10 Books to Read (from CC Founder Leigh Bortins!)



Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who name drops? Well, Leigh Bortins is kinda like that, but with books. In a totally innocuous kind of way, of course. This year I totally lucked out with Leigh Bortins as the featured speaker at the practicum I attended. Throughout her talks, Leigh shared with us books she has read, enjoyed, and learned from. They have informed her philosophy on education and the conversations she’s had within her family. As homeschoolers, I think they have the potential to be notable for us in our journey too. So, I share them here with you. I’m sure I missed a few and that the list could be much, much longer, but here are the 10 I noted:


1. The Soul of Science by Nancy R. Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton. I’m currently working my way through Saving Leonardo, also by Nancy Pearcey. I put it down for a while when we moved and renovated, but man, is it challenging! Not in a I-don’t-get-it kind of way, but in a I-really-need-to-think-about-this-and-maybe-read-that-part-a-second-time kind of way. However based on Amazon reviews, The Soul of Science may be more like the first kind of challenging. I think I’ll brave it one day. If you read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts!


2. The Great Brain series by John D. Fitzgerald. The title doesn’t give it away, but this is a children’s book. Read it with your child and let the conversations begin. From what I could tell, books 1-3 are in print again, but for books 4-8 you’re on your own.


3. 10 Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen. A few years ago, this book was passed out at practicum with children’s camp registration. I read it then. You can read my review here.


4. Norms and Nobility by David V. Hicks This is pretty standard reading for those who classically educate, but I haven’t read it yet. Maybe I should add it to my summer reading list!


5. Echo in Celebration by Leigh Bortins This is a great (and easy) place to start when trying to conceptualize classical education in the home. I read it in 2013 and it was refreshing to my mama heart.


6. It Couldn’t Just Happen by Lawrence O. Richards You’ll find this book in one of the Challenge booklists. Read it ahead of your student or wait until they reach the Challenge years.


7. The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin If you’re like me and have much to learn in the area of science, then maybe this book on the history of science will appeal to you too. It’s listed here as number seven, but it’s pretty high on my must-read list.


8. Little Britches by Ralph Moody I’ve seen this book, as part of a series, recommended for boys many places. I love that Leigh recommends it for me to read too! The best kind of books appeal to my boys and me.


9. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham I like adding check marks, so I’m happy this is the third book from the list I’ve already read. This biographical fiction is an easy, enjoyable story to understand how classical education can work. I hope my two oldest boys will read it independently this year.


10. The Creators by Daniel J. Boorstin Recognize the author? This is the second book in a series of three written by Mr. Boorstin. The first is mentioned above. As he writes, “This is a story of how creators in all the arts have enlarged, embellished, fantasized, and filigreed our experience.” Doesn’t that sound great, but also a little intimidating? To me it does, but the reviews I’ve read indicate that because it is well-written, it is easy to understand. It seems the readers agree with Mrs. Bortins.


As she said at practicum, “The best literature is written for everyone to understand.” Don’t you love that? That’s why you’ll find the range of books Leigh recommends from children’s books to heady science books. If you’ve read one of these titles (bonus points, if you’ve read The Soul of Science), please tell me all about it below! I promise to be impressed and inspired.


  1. says

    My older daughter and I both read The Great Brain (the first book in the series I believe) and I can see why it’s recommended. My daughter was a sophomore in high school when we read it. It definitely brings up things to discuss and we both found it to be a worthwhile read. I’m currently reading The Core by Leigh Bortins and I have Echo in Celebration waiting for me. 🙂 We are just beginning Classical Conversations this Fall.

    • Beth Watson says

      Karen, awesome! Thanks for commenting. You are definitely on the right track to start reading those two before beginning CC. I look forward to talking more! 🙂

  2. Melanie says

    Interesting list. I have The Discoverers and The Creators from courses I took in college. Didn’t make it through them then, but I’m trying to read them with my Challenge B student now. Hope we’ll do better.

    • Beth Watson says

      I’d love to hear what you think this second go-round! Also, college level material in Challenge B? 🙂 Your student will be ready for anything!


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