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Doorways to Great Reading

If there's a one-world government, it's television. King of the Technological Age, he sits enthroned in homes around the world, a little box of images and sound emitting edicts to his unified followers from his electrical shrine. That description may be a bit overwrought, but the fact remains: more people these days would prefer to watch TV than read a good book.

Many parents are desperate to expose their kids to quality literature, whether it's a classic like Anne of Green Gables, a more recent novel like Mimus, or simply something other than the TV Guide. In response, a number of literature-based curricula have been developed, and in turn have become increasingly popular among both homeschool families and school educators.

As great and noble as this effort has been, there are a couple problems we see with the literature-curriculum approach: 1) literature is treated as curriculum, and 2) children aren't exposed to the depth and variety available because reading is limited to the curriculum suggestions. Consequently, a lot of children grow to dislike reading, associating it as they do with schoolwork and not having a good time.

We've accumulated many of the titles used by the major literature-based curriculum lines, and those products are among our best sellers. We're also not entirely opposed to the literature approach, but we also want to offer a much broader selection of literature, titles that don't find their way into the program guides but are nevertheless worth reading.

Numerous book lists, catalogues, and publishers (including many dedicated to reprinting the more obscure classic titles) have guided us in the construction of our fiction and literature sections. (Employees have also been an important factor in this process, and you can read about their favorites here.) Doorways to Great Reading collects the best of these lists in one place.

Discovering classic literature is more than just checking off titles from a master list, however. Though books like Honey for a Child's Heart, The Well-Educated Mind, and The Book Tree are great places to start and offer excellent guidelines, they are still jumping-off places. Developing the skills to find good books on your own (and imparting those skills to your children) is the end these books are supposed to help you achieve.

When Lucy Pevensie opened the wardrobe and found Narnia, her first experience with a snowbound landscape gave her little indication of the adventure and wonder she'd find there. Great books are the same way: the more you read, the more you realize how many are really out there, and the better you get at finding them.

If your adventure in the realms of literature hasn't started, or is still in its beginning stages, use the booklists you'll find here as maps of sorts, there to help you navigate but not to make the journey on your behalf. The travel is up to you, and whether you decide to explore Ben-Hur or The Wind in the Willows, it's travel that will take you far from your front door and back many times over.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.

