My Favorite Sources for Really Good Books


He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust,
He knew no more that he was poor,
Or that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy ways
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings.

Emily Dickinson, The Poems of Emily Dickinson

“Children don’t stumble onto good books by themselves; they must be introduced to the wonder of words put together in such a way that they spin out pure joy and magic.” (Gladys Hunt, Honey for A Child’s Heart)

Each year for their birthdays, we introduce our children to one really great story through the gift of a new book.  When possible, we buy hardcover.  We open the front cover, trace their hand inside, and add their name and age.  They love that part!  I love building the library we’ll share over the years and that, I hope, they’ll one day share with their little ones.  

But there are so many great stories (& so many bad ones too)! How does one choose? How do we find the really good ones? It’s not always easy.  Today, I’m sharing the sources I return to again and again to point me in the right direction.  Using these save me time, money, and bookshelf space that would otherwise be wasted on less inspired (or inspiring) books. 

Honey for A Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life. Fourth Edition  Annotated book lists (includes a brief description for each book) for children ages 0-14, including, but not limited to first books, readers, novels, poetry, and special occasion books with special mention made for medal and award winners. But, please, don’t just read this book for the lists.  Gladys Hunt shares so much wisdom on “using books to help children grow.”  You’ll simply be caught up in the delight of sharing books with your family.  If your child is older than 14, there’s another edition just for them – Honey for a Teen’s Heart.  

The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education At Home  Besides curriculum recommendations, there are suggested audio books, readers, coloring books, biographies, poetry, reference guides, and more.  Books found here are primarily educational, if you will, rather than pleasure reading.

1,000 Good Books List was compiled by a group of homeschooling mothers as books that have stood the test of time.  You can view the list by subject matter and reading level or author.  There are even holiday books and Bible storybooks for early readers listed.

Ambleside Online is a complete, free online curriculum based on Charlotte Mason’s educational ideals.  You can read much about it on their site.  The site strives to list the highest quality books and enlist free options whenever possible.  They often list alternatives to their first choice, which is great for using what you already own or can access at your library.  

Well, I’ve told you mine – now you tell me yours! What are your go-to sources for finding great book titles?



  1. says

    “Books Children Love” by Elizabeth Wilson is another good one I have on my shelf. But mostly these days we are kept plenty busy with Ambleside and the 1000 good book list.

    And it is so true that children don’t tend to stumble onto good books by themselves. I can’t count how many times I have picked up a book from the shelf, was greeted with groans by the children because of the look of the book, only to end up with that book being the new favorite.

    • says

      Yes, that’s true, Christy! Sometimes the look or the title, even the first chapter, doesn’t convince a child that a good book truly is a good book. But, given a little time, the really good book delivers & draws them in! :)


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