Immigrants to Mars receive androids so sophisticated they are indistinguishable from true men or women. Fearful of the havoc these artificial humans can wreak, the government bans them from Earth. Driven into hiding, unauthorized androids live among human beings, undetected. Rick Deckard, an officially sanctioned bounty hunter, is commissioned to find rogue androids and “retire” them. But when cornered, androids fight back—with lethal force.

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (Reader Recommendation!)

Also Season 1 is available on Amazon Prime Video!

It’s America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco, the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some twenty years earlier the United States lost a war—and is now occupied by Nazi Germany and Japan.

This harrowing, Hugo Award-winning novel is the work that established Philip K. Dick as an innovator in science fiction while breaking the barrier between science fiction and the serious novel of ideas. In it Dick offers a haunting vision of history as a nightmare from which it may just be possible to wake.

Dune Series by Frank Herbert (Some of my Favorites!)

The political, scientific, and social fictional setting of Herbert’s novels and derivative works is known as the Duneuniverse, or Duniverse. Set tens of thousands of years in the future, the saga chronicles a civilization which has banned artificial intelligence but has also developed advanced technology and mental and physical abilities. Vital to this empire is the harsh desert planet Arrakis, only known source of the spice melange, the most valuable substance in the universe.

Due to the similarities between some of Herbert’s terms and ideas and actual words and concepts in the Arabic language—as well as the series’ “Islamic undertones” and themes—a Middle Eastern influence on Herbert’s works has been noted repeatedly.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

In a glass-enclosed city of absolute straight lines, ruled over by the all-powerful ‘Benefactor’, the citizens of the totalitarian society of OneState live out lives devoid of passion and creativity – until D-503, a mathematician who dreams in numbers, makes a discovery: he has an individual soul. It was suppressed for many years in Russia and remains a resounding cry for individual freedom, yet is also a powerful, exciting and vivid work of science fiction. Clarence Brown’s brilliant translation is based on the corrected text of the novel, first published in Russia in 1988, after more than sixty years’ suppression.

The City of Ember Series by Jeanne DuPrau

Escape the Dark. Discover the Adventure.

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. But now with terrifying blackouts sweeping through the streets, Lina and Doon know it’s only a matter of time before the lights go out and never come back on again. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she’s sure it holds a secret that will save Ember. Together, she and Doon explore long-forgotten parts of their dying city as they race to solve the mystery. If they succeed, they will have to convince everyone to follow them into danger and an exciting new world. But if they fail? The lights will burn out and the darkness will close in forever.

Uglies Series by Scott Westerfield

In Tally Youngblood’s world, looks matter. She lives in a society created to function with perfect-looking people who never have a chance to think for themselves. And she’s tired of it. First as an ugly, then a pretty, and finally a special, Tally takes down the social infrastructure. And then, a generation later, a world obsessed with fame and instant celebrity—and filled with extras—will reap the consequences.

The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov (Reader Recommendation!)

For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future–to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire–both scientists and scholars–and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a fututre generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind’s last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun–or fight them and be destroyed.

The Complete Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman (Reader Recommendation!)

A dystology? YES!

After the Second Civil War, the Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. However, a loophole allows parents to retroactively get rid of a teenager through a process called “unwinding.”

Three teens defy the system and run away from their unwinding: Connor, a rebel whose parents have ordered his unwinding; Risa, a ward of the state who is to be unwound due to cost-cutting; and Lev, his parents’ tenth child whose unwinding has been planned since birth as a religious tithing.

As their paths intersect and lives hang in the balance, Connor, Risa, and Lev must work together to survive—and they may change the fate of America in the process.

The Testing Trilogy by Joelle Charbonneau (Reader Recommendation)

It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (”Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance—and sheer terror—await.

Razorland Trilogy by Ann Aguirre (Reader Recommendation)

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20’s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters–or Freaks–who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight–guided by Fade’s long-ago memories–in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs.

Have you read these?

What’s your favorite dystopian book?

Linking up: Proverbs 31 Wife, What Joy is Mine, Lou Lou Girls, Marilyns Treats, Sarah Celebrates, ABC Creative Learning, VMG206, Modest Mom, A Fresh Start, Written Reality, Life of Faith, Morsel of Life, Inspiration for Moms, The Logbook, Mrs. AOK, Practical Mom, Peaches & Salt, Creative K KidsFeeding Big, A Bountiful Love, Life Beyond the Kitchen, Children are a Blessing, Frog’s Lilypad, I Choose Joy, Sincerely Paula, Create with Joy, RCH Reviews, Penny’s Passion, Live Laugh Rowe, Katherine’s Corner, Life with Lorelai, Happy and Blessed Home, Juggling Real Food and Real LifeCrafty Moms Share, Being a WordsmithBoondocks,

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Our Favorite Christmas Books

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We love reading holiday books during December.

I’ve compiled a list of our Christmas favorites!

There’s a little something for everyone on our list – animals, pirates, fun, history, and religious stories.

Our Favorite Christmas Books

Our Favorite Christmas books:

CLASSIC: The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore – Illustrated by Tasha Tudor, Ted Rand, Will Moses, and/or Robert SabudaThese versions of The Night Before Christmas are just lovely and should be read every single year!

