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There are hundreds of thousands of books written for children. The challenge is discerning what is best for them to read, given so many options. I’m a sucker for good reading lists, so I’m grateful for the folks at Calvary Classical School—a classical Christian school in Hampton, VA—who have given me permission to reproduce this list below. The classical school where our kids go provides a similar list, and it’s enormously helpful.

So far I’ve been able to provide links for the grades 1-3 lists. Lord willing, and time permitting, I will provide the other lists (up to 8th grade) in future posts. (Update: here is the list for grades 4-5. And here is the list for grades 6-8. And finally, a printable PDF of all the books in one document.)

For outside reading, the books are divided into three levels. Books with a “+” denote that any title in that series would be acceptable.

I’ve done my best to link to the paperback or cheapest version at Amazon. I hope this proves helpful for a lot of parents and teachers!

First Grade Reading List

Read aloud by teacher in class:

Leaf, Munro. How to Behave and Why
Leaf, Munro. How to Speak Politely and Why
Lloyd-Jones, Sally. The Jesus Storybook Bible
Taylor, Helen. Little Pilgrim’s Progress
Leithart, Peter. Wise Words: Family Stories that Bring the Proverbs to Life
Brown, Jeff. Flat Stanley
Dalgliesh, Alice. The Courage of Sarah Noble
Silverstein, Shel. A Light in the Attic

Outside Reading

Level 1
Bulla, Clyde. Daniel’s Duck
Changler, Edna. Cowboy Sam +
Frasconi, Antonio. The House that Jack Built
Graham, Margaret. Benjy’s Dog House +
Hoff, Syd. Sammy the Seal
Hoff, Syd. Danny and the Dinosaur+
Krauss, Ruth. The Carrot Seed
Lionni, Leo. Inch by Inch
Littledale, Freya. The Magic Fish
Lobel, Arnold. Frog and Toad Are Friends +
Offen, Hilda. A Treasury of Mother Goose
Seuss, Dr. Beginner Books +
Seuss, Dr. Bright and Early Books +
Tabak, Simms. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
Wood, Audrey. Quick as a Cricket

Level 2
Carle, Eric. The Very Hungry Caterpillar +
Davoll, Barbara. The Potluck Supper +
Daugherty, James. Andy and the Lion
Duvoisin, Roger. Petunia
Flack, Marjorie. Angus and the Ducks
Freeman, Don. Corduroy +
Galdone, Paul. The Little Red Hen
Galdone, Paul. The Three Billy Goats Gruff
Hoban, Russell. Bedtime for Frances +
Hunt, Angela. A Gift for Grandpa
Keats, Ezra. Peter’s Chair
Marshall, James. George and Martha +
McGovern, Ann. Stone Soup
Minarik, Else. Little Bear +
Numeroff, Laura. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie+
Parish, Peggy. Amelia Bedelia +
Rey, Margaret & H.A. Curious George +
Richardson, Arleta. A Day at the Fair
Sharmat, Marjorie. Nate the Great +
Zion, Gene. Harry the Dirty Dog +

Level 3
Buckley, Helen. Grandmother and I
Burton, Virginia. Maybelle the Cable Car
Coerr, Eleanor. The Josefina Story Quilt
De Regniers, Beatrice. May I Bring a Friend?
Ets, Marie. Just Me
Gramatky, Hardie. Little Toot +
Hader, Berta. The Big Snow
Keats, Ezra. Whistle for Willie
Lewis, Kim. Floss +
Lowry, Jannette. The Poky Little Puppy
McCloskey, Robert. Make Way for Ducklings
Piper, Watty. The Little Engine that Could
Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit +
Sendak, Maurice. Where the Wild Things Are
Turkle, Brinton. Thy Friend, Obadiah +
Ward, Lynd. The Biggest Bear
Wilder, Laura. My First Little House Books +
Williams, Vera. A Chair for My Mother

Second Grade Reading List

Read in class or assigned for outside reading:

