Twaddle-Free Literature by Grade Level

51BlGAcUHnL(This reading list is simply my personal idea of twaddle-free reading — it isn’t the Twaddle-free Gospel.) :-)

Living Books = books that are well-written and engaging–they absorb the reader–the narrative and characters “come alive”; living books are the opposite of cold, dry textbooks.

Twaddle = dumbed down literature; absence of meaning

This list of recommended reading is now included in the new book, A Twaddle-Free Education: An Introduction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational Ideas.

I’ve included direct links to the books on so you can browse the reviews of other readers to get a better idea of which books would be appropriate for your home and/or classroom. Just click on the book’s title for further information. also offers free shipping on orders above a particular amount (usually $25), so if you have several books you’d like to order, it can be just as inexpensive to buy from Amazon as to order through your local bookstore. Plus you get the fun of having books delivered to your door — that’s always big excitement at my house! :-)

The age designations for this list are only approximate. A child’s listening level will often be several grades higher than their personal reading levelfeel free to choose books from an older list if you’re planning on reading aloud to your children. My husband and I began reading aloud to our children from chapter books (such as Charlotte’s Web) before their third birthdays. Don’t under-estimate your child’s ability to comprehend or listen to fairly advanced material.


Aesop’s Fables, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
The Complete Tales of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter
The Original Mother Goose, illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright
Good Night Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown
The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant, by Jean de Brunhoff
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle
Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

Kindergarten / Grade 1

Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parish
Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey
Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban
Billy and Blaze, by C.W. Anderson
A Chair for My Mother, by Vera B. Williams
Corduroy, by Don Freeman
The Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh
Curious George, by H.A. Rey
Frog and Toad All Year, by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad are Friends, by Arnold Lobel
Harry the Dirty Dog, by Gene Zion
Little Bear, by Else Homelund Minarik
The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper
The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton
Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans
Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, by Virginia Lee Burton
The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
Stone Soup, by Marcia Brown
Story of Ferdinand, by Munro Leaf
Story About Ping, by Marjorie Flack

Grade 2

The Boxcar Children, by Gertrude Chandler Warner
A Child’s Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Little House on the Prairie series, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Railway Children, by E. Nesbit
The Random House Book of Fairy Tales, by Amy Ehrlich
Tikki Tikki Tembo, by Arlene Mosel
The Velveteen Rabbit, by Marjery Williams
Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne

Grade 3

Baby Island, by Carol Ryrie Brink
Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White
Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry
Owls in the Family, by Farley Mowat
Paul Bunyan, by Steven Kellogg
Pollyanna, by Eleanor H. Porter
Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, by Clyde Robert Bulla
Story of Dr. Doolittle, by Hugh Lofting
Stuart Little, by E.B. White
Trumpet of the Swan, by E.B. White

Grade 4

Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
King Arthur, by Roger Lancelyn Green
A Little Princess, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Little Lord Fauntleroy, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, by Howard Pyle
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Story of Rolf and the Viking Bow, by Allen French
The Sword in the Stone, by T.H. White
Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain
Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois
Redwall, by Brian Jacques
The Wind in the Willows, by Kenneth Grahame

Grade 5

Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
Bambi: A Life in the Woods, by Felix Salten
Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell
Cheaper by the Dozen, by Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr.
Gentle Ben, by Walt Morey
Heidi, by Johanna Spyri
Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
Lad: A Dog, by Albert Payson Terhune
Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson
Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss
Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare

Grade 6

Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
The Call of the Wild, by Jack London
A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens
Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling
Kidnapped, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
White Fang, by Jack London
The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Grade 7

Animal Farm, by George Orwell
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
The Pilgrim’s Progress, by John Bunyan
The Prince and the Pauper, by Mark Twain
Sounder, by William H. Armstrong
Tanglewood Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Grade 8