    1. The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristen Kladstrup

      A funny and magical Christmas story about a gingerbread pirate, Captain Cookie, and his daring adventure on Christmas eve to rescue his crew from a mysterious cannibal named Santa Claus…
    2. The Poky Little Puppy’s First Christmas by Justine Korman

      t’s the poky little puppy’s first Christmas, and he’s not sure what to expect. When he meets an animal friend who’s lost his home, Poky’s quick to help–and learns all about the spirit of Christmas.
    3. Holly Hobbie’s Christmas Book

      An illustrated collection of original Christmas verses, together with some well-known Christmas poems by other authors, F.P. Church’s famous Santa Claus letter, and a recipe for sugar cookies.
    4. The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

      A wordless story. The pictures have “the hazy softness of air in snow. A little boy rushes out into the wintry day to build a snowman, which comes alive in his dreams that night.
    5. The Animal’s Christmas Eve by Gale Wiersum

      So begins a sweet rhyming story in which a group of animals recounts the events surrounding Jesus’ birth in the manger, and the parts some of their ancestors played in it. This is also a counting book.
    6. Brigid’s Cloak by Bryce Milligan

      Brigid’s Cloak retells an ancient tale about one of Ireland’s most beloved saints. On the day she is born Brigid receives a brilliant blue cloak from a mysterious Druid. Years later, the young girl still wears the now tattered but beloved cloak while she tends her sheep. Is it her imagination that suddenly takes her to an unfamiliar land? Or is it something far greater that leads Brigid to a crowded inn in a town called Bethlehem?
    7. Little One, We Knew You’d Come by Sally Lloyd-Jones

      Lush illustrations echo this simple retelling of the Christmas story for the entire family.
    8. Olive, the Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh

      Olive is merrily preparing for Christmas when suddenly she realizes “Olive… the other Reindeer… I thought I was a dog. Hmmm, I must be a Reindeer!” So she quickly hops aboard the polar express and heads to the North Pole. And while Santa and the other reindeer are a bit surprised that a dog wants to join the their team, in the end Olive and her unusual reindeer skills are just what Santa and his veteran reindeer team need.
    9. The Twelve Days of Christmas – so many gorgeous versions!
    10. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

      One dollar and eight-seven cents is all the money Della has in the world to buy her beloved husband a Christmas present. She has nothing to sell except her only treasure—her long, beautiful brown hair. Set in New York at the turn of the twentieth century, this classic piece of American literature tells the story of a young couple and the sacrifices each must make to buy the other a gift.
    11. A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles M. Schulz

      Christmas is almost here, which means ice-skating, Christmas carols, and sparkly lights everywhere—even on Snoopy’s doghouse! Everyone is enjoying the holiday celebrations except Charlie Brown. Can the Peanuts gang help Charlie Brown discover the true meaning of Christmas?
    12. The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs

      The Pine Tree Parable tells the heartwarming tale of a farmer and his family who nurture tiny seedlings into fragrant Christmas trees.
      When the trees are tall enough to offer to their neighbors, the farmer’s wife plans to keep the most beautiful pine tree for her family, until one snowy December night when a child teaches her the true meaning of Christmas.
    13. The Christmas Tree that Grew by Phyllis Krasilovsky

      The Adam family bought a live Christmas tree that grew so tall it reached into their neighbors’ apartments.
    14. J is for Jesus by Crystal Bowman

      I want a candy cane too! Everyone loves a candy cane-but it’s easy to overlook the meaning of this familiar Christmas tradition in all the hustle and bustle of the season. This sweet story reminds little ones that the candy cane represents Jesus’ birth and the gospel message too.
    15. A Cup of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg

      The story of a young man’s reluctant visit to an elderly aunt at Christmastime, and the unexpected joy it brings.
    16. The Polar Express by Chris van Allsberg
      A young boy, lying awake one Christmas Eve, is welcomed aboard a magical trip to the North Pole . . .Through dark forests, over tall mountains, and across a desert of ice, the Polar Express makes its way to the city atop the world, where the boy will make his Christmas wish.
    17. One Shining Star by Anne Vittur Kennedy

      Help your child learn to count using the most beloved story of all―Jesus’ birth! With gentle rhyme and number fun from 1 to 10, this book is full of shepherds, kings angels, animals, a baby, and a shiny star, all waiting to be counted before bedtime.
    18. The Littlest Christmas Elf by Brandi Dougherty

      The newly-arrived and littlest elf at the North Pole feels lonely, fearful, and too small to do anything, until he is befriended by a kind old elf named Nicholas.
    19. One Baby Jesus by Patricia A. Pingry

      The birth of Jesus is presented in the pattern of the familiar “Twelve Days of Christmas.”
    20. The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Ewell Hunt

      Children will be deeply touched as they understand, perhaps for the first time, the significance of Christ’s life and his atoning sacrifice on the cross.
    21. Jacob’s Gift by Max Lucado

      Jacob is a young boy with a gift for carpentry who is busy finishing up a project for a contest. His teacher, Rabbi Simeon, not only instructs him in carpentry, but also teaches him important lessons about God. Rabbi has just taught Jacob that when you give a gift to one of God’s children, it’s like giving a gift to God. The night before the contest while working on his project, Jacob has fallen asleep in the workshop and is awakened by a bright light. The light is a star which is directly over Jacob’s father’s stable. As he approaches the stable, he sees a man, a woman, and a newborn baby which is laying in the straw. Remembering what Rabbi Simeon had told him, Jacob returns to the workshop and takes his project (a feeding trough) to the new family. The morning of the contest, the Rabbi pleased to find out that Jacob has acted upon the lesson he learned and has truly given a gift to God.
    22. Alabaster’s Song by Max Lucado