Andersen, Hans C. The Emperor’s New Clothes
Brown, Marcia. Dick Whittington and His Cat
Burton, Virginia. The Little House
Burton, Virginia. Mike Mulligan and His Steamshovel
Cauley, Lorinda. The Ugly Duckling
Cleary, Beverly. The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Cleary, Beverly. Ribsy
Dalgliesh, Alice. The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
Lewis, C. S. The Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe
McCloskey, Robert. Time of Wonder
Steig, William. Doctor De Soto
Warner, Gertrude. The Box-Car Children (vol. 1)
Williams, Marjorie. The Velveteen Rabbit

Outside Reading

Level 1
Cannon, Janell. Stellaluna
Galdone, Paul. The Gingerbread Boy
Galdone, Paul. The Three Bears
Galdone, Paul. The Three Little Pigs
Kessel, Joyce. Squanto and the First Thanksgiving
Roop, Peter and Connie. Keep the Lights Burning, Abbie
Slobodkina, Esphyr. Caps for Sale
Yolen, Jane. Owl Moon

Level 2
Anderson, C. W. Billy and Blaze +
Bemelmans, Ludwig. Madeline +
Bontemps, Arna & Conroy Jack. The Fast Sooner Hound
Calhoun, Mary. Cross-Country Cat
DeBrunhoff, Jean. Babar +
Flack, Marjorie. The Story about Ping
Gag, Wanda. Millions of Cats
Gauch, Patricia. Thunder at Gettysburg
Haywood, Carolyn. Betsy & Billy +
Hope, Laura Lee. The Bobbsey Twins +
Leaf, Munro. The Story of Ferdinand
Loveless, Maude. Betsy-Tacy +
Milne, A. A. When We Were Young
Milne, A. A. Now We are Six
Politi, Leo. Song of the Swallows
Steig, William. Doctor De Soto Goes to Africa
Taha, Karen. A Gift for Tia Rosa
Warner, Gertrude. The Boxcar Children +
Ziefert, Harriet. A New Coat for Anna

Level 3
Aardemas, Verna. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
Harness, Cheryl. Three Young Pilgrims
Le Gallienne, Eva. Seven Tales by H. C. Andersen
McCloskey, Robert. Blueberries for Sal
McCloskey, Robert. One Morning in Maine
McCloskey, Robert. Lentil
Mowat, Farley. Owls in the Family
Nesbit, E. The Railway Children +
Sobol, Donald. Secret Agents Four
Sproul, R. C. The King Without a Shadow
West, Jerry. The Happy Hollisters +
Williams, Jay. Danny Dunn +

Third Grade Literature List

Read in class or assigned for outside reading:

Atwater, Richard. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Barrie, James. Peter Pan
Farley, Walter. The Black Stallion
Fleischman, Sid. The Whipping Boy
Gannett, Ruth. My Father’s Dragon
Grahame, Kenneth. The Wind in the Willows (Scholastic Jr. Classic)
Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book (Scholastic Jr. Classic)
Lewis, C. S. The Horse and His Boy
Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Stories (Scholastic Jr. Classic)
White, E. B. Charlotte’s Web
White, E. B. Stuart Little
Winterfeld, Henry. Detectives in Togas

Outside Reading

Level 1
Bulla, Clyde. A Lion to Guard Us
Bulla, Clyde. Shoeshine Girl
Cleary, Beverly. Henry Huggins +
Dalgliesh, Alice. The Courage of Sarah Noble
Gardiner, John. Stone Fox
Hall, Donald. Ox-Cart Man
Kellogg, Steven. Paul Bunyan
MacGregor, Ellen. Miss Pickerell +
MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall +
McSwigan, Marie. Snow Treasure
Scieszka, Jon. The Time Warp Trio: Sam Samurai
Sobol, Donald. Encyclopedia Brown Series +
Stanley, Diane. The True Adventure of Daniel Hall
Warner, Gertrude. The Box-Car Children (excluding vol. 1) +