Did you find this review helpful?
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100 Books for Girls to Grow On
by Shireen Dodson
from HarperCollins
for 7th-12th grade
$7.00 (1 in stock)
100 Cupboards
by N. D. Wilson
from Random House
Fantasy for 4th-7th grade
$16.99
100 Cupboards
by N. D. Wilson
from Random House
Fantasy for 3rd-6th grade
$6.99
1599 Geneva Bible (Black Bonded)
from Tolle Lege Press
for 7th-Adult
$48.97
1984
Signet Classics
by George Orwell
from Signet Classics
for 10th-Adult
$9.99
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Sterling Classics
by Jules Verne
from Sterling Publishing Co.
for 5th-10th grade
$8.00
2001: A Space Odyssey
by Arthur C. Clarke
from ROC Science Fiction
for 9th-Adult
$7.99
500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
by Dr. Seuss
from Random House
for 2nd-4th grade
$14.99
Abe Lincoln Grows Up
by Carl Sandburg
1st edition from Graphia
Biography for 5th-8th grade
$6.99
Abel's Island
by William Steig
from Square Fish Publishing
Animal Fantasy for 3rd-5th grade
1977 Newbery Honor Book
$6.99
Abigail Takes the Wheel
An I Can Read Chapter Book
by Avi
from HarperTrophy
for 3rd-5th grade
Abolition of Man
by C. S. Lewis
from HarperCollins
Philosophy/Religion for 10th-Adult
$12.99
Abraham Lincoln
by Edgar & Ingri D'Aulaire
from Beautiful Feet Books
Picture Book Biography for 3rd-6th grade
1940 Caldecott Medal winner
$15.95
Acceptable Time
Wrinkle in Time Series #5
by Madeleine L'Engle
from Square Fish Publishing
Fantasy for 4th-8th grade
$6.99
Across Five Aprils
by Irene Hunt
from Berkley Books
Historical Fiction for 6th-9th grade
1965 Newbery Honor Book
$6.99 $3.00 (2 in stock)
Across Five Aprils
by Irene Hunt
from Berkley Books
Historical Fiction for 6th-9th grade
1965 Newbery Honor Book
$6.99
Adam Bede
Signet Classics
by George Eliot
from Signet Classics
Realistic Fiction for 9th-Adult
$6.95
Adam Bede
Everyman's Library
by George Eliot
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Realistic Fiction for 9th-Adult
$19.20
Adam of the Road
Puffin Newbery Library
by Elizabeth Gray
from Puffin Books
Historical Fiction for 4th-8th grade
1943 Newbery Medal winner
$7.99 $4.50 (1 in stock)
Adam of the Road
Puffin Modern Classics
by Elizabeth Gray
from Puffin Books
Historical Fiction for 3rd-8th grade
1943 Newbery Medal winner
$6.99
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies
Hornblower Series #11
by C. S. Forester
from Little, Brown and Co.
Nautical fiction for 8th-Adult
$12.00
Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Conan Doyle
from Penguin Classics
for 7th-Adult
$14.00
Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Sterling Classics
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Unabridged from Sterling Publishing Co.
for 7th-12th grade
$12.00
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Illustrated Junior Library
by Mark Twain
from Grosset & Dunlap
Realistic Fiction for 6th-10th grade
$16.50
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
from Dover Publications
Realistic Fiction for 7th-10th grade
$4.50 $2.00 (2 in stock)
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Puffin Classics
by Mark Twain
from Puffin Books
for 6th-10th grade
$4.99
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
from Penguin Classics
for 9th-Adult
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Sterling Classics
by Mark Twain & Scott McKowen
from Sterling Publishing Co.
for 6th-10th grade
$8.00
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
by Mark Twain
from Bantam Books
Realistic Fiction for 7th-10th grade
$5.95
Adventures of Richard Wagner
by Opal Wheeler
from Zeezok Publishing
for 3rd-6th grade
$13.95
Adventures of Robin Hood
Puffin Classics
by Roger Green
from Puffin Books
Fairy Tales, Fables, and Legends for 5th-9th grade
$4.99
Adventures of Tintin - Young Readers Collection
by Herge
for 2nd-6th grade
$91.71
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Puffin Classics
by Mark Twain
from Puffin Books
Realistic Fiction for 6th-10th grade
$4.99 $3.00 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Illustrated Junior Library
by Mark Twain
from Grosset & Dunlap
Realistic Fiction for 6th-10th grade
$15.50
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Dover Thrift Editions
by Mark Twain
from Dover Publications
for 6th-10th grade
$4.50
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Puffin Classics
by Mark Twain
from Puffin Books
Realistic Fiction for 6th-10th grade
$3.00 (2 in stock)
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Sterling Classics
by Mark Twain & Scott McKowen
Unabridged from Sterling Publishing Co.
Realistic Fiction for 6th-10th grade
$8.00
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Puffin Classics
by Mark Twain
from Penguin Classics
Realistic Fiction for 6th-10th grade
$9.00
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Puffin Classics
by Mark Twain
from Aladdin Paperbacks
Realistic Fiction for 6th-10th grade
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
from Grosset & Dunlap
Realistic Fiction for 6th-10th grade
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain
from Harper & Row
Realistic Fiction for 6th-10th grade
$7.00 (1 in stock)
Aeneid
by Virgil (translation by Robert Fitzgerald)
from Vintage Classics
Ancient Literature/Epic Poetry for 10th-Adult
$13.00 $8.00 (2 in stock)
Aeneid
Everyman's Library
by Virgil (translation by Robert Fitzgerald)
from Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Ancient Literature/Epic Poetry for 10th-Adult
$16.80 $9.00 (1 in stock)
Aeneid
by Virgil (translation by Robert Fagles)
from Penguin Putnam
for 9th-Adult
$16.00
Aeschylus II: The Oresteia
The Complete Greek Tragedies
by Aeschylus (translation by Richmond Lattimore)
3rd edition from University of Chicago
Ancient Greek Tragedy for 10th-Adult
$12.00
Aeschylus' Oresteia
Penguin Classics
by Aeschylus (translation by Phillip Vellacott)
from Penguin Classics
Ancient Greek Tragedy for 10th-Adult
$12.00
Aesop's Fables
by Aesop
from Signet Classics
Fairy Tales & Fables for 10th grade-adult
$4.95 $3.00 (1 in stock)
Aesop's Fables
Puffin Classics
by Aesop
from Puffin Books
Fables for 2nd-6th grade
$4.99
Aesop's Fables for Children
by Aesop & Milo Winter
Pap/Com from Dover Publications
for 2nd-5th grade
$12.99
Against the Church
by Doug Wilson
from Canon Press
for Adult
$12.00
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