      Lying in bed, trying to fall asleep on Christmas Eve, a young boy spends his time asking questions of the angel that adorns the top of the Christmas tree, but Alabaster the angel does not answer him, until he asks “What was it like to see Bethlehem?”
    23. Santa, Are You Real? by Harold Myra

      Through colorful illustrations and a heartwarming story, children – and parents – will learn who the real Saint Nick was, when he lived, and why he gave gifts. Most importantly, you’ll see how the original Saint Nick set an example for us today by keeping Christ at the heart of Christmas.
    24. The Donkey’s Dream by Barbara Helen Berger

      He was just an ordinary donkey, but on his back he carried a miracle. He carried the Virgin Mary to Bethlehem on the night she gave birth. Along the way he dreamed he was carrying a city, a ship, a fountain, and a rose. He dreamed he was carrying a lady full of heaven–and he was. Barbara Helen Berger’s glowing artwork and lyrical text perfectly convey the beauty and majesty of the story of the Nativity.
    25. We Three Kings by Gennady Spirin

      Over two thousand years ago, three great kings journeyed across the desert, riding through the heat of day and dark of night. Each from a different region, each beckoned by the same gleaming star, each bearing treasures, each wishing to welcome a newborn asleep in a manger’s hay — a baby named Jesus, who would change the world.This beloved Christmas carol, written in 1857, celebrates the wise men’s journey and the first Christmas night. Internationally renowned artist Gennady Spirin pays his own type of homage with paintings so exquisitely detailed and wrought that they, too, are a gift — to that baby in the manger and to you.
    26. The Other Wise Man by Henry van Dyke

      Though not mentioned by name in Scripture, all know the legend of Caspar, Balthazar and Melchior, whose gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the newborn king are heralded in carols. But what if another had missed the rendezvous and then spent years, searching for the source of the light? Henry Van Dyke imagines that alternative in The Other Wise Man, originally published in 1895. The narrator tells us that along the way, the fourth Magi did not find the Messiah to worship, but found many to help.
    27. Jotham’s Journey OR Bartholomew’s Passage OR Tabitha’s Travels OR Ishtar’s Odyssey by Arnold Ytreetide. We read one of these Advent stories each year!
    28. Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl Buck

      Rob wants to get his father something special for Christmas this year—something that shows how much he really loves him. But it’s Christmas Eve, and he doesn’t have much money to spend. What could he possibly get? Suddenly, Rob thinks of the best gift of all…
    29. The Jesse Tree by Dean Lambert Smith or Geraldine McCaughrean. We read through one of these each year.

      Familiar biblical tales that trace the family tree of Christ, from the Garden of Eden to Jesus’ birth.
    30. Red and Lulu by Matt Tavares

      Red and Lulu make their nest in a particularly beautiful evergreen tree. It shades them in the hot months and keeps them cozy in the cold months, and once a year the people who live nearby string lights on their tree and sing a special song: O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree. But one day, something unthinkable happens, and Red and Lulu are separated. It will take a miracle for them to find each other again. Luckily, it’s just the season for miracles.
    31. The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden

      Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she’s sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true?
    32. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski

      Jonathan Toomey is the best woodcarver in the valley, but he is always alone and never smiles. No one knows about the mementos of his lost wife and child that he keeps in an unopened drawer. But one early winter’s day, a widow and her young son approach him with a gentle request that leads to a joyful miracle.
    33. The Snow Angel by Debby Boone – We just love the message and illustrations. I bought this for me!

      Rose and her grandfather seem to be the only people left in their village who know how to dream and experience the beauty of the world, until a snow angel comes to life and creates a wondrous event.
    34. The Christmas Wish by Lori Evert

      Long ago, a brave little girl named Anja wanted to be one of Santa’s elves. So she leaves a note for her family and helps her elderly neighbor prepare for the holiday, then she straps on her skis, and heads out into the snowy landscape. From a red bird to a polar bear to a reindeer, a menagerie of winter animals help Anja make her way to Santa. A generous trim-size, matte cover, extraordinary photographs, and foiled title make this a special book for the holiday season.And don’t miss the other “Wish” books:
      The Reindeer Wish
      The Tiny Wish
      The Brave Little Puppy
      The Puppy’s Wish — coming soon!
    35. The Message of the Birds by Kate Westerlund

      An old owl tells the Christmas story to the community of birds as he has done so many times before, but when he tells of the special message from the Baby Jesus, a little bird questions why they no longer sing the message. “People no longer listen,” is the sad realization. The birds decide to share the message once more, but this time to the children of the world. And what unfolds is surely a Christmas wonder.
    36. Saint Francis and the Christmas Donkey by Robert Byrd

      When Saint Francis stumbles upon a sad donkey, he feels obliged to tell him about the wonderful history the donkey has in the Christian religion as the animal who carried Mary to Nazareth when she was pregnant with Baby Jesus.
    37. The Glorious Impossible (Illustrated with Frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel by Giotto) by Madeleine L’Engle

      The birth of Jesus was a Glorious Impossible. Like love, it cannot be explained, it can only be rejoiced in. And that is what master storyteller Madeleine L’Engle does in this compellingly written narrative, inspired by Giotto’s glorious frescoes from the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.

What’s your favorite holiday book?