Level 2
Collodi C. Pinocchio
Edmonds, Walter. The Matchlock Gun
Henry, Marguerite. Misty of Chincoteague
Herriot, James. James Herriot’s Treasury
Hope, Laura Lee. The Bobbsey Twins +
Hurwitz, Johanna. Aldo Applesauce
Lindgren, Astrid. Pippi Longstocking +
Milne, A. A. Winnie the Pooh
Nesbit, E. The Railway Children +
Richardson, Arleta. In Grandma’s Attic +
Roddy, Lee. Family Adventures +
Rupp, Rebecca. Dragon of Lonely Island
Wilder, Laura. Little House on the Prairie +

Level 3
Bailey, Carolyn. Miss Hickory
Bond, Michael. Paddington +
Butterworth, Oliver. The Enormous Egg
Cleary, Beverly. Ramona +
D’Aulaire, I. E. Benjamin Franklin +
Estes, Eleanor. The Moffats
Fritz, Jean. The Cabin Faced West
Holling, H. C. Paddle-to-the-Sea +
Jackson, Dave & Neta. Trailblazer Series +
Kipling, Rudyard. Just So Stories
Lawson, Robert. Rabbit Hill
McCloskey, Robert. Homer Price
Nesbit, E. The Story of the Treasure Seekers
Peretti, Frank. The Door in the Dragon’s Throat
Reece, Colleen. American Adventure Series +
Streatfeild, Noel. Ballet Shoes

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23 thoughts on “A Christian Classical School Reading List: Grades 1-3”

  1. Taj says:

    This is tremendous. Thanks for all your efforts in doing this.

  2. Caleb says:

    Thanks for this list, Justin. I love stuff like this, and I can tell it took a good chunk of time to put this together. My kids go to New Covenant Schools in Lynchburg, VA, which is a classical Christian school, so we’re very familiar with many of these books/stories. But I’m always looking for more to supplement our own reading lists. Again, thanks for doing this.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Thank you, Justin. And thank you, Calvary Classical School!

  4. Gary says:

    Thanks so much for this. I look forward to the lists for the other grades!

  5. Michelle Keller says:

    Our daughter will be attending a classical school in the fall, and they have summer reading lists up through 12th grade posted on their website if you’re interested.

  6. Allison says:

    We homeschool and this will be a lovely addition to our booklists. Thank you for sharing!

  7. jeremy says:

    Thanks for the excellent list. I teach at a classical Christian school in Japan and am always on the lookout for good books.

  8. THANK YOU!!!
    Would love the next-stage-list as well (well time/God allows :)

  9. Kipp says:

    Thanks for posting this, Justin. We, too, are blessed to have our children in a classical Christian school, not far from where your children go (Covenant Classical School in Naperville The blend of Christ-centeredness and intentionally-designed academic rigor has been glorious to behold. As a children and family minister, I carried with me a bit of leeriness toward “Christian” schools for a myriad of reasons based on experience. Seeing the beautiful symbiotic harmony of Christ and the classical method at work has done much to squash that.

  10. John says:

    JT, you are full of win, my man.

  11. Just in time for summer. Thank you!

  12. Thanks Justin. As a product of the public school system, here are some lessons that I’ve learned serving as chaplain in a classical school for the last year:

    1. “Trivium” is not the object on which you place hot dishes to protect the surface of your dining room table.
    2. Charlotte Mason has nothing to do with the heroic spider that demonstrates her literacy through web writing.
    3. Tennyson never played at Wimbledon.
    4. The feudal system wasn’t a complete waste of time.
    5. “Monet” is not French for “currency.”
    6. Longfellow was not a nickname for Abraham Lincoln
    7. Napoleon is more than a pastry one finds at Gino’s bakery in Bensonhurst Brooklyn.

    It’s humbling to serve seven-year-olds who know more about Shakespheare than I do, but someone has got to do it!

  13. Marla says:

    This is very helpful, Justin! Thanks to you and the school.

  14. Allie says:

    Thank you!!

  15. Cyndi says:

    Please post the lists for older kids when you can, i’d love to see lists for grades 5-8. Thanks!!!!

  16. Tulip says:

    Thank you very much for the list! This is even precious for people living in bi-culture world. Can’t wait for you to post lists for other grades.

  17. Jennifer S says:

    Thank you so much. If I may request one change, could you add an image to this post so I could ‘pin it’? Thanks!

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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