reading to david2I recently had the pleasure of listening to Andrew Pudewa, the director of the Institute for Excellence in Writing and a father of seven, speak at an education conference on the importance of reading aloud to your children. As he spoke, I recalled with delight the many hours I spent reading to my four children before they went to sleep. My eldest is about seven years older than the youngest. I would first read the Bible, making sure I at least turned the page every night. We read it all the way through, Genesis to Revelation, over and over again (once we finished it in an airport), occasionally changing the translation. We would pray and sometimes sing, and then I would read a story, alternating each night between the boys’ room and the girls’ room (I tried to keep track by which room my chair was left in, only later learning that my girls would move my chair to the boys’ room during the day so that I would move it back to their room so they could be in their own beds as I read).

I am thankful that I kept a record of the books I read to them. I have listed them below, for anyone who might somehow benefit from knowing the stories that shaped my children (and me). They are listed roughly in the order that I first read them over the years. The underlined books are favorites that I read more than once. No doubt some books went unrecorded (I’m pretty sure I read some missionary biographies, but I cannot recall which ones). You can see that I would sometimes get on a theme. I do not offer these as the best books, and I would not even offer all of them as suggestions (were I to do it over, for instance, I would not read Pollyanna to the girls). Anyway, here they are:

Titles linked to Amazon. 

1. Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White
2. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
3. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
4. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain
5. The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
6. The Mouse and the Motorcycle – Beverly Cleary
7. Mr. Popper’s Penguins – Richard and Florence Atwater
8. Five Little Peppers and How They Grew – Margaret Sidney
9. Heidi – Johanna Spyri
10. Pollyanna – Eleanor H. Porter
11. Adventures in the Big Thicket – Ken Gire
12. Misty of Chincoteague – Marguerite Henry
13. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls
14. The House at Pooh Corner – A. A. Milne
15. The Black Stallion – Walter Farley
16. Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
17. The Princess and the Goblin – George MacDonald
18. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
19. Huguenot Garden – Douglas Jones
20. Scottish Seas – Douglas Jones
21. The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford
22. The Wizard of Oz – L. Frank Baum
23. In Freedom’s Cause – G. A. Henty
24. Robin Hood – Paul Creswick
25. Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie
26. Mary Poppins – P. L. Travers and Mary Shepard
27. Mary Poppins Comes Back – P. L. Travers and Mary Shepard
28. Watership Down – Richard Adams
29. Little Pilgrim’s Progress – Helen L. Taylor
30. Black Ships Before Troy – Rosemary Sutcliff
31. The Wanderings of Odysseus – Rosemary Sutcliff
32. The Enormous Egg – Oliver Butterworth
33. The Chronicles of Narnia (7) – C. S. Lewis
34. Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates – Mary Mapes Dodge
35. The Hobbit – J. R.R. Tolkien
36. The Lord of the Rings (3) – J. R.R. Tolkien
37. Redwall – Brian Jacques
38. The Indian in the Cupboard – Lynne Reid Banks
39. The Prince and the Pauper – Mark Twain
40. The Runaway – Patricia St. John
41. Little House in the Big Woods – Laura Ingalls Wilder
42. Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder
43. Farmer Boy – Laura Ingalls Wilder
44. On the Banks of Plum Creek – Laura Ingalls Wilder
45. By the Shores of Silver Lake – Laura Ingalls Wilder
46. Little Town on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder
47. These Happy, Golden Years – Laura Ingalls Wilder
48. The Story of My Life – Helen Keller
49. Dear Dr. Bell…Your Friend, Helen Keller – Judith St. George
50. The Yearling – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
51. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
52. Swallowdale – Arthur Ransome
53. Penrod – Booth Tarkington
54. Dutch Color – Douglas Jones
55. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
56. The Trumpet of the Swan – E. B. White
57. The Great Divorce – C. S. Lewis
58. Cheaper By the Dozen – Frank B. Gilbreth
59. Stuart Little – E. B. White
60. The Phantom Tollbooth – Norton Juster
61. Wise Words – Peter Leithart
62. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
63. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever – Barbara Robinson
64. Blackthorn Winter – Douglas Wilson
65. Time at the Top – Edward Ormondroyd
66. A Little Princess – Frances Hodgson Burnett
67. Come On, Seabiscuit – Ralph Moody
68. Leave it to Psmith – P. G. Wodehouse
69. The Wheel on the School – Meindert DeJong
70. Holes – Louis Sachar
71. Goodbye Mr.Chips – James Hilton
72. Parnassus on Wheels – Christopher Morley
73. Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne
74. Around the World in 80 Days – Jules Verne

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Comments

  1. Jim, thanks for the list. We read most of these, too! I am going to try to compile our list. These are very formative books in very formative years.

  2. Thanks for the list! Would you share why you would not read Pollyanna to the girls? I have seen it on several “must read” lists, and am simply curious why you would not recommend it.

  3. Do you think it is better for the whole fa,ily to listen to the parent to read the book or for a professional reader to read the book (such as recorded books)? My kids have listened to more than 70 Audio books and we all have loved the professional reader, especially my tired, old eyes.

  4. Lots of good suggestions, but I don’t see the most important: the Bible! We try to read it to our children every year, and Pilgrim’s Progress every couple years. 🙂 Blessings!

  5. I would never read Peter Pan to my kids again! I have never read Pollyanna in book form so I have no clue why Mr. Nance would never read it to his kids again but doesn’t feel the same about Peter Pan.

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