Linking up: Barbie Swihart, Our Holiday Journey, Jessi’s Design, Sincerely Paula, A Books and More, Missional Women, My Learning Table, Marilyn’s Treats, Journeys in Grace, Jennifer Dukes Lee, Lyli Dunbar, Susan Mead, Nancy on the Homefront, Crystal Waddell, Counting My Blessings, Arabah Joy, Blessed Transgressions, Imparting Grace, Crystal Storms, Debbie Kitterman, Mommynificent, Brenda Bradford Dottinger, Jaime Wiebel, Trekking Thru, Meghan Weyerbacher, Purposeful Faith, Blessed but Stressed, MaryAndering Creatively, Create with Joy, The Blended Blog, Holley Gerth, Momfessionals, Organized 31, Penny’s Passion, Katherine’s Corner, Squishable Baby, Life of Faith, Inspiration for Moms, Our Mini Family, Happy and Blessed Home, Life with Lorelai, Creative K Kids, Easy Peasy Pleasy, Coffee with Us3, April Harris, The Answer is Chocolate, Being a Wordsmith, Live Randomly Simple, Blogghetti,

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Best Book Series for Middle Schoolers

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We read good literature in our family.

Sure, my kids like to read fluff once in a while, but they always come back to the good stuff and even complain about their choices of pop fiction with its poor writing, incorrect references to mythology, and predictable plots.

Of course, we all love Narnia, Tolkein, Anne of Green Gables, and The Little House series.

I discourage my kids from reading much of the popular fiction with its themes of dating drama, sexual situations, and occult references.

We go to the library weekly and we see the marketing displays of popular fiction for teens. The book covers make me want to guard their eyes. It’s almost as bad as Harlequin romance novels with those ripped bodices! Many of the plots involve vampires and witches. Almost none of it is worthwhile reading material.

My criteria for good books:

  1. Is it stimulating to the mind and imagination? I want books that are engaging and require my kids to make connections or dream of possibilities.
  2. Does it cultivate our values? I often encourage reading books that differ from our worldview. It’s thought-provoking and a great conversation starter!
  3. Is it well-written? We don’t waste time on poorly written material.
  4. Is it interesting or challenging? I want books that encourage my kids to think long after they close the book. How can we be kinder, help others, be servant leaders?
  5. Does it encourage discussion? I love discussing books with my kids and hearing what they think about what they read!

We read world mythology and folk tales as part of our homeschool curriculum. And my kids loathe the Percy Jackson series because it’s so inaccurate, lol!

I see the value in dystopian lit and we often read these books together and discuss them. I do love sci-fi and fantasy and encourage my kids to love it too.

After completing my homeschool reading assignments, my older teens are welcome to read the popular YA fiction to see for themselves. And so far, they agree with me.

This list goes a bit beyond the great classics that everyone should read.

5 Great Book Series for Middle Schoolers

5 of the Best Book Series for Middle Schoolers

My 8-year-old daughter is a very advanced and mature reader and has read all of these and approves them.

I have listed the recommended ages and grade levels, but always preview reading material for appropriateness for your child and family.

1. My Side of the Mountain and more by Jean Craighead George

Fun adventure books about nature and animals.

These living books teach about survival skills, respecting the environment, identifying plants and animals. They’re great for any nature lover!

Age Range: 10 and up

  • Grade Level: 5 and up

Jean Craighead George books

2. Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome

12 books about adventurous kids set between the two World Wars.

We love reading about these siblings and all their pretend play in a simpler time.

Swallows and Amazons

3. The Giver series by Lois Lowry

A great dystopian series about valuing all lives.

We love the lessons these books teach about society and relationships.

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up

4. Brian’s Saga series by Gary Paulsen

Survival and self-discovery.

Great books for boys and girls about survival skills, relationships, and learning about self.

  • Ages 11-13

5. Wonder series by R.J. Palacio

Lovely books about looking beyond physical appearances and being kind.

We’re currently reading these and loving them! I encourage kindness in our lives.

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7


I’m always on the lookout for great literature to add to our collection. We don’t shy away from tough topics. Literature is important for us to learn about the world we live in. I’m raising readers!

Have you read these books?

Do you have any great books or series to add to my list?

Linking up: Desperate Homeschoolers, Smart Mom Smart Ideas, Mary-Andering Creatively, Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth, Darling Downs Diaries, Moms the Word, The Modest Mom Blog, Marilyns Treats, The Quintessential Mommy, The Crazy Organized Blog, Inspiration for Moms, A Proverbs 31 Wife, What Joy is Mine, The Mrs. Tee, Written Reality, The Practical Mom, Life of Faith, Bloggetti, ABC Creative Learning, Sarah Celebrates, VMG206, F Dean Hackett, Rich Faith Rising, Cornerstone Confessions, Our Home of Many Blessings, Sarah Frazer, Simple Life of a Fire Wife, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Whole Hearted Home, Pat and Candy, Oh My Heartsie Girl, A Little R&R, Play & Learn Every Day, Crystal and Co., Education Possible, Children are a Blessing, I Choose Joy, Frog’s Lilypad, Moms are Frugal, Bloom Designs, My Learning Table, Hip Homeschool Moms, Cookin and Craftin, Penny’s Passion, Live Laugh Rowe, Grammie Time, Katherine’s Corner, Organized 31, Lamberts Lately, The Natural Homeschool, Christian Montessori Network, Happy and Blessed Home, Life with Lorelai, Coffeeshop Conversations, xoxo Rebecca,


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Learning to Read

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I have had the privilege and opportunity of teaching 3/4 of my kids how to read.

My eldest daughter attended day care and preschool and they mostly took care of all the potty training and teaching her the alphabet and reading. I just reinforced what they taught at home. She caught on to reading very easily and quickly at the age of 4 and took off, devouring bigger and bigger books.