Christy, by Catherine Marshall
David Copperfield, by Charles Dickens
The Divine Comedy, by Dante
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes
Emma, by Jane Austen
The Great Divorce, by C.S. Lewis
Paradise Lost, by John Milton
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Grade 9

1984, by George Orwell
The Best of Poe, by Edgar Allen Poe
Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
The Chosen, by Chaim Potok
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemmingway
The Pilgrim’s Regress, by C.S. Lewis
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Grade 10 – 12

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ, by Lew Wallace
The Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
The City of God, by Augustine
The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Guilliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Hinds’ Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard
The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper
The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy + The Hobbit), by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Odyssey, by Homer
The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis
Silas Marner, by George Eliot
The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis
The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee


Click on the book titles to order directly from — the world’s largest on-line bookstore. Many titles are offered at significantly reduced prices from the recommended list price (often 10 – 30% off).

Stop by and “Like” Charlotte Mason Home Education on Facebook!  :-)

NOTE:  People often ask about our family’s homeschooling journey, so I pooled together my responses from several online interviews and you can now read the combined interviews here:  Interview with Debi

51BlGAcUHnL(Excerpted and adapted with permission from A Twaddle-Free Education: An Introduction to Charlotte Mason’s Timeless Educational Ideas.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Deborah Taylor-Hough is a long-time homeschooling mother of three (now adult) children as well as a freelance writer and the author of the bestselling Frozen Assets cookbook series and A Simple Choice: A Practical Guide to Saving Your Time, Money and Sanity.  Visit Debi on Facebook.

Other Articles of Interest:

24 responses to “Twaddle-Free Literature by Grade Level

  1. Thanks for a great reading list. I will add those to our summer reading list!

    Hi, Amber …

    Glad you found the reading list helpful. Have a great summer! 8)


  2. These are many of the books we are planning on or have already read with our children. I’ll be adding your link to our blog.

    I’ve been really enjoying reading through your blog. I’m been streamlining my time online, so that I can actually get around to my long list of blogs I always want to read.

  3. I’ve been getting your email list for a long time, recently I started some blogs of my own, my homeschool days are behind me now. I still enjoy children’s literature and am now working in a library instead of staying home to teach children. I’ve added a link to your blog on mine. Keep up the good work!

    • I know a number of home educators who went on to teach in the schools or work in libraries after they finished homeschooling their own children. It’s hard to not share a love for learning and for literature. :)

  4. Whew! When I first started reading your intro, I thought the list would be all dedicated to books for learning. Those are all great books! Whimsical, imaginative, and all with great engaging stories -most favorites I remember from childhood and certainly ones we have read or own!

    So, what would be on the “twaddle” list then? Probably stuff I instantly gloss over at the bookstores and libraries I suppose. Those kind of books barely get a glance – the ones that don’t even register on my radar as books.

    But I didn’t see any Beverly Cleary! We (my young 4 yr old and I) have just started reading Ralph S. Mouse (sequel to Mouse and the Motorcycle) at bedtime and he loves it. (He loved Stuart Little too) I also checked out Beezus and Ramona which is next.

    We tried the Mary Poppins books (which I remember my mom reading to us) but he wasn’t as into them. Probably a bit young yet as we are just starting chapter books. Although he loves the Disney movie, he didn’t seem as interested in the stories. Being that the Mary Poppins series was written almost 80 years ago, the language and phrases are a bit dated and I found his attention wandering a lot.

    And I have one that I remember making a big impact on me in about 6th grade was Watership Down. I LOVED that book.

  5. This is a great booklist!! Reading is foundational to our homeschool and I’m always looking for excellent book list and I found one here. THANK YOU!

  6. What a beautiful list of books. I feel like all my old friends are right a few we need to meet. I will bookmark this list so we won’t forget!

  7. I love book lists! Most of the elementary years we have read and love, but I see a few new names. Off to the library! Thank you. I have many favorite lists but haven’t attempted to separate them by grade level.
    You may want to share over at
    You have a great site.

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