My middle two daughters are very different in personality and ability. The older one is very analytical and the younger one is a free spirit.

My youngest, the boy, is five and already finishing up a phonics program. He loves early readers about animals and transportation. He prefers level 3 books already!

I hated reading until I was in junior high school, so I have no worries about having four lifelong lovers of books.

We have a house filled with books and we take library trips at least weekly. Reading is our go-to for learning. Our main curriculum is completely focused on literature and history.

Sometimes, young readers need a little help with distractions. I don’t want reading time to foster negative feelings of frustration or dread.

I’ve found a few early reading tools that assist with focus.

Early Reading Helps

Teaching reading to young children is a challenge for me. I was trained as a high school English teacher, so early childhood education got me a little anxious. I relied on teaching books and reading programs to guide us through that process. I took cues from my kids with what worked and what wasn’t as exciting or needed.

Our favorite reading curricula:

I used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with my first child. She also learned well with A Beka preK and K curricula.

My younger three kids love All About Reading.

My middle girls liked Logic of English. Reading our reviews of Logic of English here and here.

I read aloud to my kids every day, usually morning and evening. I encourage my girls to take turns reading aloud to me and to each other. In the evenings, we all read aloud from the Bible. My son has started reading his memory verse every morning. As with anything, practice makes perfect.

All my kids are well on their way to reading fluency, but sometimes get stuck and need a little help along the way.

Usually, it’s distractions or daydreaming that make them lose their place in the text. Sometimes, it’s just forgetting a sound or word.

I like these mini plastic pointers to follow each words as we read. They give fidgety fingers something to hold onto and stay on task by tapping each word as it’s read.

Reading with a Pointer

These small reading strips help to focus on a line of text at a time. They make great bookmarks too!

The bigger reading guides show a whole paragraph in the view finder. This is helpful to practice or wean off the smaller reading strips.

There are many variations in the reading guides.

Full page reading guides might help tone down harsh fluorescent lighting or help tired eyes. The translucent pages also multitask with a light box or color blending at a window!

Alex has grown into quite the reader lately! We love All About Reading and it has helped me teach all the phonics rules and sight words for Alex to take off reading well on his own.

Alex really loves reading about dogs and cats lately.

Early Readers

Favorite Early Readers:

Our Favorite Reading Helps:

Linking up: A Proverbs 31 Wife, Donna Reidland, The Modest Mom, Marilyns Treats, The Quintessential Mommy, The Crazy Organized Blog, Blogghetti, The Practical Mom, Curly Craft MomLife of Faith, Living Montessori Now, Written Reality, F Dean Hackett, Sarah Celebrates, VMG206, Crystal and Co, Raising Homemakers, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, A Little R&R, Classical Homemaking, Whole Hearted Home, Pat and Candy, Oh My Heartsie Girl, Frogs Lilypad, I Choose Joy, Bloom Designs, A Kreative Whim, Lamberts Lately, Organized 31, Create with Joy, Life with Lorelai, Happy and Blessed HomeSincerely Paula

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I Don’t Teach English

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I was a real English teacher for over ten years.

I have taught 8th grade gifted and ESOL, advanced 9th and 10th graders, and university introduction to writing courses.

I don’t teach English in my homeschool. I don’t use a grammar, literature, or writing curriculum.

I realize I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to English.

I don’t really need a curriculum. I prefer to work alongside my kids instead of throwing a book or app or computer program at them to let them learn on their own.

I don’t have 150 students to track progress like I did when I was a classroom teacher. When I taught in public school, I had to have an opener on the board for the students to correct when they arrived to class. I spent 45+ minutes during each class period actively teaching, lecturing, and interacting with the students. Then, I had to provide a closer to summarize the lesson. This, times five class periods. I had to grade all the assignments, essays, quizzes, and tests – lots of which was busy work to track progress because I couldn’t possibly know how much each student understood every day. We had textbooks for grammar, vocabulary building, and literature…and sometimes novels – all with teacher guides I had to use.

With only 4 students in our homeschool, I have the ability of knowing exactly what each child needs to work on and when. I don’t have to issue busy work.

I have been disappointed with every curriculum I’ve seen for homeschool grammar, literature, and writing. They all fall short.

Writing Strands is sarcastic and flippant with little useful content. IEW is senseless busy work and geared for parents who are weak in verbal skills – why else do they have such extensive DVD teaching programs for teachers? There are so many workbooks (like Easy Grammar) with endless drills that just make students miserable and waste my precious time in grading and corrections. Progeny Press literature guides are a joke, relating everything in literature to the Bible with few literary theory or critical thinking questions. Some analogies are a real s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Sometimes, the curtains are just blue.

I’m not going to pay for some online or app program that claims to teach kids writing. I try to avoid more screentime. We use real books and paper for schoolwork.

We did use First Language Lessons in the very beginning – our first year. It has an actual script but I felt like an idiot reading from that. It’s ok for a transitioning or first time homeschooler or someone who really needs a script.

For early reading, my son loved All About Reading. He whizzed through pre-level to level 4 by the time he was 6! My middle daughters enjoyed The Logic of English. We loathed The Code books. We didn’t like the BOB books either.

After that, we don’t really use too much curriculum for spelling, writing, grammar, or reading. My girls like Spelling Workout even after they’re really fluent readers and writers, so I buy the little workbooks to keep them happy and occupied.

Sometimes, I print worksheets for when we travel.

What do we do instead?

We learn Latin.

Latin Texts

We begin Prima Latina at age 8 or 9 and continue with Latina Christiana I and II and then the Forms. See our Prima Latina review.

We diagram sentences in Latin and English and that really helps with learning parts of speech and subject-verb agreement.

After that, the kids can choose to continue with Henle Latin and/or learn a modern foreign language – or Biblical languages like Greek or Hebrew.

We learn foreign languages.

My girls love learning German, French, and Greek. They play constantly on the Duolingo app.

Learning foreign languages helps to learn grammar: parts of speech, syntax, conjugations, and tense.

Foreign Languages

We read a lot. Like, a whole whole lot.

We don’t have any twaddle. We read living books and great literature.

The kids and I all read voraciously. It’s a good problem to have to beg the kids to read to do chores or school work.

I love the book lists on Ambleside Online.

We have extensive reading in literature and history with Story of the World and Tapestry of Grace.

We go to the library weekly and stock up on science, history, and literature corresponding to our studies.

We read missionary stories and biographies about artists and composers.

I strew books all over the house to expose my kids to great ideas. We have many books on our three Kindle app accounts.

We have family read aloud time every morning and evening with lots of different kinds of books – biographies, literature, poetry.

Summertime is full of free reading on whatever the kids like.

We like everything by Life of Fred. The Language Arts series is super fun! The kids read Life of Fred books all the time. My son loves the early readers for entertainment.

Life of Fred Language Arts Books

Mini-lessons are everywhere.

We often find spelling and grammar errors on restaurant menus and punctuation errors on signs and websites.

My teen daughter circled a random comma in her math text the other day and we all shared a laugh!

Even my middle girls are noticing when there are grammar errors in public or in eBooks or online.

I’m so proud.

If the kids have questions about writing or grammar, I have resources to show them to help them understand word origins, basic and advanced grammar, and the fundamentals of good writing. We also have The Elements of Style on my Kindle app for iPad. I’ll break out the Warriner’s sometimes too.

My teen daughter and I just read through King Alfred’s English. I wish it were better, but it’s an ok overview for kids.

Grammar Helps

We discuss.

It’s just natural for me to guide my kids in discussion about what we’re reading. I don’t need a teacher guide. Most of them are busy work and silly to us anyway.

I encourage them to narrate back to me so I know they comprehend what we read.

They often surprise me with their insight into a story, the connections they make to other things we’ve read or done or seen.

I love discussing things with my children. I love hearing what they think, like, dislike, feel…about what we read, learn, do.

Homeschooling is about connection.

We notebook.

I encourage notebooking from preschool on up. I keep notebooks and journals and model that for my kids.


When they’re old enough, they take information from our discussions and write it down.

The kids write a lot in journals when we travel.

The girls complete notebooking pages for science, history, and literature. I’m often very impressed when they go above and beyond. I give them freedom to write anything they find interesting. And I only require a few notebooking pages on important topics for each unit since I don’t want to overwhelm them. Since we cycle through 4 years of history, we build on prior knowledge each go-round and get more complex.

They love to complete biography pages about missionaries, artists, and composers.

My teen daughter has advanced comprehension and thinking questions with our main curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, about her literature, history, and worldview reading assignements to complete each week that help guide our discussions.

I don’t encourage formal writing until after age 10 or so.

I encourage my kids to write whenever they like – about anything. They often create fun little stories and books and even illustrate them!

I begin to teach proper sentence and paragraph structure after age 10 since little kids need to focus on other more important tasks – like playing. How to write a paragraph?

Whenever they show interest, or in high school, I teach research methods and citation as they begin completing research papers and literary analysis essays. How to write essays?

My middle girls and young son recently completed geography projects on India and China and Hawaii by their choice.

My teen daughter often writes and gives oral presentations for Civil Air Patrol. She won 1st place for her science fair project last year (and it was a doozy!). It entailed much research and recording data and writing up the information. And her work will be published in a real scientific journal!

Some fun creative writing tools are Story Cubes Game, Writing Prompt Cubes by Learning Resources, and Story Builders cards from Write Shop.

I realize most homeschool parents need curriculum for most subjects. It is possible to teach with an eclectic blend of materials!

I am so happy that I am trained as an English teacher and my husband is good with advanced maths and science!

How do you teach English?

Linking up: ABC Creative Learning, Living Montessori Now, Play Dough and Popsicles, Crafty Moms Share, Curly Crafty Mom, A Life in Balance, The Life of Faith, Forever Joyful, What Joy is Mine, A Proverbs 31 Wife, A Mama’s Story, The Modest Mom, The Practical Mom, Time Warp Wife, F Dean Hackett, Rich Faith Rising, Cornerstone Confessions, True Aim Education, Natural Beach Living, Pat and Candy, Whole Hearted Home, Christian Montessori Network, Simply Wright, Frog’s Lilypad, Peonies and Orange Blossoms, I Choose Joy, Hip Homeschool Moms, The Jenny Evolution, Organized 31, Creative Homekeeper, Happy and Blessed Home, A Kreative Whim, Life with Lorelai, Our 4 Kiddos, xoxo Rebecca, Saving for 6, Look We’re Learning, Moms the Word, Design Dining and Diapers, Epic Mommy Adventures, Pam’s Party and Practical Tips, Arabah Joy, Crafty Moms Share, Ask Latisha,

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Women’s Literature Study

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One of my favorite college courses was a Women’s Literature Study.

I spent a summer reading and discussing women’s issues with my favorite professor and only half a dozen girls. It was a small, intimate class and I learned a lot about myself and who I wanted to be.

I have three daughters and I want them to love women authors too. I want them to grow into strong women.

While some of these titles have graphic content, they are important works to undestand women around the world and how we struggle for identity, to be heard. Throughout history, men have had power and control. Women were in the background, in the kitchen, in the nursery, hidden and unseen and unheard. Many of these authors challenge social, cultural, and political ideas. Their voices will not be silenced.

This is a book list for a mature reader. I read most of these titles in college and beyond. These would be great options for a book club.

I look forward to reading them again and discussing them with my daughters when they’re ready.

Women's Literature Study - Top Ten Women Authors |

My 10 favorite female authors (and a few good books)

Top Ten Women Authors

1. Margaret Atwood

I love Atwood’s writing style and her focus on gender politics. When people ask what my favorite book is, I am quick to say Surfacing. It was a life-changing read for me.

2. Amy Tan

Spellbinding stories of Chinese and Chinese-American women and their struggles as mothers and daughters and to be seen and heard thoughout history.

3. Sandra Cisneros

A writer focusing on the cultural identity of Chicana women amidst the isolation of misogyny and white American dominance.

4. Julia Alvarez

She grew up as a Dominican American in New York. She focuses primarily on issues of cultural assimilation and identity, as evident in the combination of personal and political tones in her writing.

5. Isabel Allende

Her works focus on mystical realism as she writes from personal experience, focusing on South American women‘s relationships.

6. Barbara Kingsolver

She focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity, and human interaction with their communities and environments.

7. Alice Walker

In all her written works, Walker examines the creative inheritance of one’s maternity. She has been an activist all her adult life: for civil rights, the poor, women – all living beings. She coined the term “Womanism” as the black women’s struggle for gender equality, as opposed to the term “Feminism” that primarily focuses on white women.

8. Kate Chopin

Regional Cajun and Creole race interests and feminism mark Chopin’s writing style. Specifically The Awakening is recommended for its frank approach to sexual themes. The main character leaves her marriage to have an affair. It was shocking for the times and received much criticism. Desiree’s Baby focuses on matters of race and moralism.

9. Jhumpa Lahiri

An Indian American author, born in London and raised in Rhode Island. She highlights the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures and assimilation, and the poignant, tangled ties between generations.

10. Azar Nafisi

After resigning from her job as a professor at a university in Tehran due to repressive policies, the author secretly gathered seven female students to read forbidden Western classics every week in her home. She wrote about it in Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books. Celebrate our freedom of education and learn about the desperation of these women to learn.

Good Books About Women:

The author originally traveled to Afghanistan to offer humanitarian aid. Soon, she learned she could create an extraordinary community of women by empowering them through the art of beauty.

This novel challenged the sexual morals of late Victorian England. The themes and events certainly offer many discussion opportunities.

The main character’s voice is silenced. She is only able to express herself when she cooks. Esquivel employs magical realism and writes like a screenplay. Setting is turn-of-the-century Mexico.

There are so many wonderful writers to name that it was hard to narrow it down to a top ten!

Free & Affordable Notebooking Pages

Who are your favorite female authors?


Linking up: Growing Hands-On Kids, Burlap and Babies, A Life in Balance, Rich Faith Rising, Hip Homeschool Moms, ABC Creative Learning, The Educators Spin On It, Kiddy Charts, Simple Life of a Fire Wife, Los Gringos Locos,

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Raising Readers

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Liz has always been an accelerated reader. It never occurred to me to not let her fly.

She attended day care from six months – and then a Christian preK that used A Beka curriculum.

She complained loudly that they finished their curriculum by April and then watched Veggie Tales movies for the rest of the school year. The program did give her enough to go on for her to teach herself how to read.

So I didn’t have to really toilet train her or teach her how to read. Not sure how I feel about that.

I remember when she read the entire series of Magic Treehouse and Junie B. Jones our first few months of homeschooling – and we carried home stacks of Minnie Moo and early chapter books from the library each week.

I didn’t know that was unusual for a four-year-old.

I chalked it up to early exposure to words and reading. I was an English professor after all.

We had more books than anything else in our house. Books are important.

I very quickly developed some standards for her reading material.

I didn’t really like Junie B. Jones and a lot of that sort of fluff. I discovered Charlotte Mason and Ambleside Online and The Well-Trained Mind and all these amazing works of literature for children. Living books entered my vocabulary.

Somehow, I skipped over a lot of really good reading material when I was a kid.

I suppose I am a product of a school system focused on test scores and workbooks more than critical thinking and quality of reading material.

I actually really loathed reading until I was about 10.

I remember one night, lying to my mom about a homework reading assignment and I couldn’t narrate back to her anything about the text. I still feel ashamed. But it was so boring and I really didn’t care for any of the school assignments.

And I seem to have jumped right into Stephen King and Dean Koontz in late elementary school. I didn’t have the greatest guidance from teachers or parents.

I honestly don’t remember reading anything worthwhile in school until 8th grade with Diary of Anne Frank. We only did maybe 2-3 novels each year of high school. In 11th and 12th grade, I sat in the back of English class, by the window overlooking the teachers’ parking lot, reading the Beat poets and Russian novels that were nowhere on the curriculum lists.

I didn’t know how to write an essay until my sophomore year in college, in my Shakespeare class.

So, of course, it made perfect sense for me to become an English teacher.

My ten years or so of teaching English taught me a great deal about life, kids, parents, and education.

I certainly knew what I didn’t want for my kids when we decided to homeschool.

Thank God all four of our kids love words, books, and writing. Read alouds are an everyday, twice-a-day occurrence – and even the littlest one loves to snuggle while I read aloud from really hard, great books.

I am blessed with curious children, constantly asking the hard questions, demanding to get at the marrow of life, desiring to know what’s really important, trusting in my opinions, striving to learn the righteous path.

It’s a really tough transition into high school. The early teen years are fraught with confusion and making difficult connections and having virtually no life experience from which to draw conclusions.

I’m raising readers.

Raising Readers - Reading literature helps us to learn and understand the nature of man in all its beauty and ugliness. |

Great literature helps us learn about people and events and the WHY.

This cycle 4 of modern times in our history studies is a really tough year to learn. I skipped most of the subject matter TWICE during our history cycles because I.Can’t.Even.

But we need to just jump in and do this.

A sampling of our 9th grade reading list:


Dystopian and Sci-Fi:


Civil Rights:

We’re also watching many great films that showcase historical events well. Liz and I are having great discussions. She asks amazing questions and understands well. I’m actually not forcing too many assignments. She has a reader notebook and some assignment notebooking pages, but much fewer than usual. I want her to enjoy reading.

I know many parents shy away from the tougher subjects. Modern and contemporary history and events are too close. It’s uncomfortable. We remember lots of it. Our parents and grandparents lived through it. Their views formed our opinions and values. But we must study and review events with new eyes as we teach our children so we can all learn from the mistakes of the past.

We do our children a disservice not to walk through this with them and teach them about horrific events that took place. We must put aside any discomfort to discuss events that affects millions of people. We can’t live in a bubble and pretend that horror didn’t and doesn’t happen every day.

I refuse to send my teens out into the world ill-equipped– without an understanding of the sexual nature of mankind, without a knowledge of war, without being taught discernment, without an awareness of people’s fears.

Reading literature helps us to learn and understand the nature of man in all its beauty and ugliness.

My youngest daughter is disappointed that she can’t join the homeschool book clubs in our area because they have rules and their two clubs are only for certain age groups.

She loudly complained to me, “But Mo-om! I read teen books!” She’s 7. It pains me to see her confusion.

Even in the homeschool community, accelerated students are shunned. I get that there have to be rules, but kids shouldn’t be punished for being smart.

My 5-year-old son is now reading level 3 readers.

I won’t dumb down life for my kids.

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Summer Reading

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I am blessed that I don’t have to bribe or coerce my kids to read at any time of year. All four of my kids love books and love to read and be read to. We are raising readers.

We’ve always had lots of books and we go to the library weekly and come home with bags full. We maxed out the prizes at our summer reading program and there’s nothing more to do but continue reading. The prizes were awful anyway.

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to straddle a fence of popular fiction and classical literature with my teen daughter, Liz.

I remember the trash I read at her age and I don’t want to just give her free reign to read whatever she sets her eyes on.

When lessons slow down or we take a summer break, teens have more free time to read for fun…and I struggle to find appropriate reading material for my teen that doesn’t feel like school.

Summer Reading for Teens

Lucklily, my kids are kinda nerdy and love reading schoolish books for fun. They have lots of freedom during summer and school breaks to read what they like and I am so thankful that they choose educational reading. I have few worries.

I love the reading lists at Ambleside Online. I enjoy the reading assignments with Tapestry of Grace and Story of the World. I feel that Shakespeare, poetry, naturalist reading, and biographies are very important. Living books are so much better than textbooks or dry non-fictional accounts.

I love discussing the books Liz reads. I try to preview everything she reads, but sometimes I go on reviews and pray it’s ok since I can’t keep up with her! She keeps a reader notebook and we discuss topics and themes together. Reading helps with vocabulary building.

The library teen reading lists have nothing worthwhile and the covers of the books are disturbing. Men kissing girls with torn shirts. It’s no better than Harlequin and there is no place for that in our house. And we don’t subscribe to Oprah’s reading list or any other celebrity-sanctioned books.

I worry about Liz’s peers who are obsessed with vampires and the occult and how they devour all these dystopian books about teens in a post-Apocalytpic world.

I love it that Liz enjoys Dickens (especially since I do not). I’m encouraging her to read Anne of Green Gables and Little Women as part of our history studies. Her tastes are different than mine and I love to hear what she likes and dislikes, her favorite parts and characters, what makes her angry or sad. I pray to keep conversations going through the teen years and books offer great discussion jumping-off points for life topics.

Liz is a great example to her younger siblings. They see her reading and love to read too. They beg her to read to them and she’s really great at doing voices and sound effects.

My life is easier than most since I have a degree in English literature and taught middle school, high school, and college English for almost ten years.

We still do family read-alouds every morning and evening. School books are in the mornings and a fun family classic is before bed. Alex even reminds me if our evenings get crazy and I forget or try to skip it!

I look forward to our reading assignments this year as we move into year 4 of our history cycle. We’ve never worked through year 4 completely before. I couldn’t bear to teach World War II when Liz was so little. I couldn’t expose her to all that yet. But now that we’re living here in Germany, it’s so much more important.

Did you know that swastikas and raising a right hand in the “Heil” are illegal in Germany? They don’t tolerate hatred or intolerance here.

I look forward to having discussions with Liz about our brave new world. This is the era when science fiction became popular and I love that I can raise geeky kids.

See what our homeschool high school looks like.


Check out other Crew members writing about teen reading:

Summer Reading for High School Students

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